Science and Technology News

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Joint Inspection simulator now available on ADLS

by Capt. Sybil Taunton
U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center


7/24/2013 - JOINT BASE MCGRUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J.  -- The U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center's Mobility Operations School recently fielded the Joint Inspection Instruction Simulator on the USAF Advanced Distributive Learning Service; the first simulator of its kind to run completely on ADLS.

The simulator can be used by both Joint Inspection instructors for use in class as a teaching aid and for JI users across the Air Force and Department of Defense to enhance training capabilities.

"The Joint Inspection Instructor Course Simulator provides a realistic scenario of cargo for joint inspections," said Domenic Fazzo, Logistics Training Division chief for the MOS. "The training simulation incorporates a robust environment not otherwise available with current classroom capabilities and provides a realistic experience for students."

According to Fazzo, the basic setting for the simulator is a cargo warehouse with interchangeable cargo loads that include vehicles, trailers, tracked vehicles, hazardous and non-hazardous cargo, pallet trains and pallets.

"Specifically, 24 different pieces of equipment have been built and are available to make an aircraft load," said Fazzo. "These pieces of cargo are equally divided amongst aerospace ground equipment, pallets with nets and other more complicated pallets, and various cargo from the Air Force and sister services."

The simulation is rendered using a fully immersive game-based training technology that allows users to grab, open and inspect items in the virtual world.

"The simulation provides the inspectors with challenges associated with unique cargo types, including inappropriate fuel levels, leaks, hazardous materials, warped pallets, and broken or inaccurately applied cargo tie-downs," Fazzo said.

The training allows students to freely maneuver an avatar around pieces of cargo to ensure proper markings, labeling, free of damage and proper security. Students can also verify scale weights and use a virtual measuring tape to properly calculate measurements and markings.

"The simulator includes all corresponding regulatory guidance and forms available, allowing students to properly complete the forms as if they were accomplishing an actual inspection," said Fazzo. "The sample cargo contains built in common discrepancies the students may encounter, requiring them to identify the appropriate forms."

Along with all of the essential cargo equipment and documentation, the simulator includes additional capabilities to provide students with a more realistic computer-based training experience.

"Artificial intelligence is provided to create interactions and dialogues with personnel normally associated with a Joint Inspection. Noises like radio chatter and people interrupting with lesser priority information are included to mimic a realistic cargo marshaling environment," said Fazzo. "A scoring mechanism has also been built into the simulation to provide students with feedback at the end to highlight proper resolution of cargo discrepancies and accurate completion of all required forms."

This simulator, previously only available while attending in-residence courses at the Expeditionary Center, is now available 24 hours a day for Airmen across the globe.

"The vision for the Mobility Operations School has always been to mirror the mission environment in the classroom, permitting students to gain real confidence in their ability to effectively operate at their home units," said Mr. Rudy Becker, MOS director. "This initiative now extends that vision to online training, particularly powerful given our current fiscal environment."

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mobile Device Security Will Set Industry Standard, Official Says

By Nick Simeone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 24, 2013 – Systems being developed to ensure classified information can be transmitted securely on mobile devices used by the federal workforce ultimately will be leveraged by corporate America in industries from banking to health care, a senior engineer at the Defense Information Systems Agency said today.

“The market’s looking to us,” Greg Youst, DISA’s chief mobility engineer, told a conference on cybersecurity here while discussing the challenges for ensuring the security of data transmission via increasingly sophisticated mobile devices that are being introduced to the workplace.

The government and industry are working together to develop a secure communication solution for the department’s 600,000 mobile device users, one that is capable of keeping up with rapidly changing technology. A Defense Department strategy released in February calls for establishing a framework for reliable and secure classified mobile communication worldwide.

Youst, along with officials from several other government agencies, said the challenge of enabling wireless devices to transmit classified data securely can prompt debate over risk vs. cost.
“One of the things we’re really looking at is how can we leverage social media to do our jobs and yet do it securely,” he said.

Youst said he has been in discussions with Google, Apple and Samsung, and that the strict security requirements needed for the federal workforce will end up benefiting the commercial market.

“What’s driving them to work with DOD and the federal government is that if they can get to our level of security, then they can go market out to the corporate world, and you’re starting to see that,” he said. “They’re leveraging the capability that they’re building for us by saying, ‘If we can make it secure enough for the Department of Defense, we can give you a system for phone or mobile device management that will secure your banking information [or] your health information.”

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

New Space Command Chief brings 'World Champion' outlook

by Senior Master Sgt. Dean J. Miller
Air Force Space Command Public Affairs


7/23/2013 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.  -- Air Force Space Command's newest Command Chief completed his first 30 days in office early this month having met with each AFSPC A-staff director, visited with Airmen of Colorado Springs and Alaska-based AFSPC units, the 45th Space Wing at Patrick AFB, Fla., and conducted his first AFSPC-Headquarters enlisted call.

Chief Master Sgt. Douglas McIntyre also attended a Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force-led enlisted board of directors meeting of major command command chiefs and represented AFSPC at a Senior NCO Academy Graduation and at the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo - the largest annual military community relations event in Colorado Springs.

