Science and Technology News

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Alexander: Defending Against Cyberattacks Requires Collaboration



By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 2013 – Catastrophic cyberattacks loom in the nation’s future, and only collaboration among government agencies, Internet service providers and U.S. allies worldwide can help citizens prepare for them, the commander of U.S. Cyber Command said this afternoon.

Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, who also serves as director of the National Security Agency, delivered the keynote address to senior government security officials and industry executives attending a cybersecurity conference.

“Over the last 14 months, we’ve seen over 350 distributed-denial-of-service attacks on Wall Street, with varying levels of success. In August 2012, the whole world saw a destructive attack on Saudi Aramco’s computer systems that … wiped out the data on over 30,000 systems,” Alexander said.

The general asked the audience to imagine if that attack had hit Wall Street and to consider the impact it would have on the nation’s finances and the global financial structure.

“Those types of catastrophic attacks are in our future,” the general said. “We have to prepare for them. This is something the government cannot do by itself -- this is something government, industry and our allies have to work [on] together.”

Alexander said the partnership must start with legislation that allows Internet service providers such as those who have large financial industry clients on Wall Street to tell government law enforcement agencies exactly when a cyberattack is happening so it can be stopped.

“We need a way for industry to tell us when there’s an attack going on,” he said. “The chances of us seeing it in time to do something about it are very small, especially for a destructive attack.”

Alexander likened the way such a process would work to the way the E-ZPass electronic toll collection system scans cars on the highway to collect tolls. In the case of Internet traffic, the Internet service provider would scan network packets to see if they are good or bad, he explained.

If a bad packet is coming into Wall Street, Internet service providers would see that, he said, and could tip off the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Security Agency or U.S. Cyber Command about the bad packet, including where it’s going and where it’s coming from, at network speed.

“That’s the key,” Alexander said. “In order to respond to these types of threats, we need that information at network speed, and we’ve got to come up with the rules and the operational concepts to actually work at network speed if we’re going to stop some of these attacks.”

Some questions remain about how the process would work, he added.

“How do we scan traffic to know that it’s good to go in such a way that we protect our civil liberties and privacy and insure it’s not something that’s going to destroy our financial networks?” he asked. Our thoughts are that this is where government and industry can work together.

“We don’t need the contents of the packet,” he continued. “We don’t need to know anything more than it’s a bad packet and it came from Point A and it’s going to Point B. But for industry to provide us that information, we need legislation.”

Five areas are most important to the Cyber Command and NSA missions, the general told the audience. First, and perhaps most important, is to have a trained and ready force, he said.

“If you don’t have that and if [the cyber warriors] aren’t trained to the right level,” Alexander said, “they will never detect the threats that are going on in our networks.”

Second is to have operational concepts and command and control, the general said, defining that as Team Cyber, or the integration of NSA and Cyber Command as a team alongside the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI.

“We have a team and a concept that says if an attack is happening on Wall Street, we have to know how we’re going to work it,” he said. “NSA and Cyber Command do not respond inside the United States; that’s the role of the FBI. Outside, we work with our allies; that’s where NSA and Cyber Command come in. The operational concept says how we stop an attack and how we tell the right authorities what’s coming.”

Third is to have a defensible architecture, he said, using the Defense Department’s networks to explain the problem.

“Within the Defense Department we have 15,000 enclaves, each with different system administrators, each with their own firewalls, and each presenting a potential vulnerability if they’re not patched at the same time,” Alexander explained.

Having 15,000 groups of people trying to patch a network at the same time is problematic, he said.

“Somebody’s going to make a mistake, and … in cyberspace that means an adversary has a good probability of getting access to our network,” he said. “It’s the same thing for industry. How are we going to fix it? This is where the thin virtual cloud comes in.”

Such problems must be addressed at network speed “if we’re ever going to get out in front of this,” he added.

The fourth area is shared situational awareness in cyberspace, or how cyberspace is seen.

“Today, when somebody talks about an attack into your network, ask them to draw you a picture,” Alexander said. The issue, he added, is that if someone can’t describe what’s happening in cyberspace so that every decision maker understands it, how can they respond?

“We need shared situational awareness in cyberspace. We’re working that -- we call it the cyber common operational picture -- but we also have to have that shared space with industry,” Alexander said. “That’s one of the key things that industry and government have to work on together. How do we see the threats?”

Seeing good airplanes and bad airplanes coming in requires that they be sorted out, Alexander said. “We do that for air defense,” he added. “How do we do it for cyber defense, and how do we share it with our allies? That’s a key issue we have to address in solving some of the problems coming up.”

The fifth area is authorities, he said.

“The secretary of defense and the president are the policymakers, and it’s their decision on when we act and when we don’t act,” Alexander said. “But we have to set up some of the authorities -- what we’ll call the rules of the road.”

From a military perspective, these are the rules of engagement, he said, “and we are actually working that with the Defense Department, the White House and others. … But those, I think, absolutely should be on the table, and they should be transparent.”

