Monday, August 31, 2020

Department of Defense Announces New DARPA Director Dr. Victoria Coleman

 Aug. 31, 2020

Today, the Department of Defense named Dr. Victoria Coleman as the director of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). 

Established in 1958 as part of the U.S. Department of Defense, DARPA is designed to anticipate, explore, and achieve the concepts and technology on which the Nation’s future deterrent and defense capabilities depend. It does so collaboratively as part of a robust innovation ecosystem that includes academic, corporate, and governmental partners. And while its focus is always on the Nation’s military Services, which count on DARPA to create new strategic and tactical options, DARPA’s work has historically catalyzed fundamental breakthroughs that have benefited the broader society as well.

“During this era of great power competition, DARPA is critical to strengthening the U.S. military’s technological dominance and advancing innovations that benefit our warfighters. We are excited to welcome Dr. Coleman as the new director and look forward to building upon DARPA’s unmatched record of achievement,” said Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael Kratsios. Acting DARPA Director Dr. Peter Highnam will return to his role as Deputy Director of DARPA. 

Dr. Coleman’s career spans over 30 years in academia, the private sector, and government, including previous service as the founding Chair of DARPA’s Microsystems Exploratory Council and membership on the Defense Science Board. She has led cutting edge research and development across the technology sector, to include service as the Chief Executive Officer of Atlas AI; Senior Vice President at Technicolor; Chief Technology Officer of Connected Home Business; Vice President, Engineering at Yahoo!; Vice President, Software Engineering at Hewlett-Packard Palm Global Business Unit; and Director for Security Initiatives at Intel. Her efforts have included work in artificial intelligence, microelectronics, and extensive work in the design and development of mobile devices and other consumer electronics products. Dr. Coleman has an extensive academic background leading research at the University of California Berkeley, Santa Clara University, and the University of London. She completed her undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Salford and earned her doctorate in computer science from the University of Manchester.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Operation Warp Speed More Than Halfway to Enrolling Participants in Vaccine Trials

 Aug. 28, 2020 | BY C. Todd Lopez , DOD News

Two of the six candidate vaccines for COVID-19 are now in Phase III trials. Each of those trials will require about 30,000 participants, and Operation Warp Speed is about half finished finding participants for the clinical trials, the deputy chief of staff for policy at the Department of Health and Human Services said. 

"We're past the halfway point in terms of enrollment," Paul Mango said. "We feel very good about that enrollment in terms of the overall diversity."

He said the population participating, so far, is varied in age and race, as well as among individuals with varying medical conditions.

"We feel very good about those clinical trials," Mango said. "We would expect that two more of our candidate vaccines will go into Phase III clinical trials by the middle of September. Maybe one of those even sooner, though we're feeling good about the fact that we'll have four vaccines in Phase III clinical trials by the middle of next month."

Operation Warp Speed is the program designed to find a vaccine for COVID-19 before the end of the year, and to quickly get a vaccine out to Americans by January 2021. Part of that effort involves manufacturing vaccines before they are even approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration. In the event a vaccine is approved, this means it will already be available for distribution. For those vaccines that are not approved, the already-manufactured doses will be destroyed.

An airman wearing personal protective equipment installs test equipment.

Manufacturing is underway now for three of the vaccines, Mango said. For the other three, facilities are being set up, and manufacturing will start shortly.

"We feel we are absolutely on track, if not a little bit ahead in terms of our overall objective, which is tens of millions [of doses] of safe and effective vaccine approved before calendar year-end," Mango said.

One challenge for meeting the goal of Operation Warp Speed is the logistics of distributing the final, approved vaccine. Planning for that is complicated by the fact that some of the candidate vaccines are single-dose, while others require multiple doses, Mango said.

"We have to deal with the difference between single doses and double doses," he said. "We also have to deal with different storage and transport requirements. So when you add all this up, there's five or six major independent variables, and when you run the number of combinations that we're planning for, it's quite extraordinary."

Another factor, Mango said, is the ancillary material that comes with distributing a vaccine — syringes, hypodermic needles and vials, for instance. He said he's confident Operation Warp Speed is ahead in that area.

"We have hundreds of millions of those already received," he said. "We have hundreds of millions of those that are on order and will be delivered as we approach year-end and into the early part of the new year. So we feel we have the vast majority of our logistical needs either already covered or underway."

A service member pushed a hypodermic needle into a  person’s arm.
A medical technician wearing a face mask helps someone put on personal protective equipment.

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also discussed planning where the vaccines will go first when they're ready and who will interact with recipients to administer the vaccine.

"Right now, the CDC is focused on leveraging the existing systems we use every day to deliver vaccines across the U.S., as well as building on state and local planning that is underway around pandemic influenza," Redfield said.

Initially, he said, availability of the vaccine might be limited, and it's important that decisions are made now about which populations should have first access to the vaccines.

"CDCs advisory committee on immunization practices, along with other groups like the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, are evaluating the safety and immunogenicity data of vaccine candidates and examining the epidemiology of COVID-19 in focus populations and will eventually make recommendations about which populations to prioritize for vaccine," Redfield said.