While AFSPC missions and people are new to Chief McIntyre, the leadership responsibilities are not. Chief McIntyre has served the Air Force since 1984, was promoted to chief master sergeant in 2004, and served as a command chief at four previous postings. His last assignment was at U.S. Forces Japan and 5th Air Force, a dual-responsibility billet at Yokota Air Base, Japan.

After a whirlwind month, the Chief shared his first impressions of the command and its people.

Q: You've knocked out your first 30 days as AFSPC Command Chief, what are your first impressions?

A: Impressed would be the best word to start with. AFSPC is made up of a dedicated group of professionals who bring a one-of-a-kind mission set to our nation.

Q: How does AFSPC compare to other missions/Command Chief roles you've been responsible for?

A: First, let me say I'm humbled and blessed that General Shelton has given me the opportunity to represent the Enlisted Force of AFSPC. I've been a Command Chief in U.S. Air Forces Europe, Air Forces Central, Air Combat Command and Pacific Air Forces previously with different operations and missions, but nothing compares to the Space and Cyber mission set. Right now I'm in education and receive mode to understand our mission and get out and meet our Airmen.

Q: Please share a little about your personal background and your family.

A: The beginning of my career may be quite familiar to many of our Airmen, I worked in the supply career field and, to this day, I remember certain stock numbers. I never dreamed I would be a command chief. However, I'm grateful for all the early experiences of my career; I've always felt if you forget where you're from, you'll get lost where you're going. So, this is a very humbling opportunity for me.

My wife Tanya served four years active duty before going to nursing school; and both my daughters were born on the Air Force birthday two years apart. So you can truly call us an Air Force family. We are very happy to be part of the AFSPC team and the Colorado Springs community; I can't think of a better place for our family to be.

Q: Would you share a personal mentoring moment that made a significant difference in your life/career or that you made in another Airman's life/career?

A: One of my greatest challenges as a supervisor was when I was the wing command chief at Dyess AFB, Texas. I had a brand new executive assistant for a week and his eight-year-old son was killed by a drunk driver. I had just finished a year deployed as a command chief and nothing there hit me as hard as this did. This young man and I grew together to navigate through a very trying time. He thought I would replace him, but I told him this was the time the Air Force will rally around him and take care of his family. I can report today he has been promoted to technical sergeant and is doing very well. The courage he showed help me grow as a leader and father; Tech. Sgt. Matthew Mantanona taught me far more than I taught him, and that is the freshest memory I have of making a difference in an individual Airman's life.

Q: During your career, several mentors have invested in you; what advice have you received that made the greatest impact?

A: I've been fortunate to have some really great examples to follow during my career. It is really hard to point to just one piece of advice or one mentor. Some common threads have been integrity, credibility, caring for your Airmen and tying them into the mission for that sense of ownership. The best leaders I've worked around all had those attributes.

Q: You have a special responsibility to the commander, how would you characterize that mission and the associated challenges?

A: Our MAJCOM has a one-of-a-kind mission. The Space and Cyberspace capabilities we offer the joint force and the nation are not duplicated anywhere else. The mix of active duty, total force, civilians and contractors provide the expertise to make it all happen. My challenge is to represent our command the best I can. I have to make sure the enlisted corps understands the vision and mission of the command, and in turn update General Shelton on initiatives we are working on to develop the next generation of Airmen within the command and the Air Force.

Q: What do you believe makes AFSPC unique, and what do you see as your most daunting task as Command Chief? And how will you proceed?

A: As I mentioned previously, there is no other command that does what we do. Our Airmen who control and update GPS satellites for three billion global users is just the start. The cyber capabilities of 24th Air Force are amazing and so embedded into everything that we do it goes almost unnoticed because they do it so well. In addition to those things unique to the command, we are all American Airmen and we do what all Airmen do in our World Champion Air Force. We have AFSPC Airmen deployed to all corners of the globe making expeditionary missions happen, and at each AFSPC installation we have support Airmen enabling that one-of-a-kind mission set. Without the entire team it wouldn't work. My most daunting task is to work hard every day to remove any obstacles that I can so our Airmen can execute their mission. What most motivated Airmen want to do above all is to go out
and get the mission done. In these challenging times, leadership has to help them be innovative to get that done.

Q: You shared a unique perspective on the Air Force Core Values at your first Enlisted Call, could you please expand on that here?

A: Our Air Force is the youngest service by far and we are known to be adaptive and not bound by the rules of the ground. It should be expected we change, but one thing that hasn't changed since their inception are the core values. My belief is that we got them right the first time so there is no reason to change. Integrity. Service. Excellence. The only one that anyone
has ever challenged me on is "Excellence in All We Do." I get it; everyone isn't excellent in all that they do. The way I interrupt that negative thought is by emphasizing that we strive for excellence in all we do. The little blue book of old said "Excellence in all we do directs us to develop a sustained passion for continued improvement and innovation." The bottom
line is to strive to be the best Airman that you can be.

Q: In your new position, what do you see as your primary goal where developing the enlisted force is concerned?

