Friday, April 30, 2010

Joint F-35 electronic warfare squadron stands up

by Ashley M. Wright
96th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

4/30/2010 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- The squadron serving as the sole Department of Defense provider of electronic warfare support for the F-35 joint strike fighter activated April 23 in a ceremony here.

Surrounded by artifacts from the history of airpower in the Air Armament Museum, the 513th Electronic Warfare Squadron stood up as a first step toward preparing Airmen, Sailors and Marines with the latest electronic warfare data for all three variants on the 5th generation aircraft.

"We are not supporting only one variant of the F-35, we are supporting all," said Col. Kevin J. McElroy, the 53rd Electronic Warfare Group commander. "One team, one fight, one guidon."

The squadron, currently manned by 32 technicians and engineers, will grow to 130 members at full strength. Squadron members will operate the $300 million United States Reprogramming Laboratory, that tests all aspects of the joint strike fighter's electronic warfare capability. Half of the staff will be Airmen, while the other half will consist of Navy and Marine members.

Electronic warfare is "any military action involving the use of electromagnetic and directed energy to control the electromagnetic spectrum or to attack the enemy," as described in Air Force Doctrine Document 2-5.1. Mission data is the descriptions the aircraft needs to identify both enemies and allies on the battlefield.

The laboratory is still under construction with a projected completion date of summer 2010 and hardware will arrive a year from now, the colonel said. Until that time, the squadron is performing a plethora of tasks as they become the "one-stop organic shop" for F-35 data.

"Our engineers are currently developing threat models and 5th generation mission data for the F-35," said Lt. Col. Tim Welde, the 513th EWS commander. "Our technicians are undergoing maintenance training as well as prepping the lab with power supplies, network connectivity and data storage devices. Next year, when the F-35 hardware is integrated and the lab is fully operational, the squadron will be able to successfully develop, test and deliver the critical mission data for JSF warfighters."

NAS Pensacola Serves a Staging Area for Oil Spill Response

By Anne Thrower, Naval Air Station Pensacola Public Affairs

April 30, 2010 - PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) -- Workers at a staging area at Naval Air Station Pensacola (NASP) continued to prepare Thursday to set out booms if needed to help protect the shoreline and eco-system in the Pensacola area from last week's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

"Hopefully it won't get to that point," said Lt. Michael Frost, port operations officer at NASP, as he walked around the Port Ops area Thursday morning.

The workers are responding to the potential aftermath from the April 20 British Petroleum/Transocean's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig incident in the Gulf. As of noon Thursday more than 1,000 people were involved on and off shore, with additional resources being mobilized as needed, according to a joint information center.

Naval Air Station Pensacola is one of five staging areas that have been set up from Louisiana to Florida. Other staging areas are in Biloxi and Pascagoula, Miss.; Venice, La.; and Theodore, Ala.

The NASP site is responsible for the area from the Alabama state line just west of the air station eastward along the shores of the Florida Panhandle, Frost said. "If this thing were to shift and move further to Tampa, they would pick all of this up and go there," Frost said.

Workers from multiple companies started arriving at NASP on Tuesday. About 200 hundred workers were at NASP by Thursday morning.

"We are one of many companies providing staff," said Tim O'Leary, a spokesman for O'Brien's Response Management in Houston. He referred questions about specific numbers at NASP to the joint information center that was responding to media calls.

Frost said this is the busiest the port operations department at NASP has been since Hurricane Ivan hit the Gulf Coast in 2004.

On the minds of many workers was whether the winds would pick up and shift to the Southeast. "Oil on top of the water moves as fast as the winds and the seas move," Frost said.

The booms are only effective at a knot-and-a-half, Frost said, adding the booms are intercoastal-type booms.

"NAS Pensacola is pleased to provide facilities for this support in case its needed," said Harry White, the public affairs office for the base.


By Chinara Lucas, Secretary of the Navy Public Affairs

April 30, 2010 - WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) spoke at Center for Naval Analysis and National Press Club luncheons on 29 and 30 April in a continued effort to promote the Department's energy initiatives to move the department off its reliance on fossil fuels."We are trying to change the way the Navy gets and uses energy. We are simply too dependent on foreign fossil fuels," said SECNAV Ray Mabus, "we are doing a lot to make sure that we meet this strategic imperative. It is a matter of energy independence. It is a matter of our security."

Mabus outlined a few notable projects the Navy has unveiled in recent years that are working towards the goal of energy independence. The most recent was last week's test of the Green Hornet, a F/A-18 that flew at maximum velocity on a 50/50 blend of aviation fuel and camelina-based biofuel.

Other activities of mention include a geothermal energy installation in China Lake, Calif. that will be capable of powering 41,000 homes within the next couple of years and the launch of the first hybrid ship, the USS Makin Island, that is projected to save up to $250 million in fuel costs over its lifetime.

Navy is also working closely with the Small Business Administration to help direct more energy contracts to small business.

"We need to take advantage of the ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit of small U.S. companies to not only strengthen the Navy, but also to help bring jobs back to America," explained Mabus.

Additional joint projects include an effort with the Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the state of Hawaii that is intended to free Hawaii from its 90 percent dependence on foreign oil.

"We would never allow the Navy and Marine Corps to rely on foreign sources to produce the majority of our weapons systems overseas. That would clearly be a security risk. So why do we accept foreign oil?" said Mabus.

Mabus urged attendees to consider that foreign fuel dependency has "significant strategic and tactical implications for our forces." He explained that to provide Sailors and Marines with fuel, a multi-stage convoy must be created and guarded. Mabus said that risks and costs can be reduced if equipment can provide more operational capability.

"To put it simply – fuel independence is about security and warfighting capability." said Mabus.

Illegally Accessing Sarah Palin’s E-mail Account

Tennessee Man Convicted of Illegally Accessing Sarah Palin’s E-mail Account and Obstruction of Justice

April 30, 2010 - David C. Kernell, 22, was convicted by a federal jury in Knoxville, Tenn., today for intentionally accessing without authorization the e-mail account of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and obstruction of justice, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney James R. Dedrick for the Eastern District of Tennessee announced.

After a week-long trial, a jury found Kernell guilty of one count of misdemeanor unauthorized access to obtain information from a computer and one count of obstruction of justice. The jury found Kernell not guilty of wire fraud. The jury could not reach a verdict on the identity theft charge and the judge declared a mistrial as to that charge.

According to evidence presented at trial, on Sept. 16, 2008, Kernell, a resident of Knoxville, obtained unauthorized access to Gov. Palin’s personal e-mail account by resetting the account password. Evidence showed that after answering a series of security questions that allowed him to reset the password and gain access to the e-mail account, Kernell read the contents of the account and made screenshots of the e-mail directory, e-mail content and other personal information. Kernell posted screenshots of the e-mails and other personal information to a public Website. Kernell also posted the new e-mail account password that he had created, thus providing access to the account by others.

Evidence at trial showed that Kernell became aware of a possible FBI investigation on Sept. 16, 2008, following the illegal entry into the e-mail account. The evidence further showed that Kernell began to delete records and documents with the intent to impede an anticipated FBI investigation.

At sentencing, Kernell faces a maximum of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine for unauthorized access and 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for obstruction of justice.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Krotoski currently detailed to the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Weddle of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee. CCIPS Trial Attorney Josh Goldfoot provided significant assistance. The case was investigated by the FBI’s Knoxville field office.

Coalition of Impendent Authors Harnesses Web

Now the Marketing of Books is on the Threshold of Major Changes.

April 30, 2010 - Authors, having poured their intellect and emotions into their books, are no longer willing to hand over the marketing of their books to monolithic internet bookstores who demand large standard commissions merely for listing books on their website.

By forming a coalition the writing community can advertise on large internet bookstores, yet sell the books themselves. The benefit of doing this is the buying public pays less for the book and the author receives more because there is no middleman.

Genre Specific Websites is the new approach to Marketing Books. People naturally seek others with similar interests. Today’s hectic lifestyle makes it difficult to go a specialty bookstore, but the computer is there whenever one has a few minutes. With a few keystrokes one can window shop, read reviews and visit with others about the type of books that interest them. Building a community of genre interested readers, a community who wants to buy Your Book.

To purchase a book the buyer clicks to the author’s private website and buys directly from the author. Buyers are pleased with reduced costs, but always have the sense of connecting with the author. This sense of belonging to a community with the same interest is why genre specific websites will be the growing trend in years to come.

Why wait? Be a leader of this trend and get your books listed now.