Due to teleworking as a result of COVID-19, adults may not be able to get the new vaccine where they have gotten vaccines in the past — in some cases at their place of employment, for instance, Redfield said.

A woman wearing a face mask hold a thermometer up to the forehead of a aims a military service member.
A service member presses a hypodermic needle into a small glass vial.

"A successful vaccine program will require a combination of traditional and innovative approaches to how vaccines are administered," he said. "So pharmacies and other complementary community-based locations may be important in our response to this pandemic."

Redfield also said that a distributor for the future COVID-19 vaccine has been chosen. He said the CDC and that distributor typically deliver as many as 80 million doses of vaccines to providers.

"During an emergency, this system can be scaled and has the capacity to manage and distribute up to 900 million vaccine doses," he said. "Our goal is ensure that there's no delay in the handoff between the FDA authorizing a vaccine and the implementation of vaccine programs nationwide."

Operation Warp Speed is a partnership between the Defense Department and the HHS. Specific HHS components involved include the CDC, FDA, the National Institutes of Health, and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

San Jose Man Pleads Guilty To Damaging Cisco’s Network

 Unauthorized Access Led to Deletion of 16,000 WebEx Teams Accounts in the Fall of 2018

SAN JOSE – Sudhish Kasaba Ramesh pleaded guilty in federal court in San Jose today to intentionally accessing a protected computer without authorization and recklessly causing damage, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John L. Bennett. 

According to the plea agreement, Ramesh admitted to intentionally accessing Cisco Systems’ cloud infrastructure that was hosted by Amazon Web Services without Cisco’s permission on September 24, 2018.  Ramesh worked for Cisco and resigned in approximately April 2018.  During his unauthorized access, Ramesh admitted that he deployed a code from his Google Cloud Project account that resulted in the deletion of 456 virtual machines for Cisco’s WebEx Teams application, which provided video meetings, video messaging, file sharing, and other collaboration tools.  He further admitted that he acted recklessly in deploying the code, and consciously disregarded the substantial risk that his conduct could harm to Cisco.  As a result of Ramesh’s conduct, over 16,000 WebEx Teams accounts were shut down for up to two weeks, and caused Cisco to spend approximately $1,400,000 in employee time to restore the damage to the application and refund over $1,000,000 to affected customers.  No customer data was compromised as a result of the defendant’s conduct.

Ramesh, 30, of San Jose, California, was charged by Information on July 13, 2020.  He was charged with one count of Intentionally Accessing a Protected Computer Without Authorization and Recklessly Causing Damage, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1030(a)(5)(B) and (c)(4)(A)(i)(I).

Under the plea agreement, Ramesh pled guilty to the sole count of the Information.

Ramesh is currently released on bond.   Bail was set at $50,000. 

Ramesh’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for December 9, 2020, before The Honorable Lucy H. Koh, U.S. District Court Judge, in San Jose.  The maximum statutory penalty for the offense of Intentionally Accessing a Protected Computer Without Authorization and Recklessly Causing Damage, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1030(a)(5)(B) and (c)(4)(A)(i)(I), is 5 years imprisonment  and a fine of $250,000.  However, any sentence will be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Susan Knight is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Elise Etter.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Cisco Systems, Inc. fully cooperated with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Ghanaian Citizen Extradited in Connection with Prosecution of Africa-Based Cybercrime and Business Email Compromise Conspiracy

 A Ghanaian citizen residing in Tamale, Ghana, has been extradited to stand trial for an indictment charging him with wire fraud, money laundering, computer fraud and aggravated identity theft. 

Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant of the Western District of Tennessee, and Special Agent in Charge Douglas Korneski of the FBI’s Memphis Field Office made the announcement.

On Aug. 23, 2017, a federal grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee indicted Maxwell Peter, 27, whose given name is Maxwell Atugba Abayeta, and others with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit computer fraud and aggravated identity theft.  Following his extradition, Peter’s initial appearance was made Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Charmiane G. Claxton for the Western District of Tennessee.  

The indictment alleges that various Africa-based co-conspirators committed, or caused to be committed, a series of intrusions into the servers and email systems of a Memphis-based real estate company in June and July 2016.  Using sophisticated anonymization techniques, including the use of spoofed email addresses and Virtual Private Networks, the co-conspirators identified large financial transactions, initiated fraudulent email correspondence with relevant business parties and then redirected closing funds through a network of U.S.-based money mules to final destinations in Africa.  Commonly referred to as business-email compromise, or BEC, this aspect of the scheme caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses to companies and individuals in Memphis.  The defendant is specifically alleged to have directed the transfer of funds from a June 2016 BEC to a co-conspirator in Africa.