A: Regardless of our individual specialties or mission, we are all Airmen. My primary goal is to concentrate on our core competencies as Airmen and work the different enlisted issues that impact readiness and development of the force.

Q: What initial messages/priorities do you have for AFSPC enlisted members?


A: I'm honored to be on your team and will do my best to represent you. Focus on the mission you have at hand and trust your leadership is working hard to navigate through these challenging times.

Q: Tell us about, "World Champion Airmen." What is that all about?

A: When I was a deployed command chief and we would watch different sports championships I would tell the Airmen that they too are champions. I continued to refine this message, and today, I talk about the team our Airmen belong to as the World Champion Air Force. Each day you get to put that uniform on you are part of a World Championship team because nobody can do what your Air Force can do.

Q: What is the most important advice you could give to those striving to navigate our Air Force during this turbulent time?

A: Don't worry about the things you can't control. Things change; we can't operate the way we did in the past. Focus on the mission at hand and look for smarter ways to get the mission done. Our force has been evolving my entire career and it will continue to do so long after I'm retired. As enlisted members we need to be part of that evolution and carry out change.

Q: Regarding the most serious issues of our day - sexual assault prevention and suicide prevention - what are your thoughts on these issues?

A: These issues involve Airmen getting hurt and as a leader you never want that. Sexual assault prevention is a top priority in the Defense Department. We have to be part of the solution in all these issues. In the basic sense it comes down to Airmen taking care of Airmen, in other words being a good Wingman. All of our senior leaders have said we must own the
sexual assault problem and be part of the solution. The Air Force has created a Special Victims' Counsel program to help victims navigate through the aftermath of an assault. The program assigns the victim a lawyer to be there from start to finish of their case to mitigate as many hardships as possible.

Our job is to prevent these issues in the first place. That starts with zero tolerance for inappropriate behavior in the work place or off duty. Little things build on each other to create an unhealthy environment. We must enforce a professional environment that sustains our core values so it is clear to all that predatory behavior isn't tolerated in our ranks.

Suicide is another issue that we must continue to focus on. Comprehensive Airmen Fitness isn't a suicide prevention program; in fact it isn't a program at all. It is meant to be a culture where Airmen use the spiritual, social, mental and physical pillars to create a healthier lifestyle. Most suicides come down to a loss of hope, and a feeling there is no way out. It's my belief if you use the four pillars of CAF it will create more things in your life to sustain you during difficult times. It is everyone's job to recognize the signs of suicide and act on those signs to help our fellow Airmen. Let me be clear: we need ALL of our Airmen -- one loss is one too many.

Q: Any final thoughts for us today?

A: Again, I'm humbled to have this opportunity to represent the AFSPC enlisted force. As I work with Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Cody and the other MAJCOM command chiefs to chart the course for the enlisted force, I'll do my best to represent all of you. Thanks to you and your family for all you do for our World Champion Air Force and our nation.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Stay connected with social media without sacrificing career

by Airman 1st Class Zachary Vucic
Air Force News Service


7/19/2013 - FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (AFNS)  -- Engaging in social media can be a positive experience that entertains, keeps people connected and allows opinions to be expressed on a wide variety of topics.

In some cases though, social media can ruin personal reputations or careers, and create an open window for criminals to access personal information.

According to the Air Force's top social media expert, safe use of social-media outlets is simple -- use common sense.

Tanya Schusler is the chief of social media for the Air Force Public Affairs Agency, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. She said in many cases, problems arise when people are "too trusting" with their personally identifiable information.

"It can be something as simple as sharing your location when visiting your favorite store or restaurant," said Schusler. "This tells your social network one critical piece of information -- you're not home."

To take full advantage of social media, and still post to Facebook and tweet to friends safely, Schusler offered the following advice:

Many Airmen cause issues by posting photographs of themselves violating appearance standards, acting inappropriately and most importantly, violating operational security protocol. If you're not within regulations, don't post it.

Airmen should not post information about deployments or photos of secure areas within their workplace. Even if the Airman takes the information down shortly after posting, someone has already seen it. The information can be printed, screen captured, copied etc. Once information is released to the internet, it's there permanently.

When posting personal opinions about Air Force topics, provide a disclaimer stating the opinion as your own, and not that of the Air Force. This can be done either as a disclaimer on a profile, or on each individual post and will alleviate any potential confusion from followers reading the post.

If an Airman posts a statement about hurting himself or others, time is of the essence. Contact 911 if you know the location of the Airman. If you do not know the person's location, contact the command post or your supervisor for assistance in locating the Airman. It is important to seek help for these individuals immediately.

Using certain security features within social media sites can help mitigate some of the risk of personal information being shared. However, privacy policies change almost daily, and Airmen may not know about the updates. Therefore, do not rely on site security measures alone. Be careful of whom you allow into your social media networks, and don't trust that the account will always remain secure. Assume personal responsibility.

Airmen's social-media pages are their personal space, and they are encouraged to tell their personal Air Force stories through social networks. They simply need to ensure the information they post is cleared for release and within regulations. Don't jeopardize the mission or put anyone's life, or lives in danger. Think before you post.