Visit the Website

Humanoid Robot

NASA Outlines Big Plans for Humanoid Robot

April 29, 2010: Astronauts on board the International Space Station will soon have a new roommate--and it's not human.

It's a humanoid.

In Sept. 2010, space shuttle Discovery will deliver Robonaut 2--"R2" for short--to the ISS, where it will become the first humanoid robot to travel and work in space. Developed jointly by NASA and General Motors, R2 looks a bit like C-3PO of Star Wars fame but lacks the chatty robot's gift of gab. That's okay, because the humans on board need a worker that can wield more useful tools than a sharp tongue.

"Our goal is for R2 to perform routine maintenance tasks, freeing up the station crew for more important work," explains Ron Diftler, Robonaut Project Manager at Johnson Space Center. "Here's a robot that can see the objects it's going after, feel the environment, and adjust to it as needed. That's pretty human. It opens up endless possibilities!"

The team hopes to teach R2 to do all kinds of things on the space station. For example, R2 might do delicate tasks like set up science experiments for the crew, or it might just as easily run a vacuum cleaner.

R2 won't be given free run of the ship, at least not right away. Initially, the new robot will be fastened to one location in the station's Destiny Lab, but the goal is for R2 to later move about.

"We want to give R2 one leg to grab on and anchor itself to different places. It will use its hands to move itself around from place to place inside the station much like an astronaut moves around."

First, R2 must be tested and evaluated for zero-g and other space environment effects. Then it will slowly earn its stripes by progressing from simple tasks, like monitoring its own health, to more complicated jobs.

The ground team and the ISS crew will control the robot with identical systems, each comprising a GUI (graphical user interface) on a computer screen and pushbutton navigation.

"R2 operates under 'supervised autonomy,' " says Diftler."It can think for itself within the limits we give it. We'll send it scripts – sequences of commands."

That's how, for example, the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity are controlled. But there's a difference.

"Our robot can 'see,' and it takes only 2 to 6 seconds for the video to get to us, so we can observe in near real time. (For comparison, the one-way video travel time from Mars is typically more than 10 minutes.) If we see R2 doing something that isn't working, we can immediately tell it, 'Stop that. Try this instead.'"

Diftler likens working with R2 to supervising a new employee. "At first you'd give them lots of detailed instructions, but later, once you work out any problem areas, you'd just check in on them once in a while."

His team will continue, however, to improve the space-bound robot's opportunities for advancement. "For instance, as we develop this robot more fully, its vision system will allow us to fine tune its movements. We'll be able to adjust how R2 reaches out to grab a target."

With the simple addition of legs or wheels, R2 could someday scout an area on a planet or asteroid where humans might land, or it could set up and take down workstations or a habitat.

Eventually, R2 could become such a familiar member of the crew, astronauts will find themselves saying "excuse me" when they bump into the humanoid. But how will R2 respond?

Adding speech is relatively easy, according to Diftler, but not a priority at the moment. "R2 will be working alone a lot. It won't really need to talk."

C-3PO once called R2D2 an "overweight glob of grease." Maybe it's just fine to leave this robot speechless for now.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

New Air Force cyberspace badge guidelines released

4/27/2010 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFNS) -- Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz has approved the new cyberspace badge and associated wear criteria.

In his Apr. 21 memorandum, General Schwartz set forth guidelines and addressed standard eligibility requirements for officers working in the cyberspace domain. Eligibility criteria for enlisted personnel are slated for release in a future message.

Maj. Gen. Michael Basla, Air Force Space Command vice commander, who will wear the new badge, highlighted its significance.

"The Air Force mission -- to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace -- acknowledges the significance and interrelationship of our three operational domains in effective warfighting. The establishment of the Air Force cyberspace badge underscores the crucial operational nature of the cyberspace mission," General Basla said.

Lt. Gen. William T. Lord, the Air Force's chief of warfighting integration and chief information officer said the new badge reflects the importance of cyber operations.

"The Air Force's cyberspace operators must focus on operational rigor and mission assurance in order to effectively establish, control and leverage cyberspace capabilities," he said. "The new cyberspace operator badge identifies our cyberspace professionals with the requisite education, training and experience to operate in this new critical domain. The badge symbolizes this new operational mindset and the Air Force's commitment to operationalize the cyberspace domain."

The new badge is authorized in three levels: basic, senior and master. Badge level eligibility criteria are consistent with those listed in Air Force Instruction 36-2903, Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel. The guidance for the cyberspace badge will be included in the next revision of the AFI.

Certain officers are "grandfathered" and eligible to wear the new badge. Officers converting from the 33S to the 17D Air Force Specialty Code on April 30 are authorized the basic cyberspace badge. Officers may continue to wear the communications and information badge at the authorized level until Oct. 1, 2011.

Upon completing the Distance Learning Cyberspace Operations Transition Course -- the "X- course," Undergraduate Network Warfare Training or meeting criteria for upgrade, officers who earned the senior or master level communications and information badge are authorized to wear that same level of the cyberspace badge.

Officers from other AFSCs who have completed the X-course and have at least one year of cyberspace experience since Jan. 1, 2006, also are eligible to wear the cyberspace badge. The 17D career field manager is coordinating with Air Force Space Command's Space and Cyberspace Professional Management Office to identify eligible officers.

Beyond the grandfathering period, standard eligibility criteria will apply and officers will be identified in orders published by the commander of Air Force Space Command, who is responsible for cyberspace force development.

The AFSPC commander, in conjunction with the Air Staff functional authorities responsible for cyberspace-related specialties, will regularly approve authorization orders listing additional officers who have earned the badge.

The design element of the badge holds significant meaning. The lightning bolt wings signify the cyberspace domain while the globe signifies the projection of cyber power world-wide. The globe, combined with lightning bolt wings, signifies the Air Force's common communications heritage. The bolted wings, centered on the globe, are a design element from the Air Force seal signifying the striking power through air, space and cyberspace. The orbits signify the space dimension of the cyberspace domain.

The new badge is equal in precedence to the aeronautical and space badges. Those awarded multiples of the cyberspace, aeronautical and space badges must wear the cyberspace badge above the others while serving in a cyberspace billet.

Cook County Officer Named Director of Chicago Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory

April 29, 2010 - Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), was joined today by the Board of Directors of the Chicago Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory (RCFL) in announcing that a Cook County Sheriff’s Police Officer has been named as Director of the Chicago digital evidence processing and recovery center.

John T. Dziedzic, a 13-year veteran of the Cook County Sheriff’s Police Department, was named Director by the laboratory’s board, succeeding FBI Special Agent Keith Johnson, who returned to Washington, D.C. last month, where he was assigned to the Office of the Directorate of Intelligence. Investigator Dziedzic has served as the Acting Director of the laboratory since March and has been the Assistant Director of the facility since 2007. Investigator Dziedzic began his service at the Chicago RCFL as a digital forensic examiner in October of 2005 and is the first non-FBI employee to head the Chicago laboratory.

In announcing the selection of Investigator Dziedzic as the new Director of the RCFL, Mr. Grant noted the significant contribution that the Cook County Sheriff’s Office has made to the laboratory since its inception in 2004. Said Mr. Grant: “As a founding member of the Chicago RCFL, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office has played a significant role in the development of the facility. With the selection of Investigator Dziedzic as the new director, they are now playing an even greater role in providing digital forensic services to law enforcement agencies throughout the Chicago area.”

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart added: “John is a phenomenal employee who has always shown a natural aptitude for computer forensics, as well as great leadership skills. We are proud of John and the work he’s done and are gratified to see that others also recognize his many talents. We know that he will continue to represent the department well in his new capacity.”

Located at 610 South Canal Street, the Chicago RCFL opened in 2004. The RCFL recently earned accreditation from the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors for the storage, examination and processing of digital and multi-media evidence. The Chicago facility was the fourth digital evidence laboratory of its kind to open in the U.S., although there are now 16 similar facilities in operation nationwide.

Although funded by the Department of Justice, the Chicago RCFL is a collaborative effort of both the FBI and participating agencies. At present, personnel from the Chicago, Lombard, Joliet and Palatine Police Departments, the Cook County Sheriff’s Police and the City of Chicago’s - Office of Inspector General are assigned to the Chicago facility. All personnel assigned to the RCFL are certified by the FBI as computer forensic examiners and must adhere to strict operational policies and procedures.

