Science and Technology News

Friday, July 31, 2015

AEHF Achieves Initial Operational Capability

7/31/2015 - LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif -- General John Hyten, Air Force Space Command commander, declared Initial Operational Capability for the Advanced Extremely High Frequency system on July 28.  This significant achievement reflects superb collaboration between numerous organizations, including Headquarters Air Force Space Command, the Space and Missile Systems Center, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and the developers, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. Advanced EHF also includes International Partners from the United Kingdom, Canada and the Netherlands.

The AEHF system is a joint service satellite communications system that provides survivable, global, secure, protected, and jam-resistant communications for high-priority military ground, sea and air assets.  AEHF provides 10 times the throughput and a substantial increase in coverage compared to the 1990s-era Milstar satellites currently in orbit.

"Achieving AEHF IOC is a great accomplishment for the team. We're proud to deliver an unparalleled leap forward in protected communications capability for both our nation's senior leaders and also our warfighters in the field," said Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, Space and Missile Systems Center's commander.

With the IOC declaration, the Air Force's 4th Space Operations Squadron is now operating the AEHF system, supporting warfighters around the world.

The first AEHF spacecraft was launched on Aug. 14, 2010; the AEHF-2 spacecraft was launched on May 4, 2012; and the AEHF-3 spacecraft was launched on Sept. 18, 2013.  The Air Force will continue to expand the AEHF constellation to meet the demands of the DoD and the warfighter.  AEHF-4, AEHF-5, and AEHF-6 are projected to launch in 2017, 2018, and 2019 respectively.    

Media representatives who would like to interview a subject matter expert or learn more about the AEHF system should send an e-mail to: smcpa.media@us.af.mil or call (310) 653-2367/2369/2377

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Team Black Jack takes command of newest GPS satellite

by 2nd Lt. Darren Domingo
50th Space Wing Public Affairs


7/27/2015 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The 50th Space Wing's 2nd and 19th Space Operations Squadrons accepted command and control of the tenth Global Positioning System Block IIF satellite here July 24.

The Space and Missile Systems Center's GPS Directorate, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, remained in control of the satellite during an on-orbit checkout period before the hand-off to 2 and 19 SOPS.

"We're extremely honored to accept command and control of the tenth GPS IIF satellite," said Lt. Col. Todd Benson, 2 SOPS commander. "The phenomenal team from the Space and Missiles Systems Center, 45th Space Wing and 19 SOPS were pivotal to this successful launch."

Lt. Col. Sam Baxter, 19 SOPS commander, explained the importance of his team's role in transfer operations.

"Satellite Control Authority transfers are proud moments for Team Black Jack," said Baxter. "Nineteen SOPS has lead responsibilities for launch and checkout operations of new satellites. Our civilians and Airmen leverage their years of experience and expertise to configure the satellite for its final operating configuration."

Upon completion of the transfer, the majority of 19 SOPS' operations are concluded, while 2 SOPS continues satellite operations.

Beyond its essential capabilities for the military, GPS is a worldwide utility that provides highly accurate positioning, navigation and timing services for people all around the world.

Additionally, the U.S. and global economy rely on space and cyberspace to enable such vital activities as banking, weather forecasting, transportation, global commerce and farming/agriculture.

"Today's GPS constellation is the largest and most robust it has ever been," said Capt. Aaron Blain, GPS analyst flight commander. "With a constellation composed of 40 satellites and four different models, it is both a challenge and a privilege to operate and maintain."

The members of 2 and 19 SOPS operate the largest Department of Defense satellite constellation via the Master Control Station and a worldwide network of monitoring stations and ground antennas.

"2 SOPS' continuing objective is to ensure GPS remains the gold standard for global space-based navigation and timing by providing highly reliable and accurate GPS signals to users around the world," said Benson. "We look forward to continuing to provide our mission partners and global users with the most accurate position, navigation and timing signal available in the history of GPS."

DoD Releases Report on Security Implications of Climate Change



DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, July 29, 2015 – Global climate change will aggravate problems such as poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership and weak political institutions that threaten stability in a number of countries, according to a report the Defense Department sent to Congress yesterday.

The Senate Appropriations Committee requested the report in conjunction with the Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2015, asking that the undersecretary of defense for policy provide a report that identifies the most serious and likely climate-related security risks for each combatant command and the ways those commands integrate risk mitigation into their planning processes.

Fragile States Vulnerable to Disruption

The report finds that climate change is a security risk, Pentagon officials said, because it degrades living conditions, human security and the ability of governments to meet the basic needs of their populations. Communities and states that already are fragile and have limited resources are significantly more vulnerable to disruption and far less likely to respond effectively and be resilient to new challenges, they added.

“The Department of Defense's primary responsibility is to protect national security interests around the world,” officials said in a news release announcing the report’s submission. “This involves considering all aspects of the global security environment and planning appropriately for potential contingencies and the possibility of unexpected developments both in the near and the longer terms.

“It is in this context,” they continued, “that the department must consider the effects of climate change -- such as sea level rise, shifting climate zones and more frequent and intense severe weather events -- and how these effects could impact national security.”

Integrating Climate-Related Impacts Into Planning

To reduce the national security implications of climate change, combatant commands are integrating climate-related impacts into their planning cycles, officials said. The ability of the United States and other countries to cope with the risks and implications of climate change requires monitoring, analysis and integration of those risks into existing overall risk management measures, as appropriate for each combatant command, they added.

The report concludes the Defense Department already is observing the impacts of climate change in shocks and stressors to vulnerable nations and communities, including in the United States, the Arctic, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and South America, officials said.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Rogers: NSA, Cybercom Need Partners to Aid Cybersecurity



By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, July 28, 2015 – U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency have capabilities critical to helping the nation’s public- and private-sector entities during and even before a cyberattack, but both agencies need partners to do so, Navy Adm. Mike Rogers said recently.