In addition to BEC, the defendant is also charged with perpetrating romance scams, fraudulent-check scams, gold-buying scams, advance-fee scams and credit card scams.  The indictment alleges that the proceeds of these criminal activities, both money and goods, were shipped and/or transferred from the United States to locations in Africa through a complex network of both complicit and unwitting individuals that had been recruited through the various Internet scams.  The defendant is specifically alleged to have created and used the alias “Sandra Lin” in furtherance of these crimes.  From May through June of 2017, Peter is alleged to have communicated with an FBI agent acting in an undercover capacity to receive the proceeds of fraud.  Along with his coconspirators over the life of the conspiracy, the defendant is believed to have caused millions of dollars in losses to victims across the globe.

An indictment is merely an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Seven other individuals have pleaded guilty to being involved in these schemes.  Benard E. Okorhi, 41, was extradited in March 2020 from Canada, and is detained pending trial.  Two others, Olufalojimi Abegunde, 33, and Javier Luis Ramos-Alonso, 30, were convicted in March after a seven-day trial in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee.  Abegunde received a 78-month sentence and Ramos-Alonso received a 31-month sentence for their roles in the scheme.  Several individuals remain at large.

The FBI led the investigation.  The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, as well as the FBI’s Legal Attaché in Accra, the FBI Transnational Organized Crime of the Eastern Hemisphere Section of the Criminal Investigative Division, the FBI’s Major Cyber Crimes Unit of the Cyber Division, FBI’s Money Laundering, Forfeiture, and Bank Fraud Unit of the Criminal Investigative Division, and FBI’s International Organized Crime Intelligence and Operations Center all provided significant support in this case, as did the U.S. Marshals Service, INTERPOL Washington, the INTERPOL Unit of the Ghana Police Service, the Republic of Ghana’s Office of the Attorney-General & Ministry of Justice, and Ghana’s Economic and Organised Crime Office.

Senior Trial Attorney Timothy C. Flowers of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra L. Ireland of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee are prosecuting the case.

For more information or to view a list of aliases used by members of the conspiracy on dating websites and social media, visit

United States Files Complaint to Forfeit 280 Cryptocurrency Accounts Tied to Hacks of Two Exchanges by North Korean Actors

 The Justice Department today filed a civil forfeiture complaint detailing two hacks of virtual currency exchanges by North Korean actors.  These actors stole millions of dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency and ultimately laundered the funds through Chinese over-the-counter (OTC) cryptocurrency traders.  The complaint follows related criminal and civil actions announced in March 2020 pertaining to the theft of $250 million in cryptocurrency through other exchange hacks by North Korean actors.

“Today’s action publicly exposes the ongoing connections between North Korea’s cyber-hacking program and a Chinese cryptocurrency money laundering network,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.  “This case underscores the department’s ongoing commitment to counter the threat presented by North Korean cyber hackers by exposing their criminal networks and tracing and seizing their ill-gotten gains.”

“Today, prosecutors and investigators have once again exemplified our commitment to attribute national security cyber threats, to impose costs on these actors, and bring some measure of relief to victims of malicious cyber activities,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.  “Although North Korea is unlikely to stop trying to pillage the international financial sector to fund a failed economic and political regime, actions like those today send a powerful message to the private sector and foreign governments regarding the benefits of working with us to counter this threat.”

“As part of our commitment to safeguarding national security, this office has been at the forefront of targeting North Korea’s criminal attacks on the financial system,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Michael R. Sherwin of the District of Columbia.  “This complaint reveals the incredible skill of our Cryptocurrency Strike Force in tracing and seizing virtual currency, which criminals previously thought to be impossible.”

“Despite the highly sophisticated laundering techniques used, IRS-CI’s Cybercrimes Unit was able to successfully trace stolen funds directly back to North Korean actors,” said Don Fort, Chief of IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI). “IRS-CI will continue to collaborate with its law enforcement partners to combat foreign and domestic operations that threaten the United States financial system and national security.”

“FBI efforts to stop the flow of threat finance around the world are central to our strategy to address transnational crime,” said Assistant Director Calvin A. Shivers of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division.  “This strategy is strengthened by the skills and expertise we continue to develop in virtual asset investigations such as this, which enable the FBI and our partners to identify and seize illicit assets.”

“As North Korea becomes bolder and more desperate in their efforts to steal money using sophisticated money laundering techniques, HSI will continue to apply pressure by exposing their fraudulent transactions,” said Special Agent in Charge Steven Cagen of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Denver.  “We are committed to safeguarding the interest of the United States against the criminal elements in North Korea to protect the integrity of the cyber financial system.”

“At U.S. Cyber Command, we leverage a persistent engagement approach to challenge our adversaries’ actions in cyberspace,” said Brigadier General Joe Hartman, Commander of the Cyber National Mission Force. “This includes disrupting North Korean efforts to illicitly generate revenue. Department of Defense cyber operations do not occur in isolation. Persistent engagement includes acting through cyber-enabled operations as much as it does sharing information with our interagency partners to do the same.”

“Today’s complaint demonstrates that North Korean actors cannot hide their crimes within the anonymity of the internet.  International cryptocurrency laundering schemes undermine the integrity of our financial systems at a global level, and we will use every tool in our arsenal to investigate and disrupt these crimes,” said Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie Jr. of the FBI’s Chicago Field Office.  “The FBI will continue to impose risks and consequences on criminals who seek to undermine our national security interests.”