Last year, the Chicago facility handled nearly 500 requests for the examination of digital evidence. In addition to conducting forensic examinations, the RCFL also provides training to law enforcement agents and officers from throughout the Midwest.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Additional information about the RCFL program is available online at For further information, please contact the Chicago FBI’s Press Office at (312) 829-1199.

Scientists Discover Substance That Causes Pain

Finding could lead to development of non-addictive painkillers, study suggests

By Robert Preidt

WEDNESDAY, April 28 (HealthDay News) -- The human body produces a substance similar to capsaicin -- which makes chili peppers hot -- at sites of pain, and blocking production of this substance can ease pain, a new study shows.

The findings may lead to the development of non-addictive painkillers, according to the researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.

In work with mice, the scientists found that a family of fatty acids called oxidized linoleic acid metabolites (OLAMs) play an important role in the biology of pain.

"This is a major breakthrough in understanding the mechanisms of pain and how to more effectively treat it," senior investigator Kenneth Hargreaves, chair of the Department of Endodontics in the Dental School at the UT Health Sciences Center, said in an UT news release.

"These data demonstrate, for the first time, that OLAMs constitute a new family of naturally occurring capsaicin-like agents, and may explain the role of these substances in many pain conditions. This hypothesis suggests that agents blocking either the production or action of these substances could lead to new therapies and pharmacological interventions for various inflammatory diseases and pain disorders such as arthritis, fibromyalgia and others, including pain associated with cancer."

The researchers developed two new classes of analgesic drugs that target OLAMs.

"Nearly everyone will experience persistent pain at some point in their lifetime," Dr. Hargreaves said. "Our findings are truly exciting because they will offer physicians, dentists and patients more options in prescription pain medications. In addition, they may help circumvent the problem of addiction and dependency to pain medications, and will have the potential to benefit millions of people who suffer from chronic pain every day."

The research was published April 26 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Volcanic Ash Research Shows How Plumes End Up in the Jet Stream

April 19, 2010 - BUFFALO, N.Y. – A University at Buffalo volcanologist, an expert in volcanic ash cloud transport, published a paper recently showing how the jet stream – the area in the atmosphere that pilots prefer to fly in – also seems to be the area most likely to be impacted by plumes from volcanic ash.

"That's a problem," says Marcus I. Bursik, PhD, one of the foremost experts on volcanic plumes and their effect on aviation safety, "because modern transcontinental and transoceanic air routes are configured to take advantage of the jet stream's power, saving both time and fuel.

"The interaction of the jet stream and the plume is likely a factor here," says Bursik, professor of geology in the UB College of Arts and Sciences. "Basically, planes have to fly around the plume or just stop flying, as they have, as the result of this eruption in Iceland."

In some cases, if the plume can be tracked well enough with satellites, pilots can steer around the plume, he notes, but that didn't work in this case because the ash drifted right over Britain.

Bursik participated in the first meetings in the early 1990s between volcanologists and the aviation industry to develop methods to ensure safe air travel in the event of volcanic eruptions. He and colleagues authored a 2009 paper called "Volcanic plumes and wind: Jet stream interaction examples and implications for air traffic" in the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research.

"In the research we did, we found that the jet stream essentially stops the plume from rising higher into the atmosphere," he says. "Because the jet stream causes the density of the plume to drop so fast, the plume's ability to rise above the jet stream is halted: the jet stream caps the plume at a certain atmospheric level."

Bursik says that new techniques now in development will be capable of producing better estimates of where and when ash clouds from volcanoes will travel.

He and his colleagues have proposed a project with researchers at the University of Alaska that would improve tracking estimates to find out where volcanic ash clouds are going.

"What we get now is a mean estimate of where ash should be in atmosphere," says Bursik, "but our proposal is designed to develop both the mean estimate and estimates of error that would be more accurate and useful. It could help develop scenarios that would provide a quantitative probability as to how likely a plane is to fly through the plume, depending on the route."

Bursik also is working with other researchers at UB, led by UB geology professor Greg Valentine, on a project called VHub, a 'cyber infrastructure for collaborative volcano research and mitigation.'

VHUB would speed the transfer of new tools developed by volcanologists to the government agencies charged with protecting the public from the hazards of volcanic eruptions. That international project, which Valentine heads up at UB, with researchers at Michigan Technological University and the University of South Florida, was funded recently by the National Science Foundation.

Bursik's co-authors on the jet stream paper are Shannon E. Kobs and Aaron Burns, both former UB graduate students in geology, L.I. Bazanova and I.V. Melekestves, of the Russian Academy of Sciences, A. Kurbatov of the University of Maine, Orono, and D.C. Pieri of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at California Institute of Technology.

The research was funded by NSF, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and California Institute of Technology and Science Applications International Corp.

Bursik and Valentine are members of the UB Center for GeoHazards Studies at, which is supporting the UB2020 goals in Extreme Events.

EPA Opens Access to Chemical Information/Searchable database on chemical hazard, exposure and toxicity data now available

04/29/2010 - WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making it easier to find chemical information online. EPA is releasing a database, called ToxRefDB, which allows scientists and the interested public to search and download thousands of toxicity testing results on hundreds of chemicals. ToxRefDB captures 30 years and $2 billion of testing results.

“Tens of thousands of chemicals are in commerce and current chemical testing is expensive and time consuming. Results from chemical testing are scattered throughout different sources,” said Dr. Robert Kavlock, director of EPA’s National Center for Computational Toxicology. “ToxRefDB allows the public to search, find and compare available studies about chemical toxicity and potential health effects.”

ToxRefDB provides detailed chemical toxicity data in an accessible format. It is a part of ACToR (Aggregated Computational Toxicology Resource), an online data warehouse that collects data from about 500 public sources on tens of thousands of environmentally relevant chemicals, including several hundred in ToxRefDB. Those interested in chemical toxicity can query a specific chemical and find all available public hazard, exposure, and risk-assessment data, as well as previously unpublished studies related to cancer, reproductive, and developmental toxicity.

ToxRefDB connects to an EPA chemical screening tool called ToxCast. ToxCast is a multi-year, multi-million dollar effort that uses advanced science tools to help understand biological processes impacted by chemicals that may lead to adverse health effects. ToxCast currently includes 500 fast, automated chemical screening tests that have assessed over 300 environmental chemicals. ToxRefDB, along with ACToR, allows users to take advantage of this linkage to find and download these results.

ToxRefDB contains toxicity information that forms the basis for pesticide risk assessments when combined with other sources of information, such as those on exposure and metabolism.

More information on the database:

Pentagon Prepares for Possible Oil Spill Response

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

April 29, 2010 - A massive oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico that's headed toward U.S. shores is receiving "top-level attention" within the Defense Department as it evaluates what capabilities it may have to support the response mission, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said today.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, U.S. Northern Command, the Joint Staff and the Navy are working in close collaboration with the White House and Department of Homeland Security to determine what assets are required, Morrell said.

"The secretary is prepared for us to help in any way," Morrell said as he reported "a full-blown effort within this department to try to find the kinds of things that could be helpful."

Morrell predicted that decisions could be made as soon as later today, particularly in light of President Barack Obama's announcement today that he had stepped up the federal response effort.

"I think it's clear that this is a ... priority for the president and his administration," Morrell told reporters. "So we're going to work as quickly as possible to get him the answers he's looking for."

After the evaluation, the goal is to move as quickly as possible to provide the resources needed, Morrell said. In the meantime, planners at Northcom are planning for a variety of possible missions.

A defense coordinating officer and defense coordinating element from Northcom's Region Six are deploying to support the federal on-scene commander, and their counterparts in Region Four have been told to prepare to deploy, Jamie Graybeal, a Northcom spokesman, said.

Meanwhile, the Navy is providing salvage support as part of an existing agreement with the Coast Guard, Graybeal said.

Morrell emphasized, however, that industry has much of the technology and assets required to support such a mission. "So frankly, you want to work ... hand in glove with industry here, because in some cases, they're going to have ... better assets than we would," he said.

Avatar Project Seeks to Help Military Amputees

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

April 28, 2010 - In the blockbuster movie "Avatar," Jake Sully, a former Marine who lost the use of both legs in combat, climbs into a vessel that magically restores his body when he assumes a new, 10-foot-tall avatar identity.

A new project being funded through the Advanced Army Medical Technology Initiative promises to bring some of that same technology to real-life wounded warriors to promote their rehabilitation and help to ease their reintegration into society.