DISA Consolidates Dayton, Chambersburg Data Center Operations



Defense Information Systems Agency News Release

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2013 – The Defense Information Systems Agency recently closed data center operations in Dayton, Ohio, and Chambersburg, Pa., and transferred the functions of these centers to other Defense Enterprise Computing Centers.

The reallocation of operations from Dayton and Chambersburg enables the agency to consolidate and converge existing information technology infrastructures to gain financial and operational efficiencies across the enterprise. It also supports the adoption of the Joint Information Environment, a major Department of Defense initiative designed to provide a consolidated, collaborative, and secure JIE that enables end-to-end information sharing and interdependent enterprise services across the department.

JIE will enable secure, seamless access to information regardless of computing device or location.

DISA and the military departments are aggressively consolidating their data centers and information technology infrastructure.

This consolidation will establish a core computing infrastructure that provides assured and ubiquitous access to vital enterprise services and aggregates computing services and infrastructure requirements to gain economic efficiencies of scale.

About 30 civilian employees were affected by these closures. All were reassigned to other positions within DOD or elected to retire from federal service.

Through a diverse portfolio of information technology capabilities, DISA's DECCs provide a common platform that enhances operational effectiveness and facilitates increased collaboration for the DOD.

DISA remains focused on providing standardized, robustly interconnected data centers that are available to support the combatant commands, military services, and agency requirements as needed. DISA is also committed to providing cutting-edge, secure, and globally accessible technologies in support of mission partners, regardless of agency or military service affiliation.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Harvesting the wind at Cape Cod Air Force Station

by Randy Pieper
21st Civil Engineer Squadron


10/21/2013 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.  -- It's not just the leaves that are changing at Cape Cod Air Force Station. The Air Force station is also changing the way it gets electricity as two new giant wind turbines are being installed at the 6th Space Warning Squadron.

The new wind turbines can produce up to 3.2 megawatts of power combined. When the wind is blowing, as it often does near the coastal New England site, the turbines will produce more electricity than the base consumes. Through a net metering agreement with the local electric company, the 6th SWS will make money selling wind energy. With a little help from Mother Nature, the annual savings is estimated to be more than $600,000 a year, recouping more than 50 percent of Cape Cod AFS's annual electric bill.

The installation of the wind turbines will put Cape Cod AFS in line with the Air Force's goal of using 25 percent renewable energy by 2025, said Steve Mellin, 6th SWS support officer.

"Where we're stationed here on the Massachusetts seashore, there is extremely high potential to generate wind energy. We're in one of the better spots on the east coast to take advantage of the wind energy," he said.

Two other organizations on Joint Base Cape Cod, which hosts the 6th SWS, use wind energy. The new turbines, numbers four and five on JBCC, will be used to power the Pave PAWs radar system operated at the 6th SWS, Mellin said. "This is a great opportunity to demonstrate how renewable energy can be used in-line with mission operations."

The project was funded by the Department of Defense's Energy Conservation Investment Program and is expected to pay for itself within 12 years, according to the Air Force Civil Engineer Center. In addition to saving money, the turbines will also reduce air pollution. Each turbine will reduce green house gas emissions by more than 1,000 metric tons of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide annually according to AFCEC.

"Watching the installation of these huge structures has been an interesting experience," said Mellin. The tower arrived in three separate pieces, he said, ranging from 72- to 97-feet long. Each blade is 120-feet long and comes in on a specially designed trailer.

"When the base of the each turbine was poured, a convoy of concrete trucks rolled in to deliver 1,100 tons of concrete," said Mellin. "The crane used to assemble the turbines arrived on 21 flatbed trucks and had to be assembled onsite."

The project is expected to be complete by January 2014.

Peterson AFB: Catching rays, saving dough

by Staff Sgt. J. Aaron Breeden
21st Space Wing Public Affairs


10/25/2013 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Since the 2007 partnership of Tierra Vista Communities and Peterson AFB privatized base housing, TVC has worked diligently to improve the quality of life for on-base residents. While there is some intermittent work still on-going, in July, TVC wrapped up a five-month-long project installing solar panels on the new homes, which will conservatively save more than $1.1 million in utility costs over the next 20 years.

John Bittner, TVC development manager, said the current electricity rate on-base is about one cent cheaper per kilowatt hour compared to Colorado Springs Utilities. This margin is expected to increase exponentially in the coming years, he added.

Furthermore, Bittner equated the panel's offset of carbon emissions to eliminating more than 4.7 million pounds of coal annually, a huge step in the "going green" direction.

"Right now it's kind of like, 'Eh, this helps,'" said Bittner. "But, 20 years down the road (we'll say), 'Ah! This was a genius move!'"

So, what do the savings from this "green" money mean for base residents?

Prior to the privatization of base housing, any saved monies would be put back into the base's general fund and redistributed to agencies across the base. This is no longer the case.