The forfeiture complaint filed today details two related hacks of virtual currency exchanges.

As alleged in the complaint, in July 2019, a virtual currency exchange was hacked by an actor tied to North Korea.  The hacker allegedly stole over $272,000 worth of alternative cryptocurrencies and tokens, including Proton Tokens, PlayGame tokens, and IHT Real Estate Protocol tokens.  Over the subsequent months, the funds were laundered through several intermediary addresses and other virtual currency exchanges.  In many instances, the actor converted the cryptocurrency into BTC, Tether, or other forms of cryptocurrency – a process known as “chain hopping” – in order to obfuscate the transaction path.  As detailed in the pleadings, law enforcement was nonetheless able to trace the funds, despite the sophisticated laundering techniques used.

As also alleged in the pleadings, in September 2019, a U.S.-based company was hacked in a related incident.  The North Korea-associated hacker gained access to the company’s virtual currency wallets, funds held by the company on other platforms, and funds held by the company’s partners.  The hacker stole nearly $2.5 million and laundered it through over 100 accounts at another virtual currency exchange.

The funds from both of the above hacks, as well as hacks previously detailed in a March 2020 forfeiture action (1:20-cv-00606-TJK), were all allegedly laundered by the same group of Chinese OTC actors.  The infrastructure and communication accounts used to further the intrusions and fund transfers were also tied to North Korea.

The claims made in this complaint are only allegations and do not constitute a determination of liability.  The burden to prove forfeitability in a civil forfeiture proceeding is upon the government. 

 The investigation was conducted by IRS-CI’s Washington, D.C. Cyber Crimes Unit, the FBI’s Chicago and Atlanta Field Offices, and HSI’s Colorado Springs Office with additional support from the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office.  Trial Attorney C. Alden Pelker of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, Trial Attorney David Recker of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zia M. Faruqui, Jessi Camille Brooks, and Christopher Brown are prosecuting the case, with assistance from Supervisory Paralegal Specialist Elizabeth Swienc and Legal Assistant Jessica McCormick. 

Support to this effort was provided by FBI’s San Francisco Field Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Georgia.

Support to this effort was also provided by United States Cyber Command.  More information about the command’s efforts to combat North Korean and other malware activity can be found on Twitter and VirusTotal.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Shipyard Keeps Workers Safe Using NanoSeptic Technology

Aug. 26, 2020 | BY Allison Conti, Navy

Virginia's Norfolk Naval Shipyard has a long and storied tradition of utilizing innovative technology to support its mission and keep its workforce safe. The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has strengthened the shipyard's ongoing commitment to innovation as it seeks new ways to keep personnel safe while getting ships back to the fleet on time. The newest invention to make its way through the gates of NNSY is NanoSeptic technology.

An engineer applies a NanoSeptic protective sheet to a door.

NanoSeptic technology kills pathogens using a photocatalytic reaction with embedded titanium dioxide nanoparticles. In plain language, it can provide a self-disinfecting surface for high traffic areas by using UV light. The technology uses a septic coating on self-adhesive plastic sheets that self-clean every time they're touched.

According to Rob Harrington, code 2310.4 (Ventilation Support) branch head, "NanoSeptic technology can provide a self-disinfecting surface for high traffic areas that will protect NNSY employees from the spread of COVID-19."

Harrington added that the supplier of this technology specified that the NanoSeptic sheets can last for more than three months with minimal cleaning and maintenance.

The technology has been researched by NNSY's Reactor Engineering Division and championed by its Nuclear Engineering and Planning Department Management as NNSY has rigorously and relentlessly pursued ways to keep its employees and their families safe.

"We are well into the process of implementation on a trial basis," Harrington said.

An engineer applies a NanoSeptic protective sheet to a door.

Since NanoSeptic technology is so new, research is still being conducted. To date, the technology has not been approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization; however, those involved with the project feel positive about the future of the technology, Harrington said.

"There are virtually no safety concerns, and we have engaged with Code 106 [NNSY's Occupational Safety, Health, and Environment Office] to ensure there are no safety concerns for the shipyard," Harrington added. "Thus far, Code 106 is optimistic."

Though the CDC recently clarified that surfaces are not the primary way that COVID-19 spreads, the NanoSeptic efforts help ensure employee health while highlighting NNSY's diligence and commitment to workplace safety.

The project has been a team effort between Ventilation Support and NNSY's Supply Department. Key personnel involved in the effort include Mike Kwiatkowski, Cynthia Raines, Ben Campbell and Mark Ragsdale, along with Harrington. It's the third project the department has implemented to promote workplace safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. The others include development of a disinfecting Nuclear Standard Instruction, the use of hydrogen peroxide for disinfecting cognizant nuclear spaces, and the possible use of ultraviolet light technology.

The NanoSeptic project and the efforts that predated it are an example of NNSY's C.O.R.E. values in action, Harrington said.