The Amputee Virtual Environment Support Space project aims to create a virtual world in which military and veteran amputees can swap information and provide the peer support many lose when they leave military treatment facilities, explained Ashley Fisher, a program manager at the Army's Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center here.

The project will provide wounded warriors a specialized version of the popular "Second Life" computer simulation game, Fisher said. Users will log onto the program through their computers to create an avatar of themselves -- essentially a virtual being, complete with the physical characteristics they assign it.

The avatar will be able to interact with other registered avatar beings – fellow amputees, caregivers, even friends and loved ones – in a virtual world that's unencumbered by the restrictions of time, distance or disability.

As AVESS develops, users also may be able to check in with their professional caregivers, asking questions, getting information updates, and even seeing online demonstrations of the best way to do a physical therapy exercise or adjust a prosthetic device.

The Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center awarded a contract to ADL Co. last fall to assess the program's feasibility and identify the best way to deliver it to military amputees.

"We tasked them with coming up with a roadmap, letting us know what was possible in developing a virtual world for amputee veterans, and letting us know what issues there are in terms of privacy, access, authenticating who was coming into the environment, all those types of issues," Fisher said.

In wrapping up the first phase, the company created a demonstration environment using a standard Second Life platform. "So we did a walk-through of that, and got to see what the capabilities were," Fisher said.

The first phase also demonstrated the need for a secure server to deny access to unauthorized players and participants known as "griefers," who just want to annoy or cause trouble for the other players.

"We wanted to avoid that, because we really did want the veterans to be able to go in and express the issues they are having with the people they know are going through the same thing," Fisher said. "And also, we needed it to be secure, because we want to try to bring families, and possibly even children, into the world, and we can't really do that on the regular Second Life platform."

So during AVESS' second phase, to begin soon, ADL will develop a virtual environment on Second Life Enterprise, an updated version of Second Life, using a private, secure server.

Comparing the concept to what moviegoers saw on the big screen in "Avatar," Fisher said she sees tremendous therapeutic value in enabling amputees to define their avatars as they choose, and to immerse themselves in those characteristics as they interact with other avatars.

Some may elect to reveal their amputations in their avatars, assigning them prosthetic limbs to match their own. Others may choose not to, preferring to use the virtual world as a temporary escape, as depicted in the "Avatar" movie when Jake's avatar was able not only to walk, but also to fly among the beings in the magical land of Pandora.

But for users in the latter category, Fisher said, she expects many to reveal their true characteristics as they become more comfortable communicating with other people in the virtual environment.

For some, the transformation may come as users come to accept themselves and their new appearance – something Fisher said is difficult enough in a hospital setting, where military amputees are surrounded by other people who look like them, but even more so as they try to reintegrate into their communities.

Fisher called AVESS a promising new development at the Army's Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center, which is overseeing the program for the Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.

"Our mandate is to explore new technology and how it can support service personnel," she said. "This is an exciting project for [the research center], because it will let us define what we see as a potentially effective way to provide another form of support to military amputees."

Alice Kruger, president of the nonprofit organization Virtual Ability -- which is collaborating with ADL on the project -- shares Fisher's excitement about the doors AVESS will open to enhance wounded warriors' quality of life.

"For individuals with disabilities, virtual worlds are a powerful way to connect with others, to access peer support and to participate in activities that might not otherwise be possible," she said. "This project will establish the best way to adopt this technology for the unique needs of the military amputee community."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Public Safety Technology in the News

Police Selling Old Tasers for Public Safety Use
Dothan Eagle, (04/21/2010), Debbie Ingram
The Dothan (Ala.) Police Department plans to offer up more than 100 Tasers to other law enforcement agencies via donation and direct sale. Dothan upgraded to a newer Taser model in September 2006, and has decided to surplus older models purchased in 2003 and 2004. Some 64 surplus Tasers, originally purchased at a cost of $400 each, will be offered to other local agencies for $100. Of the remaining 30 units, 20 will go to the Dothan Police Auxiliary Unit and the Dothan-Houston County Airport Police, while 10 can be exchanged for new models. The city manager said that repair parts are no longer available for the surplus units, but they still have value to departments that have no budget to purchase Tasers at all.

$3M grant Will Digitize State Prosecution's Records
The Bristol Press, (04/20/2010), Lisa Backus
A $3 million grant will allow Connecticut to digitize all of its traffic and arrest records, eliminating the need to store paper files of every active case. In FY2008-2009, the state oversaw the disposition of 334,743 criminal and motor vehicle cases, with additional work taking place on 116,525 pending cases. Many police departments throughout the state already produced their reports electronically, but the State's Attorney's Office had no way to receive digital records. The new electronic case management system will go live in 2013 and will include links to share information with other criminal justice databases. The eventual goal is a system that all law enforcement agencies in the state can access and use.

State Prisons' Chief Details Effort to Crack Down on Illegal Cell Phone Use Among Inmates, (04/22/2010), Tom Hester, Sr.
New Jersey has implemented new procedures to reduce illegal possession of cell phones by prison inmates. The new process includes strip searching all inmates on entry into a correctional facility and also examining them with an orifice security scanner. Prison uniforms will no longer include metal accessories and all inmates must pass through metal detectors on a routine basis. All visitors will be patted down and a new software program will send alerts about suspicious financial activity in an inmate's prison account. New Jersey was already the first state in the country to train dogs in cell phone detection. The state will also implement more intensive screening for correctional officer recruits and increase training on investigating backgrounds and potential gang affiliations.

N.J. Prisons Face Staff Layoffs, Double Bunking of Inmates With $74M in Budget Cuts, (04/22/2010), Chris Megerian/Statehouse Bureau
The New Jersey Department of Corrections is coming up with some creative ways to deal with spending cuts, including providing inmates with tennis shoes instead of work boots. The DOC will also use more volunteers for education and counseling services and double-bunk in state correctional facilities.

Inmates Drop 1966 Suit Over Access to Law Books
San Francisco Chronicle, (04/22/2010), Bob Egelko
Because the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has adopted a new policy that allows all inmates to visit prison law libraries, a lawsuit dating back to 1966 that would have given inmates access to law books to challenge their convictions and disciplinary violations has been dropped. Lawyers in that suit said they will ask judges to enforce the new policy if it becomes necessary. Only two of the inmates who filed the original suit remain in custody.

Pensacola Police Put Crime on the Map, (04/26/2010)
The Pensacola (Fla.) Police Department has added a link to its Web site that will allow residents to view a map of recent crimes in their neighborhoods. The department has joined many others across the country in employing the services of CrimeReports to provide this service to residents. In addition to the daily updates to the map, residents can also sign up to receive e-mail alerts about crime in specific areas. The map will provide the location of crimes such as breaking and entering, theft, assault, vehicle theft and robbery, but not sexual assaults.

Police Ask Teens to Join Crime Fight
Houston Chronicle, (04/24/2010), Cindy Horswell
Police departments in Houston and Baytown, Texas, are testing a Crime Stoppers program that promotes anonymous texting of tips and target teens. More than one-third of teens with cell phones reportedly send at least 100 texts a day, and the departments plan to take advantage of this trend. Initial response to the program has been cautiously positive, as teens expressed some concerns about how anonymity is maintained. The program processes all messages through an outside server that encrypts the sender's identity. The sender then receives a code that can be used to collect a reward if the tip solves a crime, and can also use the code to text back and forth to answer police questions.

New Law On Counting Prisoners Could Help Baltimore
WJZ-TV, (04/25/2010)
In the 2010 Census, Maryland has decided that inmates will be considered residents of the jurisdiction in which they last lived, not residents of the area in which the prison is located. As much as 60 percent of the state's prison population comes from Baltimore, meaning that city will benefit from this decision. Reaction to this decision has been mixed, with positive reaction coming from urban areas and negative reaction coming from rural areas where facilities are located.

Webcam Program Helps Parents Communicate With Incarcerated Kids
Wisconsin State Journal, (04/25/2010)
Dane County in Wisconsin is using a new video link located at the county juvenile center to allow parents to have virtual visits with their children who are incarcerated in juvenile facilities. This allows families to keep in touch when distance makes face-to-face visits difficult. Dane County became the second county in the state to implement such a system, and officials anticipate increased use as parents become aware of the service. The system was funded by a $1,500 grant from the state Office of Justice Assistance, and it began operations in January 2010.