"After paying all of our bills ... money saved on operations goes into a reinvestment account," said Bittner. "(When the account) fills up to a certain extent we can build more homes; we can put in playgrounds; we can do great things in the community."

"Whatever (goes into that account) goes back to the community, which is a huge, wonderful thing," said Bittner.

"The residents that live here today might not see that new house or playground, but down the road the money saved will benefit future Airmen," he said.

Surprisingly, Bittner said that Peterson residents were overwhelmingly supportive of the project and many never realized the workers installing the panels had already come and gone from their home.

"It is a partnership with the residents, the base command and TVC all working together to make a successful project," said Bittner. "It was as smooth of a project as you can possibly have."

For more information about this project or how to help reduce your carbon foot print, call TVC at 597-7200.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Indictment Unsealed and “Wanted” Posters Issued for Fugitives Charged with Multimillion Dollar International Cyber Fraud Scheme

Earlier today, charges were unsealed against Romanian fugitive Nicolae Popescu, the leader of an international organized crime syndicate that ran a multimillion dollar cyber fraud scheme, and six other fugitives charged with participating in the same scheme.  Interpol has issued red notices to foreign law enforcement partners seeking assistance in the apprehension of these fugitives, and the FBI has also released “Wanted” posters to facilitate their arrests.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch of the Eastern District of New York, and Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos of the FBI’s New York Office made the announcement.

“Today, we have unsealed charges – and issued “wanted” posters and Interpol red notices – for a band of dangerous cybercriminals who are alleged to have stolen millions of dollars from unsuspecting consumers around the globe,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman.  “As described in the indictment, the leader of this band of thieves openly proclaimed that he is beyond the reach of the U.S. criminal justice system.  But with the help of our international partners, we will track down and capture every alleged member of this criminal syndicate, no matter where they are hiding.”

“Using forged documents and phony websites, for years Popescu and his criminal syndicate reached across the ocean to pick the pockets of hard working Americans looking to purchase cars,” said United States Attorney Lynch.  “They thought their distance would insulate them from law enforcement scrutiny.  They were wrong.  By now, Popescu and his band of fugitives have seen their co-conspirators brought here to account for their crimes.  Today’s actions place them squarely in the sights of our partners in international law enforcement. We will not stop in our efforts to find these fugitives and bring them to justice for the crimes they have allegedly committed against our citizens. ”

“As alleged, the defendants infiltrated the cyber marketplace with advertisements for high-value items that didn’t exist,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Venizelos.  “They siphoned funds from victims to fuel their greedy desires and created false identities, fake websites and counterfeit certificates of title in order to make the scheme more convincing.  Popescu and his co-conspirators were masters of illusion, but they can’t escape their ultimate reality.  With the help of our law enforcement partners at home and abroad, we will bring them to justice.”

Popescu, Romanian nationals Daniel Alexe, Dmitru Daniel Bosogioiu, Ovidiu Cristea, and Dragomir Razvan, and a defendant who goes by the names “George Skyper” and “Tudor Barbu Lautaru,” as well as Albanian national Fabjan Meme, were originally charged in a criminal complaint with six other defendants for their participation in a cyber-fraud conspiracy that targeted primarily American consumers on such U.S.-based websites as Cars.com and AutoTrader.com.  Their six co-defendants were arrested in a coordinated international takedown on Dec. 5, 2012, but Popescu, Alexe, Bosogioiu, Cristea, Razvan, and Meme have remained at large.

As alleged in the complaint and subsequent indictment, the defendants participated in a long-term conspiracy to saturate Internet marketplace websites including eBay, Cars.com, AutoTrader.com, and CycleTrader.com with detailed advertisements for cars, motorcycles, boats, and other high-value items – generally priced in the $10,000 to $45,000 range – that did not actually exist.  The defendants employed co-conspirators who corresponded with the victim buyers by email, sending fraudulent certificates of title and other information designed to lure the victims into parting with their money.  The defendants allegedly even pretended to sell cars from nonexistent auto dealerships in the United States and created phony websites for these fictitious dealerships.  As part of the scheme, the defendants produced and used high-quality fake passports to be used as identification by co-conspirators in the United States to open U.S. bank accounts.  After the “sellers” reached an agreement with the victim buyers, they would often email them invoices purporting to be from Amazon Payments, PayPal, or other online payment services, with instructions to transfer the money to the U.S. bank accounts used by the defendants.  The defendants and their co-conspirators allegedly used counterfeit service marks in designing the invoices so that they would appear identical to communications from legitimate payment services.  The illicit proceeds were then withdrawn from the U.S. bank accounts and sent to the defendants in Europe by wire transfer and other methods. 
           