"We don't want Airmen to feel like they are stifled from sharing information," Schusler said. "We just want to emphasize the use of common sense to keep people safe."

If Airmen have questions about acceptable posting to social media, there are resources available to them for guidance. AFPAA has published a new booklet, the Air Force Social Media Guide, available for download here, or at http://www.af.mil on the homepage under the social media icons. Airmen can also contact their local public affairs office with questions

Friday, July 19, 2013

45th SW Launches second Mobile User Objective System satellite

Release Number: 010713

7/19/2013 - CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- The U.S. Air Force's 45th Space Wing successfully launched the second Mobile User Objective System satellite, built by Lockheed Martin, for the U.S. Navy at 9 a.m. July 19 here.

The United Launch Alliance built Atlas V rocket will fly in the 5-5-1 vehicle configuration with a five-meter fairing, five solid rocket boosters and a single-engine Centaur upper stage.

MUOS is the next generation narrowband military satellite communication system that supports a worldwide, multi-service population of users in the ultra-high frequency band. The system provides increased communications capabilities to smaller terminals while still supporting interoperability with legacy terminals. MUOS is designed to support users that require greater mobility, higher data rates and improved operational availability.

MUOS is a space communications system that uses commercial 3G cell phone technology to provide voice, data and video services to military troops on the move.

MUOS will provide greater than 10 times the communications capacity compared to the current UHF constellation.

Brig. Gen. Nina Armagno, who assumed command of the 45th Space Wing June 12, served as the Launch Decision Authority for the first time here on the Eastern Range.

She is proud of the way the entire team came together to ensure another successful mission.

"Once again, the 45th Space Wing is partnering to provide the most versatile, valuable and sophisticated technology to our war fighters," she said. "Congratulations to the entire team for their hard work and dedication to this very important mission."

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Mobile app helps iPhone users 'Be Ready'

by John Burt
Air Force Civil Engineer Center Public Affairs


7/18/2013 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The "Be Ready" mobile app, or application, is now available for download on most Apple devices like the iPhone and iPad.

Previously offered for Motorola Android products only, this app was developed by the Air Force Civil Engineer Center's Emergency Management Division, as an on-the-go emergency preparation resource.

"This app provides information on basic preparedness for natural disasters or manmade events," said Sam Hazzard, the Air Force Emergency Management education and training program manager. "It's a practical tool to help users prepare for, respond to and recover from emergency situations. It includes steps to take after a disaster has occurred."

The "Be Ready" app is free and gives detailed information covering a wide range of threats including floods, hurricanes and wildfires. It provides emergency numbers and relevant websites as well as customizable family evacuation plans and emergency supply checklists.

"We encourage everyone to have an emergency supply kit," said Hazzard. "The app provides a recommended emergency checklist of supplies that can be customized depending on the threat, geographic area or situation. You can check off items as you add them to your kit."

Since the release of the Android version in January, AFCEC's emergency management experts say the response has been good from both military members and civilians alike.

"EM offices throughout the Air Force use tools like this to help increase emergency preparedness across their base and community," said Rob Genova, emergency management education and training specialist. "We've received comments from the public saying they like the amount of information included, it's easy to use and moves smoothly from section-to-section. The Apple platform now allows us to provide this tool to more people."

The "Be Ready" app is available for download now at Apple's app store or the Google play site. For more information, visit BeReady.af.mil.

Large rocket test facility's altitude capability benefits from new control system

by Raquel March
Arnold Engineering Development Complex Public Affairs


7/16/2013 - ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- Large rocket testing at altitude conditions has been a common occurrence at Arnold Engineering Development Complex's state-of-the-art Large Rocket Motor Test Facility, or J-6, for almost 20 years. When ATK® recently tested its CASTOR®30XL rocket in the J-6 facility, a team of engineers had completed an upgrade of the facility's Test Unit Support System.

The result of the upgrade was the implementation of the new J-6 Facility Control System, or FCS, which controls 16 major systems needed to conduct a rocket test in the facility.

The J-6 Facility provides ground-test simulations for solid-propellant rocket motors and it is used mainly for testing of stages II and III for both Minuteman and Peacekeeper ICBMs.

"A few of the critical systems are steam, gaseous nitrogen (GN2) and liquid nitrogen (LN2)," said Mickey Gipson, an Information Technology System Development manager. "Basically, the J-6 FCS is the heart of the J-6 test facility."

One customer benefit of the FCS is better control of automatic facility flow and pressure of steam, GN2 and LN2. Customers like ATK and the Minuteman program will also benefit from improved system calibration and pre-operations automation.

Gipson added that customers will also experience "improved data logging and historian features and improved human machine interface and external interfaces using open standards."

The improved interfaces will allow interaction with different manufacturer's equipment, using a set standard, without developing special hardware or software for each test item.

System design, software design and installation were conducted by AEDC personnel.

"The original schedule of installation and checkout required nine months but our project (team) accomplished it in six months," said Simon Choi, the Air Force project manager for the new system. "We had experienced designers and operators who are very familiar with the J-6 test process which provided technical consistency and excellent ideas."

