Science and Technology News

Thursday, February 26, 2015

NY Air National Guard completes 27th year of Antarctic science support

by Tech. Sgt. Catharine Schmidt
109th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


2/25/2015 - STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. -- This week the New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing here concludes a five-month mission supporting the National Science Foundation's Antarctic Program as part of Operation Deep Freeze.

Airmen from the 109th AW flew 241 missions, delivering more than 3,000 passengers and 2,250 tons of cargo and fuel to research stations across Antarctica during a deployment to the southern continent that began in October 2014.

"This was a great season for the 109th," said Lt. Col. Clifford Souza, 139th Airlift Squadron, who returned home with about 30 Airmen on Feb. 24. "We flew over 155 on-continent missions in Antarctica as well as intercontinental missions from New Zealand to Antarctica. We're glad to be back and have one more year under our belt."

This is the 27th year that the 109th AW supported the National Science Foundation's Antarctic Program as part of Operation Deep Freeze, military logistics support for the research effort. This mission season also saw the successful deployment of IcePod, an imaging system that can measure the depth of an ice sheet, on the Air Force LC-130 Skibird aircraft.

The wing deployed about 575 Airmen and seven LC-130 ski-equipped aircraft to McMurdo Station, the hub of the American presence in Antarctica during the five-month support season. About 120 Airmen were at McMurdo Station at any given time, as Airmen rotated between Antarctica and the 109th AW's home in Scotia.

The first LC-130 returned home with passengers Feb. 23 with more Airmen following throughout the week via Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft. The final six LC-130s that were deployed and remaining Airmen are expected to return home within the next week.

One of the biggest successes this year for the 109th AW was flying the IcePod missions for the first time in Antarctica.

"IcePod focuses on the development of an integrated ice imaging system that can measure in detail both the ice surface and the ice bed, helping in the understanding of why ice sheets are changing at such a rapid rate," said Lt. Col. Blair Herdrick in an earlier article, chief of Antarctic Operations at the 109th. "The system will be enclosed in a [Common Science Support Pod] mounted on the rear troop door of the LC-130. This will be the first operational use of the CSSP."

Crews flew nine flights total with the IcePod during a three-week period.

"These were the final tests before the IcePod is fully commissioned," said Maj. Joshua Hicks, a 139th Airlift Squadron pilot who flew the missions. "Overall it went very well. We completed what we needed to do."

The continued work supporting Operation Deep Freeze garnered attention from military leadership. Both Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and Lt. Gen. Stanley Clarke III, Air National Guard director, visited Antarctica and the Airmen stationed there in January.

Maj. Marc McKeon, assistant chief of Antarctic Operations, said the people are what contribute to a successful season.

"People enjoy the mission," he said. "You have to enjoy what you do in order to be good at it. And we have some of the best maintainers and aircrew that the Air National Guard has to offer."

The unique capabilities of the ski-equipped LC-130 aircraft make it the only one of its kind in the U.S. military, able to land on snow and ice. The primary mission of the 109th AW is to provide airlift within Antarctica, flying to various remote locations from McMurdo Station.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

DoD Seeks Novel Ideas to Shape its Technological Future



By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 24, 2015 – The Defense Department is seeking novel ideas to shape its future, and officials are looking to industry, small business, academia, start-ups, the public –- anyone, really –- to boost its ability to prevail against adversaries whose access to technology grows daily.

The program, called the Long-Range Research and Development Plan, or LRRDP, began with an Oct. 29 memo by DoD acquisition chief Frank Kendall.

The memo said the LRRDP will identify high-payoff enabling technology investments that could help shape future U.S. materiel investments and the trajectory of future competition for technical superiority. The plan will focus on technology that can be moved into development programs within the next five years.

Full and Immediate Support

“This effort is of the highest priority and requires full and immediate support from across the department,” Kendall wrote.

On Jan. 28, the department published a request for information, seeking to identify current and emerging technologies or projections of technology-enabled concepts that “could provide significant military advantage to the United States and its partners and allies in the 2030 timeframe.”

During a recent media roundtable here, LRRDP program lead Stephen P. Welby, deputy assistant secretary of defense for systems engineering, said the RFI deadline has twice been extended, and that more than 300 responses have come in.

“We have gotten some very talented folks replying to the RFI,” Welby said. Ideas are coming from small businesses, from traditional defense sources, and “some from surprising places we hadn't thought might respond,” Welby said. “And that's exactly what we're hoping to get from this,” he added.

Defense Innovation Initiative

The LRRDP is part of the larger Defense Innovation Initiative, an effort to harness the brightest minds and cutting-edge technology to accelerate the way the department innovates and operates.

Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work is managing and integrating the initiative’s five technology areas, one of which is the LRRDP. In a summer meeting, Welby said, Work “introduced and drew out a historical analogy to where we are today.”