U.S. Prosecutors Rattle, But Don't Break, Mexican Cartels
Los Angeles Times, (4/25/2010), Richard A. Serrano
A crackdown by U.S. prosecutors on Mexican drug lords is sending offenders to prison and disrupting the cartels activities, but not breaking them. Ten cartel leaders from Mexico have been convicted in U.S. courts in the last two years. Three leaders in Chicago and another in Brooklyn, N.Y., have been indicted in drug racketeering operations involving large quantities of heroin, cocaine and marijuana. Recently, four cartel figures were convicted in San Diego of leading organizations that smuggled tons of drugs into the U.S., carried out assassinations and bribed Mexican authorizes with millions of dollars. The men received sentences ranging from 30 years to life in prison with no chance of parole. However, the cartels have promoted other individuals to the vacant leadership positions, and the violence among the cartels continues. Justice Department spokeswoman Laura Sweeny said the convictions have helped investigators and prosecutors gather valuable intelligence on the in! ner workings of the cartels.,0,323230.story

Bill Would Reallocate Spectrum for Public Safety Use
Tech Daily Dose, (04/21/2010), Juliana Gruenwald
A bill has been introduced in Congress to require that spectrum slated for auction to commercial bidders be set aside for public safety use. The bill would allocate the D-block of spectrum in the 700 MHz band for public safety use and reserve an additional 10 MHz as well. In a statement, bill sponsor Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said the proposal would double the amount of broadband spectrum that is currently allocated for public safety use. The Federal Communications Commission, in its broadband plan, proposed auctioning off the D-block of spectrum to a commercial bidder, who could, but would not be required to, allow public safety to use it. The National Governors Association and other state and local groups contend that the FCC proposal would not ensure that emergency first responders have reliable communications capabilities.

Lynn Discusses Social Media at Facebook Headquarters

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

April 28, 2010 - You could call the Facebook headquarters the "un-Pentagon." The dress is casual, with far more T-shirts than sport coats, and many workers wearing sandals instead of shoes. A skateboard was parked outside one office. An employee who spotted a group in business suits remarked, "If they're wearing ties, they're not from here."

But Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III fit right in with the employees of Facebook, the ubiquitous social media company. "You're very much a part of our world," Lynn told Facebook employees in the company cafeteria. "We're also very much a part of your world. We use social media just as other organizations do. It's a critical element for us."

The Defense Department depends on social media for recruiting so the services can reach young people, Lynn said. "That's the demographic we're trying to reach," he added, "and we would be depriving ourselves of the best and the brightest if we didn't use social media."

Social media also tie together families separated by war and deployment, the deputy secretary said. "With over 230,000 children whose parents are deployed overseas at this point, many of them use social media to stay in touch with their families on these long and frequent deployments," he told the group.

The Defense Department also uses social media to communicate polices and news to diverse and growing audiences, he said. Lynn told the employees that he has a Facebook page, as does Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many other defense and military leaders. "We certainly see social media as a critical new avenue in how you communicate," he said.

The department is also looking at using social media in information gathering, Lynn said, using the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's balloon challenge as an example. The agency released 10 balloons around the country and awarded a $40,000 prize for the team that tracked them first.

"A team from MIT used a website and the power of Facebook and Twitter and other social media," Lynn said. "They tracked the balloons in eight hours and 28 minutes. Using our old intelligence gathering, it would have taken a week."

The test pointed to the power of this idea, the deputy secretary said.

Lynn visited the firm as part of his effort to see how the Defense Department and high-tech companies could work together more closely. "One of the reasons for getting out of Washington is to get a more diverse set of views than you are able to get inside the Beltway," he said.

Almost all information technology processes are double-edged swords, Lynn acknowledged. They provide decided benefits, he said, but also can be used as an avenue for attack. He explained how the department came up with a social media policy to replace different policies on social media each service had in place.

"They were too static, and focused largely on blocking sites that people thought would have the most vulnerability," he said. "It didn't provide the agility you need in the information technology world to provide a truly effective defense."

The department was losing the benefits of social media and gaining nothing on the security side, he said. "So we came up with a new approach that tried to balance the need for security with the benefit of social media," he explained. To address that issue, the department eliminated the blocks on social network sites, but built up network defenses.

The first step of the new defense posture, he said, is hygiene, with Defense Department users downloading and using patches, and a huge education push is under way to reach all of the 3 million computer users in the department.

"We need all users to be informed users [who] understand the privacy protections that are available [and] the processes and procedures we expect of them," he said. "We expect them to be part of the security equation."

This level, he said, probably eliminates 50 percent of the threats against Defense Department systems.

The second level is perimeter defense that uses firewalls and network intrusion devices that will eliminate another 30 to 40 percent of the attacks.

"That last 10 to 20 percent, though, we need a very active defense," Lynn said. "We need to fuse the nation's intelligence capabilities with the cyberdefense capabilities."

The department is standing up a Cyber Command that will have control of all cybersecurity activities: offense, defense and information assurance, Lynn said. "Active defense is how we will deal with the most sophisticated intrusions," he added.

But the department cannot do this alone, he told the Facebook employees.

"We need to partner with private industry as we walk down this road of cybersecurity," he said. This will become more crucial in the future, he added, as the sheer number of computer engineers and technicians that nations such as China and India will turn out will dwarf the American effort.

The United States needs to look at ways to create "force multipliers" to aid computer engineers the creation of more and better artificial intelligence being at the top of the list, Lynn said, adding that he is open to suggestions.

"The purpose of trips like these is where should we be investing?" he said. "Where will we be able to get that multiplier of effectiveness?"

Another partnership deals with acquisition. The department can plan, budget, research and buy large weapons systems, Lynn said, but software purchases take too long. "We need to develop an acquisition system that's going to work at the speed of IT technology," he said.

Social media are important to getting the nation's message out to the world, Lynn told the group, and the world needs to know why the United States is doing something and how it is happening.

"In the conflicts that we are in, where our interests are at stake, [it's important that] not just our population understands why we're doing what we're doing, but that the world understands," he said.

Registration open for 2010 Air Force Energy Forum III

by Tech. Sgt. Amaani Lyle
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

4/28/2010 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Air Force Energy III Forum, focusing on the service's most pressing energy issues, is slated to take place May 27 through 28 here.

Highlighting the event's theme "A New Culture: Energy as an Operations Enabler," Air Force, government and industry energy representatives will discuss the service's energy strategies; identify opportunities and challenges and share best practices.

"Attendees will hear from Air Force senior leaders and government, international and industry energy experts through engaging speeches and breakout sessions," said Undersecretary of the Air Force Erin Conaton.

Participants will also be able to experience and interact with next-generation energy technologies in the forum's exhibition space, she said.

Discussion topics will range from aviation operations, alternative fuels and installation energy to energy culture change, incentivizing energy conservation and critical mission energy security.

"The forum will emphasize Air Force leadership's commitment to energy initiatives and major command efforts to achieve Air Force energy plan goals," Ms. Conaton said. "Energy management demands the continuous infusion of new information, developments and cutting edge technology."

For more information visit the Air Force Energy Web site at

Careers in Cybersecurity

One of our most important missions is safeguarding and securing cyberspace.  Join our committed workforce in assuring the security, resiliency and reliability of the nation's information technology and communications infrastructure.

Your expertise is needed in:

•Cyber Incident Response
•Vulnerability Detection and Assessment
•Networks and Systems Engineering
•Cyber Risk and Strategic Analysis
•Intelligence and Investigation


National Cyber Security Division

The National Protection and Programs Directorate's National Cyber Security Division (NCSD) works collaboratively with federal, state and local governments, the private sector, academia, and international partners to secure the nation’s critical cyberspace and information technology infrastructures through employing risk management and cyber incident preparedness, prevention, and response activities.

To meet this cybersecurity mission, NCSD is looking for skilled individuals with experience in engineering, information security technology, computer science, and program and technical management.

Open Positions

•Program Analyst
Closes: April 29, 2010

•IT Specialist
Closes: April 30, 2010

•IT Specialist
Closes: April 30, 2010

•IT Specialist
Closes: May 6, 2010

In addition, interested candidates with a strong background in Information Security, Computer and Systems Engineering and Computer Scientists can send their resumes to for possible appointments using the Excepted Service Authority.

All applicants must submit a resume, an occupational questionnaire, and other pertinent information (e.g., SF-50, DD-214) to be considered. Please review the announcement carefully for all requirements.

Naval Facilities Engineering Command Honors Design Excellence

By Brie Lang, Naval Facilities Engineering Command

April 28, 2010 - WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) announced the winners of its 2009 Design Awards program April 27 to showcase the Navy's best design and construction projects.