Engineers pose with NanoSeptic sheets.

"It demonstrates that we care about our workforce and that we have a responsibility to do whatever we can to keep NNSY safe," Harrington said.

In a recent message, Navy Vice Adm. Bill Galinis, commander of Naval Sea System Command said, "Our shipyards showed the ingenuity required to get the job done in difficult times. From the shop floor to Code 100, you led the way to protect your coworkers."

The health and safety of the workforce remains the top priority, and NanoSeptic technology is just one innovative example of how shipyard employees are working diligently every day to help minimize the spread while maximizing the mission.

(Allison Conti is assigned to Norfolk Naval Shipyard)

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Russian National Arrested for Conspiracy to Introduce Malware into a Nevada Company's Computer Network

 Before Attempting to Flee the United States, Defendant Allegedly Plotted with Co-Conspirators to Pay $1 Million to Company Employee to Surreptitiously Insert Malware

A Russian national made his initial appearance in federal court Monday for his role in a conspiracy to recruit an employee of a company to introduce malicious software into the company’s computer network, extract data from the network, and extort ransom money from the company.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich of the District of Nevada and Special Agent in Charge Aaron C. Rouse of the FBI’s Las Vegas Field Office made the announcement.

Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov, 27, a citizen of Russia, was charged in a complaint with one count of conspiracy to intentionally cause damage to a protected computer.  He was arrested on Aug. 22, 2020, in Los Angeles and had his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Alexander F. MacKinnon in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, California, who ordered Kriuchkov detained pending trial.

According to the complaint and statements made in court, from about July 15, 2020 to about Aug. 22, 2020, Kriuchkov conspired with associates to recruit an employee of a company to introduce malware – i.e., malicious software programs designed to damage or do other unwanted actions on a computer system – into the company’s computer network.  The malware would supposedly provide Kriuchkov and his co-conspirators with access to the company’s system. After the malware was introduced, Kriuchkov and his co-conspirators would extract data from the network and then threaten to make the information public, unless the company paid their ransom demand.

Kriuchkov entered the United States using his Russian passport and a tourist visa.  He contacted and met with the employee numerous times to discuss the conspiracy.  Kriuchkov promised to pay the employee $1 million after the malware was introduced.  In furtherance of the conspiracy, Kriuchkov provided the employee with a burner phone, and instructed him to leave the burner phone in airplane mode until after the money was transferred.

After being contacted by the FBI, Kriuchkov drove overnight from Reno, Nevada, to Los Angeles.  Kriuchkov asked an acquaintance to purchase an airline ticket for him in an attempt to fly out of the country.

The charges and allegations contained in a complaint are merely accusations.  The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The investigation was led by the FBI’s Las Vegas Field Office with assistance from the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office; the FBI’s Sacramento Field Office; the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office; and the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS). Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Casper and C.S. Heath, Senior Counsel of CCIPS, are prosecuting the case.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Defense Innovation Unit Teaching Artificial Intelligence to Detect Cancer

 Aug. 24, 2020 | BY C. Todd Lopez , DOD News

The Defense Innovation Unit is bringing together the best of commercially available artificial intelligence technology and the Defense Department's vast cache of archived medical data to teach computers how to identify cancers and other medical irregularities.

The result will be new tools medical professionals can use to more accurately and more quickly identify medical issues in patients.

The new DIU project, called "Predictive Health," also involves the Defense Health Agency, three private-sector businesses and the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center.

Doctors stand near an MRI machine.

The new capability directly supports the development of the JAIC's warfighter health initiative, which is working with the Defense Health Agency and the military services to field AI solutions that are aimed at transforming military health care. The JAIC is also providing the funding and adding technical expertise for the broader initiative. 

"The JAIC's contributions to this initiative have engendered the strategic development of required infrastructure to enable AI-augmented radiographic and pathologic diagnostic capabilities," said Navy Capt. (Dr.) Hassan Tetteh, the JAIC's Warfighter Health Mission Initiative chief. "Given the military's unique, diverse, and rich data, this initiative has the potential to compliment other significant military medical advancements to include antisepsis, blood transfusions, and vaccines."

A big part of the Predictive Health project will involve training AI to look at de-identified DOD medical imagery to teach it to identify cancers. The AI can then be used with augmented reality microscopes to help medical professionals better identify cancer cells.

Nathanael Higgins, the support contractor managing the program for DIU, explained what the project will mean for the department.

"From a big-picture perspective, this is about integrating AI into the DOD health care system," Higgins said. "There are four critical areas we think this technology can impact. The first one is, it's going to help drive down cost."

The earlier medical practitioners can catch a disease, Higgins said, the easier it will be to anticipate outcomes and to provide less invasive treatments. That means lower cost to the health care system overall, and to the patient, he added.

Another big issue for DOD is maximizing personnel readiness, Higgins said.

"If you can cut down on the number of acute issues that come up that prevent people from doing their job, you essentially help our warfighting force," he explained.

A medical professional looks at medical scans on a computer screen.

Helping medical professionals do their jobs better is also a big part of the Predictive Health project, Higgins said.