In 1973, the nation was moving out of the Vietnam War, where the military had been focused on counterinsurgency. Budgets were declining. And the Soviets, among other things, gradually had begun to build up their strategic nuclear forces, Work said during a January speech.

In the summer of 1973, with the dangers of nuclear escalation growing, what would later become the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, launched the first LRRDP program to give the president and the joint force better tools for responding to a Warsaw Pact attack, the deputy secretary said.

The group recommended going after conventional weapons with near-zero miss capability -- “a very simple idea that had profound implications throughout the entire defense program,” he added.

In 1977, the DoD leadership directed DARPA to integrate all of the promising military technologies into a system of systems for deep attack. The program, Assault Breaker, called for aircraft with light-area-sensor cueing and surface-to-surface ballistic missiles that could dispense a blanket of anti-armor submunitions.

Picking a Competitive Advantage

Assault Breaker demonstrated its capabilities in 1982 at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, and Work said the Soviets were watching.

“The implications of that single demonstration … really caused them to pause,” he added.

Ultimately, Assault Breaker led to development of the Air Force’s 17 E-8 Joint Surveillance Target and Attack Radar System, or JSTARS, aircraft, its air-to-ground BLU-108 sensor-fuzed weapon with terminally guided submunitions, and the long-range, surface-to-surface Army Tactical Missile System called ATACMS.

“We had picked a competitive advantage that we knew our adversary, the Soviets, could not duplicate and therefore injected uncertainty in their minds, changing their war-fighting calculus,” Work explained.

The joint force took over Assault Breaker, the deputy secretary said, “and we continued to build [the advanced capability] even in an era of declining budgets, starting in 1985.”

Demonstrating the Capability

U.S. forces demonstrated the capability, including that of the E-8C JSTARS side-looking airborne radar system with moving target indication, to the rest of the world in 1990 and 1991. This was during Operation Desert Storm, Work said, “when the Iraqi heavy formations built on the Soviet model were virtually reduced to an array of targets.”

Forty-two years after the plan’s inception, the second iteration of LRRDP is still accepting idea submissions, Welby said, noting that the LRRDP program page at the department’s Innovation Marketplace website features a conspicuously placed green box that says, “Share your ideas.”

Submissions should focus on technology-enabled capabilities that could to enter formal development in the next five to 10 years, the RFI says, offering military advantage during the 2025 to 2030 timeframe.

The LRRDP is looking for relatively mature technologies that can be applied in novel ways for a new kind of system capability, emerging technologies that can quickly be turned to new military capabilities, or technologies for nondefense applications that can offer new military capabilities.

Technology Priorities

Five technology priority areas include space, undersea technology, air dominance and strike, air and missile defense, and other technology-driven concepts.

When program officials find an idea interesting, one of five teams will be sent to speak with the submitting person or company, Welby said, adding that in mid-summer, the best ideas will be shared with Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

“The customer for this is the leadership of the department,” he said, “to help them think through the future and think differently about what the world's going to look like.”

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell Announces Reward for Cyber Fugitive at Washington Foreign Press Center



Washington, DC
United States
~
Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Good afternoon, thank you all for joining us.

Today, we are announcing a reward for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of Evgeniy Bogachev, an alleged leader of a tightly knit gang of cyber criminals based in Russia and Ukraine who were responsible for the development and operation of both the Gameover Zeus and Cryptolocker malware.

Gameover Zeus was one of the most sophisticated and damaging botnets ever encountered, infecting between 500,000 and one million computers worldwide, and causing more than $100 million in financial losses to businesses and consumers in the United States alone.

On top of that, the Cryptolocker ransomware infected more than 250,000 computers worldwide, and targeted companies big and small, as well as individuals.

In May and June 2014, we were able to wrest control of the Gameover Zeus botnet from the criminals and take Cryptolocker offline.  This was thanks to an unprecedented action orchestrated by law enforcement and private sector partners in 10 different countries.

Today, due to the work of the FBI and its partners, Gameover Zeus has been neutralized and is out of the criminals’ hands and Cryptolocker remains non-operational.  

But one significant part of the puzzle remains incomplete, as Bogachev remains at large.  Although we were able to significantly disrupt the Gameover Zeus and Cryptolocker criminal enterprise, we have not yet brought Bogachev himself to justice.

We must not allow international borders to shield criminals from the law.  As more nations join the fight against international cybercrime, the number of countries once perceived as sanctuaries is shrinking, and will continue to shrink.  

In the case of Bogachev, the same international coalition that brought down his botnet is now chasing him.

We appreciate the State Department shining the light on this important case again today.  This reward will reinvigorate the efforts to find Bogachev and encourage others to join the hunt.