J-6 is designed to test Class 1.3 or 1.1 solid-propellant rocket motors capable of up to 500,000 pounds of thrust. Measuring 26-feet in diameter by 62-feet long, the horizontally oriented test cell is capable of testing rocket motors at simulated altitudes up to 100,000 feet

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Air Force cracks down on protected information

by Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner
434th ARW Public Affairs


7/13/2013 - GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. -- Using a new capability, the Air Force is cracking down on the unencrypted transmission of protected information and violators could find themselves locked out and in hot water.

Recently, the Air Force started using technology that specifically looks for protected critical unclassified information in emails sent from government to commercial servers without encryption.

This includes information that is For Official Use Only, protected under the Privacy Act of 1974, contains usernames or passwords, and sensitive personally identifiable information. Examples of PII can be found at the bottom of this article.

"The Air Force is utilizing its full capabilities to protect its members' personal information by actively scanning emails for violations," explained Maj. Ulric Adams Jr., 434th Communications Squadron commander.

If unencrypted or unprotected PCUI information is sent and detected, a user will be locked out of their account, must re-accomplish their information assurance training and have the first colonel in their chain of command write a letter to the 24th Air Force to reestablish the member's account.

The 24th AF establishes, operates, maintains and defends Air Force networks to ensure warfighters can maintain the information advantage as U.S. forces conduct military operations around the world.

"This new capability isn't meant to prevent such information from being sent when necessary, but helps ensure it's properly protected when sent," said Dan Harshman, 434th CS operations flight director.

"The point is, you cannot send any of that information outside the government system without protecting it," Harshman continued. "And, even if you do send it within the .mil domain, you still need to protect it by signing and encrypting it."

If an email containing PCUI can't be encrypted, there are still ways of protecting it.

If an email sent to a military organization box or an account that hasn't had the right security certificates posted, members can still protect that information by using an approved encryption program that communications focal point can provide, explained Harshman. He also said certain documents, such as those composed in Microsoft Word, can also be password protected as an acceptable form of protection.

And, while the current focus is on email systems, Airmen are reminded to protect PCUI in all cases.

"It's about general information security," said Harsman. "You want to watch what you put out anywhere, whether it's email, on social media or wherever, it's about protecting that information."

PII Examples:

According to Harshman, generally, when any two sensitive PII elements are associated in unencrypted correspondence, there may be a possible PII breach. PII breaches are reported to the Air Force PII manager at the Air Force Reserve Command and the Pentagon through the base Privacy Act manager, so it's important to know what information is considered sensitive PII. Below are some examples:

- Names and other names used
- Social Security numbers, including full and partial
- Driver's license and other identification numbers
- Citizenship, legal status, gender, race and ethnicity
- Birth date and place of birth;
- Home telephone and personal cell phone numbers
- Personal email addresses
- Mailing and home addresses
- Religious preference
- Security clearance
- Mother's middle and maiden names
- Spouse information and marital status
- Dependent and child information
- Emergency contact information
- Biometrics
- Financial information
- Medical and disability information
- Law enforcement information
- Employment information
- Educational information
- Military records

Thursday, July 11, 2013

AF chief scientist addresses future

by Staff Sgt. David Salanitri
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs


7/11/2013 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Air Force chief scientist addressed members of the Air Force Association about the Global Horizons study, which looks into the near and long-term application of science and technology in the force.

Dr. Mica Endsley, who was recently appointed as the 34th Air Force chief scientist, focused her talk around the future of air, space, cyber, and command and control.

"If we presume the future is going to look like today, I think we're going to be sorely mistaken," Endsley said. "The future environment in the next decade has some really significant potential threats that we need to be aware of and thinking of."

In the space environment, Endsley emphasized, the Air Force is not going to be the only player in the future.

"In space, we're not going to be operating with impunity," Endsley said. "It's going to be a much more congested, competitive and contested environment."

Speaking about air operations, Endsley noted that though the Air Force has enjoyed air superiority in recent operations, this may not always be the case as other nations use science and technology to continually develop their air forces.

"In air operations, I think over the past few decades, we've enjoyed pretty good air superiority in a lot of the theaters we operated in -- that's not necessarily going to be the case in the future," she said.

Endsley also suggested the potential for an attack on command and control capabilities.

"We believe our command and control and (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) operations are going to be targeted," she said. "That's something we're going to need to protect against very significantly."

Endsley emphasized the importance of protecting cyberspace and Air Force cyber capabilities from threats.

Cyber "is the thing that underlines everything that we're doing," Endsley said. "It's a very significant source of concern in terms of potential vulnerabilities."

As Endsley spoke, she stressed the importance of the ever-changing environment in which the Air Force operates in, and how the global horizons study identifies these future changes.

Endsley also made note that a key component of of Air Force efforts is to use science and technology to enable Airmen to carry out their duties more efficiently.

"One of our goals here is to develop technology that enhances the capability of our Airmen," she said. "My job is to enable our people to do their job effectively."

As Endsley concluded, a question from the audience brought up the impacts of sequestration, and how it is impacting in the Air Force.