"Medical professionals are already overworked," he said. "We're essentially giving them an additional tool that will help them make confident decisions — and know that they made the right decision — so that we're not facing as many false negatives or false positives. And ultimately we're able to identify these types of disease states earlier, and that'll help the long-term prognosis."

In line with the department adding an additional line of effort focused on taking care of people to the National Defense Strategy, Higgins said using AI to identify medical conditions early will help to optimize warfighter performance as well.

"Early diagnosis equals less acute injuries, which means less invasive procedures, which means we have more guys and gals in our frontline forces and less cost on the military health care system," he said. "The ultimate value here is really saving lives as people are our most valuable resource."

Using AI to look for cancer first requires researchers to teach AI what cancer looks like. This requires having access to a large set of training data. For the Predictive Health project, this will mean a lot of medical imagery of the kind produced by CT scans, MRIs, X-rays and slide imagery made from biopsies, and knowing ahead of time that the imagery depicts the kind of illnesses, such as cancer, that researchers hope to train the AI to identify.

DOD has access to a large set of this kind of data. Dr. Niels Olson, the DIU chief medical officer and originator of the Predictive Health project, said DOD also has a very diverse set of data, given its size and the array of people for which the department's health care system is responsible.

"If you think about it, the DOD, through retired and active duty service, is probably one of the largest health care systems in the world, at about 9 million people," Olson said. "The more data a tool has available to it, the more effective it is. That's kind of what makes DOD unique. We have a larger pool of information to draw from, so that you can select more diverse cases."

"Unlike some of the other large systems, we have a pretty good representation of the U.S. population," he said. "The military actually has a nice smooth distribution of population in a lot of ways that other regional systems don't have. And we have it at scale."

While DOD does have access to a large set of diverse medical imaging data that can be used to train an AI, Olson said privacy will not be an issue.

"We'll use de-identified information, imaging, from clinical specimens," Olson said. "So this means actual CT images and actual MRI images of people who have a disease, where you remove all of the identifiers and then just use the diagnostic imaging and the actual diagnosis that the pathologist or radiologist wrote down."

A patient lies on her back and ready to receive a CT scan.

AI doesn't need to know who the medical imaging has come from — it just needs to see a picture of cancer to learn what cancer is.

"All the computer sees is an image that is associated with some kind of disease, condition or cancer," Olson said. "We are ensuring that we mitigate all risk associated with [the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996], personally identifiable information and personal health information."

Using the DOD's access to training data and commercially available AI technology, the DIU's Predictive Health project will need to train the AI to identify cancers. Olson explained that teaching an AI to look at a medical image and identify what is cancer is a process similar to that of a parent teaching a child to correctly identify things they might see during a walk through the neighborhood.

"The kid asks 'Mom, is that a tree?' And Mom says, 'No, that's a dog,'" Olson explained. "The kids learn by getting it wrong. You make a guess. We formally call that an inference, a guess is an inference. And if the machine gets it wrong, we tell it that it got it wrong."

The AI can guess over and over again, learning each time about how it got the answer wrong and why, until it eventually learns how to correctly identify a cancer within the training set of data, Olson said, though he said he doesn't want it to get too good.

Overtraining, Olson said, means the AI has essentially memorized the training set of data and can get a perfect score on a test using that data. An overtrained system is unprepared, however, to look at new information, such as new medical images from actual patients, and find what it's supposed to find.

"If I memorize it, then my test performance will be perfect, but when I take it out in the real world, it would be very brittle," Olson said.

Once well trained, the AI can be used with an "augmented reality microscope," or ARM, so pathologists can more quickly and accurately identify diseases in medical imagery, Olson said.

"An augmented reality microscope has a little camera and a tiny little projector, and the little camera sends information to a computer and the computer sends different information back to the projector," Olson said. "The projector pushes information into something like a heads-up display for a pilot, where information is projected in front of the eyes."

With an ARM, medical professionals view tissue samples with information provided by an AI overlaid over the top — information that helps them more accurately identify cells that might be cancerous, for instance.

A person in a military uniform looks at an X-ray on a computer screen.

While the AI that DIU hopes to train will eventually help medical professionals do a better job of identifying cancers, it won't replace their expertise. There must always be a medical professional making the final call when it comes to treatment for patients, Higgins said.

"The prototype of this technology that we're adopting will not replace the practitioner," he said. "It is an enabler — it is not a cure-all. It is designed to enhance our people and their decision making. If there's one thing that's true about DOD, it's that people are our most important resource. We want to give them the best tools to succeed at their job.

"AI is obviously the pinnacle of that type of tool in terms of what it can do and how it can help people make decisions," he continued. "The intent here is to arm them with an additional tool so that they make confident decisions 100% of the time."

The Predictive Health project is expected to end within 24 months, and the project might then make its way out to practitioners for further testing.

The role of DIU is taking commercial technology, prototyping it beyond a proof of concept, and building it into a scalable solution for DOD.