I am confident that Bogachev will one day be caught and brought to face justice in the United States.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Be aware of information you provide; OPSEC is a state of mind

by Josh Nichols
673d ABW Plans and Programs


2/19/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- We have all seen the posters with the big purple dragon plastered across the walls throughout our units, and hopefully we are all aware of operations security concepts.

But for some, especially in the comfortable, military-friendly town of Anchorage, the consequences of poor OPSEC practices seem vague, unlikely and incredibly distant.

OPSEC is not a process that can be oversimplified through regulation. It is a consistent, subtle check on a person's habits regarding the information he might publicize.

According to Air Force Instruction 10-701, "OPSEC is a process of identifying, analyzing and controlling critical information indicating friendly actions associated with military operations."

This also includes the need to "identify those actions that can be observed ... determine what could be collected, analyzed, and interpreted to derive critical information ...  and execute measures that eliminate or reduce the vulnerabilities."

In other words, we are all responsible for identifying what information can be collected and pieced together by adversaries into something useful.
Furthermore, we are responsible for figuring out what actions to take to minimize our adversaries' accessibility to such critical and sensitive information. This does not come without challenges.

One of the main obstacles to good OPSEC is complacency. This is compounded by the handling of particularly sensitive information throughout the day. Mishandled unclassified information can very easily become significant to an adversary. Unfortunately, we are all susceptible to complacency that can lead to breaches.

Here are some common examples of poor OPSEC:

-Throwing away anything with personally identifiable information - such as bank statements, names and addresses, social security numbers and medical information

-Throwing away any "for official use only" information

-Flags hanging in windows for deployed family members, which can identify a spouse home alone

-Decals or license plate frames displaying branch of service or unit

-Secure-area badges left in vehicles in plain view

-Wearing t-shirts in town which advertise military units, installations or technical expertise

-Social media profiles identifying military service, job series, where you are stationed, deployment info, etc.

Some information, if divulged, could put everyone at risk for being socially engineered. Social engineering happens when adversaries befriend individuals and collect information over the course of time - sometimes for years. Staying focused 24/7 is the ever-present challenge to maintaining good OPSEC.

Seemingly unimportant information or actions become much more significant when pieced together and placed into context. Regulations governing OPSEC can be written, and training can be mandated, but ultimately, good OPSEC is a matter of consistently monitoring the information we allow others to see, and creating good habits consistent with the military lifestyle we have all chosen to live.

In other words, you should always be in an OPSEC frame of mind - whether you are on or off duty, on or off base, or at home on your computer.

Family members are vital to the success of our OPSEC program. They are privy to certain sensitive information, such as deployment times and locations or recalls. They assist in creating, focusing and monitoring their families' OPSEC frame of mind. Family members are just as important as active duty, civilians and contractors in protecting JBER, the Army, the Air Force, and the Department of Defense.

10 GPS myths: Busted

by Brian Hagberg
50th Space Wing Public Affairs


2/20/2015 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- GPS has been broadcasting signals for nearly 40 years. During that time, a number of myths, misconceptions, conspiracies and falsehoods that have been raised. Let's examine 10 common myths surrounding GPS. This list is presented in no particular order.

1. The U.S. military controls GPS Top GPS Facts

GPS is operated by the 2nd and 19th Space Operations Squadrons at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado; however, the U.S. Government owns GPS and the program is paid for by U.S. taxpayers. According to GPS.gov, GPS receives "national-level attention and guidance from a joint civil/military body called the National Executive Committee for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing." The committee is co-chaired by the Deputy Secretaries of Defense and Transportation.

Top GPS Facts2. The U.S. military has turned off civilian GPS signals for operational or combat purposes

Since being declared fully operational in 1995, GPS has never been deactivated by the military for their exclusive use during combat operations. There are millions of civilian users and monitors of GPS around the world. If the U.S. military had turned off civilian GPS signals, even for only a few seconds, those monitors would have made sure everyone knew about it.
The bulk of this myth stems from what's known as Selective Availability, which allowed the military to intentionally degrade public GPS signals for national security reasons, most notably during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. In May 2000, President Bill Clinton directed the government to discontinue use of SA and this policy has remained in place ever since. President George W. Bush took the policy a step further when, in September 2007, he announced that the government would procure GPS III satellites, which do not have the SA feature. Once these satellites achieve full operational status, SA will no longer be an option, thus eliminating this myth permanently.

3. Military GPS is more accurate than civilian GPS Top GPS Facts

The accuracy of GPS signals in space is the same for both military and civilian GPS, says GPS.gov. The main difference, for the time being, is that military GPS operates on two signals, while civilian GPS operates on one. However, civilian users will soon have two new signals to operate on. In June 2014, a group consisting of 2 and 19 SOPS, Space and Missile Systems Center, Headquarters Air Force Space Command, the Department of Defense and Department of Transportation completed an upgrade to current GPS satellites allowing them to broadcast the L2C and L5 civilian signals. The signals are not yet fully operational, but once they are, civilian users will have access to two signals as well.