The complaint and indictment describe the extent to which Popescu, in particular, led the conspiracy.  Among other things, Popescu coordinated the roles of the various participants in the scheme – he hired and fired passport makers based on the quality of the fake passports they produced, supervised co-conspirators who were responsible for placing the fraudulent ads and corresponding with the victims, and ensured that the illicit proceeds transferred to the U.S. bank accounts were quickly collected and transferred to himself and others acting on his behalf in Europe.  Popescu also allegedly directed Cristea to obtain and transfer luxury watches purchased using the illegal proceeds of the scheme, including three Audemars Piguet watches with a combined retail value of over $140,000, to his associates in Europe.  It is estimated that the defendants earned over $3 million from the fraudulent scheme.

According to the charging documents, Popescu and his close associate Bosogioiu demonstrated that they were aware of the risks of prosecution in the United States.  In a recorded conversation on Oct. 23, 2011, Bosogioiu asked about the difference between federal and state law in the United States and vowed to avoid the FBI.  Popescu, meanwhile, predicted on July 28, 2011, that “criminals will not be extradited from Romania to U.S.A….[I]t will never happen.”

The charges in the complaint and the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Carol Sipperly of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Cristina Posa, Nadia Shihata, and Claire Kedeshian of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.

The offices of the FBI Legal Attachés in Romania, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, Canada and Hungary were instrumental in coordinating efforts with the United States’ international partners, and the U.S. government thanks its partners in Romania, the Czech Republic, Hungary, the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany for their close cooperation throughout this investigation.  The Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, Office of International Affairs, and Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section provided assistance with this investigation, as did the International Organized Crime Intelligence and Operations Center; the Internet Crime Complaint Center; the Costa Mesa, Calif., Police Department; the Orange County, Calif., District Attorney’s Office; and the New York City Police Department.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Sharing is learning

by Staff Sgt. Amber R. Kelly-Herard
Air Mobility Command Public Affairs


10/17/2013 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- Blog or website? Book or MP3? App or software?

The Air Mobility Command Enterprise Learning Office created the Learning Resources site for Mobility Airmen's input on their preferred learning resources, both personal and professional.

The ELO's mission is to transform AMC into a premier Air Force learning organization, achieve learning through optimum approaches and develop Mobility Airmen into life-long learners and well cultivated critical thinkers with a positive approach to managing their own learning.

"It is critical that we transform our learning culture and ensure we are using the most cost effective approach to get the outcome needed using a combination of all learning methods," said Gen. Paul Selva, AMC commander. "Our Airmen need to have on-duty time to improve their intellectual fitness just like we encourage their physical fitness...it is that important."

AMC is incorporating andragogical principles into learning events.

Andragogy is adult learning; whereas pedagogy is associated with children. Adults bring life experiences and knowledge to the learning environment, are goal oriented and self-directed.

Adult learning principles are already incorporated into some learning events developed by the USAF Expeditionary Center and some functional training.

The ELO will spread these pockets of excellence across the command and work to ensure Airmen learn using the best combination of tools and approaches. Many times this means incorporating an AMC 2.0 approach to learning in which interactive, open communication sharing and collaboration using modern technology plays a more important role than just accessing information.

An example of how andragogy and AMC 2.0 have already been employed took place recently in the installation support community. Previously, joint base commander orientation training consisted of five hours of PowerPoint. After an AMC 2.0 makeover, the training had pre-work commanders could complete on their own time. When the commanders met for training, they all had the same level of prior knowledge and could spend more time interacting and sharing information.

"This is a targeted approach to increase learning value while reducing costs and transforming our learning culture to develop Airmen who are self-directed, lifelong learners and an organization that is skilled at modifying our behavior to reflect changes in the environment, capabilities and knowledge," said Dr. Darcy Lilley, AMC chief learning officer.

As an organization who values learning, AMC challenges Airmen to think innovatively, share their knowledge, have the courage to fail and reach new levels of expertise.

To visit the Enterprise Learning Office's learning resources site, you will find their page on the AMC SharePoint website.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

DOD Funding Contributes to U.S. Biodefense Infrastructure

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 16, 2013 – The Defense Department has contributed core capabilities to a national center funded as a public-private partnership by the Department of Health and Human Services to enhance the U.S. response to infectious diseases and biological, chemical, radiological and nuclear threats.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric M. Garneau prepares to administer an H1N1 flu vaccine aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan while the ship is underway in the Atlantic Ocean, Dec. 5, 2009. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Anthony Sisti
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The HHS Texas A&M Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing is a response in part to pandemics such as the 2009-2010 H1N1 flu -- for which traditional biomanufacturing methods took 26 weeks to produce initial vaccine doses – and the future threat of biological attacks and other public health emergencies.

According to expert witnesses testifying here Oct. 11 before the House Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on intelligence, emerging threats and capabilities, some kinds of advances in biomanufacturing processes and DNA technologies have lowered the bar for states, and even individuals, who seek to produce biological weapons.

One of the witnesses was Dr. Brett P. Giroir, principal investigator at the Texas A&M Center for Innovation, and interim vice president and chief executive officer of the Texas A&M Health Sciences Center.