Navy architects and civil engineers leave a 'design footprint' on Naval bases worldwide, providing Sailors and Marines with high-quality offices, gymnasiums, homes, operational facilities and more.

These buildings must be functional, safe, long lasting, environmentally friendly and aesthetically pleasing.

"The Navy's commitment to energy efficiency and environmental stewardship begins with the facilities' planning and design," said NAVFAC Chief Engineer Joseph Gott, P.E. "This year's winning entries exemplify this commitment with flying colors."

A panel of expert judges, composed of academia, private sector and government service design professionals, selected five projects for awards. Projects were evaluated with such criteria as global and regional planning; facility plans and studies; new facility design; family housing; building alteration and reuse; and interior design.

The Commander's Award for Design Excellence was presented to NAVFAC Washington for the Wesley A. Brown Field House at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md.

The Wesley A. Brown Field House provides the Naval Academy with a world-class training facility, able to attract the finest athletes and officer candidates to military service. Within a single structure, a wide range of athletic programs are accommodated, including track and field, volleyball, and indoor practice for the basketball, football, and lacrosse teams. The design solution provides one of the most technologically unique indoor field houses in the country, distinctively integrated with its site on the Severn River and the historic structures of the Academy.

Honor Awards were given to NAVFAC Southwest for the Squadron Operations Facility, Coronado, Calif. and NAVFAC Washington for the King Hall Repair/Rehabilitation project at the U.S. Naval Academy and the Regionally Integrated Master Program for the Commander, Navy Region Washington.

A Merit Award was awarded to NAVFAC Southeast for a Hangar & Parking Apron project in Jacksonville, Fla.

The NAVFAC Design Awards program recognizes achievements by the design community and employees of NAVFAC, promotes design excellence in all aspects of the built and natural environment, demonstrates responsible stewardship of public resources, and motivates employees to create the best facilities and infrastructure for our Navy, Marine Corps and other clients. For pictures and descriptions of the winners, visit

Cyber Defense Exercise

April 28, 2010 - ANNAPOLIS, Md. (NNS) -- A team of Naval Academy midshipmen won the National Security Agency's (NSA) annual Cyber Defense Exercise (CDX) conducted April 20-23.

The academy team, led by Midshipmen 1/C Justin Monroe and Christopher Wheeler, competed with teams from the Military Academy, Air Force Academy, Merchant Marine Academy, Naval Postgraduate School and Air Force Institute of Technology. The midshipmen last won the CDX trophy in 2005.

CDX is an inter-service cyber security competition that challenges teams to effectively defend their virtual computer network against malicious attack. Each year, the exercise is designed around a specific scenario, with constraints such as time, resources and information about the "attacker" based on the scenario.

"The competition is designed to simulate a real working environment with user workstations, servers, firewalls and other equipment commonly found in networks," said Monroe, who will serve as a surface information warfare officer after graduation in May. "After the network designs are approved, teams begin building them and must overcome any problems inherent in their original designs."

The teams must choose how to utilize the resources at their disposal to best defend their virtual network and to keep certain "critical services" running, while the "attackers" (the NSA team that has designed the competition) attempt to infiltrate the network and disrupt these services.

The competition is designed to give students experience with designing and implementing computer security solutions with limited resources as well as spark some friendly competition between the services. Students learn how to work with a team to ensure that their plan will effectively protect their network from attacks and how to react when the defenses do not work as expected.

"Because the task is very technical and difficult in a number of areas, we assigned positions to underclassmen, giving them areas of study to help build the network, and we ultimately relied on their research during the competition," said Monroe. "The machines and services they built on their own are the ones we use in the competition. This mirrors the fleet in a number of ways, primarily delegating tasks to subordinates and trusting the work they do."

Additionally, students gain experience using the tools that are used every day to defend Department of Defense networks against cyber attacks.

"I think the experience has shown that a lot of different people can come together and build something that they would have struggled to do on their own. Getting help from one another was key to getting the network done," said Monroe. "I think I speak for everyone on the team when I say we wouldn't have changed anything. We really came together as a team and got the job done."

Forensic Science Training Program

New York City’s Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) has established a new Forensic Sciences Training Program. Funded by the National Institute of Justice, the Training Program will launch this year (2009) with practitioner-oriented courses in the Medicolegal Investigation of Death. Both basic and advanced courses will be offered at no cost to the participant. Course selections are expected to expand following the launch period.

Training participants will have access to a resource rich learning environment – NYC’s OCME is one of the country’s premier forensic science agencies, and is home to expert faculty, the largest public DNA laboratory in the USA, and specialty departments in crime scene reconstruction, mass fatality management and forensic anthropology. OCME’s state-of-the art thirteen-story building showcases a dividable 250-seat auditorium with the latest media technology, as well as specialized training laboratories, and equipment to support practical training in all-hazards investigation and disaster response.

More Information


April 28, 2010 - M.FEMA.GOV Gives Smartphone Users Easy Access to Disaster Preparedness Information

WASHINGTON – Today, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate announced the launch of FEMA’s new mobile website, The mobile website makes it easier to access critical information regarding emergency preparedness and what to do before and after a disaster right on a smartphone.

“Smartphones are becoming more prevalent, affordable, reliable and more viable to locate and obtain information and assistance,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “This service will provide yet another avenue for the sharing of important information that is so critical to ensuring the public is prepared for emergencies. As we’ve seen in recent cases, often times after a disaster, mobile devices become a crucial lifeline to provide information to survivors.”

The new site is laid out in a user friendly, question and answer format, providing users with the answers to their top questions, such as:

What should I do in a disaster?

Where can I find assistance?

How can I help others?

FEMA will be making several enhancements to in the coming months, including the ability to apply for individual assistance when a disaster has been declared by the President, check on the status of an application and update an existing application.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Air Force-wide social media access begins

4/26/2010 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFNS) -- Air Force officials began a two-week phased opening April 26 of access to social media sites Air Force-wide.

Pacific Air Forces bases gained access to social media sites earlier in April, serving as the test-bed prior to the Air Force-wide initiative.

Air Force Space Command, Air Education and Training Command and Air Mobility Command bases will begin getting access to social media sites April 26. Air Combat Command, Air Force Reserve Command, Air Force Materiel Command, Air Force Global Strike Command, Air Force Special Operations Command and United States Air Forces in Europe will get access beginning May 1. During the final phase, Air National Guard bases will get access beginning May 6.

It will take up to five business days to open up every base in each major command because technicians in the Integrated Network Operations and Security Centers responsible for opening social media access must account for the different major command network infrastructures. They also must allow members of the Air Force Computer Emergency Response Team to provide required services to each MAJCOM as they are granted access.

"Twenty-Fourth Air Force (officials) determined the best way to implement access to Internet-based capabilities was to follow the standard practice of allowing the 624th Operations Center, working in conjunction with the INOSCs, to determine who gets the upgrade first based on mission requirements," said Brig. Gen. David B. Warner, AFSPC communications and information director and chief information officer. "The INOSCs have the most in-depth knowledge of the network infrastructures within each MAJCOM and thus can initiate changes in the most efficient way possible.

"Due to the importance of allowing access to more Internet-based capabilities for communication and collaboration, we are working to strike a balance between maintaining a safe and tightly controlled network while allowing Airmen to have the access they need to get information and conduct business," General Warner continued. "We are diligently working with communications and information experts at 24th Air Force and the INOSCs to assure the mission, while ensuring a standardized roll-out and maintaining the appropriate level of security."

Providing access to social media sites from Air Force government computers meets the intent of Department of Defense Directive-Type Memorandum 09-026 -- Responsible and Effective Use of Internet-based Capabilities, issued Feb. 25.

"As we leverage these new technologies, it is imperative that all Air Force personnel practice safe online activity to protect the network," said Gen. C. Robert Kehler, Air Force Space Command commander. "The Air Force views the use of social media sites as a positive way to communicate and conduct business. Social media and other emerging technologies provide an increasingly important means of communication and collaboration. Providing more open access will allow the Air Force to communicate more effectively to all Air Force personnel, their families and external audiences."

Various Air Force and DOD regulations provide guidance for Airmen using social media on government networks. Personal use of social media sites must be of reasonable duration and frequency that have been approved by supervisors and do not adversely affect performance of official duties, overburden systems or reflect adversely on the Air Force.