In a field that is primarily comprised of civilian Airmen, Endsley said that with furloughs starting, a large part of her workforce will be out of the office, missing technical meetings that are vital to her researchers.

Furlough is "having chilling effects," she said. "If you look at who the researchers are in the Air Force, they are disproportionally civilians."

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

DARPA Competitors Develop Robots for Disaster Response

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 10, 2013 – Leaps forward in simulation technology and cloud computing are making it possible for challengers from around the world to compete for support from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to create robots that can help people during natural and other kinds of disasters.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
The first DARPA Virtual Robotics Challenge task involved the robot walking to, entering and driving a utility vehicle along an obstacle course, then exiting the vehicle and walking through a final checkpoint. DOD illustration
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
During a recent media roundtable, Dr. Gill Pratt, DARPA program manager, and Dr. Brian Gerkey, chief executive officer for the Open Source Robotics Foundation, told reporters about the ongoing DARPA Robotics Challenge, which launched in October 2012 and will end after the final event in December 2014.

The Open Source Robotics Foundation is an independent nonprofit organization in Mountain View, Calif., founded by members of the global robotics community to support open-source software development and distribution for robotics research, education and product development.

“DARPA is focused on the defense mission for DOD,” Pratt said. “Our primary reason for [creating the robotics challenge] is about the security of our citizens in situations of natural and manmade disasters. [But] the technology DARPA develops often finds its way into all sorts of other parts of life.”

The Internet is the best example, he observed, adding, “I expect that the robots we develop will be used very soon, at least in some form, … within people’s homes,” possibly as helpers for aging populations in nations like the United States and Japan.

The goal of DARPA’s Robotics Challenge, or DRC, is to generate groundbreaking research and development in hardware and software, according to the DRC website, helping future robots perform the most hazardous jobs in disaster-response operations, along with human supervisors, to reduce casualties and save lives.

Pratt calls this a way to make societies worldwide more resilient to natural and other disasters.
“We believe it’s important to develop robots that can go into areas that are too dangerous for people and that can be supervised by human beings despite the fact that communications might be quite difficult [during a disaster] both between human beings and between people and robots,” he added.

Through the DRC project, DARPA is helping create robots with three basic features. The first is that the robots should be compatible with environments engineered for people, Pratt said.

“That’s true even if those environments have been degraded. This gives the robots a certain size [and] it says exactly what their capabilities must be in order to interface for instance with doors and stairs and other things that human beings have engineered into the environment,” the DARPA program manager said.

The second feature is that the robots have to be able to use tools that were designed for people.
“This ranges all the way from a screwdriver to a fire truck,” he added, “so you’ll see in the different parts of the DARPA challenge that we are testing the ability of these machines to do that.”

Third is that the robots must be able to be supervised by people who aren’t necessarily trained to operate robots.

“Typically in a disaster there’s no time for training [and] there’s no time to acquire specialized tools. You have to use what you have on hand,” Pratt explained.

“If you want the robot to respond immediately,” he added, “the important thing is for the interface between that person and the robot to be intuitive to the people on the disaster response team who have the most expertise about what needs to be done … not the people who designed the machine.”

Overriding all the robot technology, though, is an assumption that communications between people -- and between people and the robot -- will be degraded by the effects of the disaster on infrastructure, Pratt said.
“So in the challenge itself,” he explained, “we will purposefully lower the bandwidth -- the number of bits per second -- that can go between the robot and the supervisors, and we will also increase the latency -- the amount of time delay -- in the communication between the people and the robots.”

The DRC has two kinds of events -- one for teams whose focus is software alone and that don’t have their own robots, and one for teams whose focus is both hardware and software and therefore have their own robots.

The first event, whose seven winners were announced June 27, was a software competition among 26 teams from eight countries.

The teams competed against each other using a virtual robot called Atlas inside the DARPA Robotics Challenge Simulator, an open-source tool created for DARPA by the Open Source Robotics Foundation.

A company called Boston Dynamics is using DARPA funding to build real Atlas robots that the winning teams have been awarded to use in upcoming DARPA challenges.

“Our reason for having this virtual challenge is that we wanted to open the contest to teams that were strong not just in building hardware for robots and programming them with software,” Pratt said, “but for a wider variety of teams, including those who had little expertise or experience with robot hardware.”

Pratt said work done by the Open Source Robotics Foundation with DARPA funding had advanced the simulation technology enough that the simulator could run in real time and a person could interact with the simulation to supervise the virtual robots.

The Foundation’s approach to simulation is to do the best possible job of reproducing the way physics works in the world inside a computer, Gerkey said.

Thanks to the increase in performance that allows the simulation to run in real time and the increased computational power available through advances in cloud computing resources, the seven teams who won the DARPA virtual challenge should be able to take the software they designed for the DARPA simulation and run it on the real Atlas robots.

“Our goal,” Gerkey said, “is always to have the simulator behave as close as possible to the physical system … so it should be the case that teams who … are awarded an Atlas robot from Boston Dynamics should be able to take the software that they develop for simulation and run it almost unchanged on the physical robot.”

He added, “That will actually be the test of how well we’ve done here in terms of building a simulation as a stand-in for the physical robot.”