Top GPS Facts4. The closer you get to a military base, the better your GPS signal will be

"So I'm sitting in a restaurant with my lovely wife and this guy at another table, the kind of guy (who) talks loud so everyone is aware he is an expert on whatever subject it is he's talking about, starts talking about GPS," said Lt. Col. Matthew Brandt, 2nd Space Operations Squadron commander. "My wife whispered to me, 'He's wrong, isn't he?' 'Oh yes,' I responded. 'He's way off.' After a while the guy boldly proclaims to the entire restaurant, 'Of course, you know GPS always gets better the closer you get to a military base!' and I promptly spit my drink across the table."

As for being close to a military base, well, let's just say that my TomTom has a hard time even finding Schriever, let alone getting a signal boost when I'm there.

5. GPS resides only on phones, in cars and on hand-held display unitsTop GPS Facts

GPS is, and does, so much more than sit on your phone and wait for you to ask directions to the nearest coffee shop. GPS technology affects our lives in more ways than we could possibly imagine, from banking systems and financial markets to communications networks and power grids to weather forecasting and environmental protection efforts, GPS is everywhere (and those are just a few of the civilian uses!). GPS touches so many lives on a daily basis that the International Astronautical Federation presented GPS with the IAF's 60th Anniversary award because "GPS is the space program that touches and aids more humans every minute of every day in every corner of the globe."


Top GPS Facts6. The government gave 2010 census data collectors GPS-enabled handheld computers as part of a secret plot to take away our liberties

Census data collectors have been mapping home locations for a while now, they just got an upgrade from paper and pencil to computers in 2010. "The exact geographic location of each housing unit is critical to ensure that when we publish census results for the entire country, broken down by various geographic areas ranging from states, counties and cities, to census blocks, we accurately represent the data for the area in question," says the Census Bureau's website.  The site goes on to say an incorrect allocation of information to the wrong geographic area would result in inaccurate data to two areas, which could affect the distribution of funds to state, tribal and local governments.

7. The government uses GPS satellites to track/spy on usTop GPS Facts

The issue with this is, of course, the fact that the GPS device in cell phones is a receiver, not a transmitter. Thus, your phone is not constantly transmitting your position...unless you continue to utilize the "Hey, here's where I am!" feature through various social media platforms.









GPS Facts8. GPS won't work if it's cloudy or there is bad weather

People tend to correlate GPS with what they know about satellite television service, which is notorious for losing signal during times of adverse weather conditions. The GPS version of "clear view of the sky," simply means the receivers need a signal path clear of obstructions such as mountains or dense canopy, according to gpsreview.net. This belief seems to have lost traction through the years as GPS technology became more widely available.


9. If you get lost, it's GPS's faultTop GPS Facts

Some people have taken this one to the extreme. A Nevada couple heading home from a trip to Oregon in 2009, followed their GPS down a service road, got stuck in the snow and was stranded for three days before being able to get a cell phone signal. The driver said he was simply following directions from his GPS. This prompted some members of the media to write stories blaming either aging GPS satellites or a weak signal for the device leading the couple down the wrong road. The Air Force felt compelled to set the record straight as the Air Force Space Command Twitter account, @AFSpace, sent out this message: "While we do not want to speculate on what caused the couple to get stuck in the snow; the cause was not due to GPS signal."

"The signals that are coming down are very strong and healthy, said an Air Force spokesperson at the time. "In the event one of our satellites fails, we can immediately have another one up to have the full coverage that we need."  Even though there are 30-plus GPS satellites on orbit, only 24 are active at any given time. This allows for immediate replacement of signal if an issue arises with one of the satellites. Users should also remember the satellites only provide the signals, it's up to users to keep devices updated with current maps and information.
Top GPS Facts10. GPS navigation systems will always pick "the best route"

Most navigation systems will allow users to choose between shortest route, quickest route, scenic route or whether to include toll roads. These are all convenience services, but none of them purport to offer the "best route." That's probably because the designers are busy having the same discussions that have been occurring in gas stations and at street corners for years, namely trying to determine exactly which is the "best way to get to..." One thing current navigation systems can't account for is "local knowledge" of an area. GPS doesn't know that school lets out early every other Thursday or that everyone takes Main Street to avoid rush hour traffic. These are things people need to consider when determining which route to choose.

A special thanks to 2 SOPS members, Lt. Col. Matthew Brandt, Capt. Achille Aloisi, Capt. Douglas Ruyle and Tech. Sgt. Abifarin Scott for contributing to this list.