“Literally, what once took weeks during medical school to produce in a multimillion-dollar laboratory can be done [today] in an afternoon on a benchtop by someone with a relatively less degree of scientific training,” he told the panel. “So the barriers to entry have decreased.”

Giroir’s work at the Texas A&M Center for Innovation began in 2008 after nine years at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

During his first five years at DARPA, Giroir was a member of the Defense Sciences Research Council, for which he chaired or co-chaired intensive studies on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear security and countermeasures, decontamination and warfighter performance under extreme conditions, he said in written testimony.

Then, as deputy director and later director of the DARPA Defense Sciences Office, he and a team of scientists, physicians and engineers developed a platform of research initiatives called Accelerating Critical Therapeutics, or ACT, he said.

ACT was designed to provide new, highly effective medical countermeasures and an unprecedented, flexible and rapid response to address the growing threat of genetically modified or chimeric organisms -- single organisms with two or more sets of genetically distinct cells -- for which no vaccines or countermeasures existed.

One aspect of the DARPA portfolio that was extremely challenging, even for DARPA, he said, was the ability to develop low-cost, highly flexible and adaptable biomanufacturing technologies that could provide tens of millions of doses of vaccines or medical countermeasures such as chemical-weapon antidotes within weeks of notification.

Such a capability didn’t exist in the civilian or military experience, Giroir said, and profound technical and financial barriers kept the problem unsolved for several years.

“In 2008, when my assignment at DARPA was completed, I joined the Texas A&M system [and] secured a $50 million investment from the state of Texas to demonstrate those flexible manufacturing capabilities originally envisioned at DARPA,” Giroir told the panel.

“Beginning in 2009,” he added, “Texas A&M designed, developed, constructed and is now operating a revolutionary first-in-class, 150,000-square-foot facility that has pioneered highly flexible, adaptable and even mobile manufacturing platforms at a capital cost of about 80 percent less than the current state of the art.”

The facility is called the National Center for Therapeutics, or NCTM, and a key feature there is the use of modular and mobile stand-alone biopharmaceutical clean rooms, called modular clear rooms, or MCRs. The initial MCR concept was funded by DOD through DARPA and the Army Research Office, Giroir said.

NCTM is the core facility and main site for developing and manufacturing medical countermeasures and vaccines against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats for the Texas A&M Center for Innovation, he added.

Another part of the Center for Innovation’s biomanufacturing infrastructure is the Caliber Biotherapeutics Facility, Giroir said. Caliber was developed and built through Texas A&M and G-CON Manufacturing, with funding from the DARPA Blue Angel Program.

According to a 2012 DARPA news release, the Blue Angel Program demonstrated a flexible and agile capability for DOD to rapidly react to and neutralize any natural or intentional pandemic disease.
Building on a previous DARPA program, Blue Angel targeted new ways to produce large amounts of high-quality, vaccine-grade protein in less than three months in response to emerging and novel biological threats. One of the research avenues explored plant-made proteins for producing a candidate vaccine.

In a milestone development under the program, researchers at Medicago Inc. in North Carolina produced in one month more than 10 million doses of an animal-model H1N1 flu-vaccine candidate based on virus-like particles, the DARPA statement said.

The work was part of a rapid-fire test that ran from March 25, 2012, to April 24, 2012, and showed that a single dose of the H1N1 vaccine candidate induced protective antibody levels in an animal model when combined with a standard immunological additive, according to DARPA.

The Texas A&M Center for Innovation has partnered with Caliber Biotherapeutics to make Caliber’s plant-made pharmaceutical facility available for HHS task orders, including vaccines, Giroir told the panel.

“The facility has the capability to produce up to 20 kilograms of purified protein per month through its highly automated, Nicotiana benthamiana, a close relative of tobacco, plant-based production system,” Giroir said.

“We consider this program to be the most responsive, secure and capable plant-made vaccine program currently available worldwide,” he added.

Giroir said the Center for Innovation’s high-level objectives are:
-- To provide a national vaccine response against pandemic flu, defined as 50 million doses delivered in 4 months, with initial doses available to the federal government in 12 weeks;
-- To perform what's called advanced development -- the final steps -- in manufacturing vaccines and medical countermeasures against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats as tasked by HHS; and
-- To train the future domestic U.S. workforce.

To achieve these objectives, Texas A&M leads a multidisciplinary team with expertise that spans research to clinical trials, including GlaxoSmithKline, or GSK Vaccines, the world's largest vaccine developer, Giroir said.

The center also is expanding domestic U.S. infrastructure, he added, building a new, dedicated pandemic flu vaccine facility to meet its 50-million-dose requirements, and building a new live-virus vaccine facility at biosafety level 3, designed specifically for research with hazardous biological agents.

Giroir said Texas A&M is highly motivated to continue its history of service to the nation by supporting DOD and supplying improved vaccines and countermeasures to the warfighter.