Army's Defense Forensic Science Center Works on Pandemic's Front Line

Aug. 24, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the United States, the Army made mission adjustments to focus on protecting the force, posturing for global operational readiness and supporting the national effort to fight the coronavirus.

"U.S. Army researchers were critical during the SARS epidemic, the Zika virus and the Ebola outbreak as they helped develop antivirals and vaccines," Army Secretary Ryan D. McCarthy said in an April 1 statement. "They've done it before, and they will do it again."

During this time frame, a team from the Army Criminal Investigation Command's Defense Forensic Science Center's Forensic Exploitation Directorate, or FXD, collectively identified the required skills, training and equipment needed to conduct COVID-19 testing.

"At the early onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we understood the severity and global impact the virus would have," Crystal Allen, chief of Forensic Exploitation Branch 2, said. "We knew very quickly that given the organic skill set of the FXD examiners that we could assist the medical community with testing. Our support ultimately provided the Department of Defense with additional resources across the globe to support the ever-increasing demand for COVID-19 testing."

U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command Badge.

Located on the Gillem Enclave in Forest Park, Georgia, the DFSC's mission is to provide full-service forensic and biometric support to Army and Defense Department entities worldwide. This includes the subordinate units of the Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory, FXD, Biometrics Operations Directorate, and the Office of Quality Initiatives and Training. The FXD houses the capability to deploy a scalable and modular forensic exploitation team to provide the joint force commander or combatant command with deployable forensic capabilities.

Five months later, a team from FXD continues to support COVID-19 testing in support of military forces.

The initial seven-member planning team was formed in mid-March and was tasked with concept development. The team members used their vast scientific and operational expertise to learn proper medical testing procedures and requirements to establish a way ahead to support the DOD.

Despite not having used the Panther Fusion, BioFire, or Gene Expert platforms before, the FXD examiners used their knowledge and skill sets in complex scientific instrumentation and sample handling to adapt, Allen said. These platforms use polymerase chain reaction technology, much like the technology FXD examiners use to conduct forensic DNA testing.

"FXD's support to COVID processing improved the U.S. military's readiness and provided enhanced value to the U.S. government," Allen said. "The FXD's support helped to identify service members testing positive within basic training formations, deploying units, mobilized National Guard units, Navy ships and Marine expeditionary forces so commanders could isolate those infected personnel in order to preserve the readiness of the remainder of the joint forces."

Since March, dozens of FXD forensic DNA examiners, latent print examiners and explosive and drug chemists have deployed to work in military medical treatment facilities at Fort Gordon, Georgia, and at Camp Humphreys, South Korea, in support of Army Medical Command.

They have also deployed to Camp Ripley, Minnesota, in support of a mobile medical lab set up to handle COVID-19 specimen testing in remote locations.

Chemists process samples.

The FXD team transformed their current forensic instrumentation and software into a viral testing capability and also modified five mobile forensic laboratories to meet the needs of medical testing facilities for rapid deployment into austere locations, Allen said.

The mobile forensic labs have aided in expedited testing and allowed military personnel to be tested without having to mail tests to another medical location.

The transformation from a forensic science capability into a medical testing capability required exhaustive research, planning, contract modifications and countless hours of coordination with the DFSC staff, CID staff, Army Medical Command, numerous scientific vendors, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, Allen stated.

The FXD has significantly affected the fight during the COVID-19 pandemic with noticeable results by providing more than 8,100 hours of support and processed more than 47,530 DOD COVID-19 samples as of Aug. 11. In addition to the significant number of samples the FXD team was able to process, they were also able to provide their Army Medical Command partners with novel testing concepts and efficient processing mechanisms based on their experience working in high-operations-tempo forensic laboratories.

The team has processed samples submitted from basic training formations at Fort Benning, Georgia; deploying units from Fort Campbell, Kentucky; mobilized National Guard units preparing for rotations at the combat training centers; deployed military units along the Demilitarized Zone in Korea; and Marine expeditionary forces in Okinawa, Japan, to name a few.

"Our FXD teams continue a high level of support to [Army Medical Command] with COVID-19 testing," Army Col. Jeremy Willingham, DFSC executive director, said after processing 8,000 swabs in one week alone. "In one single day, the FXD team accessioned, packaged and shipped 2,820 specimens from the USS America, USS Ronald Reagan, USS New Orleans, U.S. Naval Hospital in Okinawa and Camp Humphreys."

The primary mission for FXD is global forensic exploitation support. However, the forward leaning innovative thinking led to FXD truly supporting a full range of military operations, to include the global fight against this novel threat, Allen said.

(Courtesy of U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command.)

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Space Challenges Prompt DOD Response, Space Superiority

 Aug. 21, 2020 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

U.S. Space Command operations in space deter conflict; deliver space combat power for the joint force, allies and partners; and defeat aggression if necessary, a leader of that command said. These are just some of the challenges being met and overcome to maintain space superiority.

Rocket lifts off.

Army National Guard Maj. Gen. Tim Lawson, mobilization assistant to the commander, U.S. Space Command, spoke via video remote from Colorado Springs, Colo., to the National Defense Industrial Association in Washington, D.C.