All of what DARPA and the Open Source Robotics Foundation are building is open source, Gerkey noted, “so anyone in the world can do anything they want with this software.”

The next DRC live competition will be held in December 2013.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Critical Cyber Needs Include People, Partners, General Says

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 2, 2013 – Despite the inherent technical “geekiness” of cyberspace and urgent Defense Department efforts in that area, people and partners are among DOD’s most critical cyber needs, the senior military advisor for cyber to the undersecretary of defense for policy said last week.


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Navy Lt. John Knolla mans the tactical action officer watch in the combat direction center aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan during Exercise Valiant Shield 2006 in the Philippine Sea. Valiant Shield focuses on integrated joint training among U.S. military forces, enabling real-world proficiency in sustaining joint forces and in detecting, locating, tracking and engaging units at sea, in the air, on land and in cyberspace in response to a range of mission areas. U.S. Navy photo by Airman Christine Singh
  

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Army Maj. Gen. John A. Davis spoke to a large audience at the June 25-27 Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association International Cyber Symposium in Baltimore.

Cyber partnerships such as those with the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency and external partnerships such as those with industry, international allies and academia represent a transformation in the way DOD approaches cyber, Davis said.
For more than two years, he said, “DOD has been fundamentally and deliberately transforming the way we think, the way we organize, the way we train and equip, the way we provide forces and capabilities, the way we command and control those forces, the way we operate and the way we insure leadership and accountability for cyberspace operations.”

Even the general’s job as military advisor for cyber, a new position formally approved in August in an environment of reduced resources, “is an indication of how seriously senior department leaders are taking this subject,” he said.
The standup of U.S. Cyber Command in 2010 was part of this transformation, he said.

“It brought together disparate cyber functions of operating our networks, defending our networks and applying offensive capabilities against adversary networks,” said Davis, adding that Cybercom’s collocation with the National Security Agency at Fort Meade, Md., greatly improved DOD cyber capabilities.

“There’s a much better integration of intelligence through NSA’s hard work,” the general said. “From shared situational awareness to a common operational picture, NSA is doing some really great work. Leveraging their skills and expertise is not only an operational advantage, it’s a necessity.”

Beyond NSA’s technical focus, Davis said, DOD needs broad strategic context for intelligence to fulfill its cyber mission and that DIA, along with other intelligence community organizations, plays a critical role.
Ultimately, people and organizations who work against the United States and its allies in cyberspace are behind the development of malicious code and software, he said.

“This is where DIA is helping us refine and improve our indications and warning so it’s not limited to actions taking place at the speed of light, but actions by humans and organizations and processes that might help us … act with more options for leadership decisions,” the general added.

As it does with interagency partners at the Department of Justice’s FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, DOD builds capabilities in cyberspace by working with industry, international partners and academia.

In its work with the defense industrial base, or DIB, DOD is the sector-specific agency under Homeland Security for interacting with the DIB.

In 2010, the voluntary DIB Cybersecurity Information Assurance, or CS/IA, effort opened as a permanent program after a pilot period with 34 companies. Activities under the program enhance cybersecurity capabilities to safeguard sensitive DOD information on company unclassified information systems.

With the publication of a federal rule in 2012, DOD expanded the program, and nearly 100 companies now participate. At the same time, the optional DIB Enhanced Cybersecurity Services, or DECS, became part of the expanded DIB program.

Homeland Security officials said DECS is a voluntary program based on sharing indicators of malicious cyber activity between DHS and owners and operators of critical infrastructure. The program covers 18 critical infrastructure sectors, including banking and finance, energy, information technology, transportation systems, food and agriculture, government facilities, emergency services, water, and nuclear reactors, materials and waste.

“DOD relies heavily on critical infrastructure, which is in part why the department has a role to play in providing support to defend these commercial systems,” Davis said. More than 99 percent of electricity and 90 percent of voice and communication services the military relies on come from civilian sources, he noted.
“Defending our networks is a challenge that’s not getting any easier because of our reliance on key networks and systems that are not directly under DOD’s control,” the general observed.

Davis said the DIB CS/IA program and DECS “are part of a whole-of-government approach to improve the nation’s cybersecurity posture. It’s a holistic approach, because that’s what’s required in order to achieve this goal.”

DOD international engagement supports the U.S. International Strategy for Cyberspace and President Barack Obama’s commitment to fundamental freedoms, privacy and the free flow of information, and the right of self-defense, Davis said.

DOD’s ongoing cyber engagement with allies and close partners takes many forms, he added, including sharing information about capabilities and processes, warning each other about potential threats, sharing situational awareness and fielding more interoperable capability.

Such engagement includes joint training venues and exercises, he said -- “everything from tabletop exercises to more sophisticated exercises, and we’re doing joint training and putting cyber into our bilateral exercises on a more regular basis.”

With the State Department and other interagency partners, the general added, DOD participates on cyber matters in bilateral, multilateral and international forums, such as the United Nations and NATO.

“As an example of a critical bilateral relationship,” he said, “I’ve had the great honor twice in the past year to engage as part of a U.S. academic and government interagency forum with counterpart Chinese academic and government organizations.”