“Of particular interest would be DOD partnerships to develop and manufacture products for their stockpile and special immunizations programs,” he added, “and perhaps more importantly, to be the cornerstone for an emergency response to genetically modified or chimeric organisms [and] other unexpected agents that we believe are a growing, real threat to our national security and public health.”
Because the center’s contract with HHS indicates that 50 percent of its capabilities are available for non-HHS projects, there is an immediate opportunity for DOD to use center capacity and expertise already funded by HHS, Giroir said.

“We believe such collaborations would not only reduce DOD operational risks,” he added, “but would reduce DOD expenditures, potentially by hundreds of millions of dollars, that could then be reallocated to provide additional vaccines, countermeasures and capabilities to our warfighters.”

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Maxwell Civil Engineers use construction technology to cut energy costs

by Staff Sgt. Gregory Brook
42nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs


10/11/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. - -- During a time when "government shutdown, furlough and recapitalization" are a part of the military landscape, Airmen are constantly looking for ways to save money for the service.

The 42nd Civil Engineer Squadron is doing more than just recycling and trading out incandescent light bulbs to save energy. These engineers are planning, sketching and studying how to leverage construction technology to save the Air Force millions over the next decade.

Everything the Air Force does, from launching aircraft to sending emails, costs money, and Airmen have an eye on reducing waste daily. This can mean identifying and eliminating unnecessary waste from missions or simply turning off computer screens and lights on the way out the door each day.

Designated by the Department of Defense, Energy Awareness Month, celebrated in October, focuses on informing the base populace about the need to conserve energy.

The initiative focuses on increasing renewable sources of energy and fostering a culture of conservation. Renewable energy increases base security by reducing reliance on outside systems vulnerable to attack and providing a backup power source in case of emergency.

Maxwell is using a program called utility energy savings contracting to facilitate this process. It is a DOD and Air Force approved procurement vehicle that allows federal facilities to directly negotiate energy conservation implementation work with the utilities that serve the base.

"The base is starting direct negotiations with Alabama Power Company and Alabama Gas Corporation in an effort to reduce bills and increase efficiency," said Larry Rowland, 42nd CES base energy manager. "The less energy the Air Force uses and the more service members save reduces costs and enhances the ability to accomplish the mission. Energy impacts our readiness and the money we can shave off our utility expenditures can go directly to combat readiness or training depending on the function of the base."

Every year, Maxwell spends approximately $15 million on utility costs, including electricity, gas and water.

"The environment here provides challenges to energy conservation," Rowland said. "We are very reliant on air conditioning and heating, partly because Maxwell is an education base with lots of classrooms with 20-30 students in each daily."

According to civil engineer officials, Maxwell's single biggest expense is electricity for air conditioning; however there are other ways the base can save money on energy.

"Energy conservation is a broad concept," said Kristi Rollins, 42nd CES community planner. "Landscaping and buildings in general take energy and resources to maintain. We are looking at the buildings that we are designing, and we try to ensure they are oriented properly so they need to use less energy. In addition, we are using river water from the Alabama River to irrigate our golf courses, which saves the base $125,000 per year."

Cities and bases across the country provide inspiration for innovative ways in which to save energy. Cities like Boston, the most energy efficient city in the U.S. based on analysis by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, and Nellis Air Force Base, which generates 25 percent of its own power using solar panel fields. These cities and bases set the example by implementing energy saving initiatives that can be repeated here and at other Air Force bases.

One of the major initiatives the team here is undertaking is using technology to help reduce energy consumption and eliminate waste.

Currently, Maxwell employs an energy management system that remotely monitors and controls heating and cooling in many of the larger buildings on base. The system, monitored by an operator, can tell if a room is getting too hot or cold while tracking how the building's heating and cooling systems are performing. When necessary, adjustments to temperature set-points and system schedules can be made that will meet the needs of the mission while conserving energy.

"In addition to energy management systems we are looking at lighting projects that will turn the lights off when no one is around and dim them to take advantage of natural light coming in from windows. We call it 'light harvesting,'" Rowland said.

Other initiatives base civil engineers are considering include occupancy based temperature setback systems in dormitories. The temperature setback system targets a specific room and adjusts the temperature to a specific range until the resident returns.

According to Rowland, the system comes directly from observing civilian industry, specifically hotels, and adapting it to military use.

"Like any other cost-control measure, you first have to eliminate waste," Rowland said. "It can be as simple as turning off the lights. We all forget sometimes. When people start to forget enough, then you need to look into ways of controlling it."

Maxwell will host an energy expo Nov. 15 that will give people on base the opportunity to come and see examples of what technologies could be put to use in base facilities to conserve energy. The annual event is geared toward residential and commercial applications and vehicles.

"Energy conservation is everyone's job and it is to everyone's benefit on base," Rowland said.

Kadena PMEL keeps PACOM's calibrations precise

by Senior Airman Marcus Morris
18th Wing Public Affairs


10/15/2013 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- At first glance, the 18th Component Maintenance Squadron precision measurement equipment laboratories looks like any other building. Once inside the immaculate and sterile interior, its pressure sealed doors and hallways look more appropriate for a hospital than a maintenance shop.