Air Force personnel cannot post any classified or sensitive information and must follow the guidelines for appropriate social media and Internet use. The inappropriate posting of information on the AF network and any OPSEC violations are punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

SDO Observes Massive Eruption, Scorching

April 27, 2010: Just last week, scientists working with NASA's new Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) released the most astonishing movies of the sun anyone had ever seen. Now, they're doing it again.

"SDO has just observed a massive eruption on the sun—one of the biggest in years," says Lika Guhathakurta of NASA headquarters in Washington DC. "The footage is not only dramatic, but also could solve a longstanding mystery of solar physics."

Karel Schrijver of Lockheed Martin's Solar and Astrophysics Lab is leading the analysis. "We can see a billion tons of magnetized plasma blasting into space while debris from the explosion falls back onto the sun surface. These may be our best data yet." The movie, recorded on April 19th, spans four hours of actual time and more than 100,000 km of linear space. "It's huge," says Schrijver. Indeed, the entire planet Earth could fit between the plasma streamers with room to spare.

Astronomers have seen eruptions like this before, but rarely so large and never in such fluid detail. As science team member Alan Title of Lockheed Martin pointed out at last week's press conference, "no other telescope comes close to the combined spatial, temporal and spectral resolution of SDO."

Schrijver says his favorite part of the movie is the coronal rain. "Blobs of plasma are falling back to the surface of the sun, making bright splashes where they hit," he explains. "This is a phenomenon I've been studying for years."

Coronal rain has long been a mystery. It's not surprising that plasma should fall back to the sun. After all, the sun's gravity is powerful. The puzzle of coronal rain is how slowly it seems to fall. "The sun's gravity should be pulling the material down much faster than it actually moves. What's slowing the descent?" he wonders.

For the first time, SDO provides an answer.

"The rain appears to be buoyed by a 'cushion' of hot gas," says Schrijver. "Previous observatories couldn't see it, but it is there."

One of SDO's game-changing capabilities is temperature sensing. Using an array of ultraviolet telescopes called the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA), the observatory can remotely measure the temperature of gas in the sun's atmosphere. Coronal rain turns out to be relatively cool—"only" 60,000 K. When the rains falls, it is supported, in part, by an underlying cushion of much hotter material, between 1,000,000 and 2,200,000 K.

"You can see the hot gas in the color-coded temperature movie," says Schrijver. "Cool material is red, hotter material is blue-green. The hot gas effectively slows the descent of the coronal rain."

Dick Fisher, the head of NASA's Heliophysics Division in Washington DC, has been working in solar physics for nearly forty years. "In all that time," he says, "I've never seen images like this."

"I wonder, what will next week bring?"

Defense Media CTO: Wither Biometrics?

Craig Kaucher is the Chief Technology and Information Officer at Defense Media Activity.

April 27, 2010 - Over the past decade, approaches to securing enterprise information systems have evolved from the secure bastion, through defense in depth, to include today the concepts of continuous monitoring and operations. Through this all, many newer, more powerful technologies have emerged and been integrated into various portions of the enterprise information assurance architecture. One particular aspect of information assurance, the password, which is often seen as one of the greatest vulnerabilities of information systems, still seems to be sticking around in some form or another.

Fortunately at the Department of Defense, the Common Access Card (CAC) has alleviated much of the pain of remembering multiple passwords. Unfortunately, the still-required password, as a backup to the CAC, if nothing else, is longer than ever. Combine that with the near infinite number of passwords that almost anyone uses to access anything from on-line banking to e-commerce sites to subscriptions, and the potential for mistakes or intentional bypassing (i.e., writing them down) becomes quite high.

My own theory is that six characters in a password are about all most people will commit to memory most of the time. With each additional character required in a password, I feel there is an increased chance that people will write down the password. By the time a 16 character (or greater) password requirement is reached, my theory is that most people will write their passwords down somewhere. Again, this isn’t scientific, but just my gut feeling.

So why not do away with passwords, or at least the really big ones? Yes, decreasing the length of passwords makes cracking them mathematically more probable, or at least more quickly possible, but this can, as with the CAC, be offset by other factors or multi-factors at one time.

The password is something you know. The CAC (or any other reliable token) is something you have. What about what you are, or in other words, biometrics?

US Marine Corps Sgt. Michael Weaver uses the Biometric Automated Tool Set, Oct. 2008, to enter an Iraqi man's info. (Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Tyler W. Hill)

When I was teaching at the Information Resources Management College at National Defense University, I built an information assurance lab. One of the most popular labs was on biometrics. We did hands-on familiarization with fingerprint, face and voice recognition, and iris scanning technologies, looking at their strengths and weaknesses, and emphasizing their potential role in enterprise information assurance.

Biometrics technology seemed to be taking off rapidly. The Department of Defense formed the Biometrics Management Office, and it seemed like in no time, we’d all be accessing Defense Department networks with biometric technologies at the touch of a finger or a glance in the camera.

So what happened? Well, biometrics are still around at the Department of Defense, and they are used in a big way for verifying identity, not necessarily just of Defense Department personnel. The Biometrics Management Office has become the Biometrics Identity Management Agency, and it continues to be the Defense Department’s primary proponent for biometrics, internally to the department, as well as in national and international efforts to advance the use of the technology and standards.

Biometrics are being used for identification of captured or detained personnel in current theaters of war. Likewise, the Department of Homeland Security now requires biometric (fingerprint) identification of travelers to the U.S. from most countries coming through all major air ports of entry.

But back to information assurance for Defense Department systems and networks. When will we see widespread use of biometrics for this purpose? What’s stopping DoD components, or the Department at large, from using biometrics to enhance information assurance? Is it cost? Complexity? Lack of maturity or trust in the technology? If anyone has or knows of any large-scale projects to implement biometrics on an enterprise level to support information assurance, let Armed With Science know.

USGS to Award $4 Million in Earthquake Research Grants

April 27, 2010 - Earthquake research will receive approximately $4 million in grants from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in 2010, with support going to 47 universities, state geological surveys and private firms.

“These external research grants are an important component of our overall strategy for earthquake risk reduction,” said Marcia McNutt, USGS director. “They help us engage the creativity and imagination of the best researchers nationwide who develop new tools and insights that will ultimately make us safer from seismic hazards.”

USGS supports research on earthquake hazards in at-risk regions nationwide through its Earthquake Hazards Program. This program provides information to the public and private sectors on earthquake occurrence and effects.

Examples of grant recipients include the following:

In the Pacific Northwest, John Vidale of the University of Washington will develop computer simulations of ground shaking during earthquakes in the Seattle area. This study will provide a better understanding of the influence of large sedimentary basins (such as the sediment-filled basin underlying Seattle), on ground shaking and will provide more accurate estimates of ground shaking in the region.

In Alaska, researchers will continue developing a chronology of past earthquakes along the southern coast of Alaska. This will allow Ian Shennan and colleagues from the University of Durham in the United Kingdom to provide better estimates of recurrence times for large earthquakes, both in Alaska and in similar subduction-zone settings such as Chile.

For potential applicability both nationally and internationally, Jonathan Bray and colleagues at the University of California at Berkeley will investigate the possible use of smart phones and similar personal devices to rapidly deliver earthquake shaking information. Such information would then be used to more quickly and accurately quantify and locate earthquakes as they occur.

Roland Burgmann of the University of California at Berkeley and Brendan Meade of Harvard University will develop integrated models of northern California faults using GPS, InSAR and seismicity data. The inclusion of recent geodetic data into the revision and update of the this model of the San Francisco Bay Area is critical for estimates of seismic risk in the East Bay and in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

In southern California, Peter Shearer at the University of California at San Diego and Egill Hauksson of the California Institute of Technology will investigate mechanisms and patterns of earthquakes. Shuo Ma of San Diego State University will simulate likely earthquakes for the fault system that borders Los Angeles to the north. Lisa Grant Ludwig at the University of California at Irvine will pursue a better record of prehistoric earthquakes on the San Andreas Fault. Don Helmberger at the California Institute of Technology will investigate earthquake source processes and improve methods for rapidly estimating earthquake source properties.

Evaluation of Newly Deployed and Enhanced Technology and Practices at the Passenger Screening Checkpoint

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is responsible for overseeing aviation security and ensuring the safety of the air traveling public, including the screening of all passengers and property transported on passenger aircraft. As complex threats to aviation security evolve, TSA continues its mitigation efforts through the deployment of advanced technologies at the passenger screening checkpoint. A recent incident demonstrates the importance of continued development and enhancement of aviation security technologies. On December 25, 2009, a passenger on an international flight bound for the United States attempted to bring down the aircraft, with 278 passengers on board, by igniting an explosive device that was concealed in his clothing. Fortunately, as a result of quick action on the part of passengers and crew members, the fire was extinguished and tragedy was avoided.