The last meeting was in Washington in December, Davis said.

“We recognize China as a rising power and one of the world’s leading voices in this discussion, so senior government officials across the interagency have actively engaged their Chinese government counterparts, including their military [counterparts] … in a number of ways already and we would like to see those engagements expand,” Davis said.

On July 8, DOD officials and several interagency partners “will hold a working group meeting on cyber with our Chinese counterparts to talk about this directly and to strive for concrete solutions with actionable steps for progress,” he added.

DOD’s partnership with academia addresses what Davis describes as the department’s biggest challenge going forward: building the cyber workforce.

“DOD is looking at ways to fundamentally change the way it recruits, trains, educates, advances and retains both military and civilians within the cyberspace workforce,” he said. “The vision is to build a system that sustains the cyberspace operations’ viability over time, increases the depth of military cyberspace operations experience, develops capable leaders to guide these professional experts … and ensures that we build real cyberspace operational capability from within our human resources into the future.”

The department is looking to partner in new ways with other federal, academic and private institutions, he said, to attract and retain skilled professionals in cyberspace.

“While cyber is always viewed as a technical area,” Davis said, “the fact is it’s always about people. People are going to make the difference in cyber, just as they have in every other dimension of DOD operations. So we must get the people part right to guarantee success for the future.

Monday, July 1, 2013

DOD at Work on New Cyber Strategy, Senior Military Advisor Says

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 1, 2013 – The Defense Department released its first strategy for operating in cyberspace two years ago this month, and officials are at work on the next version, the senior military advisor for cyber to the undersecretary of defense for policy said in Baltimore last week.


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Air Force Tech Sgt. Kevin Garner and Air Force Senior Airman David Solnok, cyber transport technicians assigned to the 354th Communications Squadron, hook cables in to the new Air Force Network router system at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Jan. 26, 2012. The system enhanced cyber capabilities by providing network oversight to all U.S. Air Force installations. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Boitz
  

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Army Maj. Gen. John A. Davis spoke to a lunch audience at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association International Cyber Symposium, noting that two years might equal 20 in the domain that accommodates distanceless travel.

“Senior leaders in the department and beyond the department understand that cyber is a problem [and] cyber is important. They’ve made cyber a priority, and there is a sense of urgency,” the general said.

The strategy’s five initiatives were to treat cyberspace as an operational domain, use new defense operating concepts to protect Defense Department networks, partner with other federal agencies and the private sector for a whole-of-government approach, partner with international allies for a global approach, and leverage the nation’s ingenuity through an exceptional cyber workforce and technological innovation.

The department’s method for implementing the strategy is called the cyber initiative group, the general said. “It’s a process that includes engagement at all levels, from the action-officer level all the way to senior defense leadership,” he explained.

A great deal of work remains, he added, “but we have made some really good progress in a number of areas under each of these strategy components.” The process has been difficult and complex, he added, which reflects the complex interrelationships involved in the cyberspace arena.

Over the past two years, Davis said, the department has made progress in several areas. For example, he told the audience, DOD has:

-- Established service cyber components under U.S. Cyber Command;

-- Established joint cyber centers at each combatant command;

-- Implemented a military-orders process to handle cyber action as it is handled in other operational domains in a process supported by an emergency conferencing procedure that links key organizations and leaders from across DOD and government to quickly assess major cyber threats and make decisions;

-- Established an interim command-and-control framework for cyberspace operations across joint service and defense agency organizations;

-- Developed a force structure model for cyber force organizations;

-- Established a plan and developed orders to transition to a new network architecture called the Joint Information Environment, or JIE, that will make DOD networks more effective, defendable and efficient; and

-- Conducted two years of Cyber Flag exercises at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada that were joint, full-spectrum cyberspace operations exercises using live opposition forces and a virtual environment that mirrored current cyber threats.

DOD’s mission is to defend the nation in all domains, but in cyberspace, the department shares its role with other members of the federal cybersecurity team, including the Justice Department and its FBI, the lead for investigation and law enforcement, the general said.

Other team members are the Department of Homeland Security -- the lead for protecting critical infrastructure and government systems outside the military -- and the intelligence community, which is responsible for threat intelligence and attribution, he added, noting that there are even roles and responsibilities for public-private and international partners.

DOD has begun to refine its role in defending the nation in cyberspace, Davis said.
“We have three main cyber missions, and three kinds of cyber forces will operate around the clock to conduct those missions,” the general explained.

National mission forces will be prepared to counter adversary cyberattacks, he said. A second, larger set of combat mission forces will be prepared to support combatant commanders as they execute military missions, integrating cyber capabilities and effects into their military contingency plans and operations alongside traditional capabilities and effects, he added.

Still other cyber protection forces -- the largest set, Davis said, will operate and defend the networks that support military operations worldwide.

“We will deter, disrupt and deny adversary cyberspace operations that threaten vital U.S. interests when approved by the president and directed by the secretary of defense,” he said. “If a crippling cyberattack is launched against our nation, the Department of Defense must be ready for an order from the commander in chief to act.”