While most PMEL have base support responsibilities, the 18th CMS PMEL here, with its unique specialty labs, is responsible for calibrating and repairing high end test equipment from more than 200 U.S. Pacific Command installations. More than 800 customers drop off equipment daily for calibration and repair.

Most labs are type 2B PMEL labs, which means they are base-level PMEL established to support aircraft, missiles, ground systems and other equipment on base or in the local area.

The 18th CMS PMEL is the only type 2A PMEL lab in the Air Force that is 100 percent military run. The only other type 2A PMEL lab in the Pacific region is Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, which is run by contractors.

This means not only does it do normal type 2B functions; it also has a 68 degree room for dimensional measurements of highly accurate dimensional tests, measurements, and diagnostic equipment that require a meticulously controlled environment. The room has to be kept at 68 degrees Fahrenheit to properly calibrate the sensitive equipment.

Kadena's PMEL Airmen ensure accuracies and tolerances are met in a certain set condition such as temperature, dust, vibration, electromagnetic interference and humidity. This allows them to calibrate the sound equipment for all of the Pacific Air Forces, as well as equipment such as a multiple-target collimator, which is used to calibrate surveillance equipment.

Not only does PMEL maintain all of the test equipment that keeps the fighter jets, heavy aircrafts and bombers in the air, they also maintain communication test equipment for satellite uplink or down-link, test equipment to maintain the power-grid for the base and gauges for fuel trucks and aircrafts.

"We take our job very seriously," said Master Sgt. Kevin Herrera, 18th CMS TMDE laboratory chief. "Since we touch and influence so many different fields, it is important to do the job right and that's where precision comes into play."

Each item is calibrated four times better than what is required and follows the Air Force Primary Standards Laboratory, which is in charge of maintaining the standards of the Air Force's PMELs. In turn, the AFPSL follows the standards of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is in charge of the national standards of all labs.

This creates an unbroken chain, ensuring even at the lowest level, people have accurate equipment.

Approximately 50 authorized PMEL airmen are responsible for the calibration and repair of more than 10,500 test measurement and diagnostic equipment assets and complete 12,800 maintenance actions annually.

"The job is a little surreal," said Staff Sgt. Sean Pentz, 18th CMS PMEL technician. "If you make a mistake in this job, an aircraft could go down or a missile doesn't hit its target. A small deviation makes a big difference; without precision aircrafts can't fly."

While PMEL is part of the maintenance community, they are not confined to it. If there is a maintenance training day, PMEL meets the initiatives that the 18th Maintenance Group is trying to accomplish that day, but they still have obligations they must meet for PACOM.

"We have some unique specialty labs that are specific to us, that no other military lab is doing," Rankin said. "So, when the opportunity presents itself and you get to come to Kadena to work in this laboratory, you know you are getting a special opportunity and we are very proud of that mission."

Scott STEM group names essay contest winners

by T.G. Kistler
Air Mobility Command Public Affairs


10/15/2013 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- The Scott Air Force Base Science Technology Engineering and Math Advisory Group recently announced the winners of their fall 2013 essay contest.

Twenty-three southwestern Illinois students wrote essays on "Why is studying science, technology, engineering or math related subjects important for you and students at your school?"

This was not just a writing exercise.

"Humans have insatiable curiosity and this is never stronger than when we are young," said Dr. Donald Erbschloe, Air Mobility Command chief scientist and Scott STEM Advisory Group chairman. "STEM provides tools and programs to help encourage and sustain this passion."

The winners are: Rachel Holtmann, Pontiac Junior High School, Fairview Heights; Destiny Johnson, Dorris Intermediate School, Collinsville; Chloe Sax, Triad Middle School, St. Jacob and Matthew Halbrook, Lahr-Academy, Edwardsville.

"We are very proud of all the students who submitted entries for the competition," said Andrea Green-Armstrong, a STEM group member. "All of the essay submissions were well done and really gave a voice to the importance of studying STEM fields for students to be successful in future education and career endeavors."

Each student will receive a certificate of recognition from the Scott STEM Advisory Group and the school receives a gift certificate for a Mad Science show. Mad Science shows promote scientific learning through child-friendly, theatrical demonstrations.

Green-Armstrong mentioned one essay specifically.

"The essay by Chloe Sax, from Triad Middle School, stood out because it went further than benefits to individuals; it captured the big picture point that in order to stay competitive with other countries, the United States must have a citizenry that is knowledgeable in STEM fields," she said.

All fifth- through eighth-grade teachers, students, classes, clubs and groups associated with a public or private school, home school network or support group were eligible to compete as long as they resided in one of the 10 southwestern Illinois counties surrounding Scott AFB.

Scientists, engineers and interested base members formed the Scott AFB STEM Advisory Group in 2011 to advance STEM outreach and education in southwestern Illinois. The group includes volunteers from U.S. Transportation Command, Air Mobility Command, Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command and the 375th Air Mobility Wing.