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Wisconsin State Patrol Tests New Path to Radio Interoperability

The Wisconsin State Patrol, which oversees traffic incidents, statewide voice communications and mobile communications networks, has devoted several years to developing a strategy for adopting the Project 25 radio interoperability standards.

Project 25 refers to a suite of standards for digital, two-way wireless communications products. A committee of manufacturers, public safety agencies, and state and federal communications professionals launched Project 25 in 1989 to provide detailed standards for interoperable radios.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Protecting Intellectual Property

by Tracy Russo

April 26, 2010 - Today the Department of Justice is recognizing the 10th annual World Intellectual Property Day. Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind –music, literature, film, artistic works, and inventions. Intellectual property is one of America’s greatest assets. Its protection is central to our economic prosperity and security as well the public’s health and safety. Aggressive intellectual property law enforcement is crucial to our continued success and safety, and is a top priority of the Department of Justice.

Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the creation of the Task Force on Intellectual Property. The Task Force strengthens efforts to combat intellectual property crimes through close coordination with state and local law enforcement partners as well as our international counterparts.

Today, that Task Force got even stronger. Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary G. Grindler, who serves as the Chair of the Task Force, announced the appointment of 15 new Assistant U.S. Attorney positions and 20 FBI Special Agents to be dedicated to combating domestic and international IP crimes.

In an op-ed featured in the National Law Journal, Acting Deputy Attorney General Grindler explained why combatting intellectual property crime is so vital to our national interest:

Businesses that create and rely upon intellectual property, from large entertainment conglomerates to small biotech firms, make up among the fastest-growing sectors of the U.S. economy. These industries also represent a significant portion of U.S. exports, with intellectual property now comprising a significant – and growing – share of the value of world trade.

The proliferation of worldwide Internet access and advances in traditional distribution methods, such as transportation and shipping, now allow American businesses of all sizes to market their intellectual property throughout the world. Digital content, whether embodied in software, books, games, movies, or music, can be transmitted from one corner of the world to another almost instantly.

But these unprecedented opportunities for American businesses and entrepreneurs are put at risk by criminals and criminal organizations that seek unlawfully to profit by stealing from the hard work of American artists, authors and inventors.

For every new technological advancement by American business, there is, unfortunately, a criminal who would seek to misuse it for his own illicit purposes. Criminals are responding to American innovation with their own creative methods of committing intellectual property crimes — from wide-spread online piracy, to well-funded corporate espionage, to increased trade in counterfeit pharmaceuticals and other goods.

When we fail to enforce intellectual property rights aggressively, we fail to protect some of our nation’s most important and valuable resources. The theft of even a single trade secret can completely destroy a burgeoning small business.

When criminals sell counterfeit drugs and medical devices to consumers, our nation’s public health is compromised. And, when illicit products such as counterfeit airplane parts or pirated electronic components make their way into the marketplace, they place our public safety at risk.

Our efforts to combat intellectual property crimes are stronger than ever. Through partnerships with federal, state and local law enforcement, increased cooperation with our international counterparts, and specially trained investigators and federal prosecutors the Department of Justice remains vigilant in its enforcement of intellectual property law.

Meprolight Announces Magnifying Scope for Ultimate Accuracy

Or Akiva, Israel, April 26, 2010. Meprolight, a provider of innovative weapon sights, today announced Mepro MX3, a compact scope designed to improve the shooter’s capability. The new scope has X3 magnification to enhance the precision and effectiveness of the rifle’s existing sight by extending the shooting range without re-zeroing the sights.

Mepro MX3 can be attached to any standard MI-DST_L1913 Picatinny Rail, behind a reflex sight, using a quick release adapter.

The innovative magnifying scope is manufactured to the highest military standards to assure years of reliable operation under all field conditions. Any soldier, police officer, or civilian user can easily use it. Mepro MX3 is compact, lightweight and rugged, and has a wide field of view,

“Mepro MX3 can turn a simple shooter armed with an ordinary reflex sight into sharp shooter, with one simple click,” said Golan Kalimi, Meprolight’s Vice President Marketing. “By extending the range of reflex sights, shooters can achieve better performance and higher accuracy levels.”

About Meprolight
Meprolight designs and manufactures a wide array of electro-optical and optical sights and devices, night vision devices, thermal sights and a wide variety of night sights and other tritium- and LED-illuminated products and accessories for safety and security applications for the law enforcement, military and civilian communities. For more information about Meprolight visit

Laser Decontamination: Shine a Light

Using lasers to decontaminate the site of a chemical explosion

April 26, 2010 - Dhiren Barot was an al Qaeda operative involved in plots to blow up the London subway, among other targets. To maximize the damage and the terror, he planned to pack some of his bombs with toxic gas. Fortunately, in August 2004, British authorities nabbed Barot and his accomplices before they could carry out their attacks.

But the threat of a gas attack remains. At some point, someone might succeed where Barot failed. That’s why it’s important to be ready. The right response to such an attack could minimize exposure and save hundreds of thousands of American lives.

Chemists at Idaho National Laboratory (INL) have been studying decontamination techniques for almost a decade. Their job is to plan for the worst. With funding and guidance from the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), they’re researching ways to help the nation respond to and clean up after potential chemical attacks.

Many building materials—like cement and brick—are extremely porous. Getting contaminants off surfaces like these is difficult, since they can inhabit cracks and pores. Cleaning up chemical-contaminated structures can be difficult, costly, and time-consuming. For one thing, most preferred methods employ other chemicals, like bleach solutions, which can be corrosive and aggressive to many types of surfaces.

One day, lasers could play a big role, according to Donald Bansleben, the program manager in S&T’s Chemical and Biological Division. “Lasers could help to scrub chemical-contaminated buildings clean and become a tool in the toolbox to speed a facility’s return to normal operations.”

Water inhabits those cracks and pores, too, and that’s where lasers come in. INL chemists have shown that laser pulses can flash that water into steam, carrying the contaminants back to the surface for removal by chelation or other means. “It’s a kind of laser steam-cleaning,” says chemist Bob Fox.

When INL began investigating lasers, researchers were looking for ways to dispose of radioactive contamination after a dirty bomb. Under the new S&T program, the team has been extending its work to chemical-weapon decontamination. While no terrorist has managed to deploy a dirty bomb, the same cannot be said of chemical agents.

As a new remediation technology, lasers show promise. In a series of tests still underway at the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground, the INL researchers have been using ltraviolet-wavelength lasers to scrub surfaces clean of sulfur mustard gas and VX, a nerve agent. The tests have proved successful so far, even on complex, porous surfaces like concrete.

Lasers can degrade weapons like VX in two ways: photochemically or photothermally. In photochemical decomposition, high-energy laser photons blast apart chemical bonds, slicing the agent into pieces. In photothermal decomposition, photons heat up the target surface enough to speed along natural degradation reactions. In some cases, the intense heat by itself can cause contaminant molecules to fall apart.

Knowing how chemical contaminants fall apart is key, because some of the elements resulting from their degradation products can themselves be hazardous. But according to Fox, the tests look good in this regard, too. “The lasers are showing neutralization of the agent without generation of dangerous byproducts,” he says.

And even if they’re not used to degrade VX or other agents, lasers could still be helpful in cleanup scenarios. Laser light could blast nasty chemicals off a wall, for example, and an integrated vacuum system could suck them up.

While using lasers to decontaminate office buildings or subway stations may sound like science fiction, Fox and his team are merely adapting an established technology. Lasers have been used in cleanup capacities for more than a decade. Dentists employ them, for example, to kill periodontal bacteria and quash mouth infections. Doctors use them to remove tattoos. And lasers have recently become a common tool to restore precious artwork.

Laser technology has other commercial applications. Some cleanup and restoration firms are already using lasers to scrub soot off building facades. And these industrial operations often use automated lasers, demonstrating that laser work can be done remotely, minimizing risks to remediation personnel responding to a chemical or radiological attack.

Fox stresses that laser decontamination is in the proof-of-principle stage, and is not an anti-terror panacea. Still, several government agencies are paying close attention as the INL team showcases the technology’s promise.

As for biological decontamination, like what was needed in the U.S. after the 2001 anthrax attacks, Fox has not yet tested bacteria-laden surfaces. “I don’t know,” he says. “But I’m willing to shine my light on anything.”