Rogers, commander of Cybercom and director of NSA, was speaking July 24 at the annual Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado, during a discussion moderated by David Sanger, chief Washington correspondent for the New York Times. The admiral also took questions from the audience on war, crime and security in cyberspace.

Cybercom is especially interested in trends in cyberattacks and cybercrime -- even those occurring in the private sector -- because the U.S. government has designated 16 areas in the private sector that have implications for the nation’s security, Rogers said.

These include energy, transportation, financial services, food supplies and communications, and may be especially vulnerable to cyberattack because they use open-source software or hardware, third-party utilities and interconnected networks, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Defend Industry, Defend the Nation

“What DoD said was, we believe that the nation is going to be turning to us to help defend it in the midst of a potential crisis and as a result we will generate capabilities that we could potentially apply, if directed, against portions of those 16 segments,” he said.

The DoD Cybersecurity Strategy that Defense Secretary Ash Carter released in April quantifies the kinds of private-sector attacks DoD will respond to as “cyber events of significant consequence,” Rogers added, making the point that “the government is not signing up to” defend everything.

In the end, the admiral said, “it is all about our ability to create partnerships. It is the ability of the private sector and the government to team together to generate better outcomes for the nation, not just for us but our allies as well.”

Another important part of the strategy involves help from NSA.

Warnings and Indications

“We have said that NSA will use its foreign intelligence mission to generate insights as to what key cyber actors around the world are doing,” Rogers said.

The idea is to get ahead of the problem by getting insights at the point of origin rather than waiting for the attack, the admiral said. These insights could provide indications and warning to the government and the private sector before the attack originates, Rogers said.

“This is what you're going to see,” he said, referring to what NSA can tell a private-sector company that will share the right kind of data, “this is how you can best structure your defense to defeat it.”

Between NSA and U.S. Cyber Command, Rogers said, “we try to do all of that with the private sector.”

But he reminded the audience that Cybercom is just one part of a broader enterprise, naming the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI as two of the command’s biggest partners on cyber defense.

Critical Partnerships

“One of the reasons why the partnership is so important -- using NSA resources to monitor and guard U.S. networks -- that's not our mission,” Rogers said, “and it's against the law … but on the other hand I do want to create a partnership where we're able to share information with each other.”

An example, he said, was the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack in November 2014 sponsored by North Korea.

After the hack, Sony went to the U.S. government for help, he said, and the government determined that the hack was a criminal act.

The FBI was designated as the lead agency, Rogers said, “and the FBI turns to NSA and says, ‘We could use your analytic help, will you partner with us in working with Sony?’”

The admiral said Sony cooperated completely with the government during the investigation.

“We said, ‘In order to generate the insights we need, here's the kind of detail we need.’ Sony did everything we asked. We were able as a result to generate insights relatively quickly about what we were seeing,” he explained.

But Rogers was frustrated with the situation.

“This [cooperation] is great,” he said, “but the horse was out of the barn … Why can't we have this kind of dialog prior to the attack?”

Monday, July 27, 2015

AF’s Task Force Cyber Secure develops partnerships with industry, academia



By Krista McManus , Task Force Cyber Secure / Published July 27, 2015

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Task Force Cyber Secure is midway through phase one of the four-phased chief of staff of the Air Force initiative to address challenges of the cyberspace domain within the Air Force.

As part of phase one, or the discovery phase, a collection of previously completed assessment, vulnerabilities, recommendations and identified mission critical systems are being reviewed, analyzed and prioritized based on support for the Air Force core missions.

In the past three months, the task force has sparked renewed conversation with industry and academia. The Air Force realizes establishing mutually beneficial relationships allows for sharing of best practices to strengthen the enterprise.

Lt. Gen. William Bender, the Air Force chief of information and sponsor of TFCS, traveled to Silicon Valley, California, to meet with leaders from the technology mega-hub’s most innovative companies in an effort to increase collaboration. Bender met with 53 technology companies, including Microsoft Corps. and Oracle Corp., as well as nontraditional potential partners like Twitter, Facebook and Uber. Through small-group discussions, key findings came to light that could improve collaboration between the Air Force and industry.

Silicon Valley leaders agreed partnering with the Air Force would offer opportunities to solve unique problems not present in the commercial sector, and provide industry a chance to help protect the U.S. in cyberspace.

In order to field technology at a more rapid pace, the Air Force is looking to develop a method of technology acquisition and implementation that closely aligns with industry best practices.

"We should mimic the companies in Silicon Valley by increasing agility in our acquisition and procurement processes, accepting risk, failing fast and quickly learning from our failures,” Bender said. “The Air Force information technology community needs to adapt to this agile mindset, and quickly. The alternative costs precious time and money -- two resources which we are really short on."

In regards to academia, the Air Force has been working to establish the Air Force Cyber Innovation Center in an effort produce more cyber-oriented Airmen. The U.S. Air Force Academy-based center will comprise of a highly virtualized environment where cadets will work closely with other service academies, industry and government partners to research and develop state-of-the-art technology.

The AFCIC plans to use innovative approaches to aid in the advancement of new cyberspace capabilities to deploy across the Air Force enterprise. By offering cadets more opportunities for professional development within the cyber realm, the center will provide new generations of cyber warriors for the Air Force who are better prepared to stay ahead of the constantly evolving technology curve.

By the end of the 12-month task force lifecycle in April 2016, TFCS will provide a prioritized Air Force roadmap of cybersecurity efforts, identify potential investments and Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership, Personnel, Facilities and Policy changes; and develop an enduring Air Force enterprise-wide cybersecurity governance framework.