In an effort to support the future workforce needs of the Department of Defense, the National Defense Education Program provides funding for the Scott STEM Advisory Group awards.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Safety center physiologist honored for contributions to human factors, ergonomics disciplines

by Technical Sgt. Kathee Mullins
Air Force Safety Center Public Affairs


10/10/2013 - KIRTLAND AFB, N.M. -- 
Maj. Joe Pugliese, assigned to the Human Factors Division, Air Force Safety Center (AFSEC), received the Oliver Keith Hansen Outreach Award on Oct. 1, in San Diego, Calif., for his support of the Military Flight Operations Quality Assurance Program (MFOQA) and Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) efforts managed by the Aviation Safety Division.

"Maj. Pugliese has shown commendable initiative in developing and leading critical programs sustaining U.S. National Security Strategy," said Dr. Antonio Cortés, Aviation Safety Division. "Integrating human factors, he developed and led operational countermeasure aircrew training programs and comprehensive aviation and ground safety investigation programs. His training was benchmarked by Air Combat Command where he oversaw the delivery of human factors training to more than 3,000 Airmen."

"Joe's outreach to our MFOQA has been key to making the technical analyses we produce intelligible and actionable by our three user communities: aircrew, safety professionals, and operations leaders," said Kathleen Armstrong, Director of Proactive Aviation Safety. "He is actively working with our team to ascertain the viability of event coding using Human Factors Analysis and Classification System (HFACS) or the existing ASAP taxonomy in order to create a comprehensive hazard registry for use by analysts and safety professionals. These programs have benefited greatly from his outreach."

Pugliese's outreach to ASAP helped discern the ergonomic and human performance issues applicable to the hazards identified through voluntary reporting. He also authored the human factors content of the safety center's Proactive Aviation Safety web pages that are used throughout the Air Force, allied forces, and sister services to learn about our life-saving initiatives.

"I am humbled and honored to be the recipient of this prestigious award," Pugliese said. "There are a lot of talented people doing great things in this business and I am truly proud to be a part of the human factors, safety team."

The Oliver Keith Hansen Outreach Award was presented by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. The organization advocates the systematic use of knowledge to achieve compatibility in the design of interactive systems comprised of people, machines, and environments to ensure their effectiveness, safety, and ease of performance.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Propulsion Airmen make noise in the 'Hush House'

by Senior Airman Shawn Nickel
354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


10/8/2013 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska  -- "If we close those doors, the building will implode," yelled Tech. Sgt. Joshua Baker as the engine from an F-16 Fighting Falcon sucked freezing air into the "Hush House" through tall slats on the walls.

The thrust demonstrates the maximum power fighter jets from the 18th Aggressor Squadron use while hosting RED FLAG-Alaska several times a year and intensely training in between.

"The pilots force these engines to the limits, then after they reach a certain point, we get to take them apart, rebuild and make sure they can safely take them to the limits again," said Baker, the test cell flight chief from the 354th Maintenance Squadron.

Airmen from the 354th MXS propulsion flight rebuild the engines to maintain Eielson's missions. With an average of nine engines a year and a record of 13, the self-proclaimed "World's Best Propulsion Flight" is always on the move.

From the beginning of a project to the end can take days to months depending on the availability of parts and the condition of the General Electric F-110-100 engines they maintain. Once every nut, bolt, wire and tube is in place, it's time to mount the engine in the "Hush House" and put the pedal to the metal.

"It's awesome to see days of work come together and feel the airpower we're part of," said Staff Sgt. Daniel Kaufman, 354th MXS dock chief, as the engine rumbles the entire building.

"Every time we get to test an engine, it makes all the long hours and hard work with a wrench worth it."

As the engine starts, air is pulled into the "Hush House" through flaps on adjacent walls that resemble gills on a fish. Because of the force of the engine, instruments measure air pressure to ensure the walls don't implode, said Kaufman.

"This building is essentially portable, giving us the ability to have it packed up and transported anywhere in the world, but it's also specially designed to keep most of the noise inside," he said.

After the outside air is brought to negative temperatures from the wind chill, it is combusted by the engine running full throttle and forced out the exhaust tube behind it. The specially designed tube dampens the sound using corrugated metal panels filled with a material resembling steel wool. As the now hot air is projected upward, it rumbles the surrounding buildings, yet much quieter.

"This process isn't just to make noise, it's to make sure we did our job right rebuilding the engine," Baker said. "After the check is complete, everything is inspected once more before we place the engine back in the Aggressor."

The camouflage jets from the 18th AS wouldn't be able to take off safely without the expertise of these propulsion experts and Baker assures every time a pilot gets in the cockpit, they can be confident every part and piece of that engine is in excellent order.

"Our job is fun, but it's also extremely important," he said. "Every one of us loves to push that throttle forward in the test cab and watch a perfect test, just knowing that engine is going to make a difference somewhere soon."