For decades, the U.S. has been the most dominant space power, he said. But that dominance has been challenged, most notably in 2007, when a Chinese anti-satellite missile struck a weather satellite, sending 3,400 pieces of debris into orbit, most of which are still in orbit creating a hazard, he said.

Then beginning in 2017, Russian threats in space emerged with a series of anti-satellite testing, Lawson said.

"Adversaries don't have to dominate space, they merely need to have the capability to disrupt space operations," he said. That's worrisome because warfighting operations in the land, air and maritime domains depend on space superiority for GPS, navigation and communications.

Airmen adjust a communications satellite system.

Some of the emerging threats to space assets that he listed include jamming communications, high-energy anti-satellite lasers, capabilities for attacks on ground stations and possible nuclear detonations in space.

In response to these threats, U.S. Spacecom has been working closely with industry partners to put numerous small satellites in orbit so that an attack will most likely fail to take them all out, thereby ensuring resiliency, he said.

Additionally, Spacecom is partnering with inter-government agencies like NASA, the Commerce Department, the State Department and the National Reconnaissance Office. "The

A satellite terminal stands outside a building.

se partners are critical," Lawson said, because Spacecom is fully integrated with these agencies and their agency representatives participate in military exercises with Spacecom.

The other big collaborative effort, he said, is working with allies and partners. For instance, allies such as Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, France and Australia are currently working side by side in command centers. Strength is gained through partnering.

Of note, while it is common knowledge that the U.S. Space Force stood up last year, it is less widely known that France and Japan also stood up their space forces.

Summing up, Law

Airmen move a satellite.

son said Spacecom is about ensuring the access and freedom to navigate in space to advance. national security as well as global security and economic prosperity.

Friday, August 21, 2020

DOD Can Lead Microelectronics Manufacturing Back to U.S.

 Aug. 20, 2020 | BY C. Todd Lopez , DOD News

For a variety of reasons, while many of the microelectronics available in the United States are designed here, they are manufactured overseas. This presents problems for national security, and for the Defense Department, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment said.

Ellen M. Lord discussed the state of microelectronics during a prerecorded "fireside chat" today as part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Electronics Resurgence Initiative Summit.

Three individuals sit in chairs arranged on a platform. A sign on the wall reads “The Pentagon -- Washington.”

"While we still design components, [field-programmable gate arrays], [application-specific integrated circuits], and printed circuit cards in the U.S., the majority of fabrication, packaging, testing etc., is done offshore," Lord said. "We can no longer clearly identify the pedigree of our microelectronics. Therefore, we can no longer ensure that backdoors, malicious code or data exfiltration commands aren't embedded in our code."

The United States must find a path to domestic sources for the important microelectronics that are used in defense weapons systems now, and for the microelectronics that will be needed for future use, Lord said.

"I believe that we in defense need to lead," she said. "Working with my colleagues in the administration, both inside and outside of DOD, we are charting a path forward to bring microelectronics fabrication, packaging and testing back to the U.S. in order to ensure a secure and resilient microelectronics supply chain."

A man in a military uniform interacts with a computer system in the cockpit of an aircraft.

The U.S. government, through public and private partnerships, can provide capital and a "demand signal" for domestically manufactured, tested and packaged microelectronics to encourage manufacturers to bring microelectronics production back home, Lord said.

"Then we partner with other industrial sectors to sustain that," she said. "And we have a pretty strong demand signal in order to be able to do that." 

Over the last several decades, Lord said, things such as governmental policies and regulations, environmental constraints, safety constraints, wages, and taxes drove up the cost to manufacture microelectronics in the United States, and that this was one of the causes of industry moving manufacturing overseas.

A military aircraft moves across a runway.

"That's what we need to reverse," she said.

The Defense Department isn't just interested in reshoring microelectronics manufacturing, Lord said. The department also has an interest in developing the talent needed to manufacture microelectronics.

"DOD not only drives research and development, but we also work on developing the workforce of the future we need," she said. "We can partner with our other government agencies and together fund schools in terms of education ... to develop the workforce we need to be able to deal with the automation to produce these, to continue to design. If you take a holistic approach, I think we can create a sustainable microelectronics industry, but it's not just about that first plant with some equipment in it. It's about the workforce. It's about all the policy, nationally, to make this attractive."

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

New Space Force Is at Forefront of Technology

 Aug. 19, 2020 | BY TERRI MOON CRONK , DOD News

The Space Force can learn what adversaries are doing before any other nation knows because of the Defense Department's exquisite intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, the mobilization assistant to the chief of space operations said.

Air Force general gestures with her left hand while speaking to a group and holding a microphone in her right hand.

"We can share information over our global communication networks because of the persistence and the global reach that we have,"  Space Force Maj. Gen. Kimberly A. Crider said during a "Tech Up With Women" webinar yesterday.

Because space can offer so many advantages to the nation, the decision was made to focus on it as an independent entity that can work in concert with air, ground and maritime needs and provide complementary capabilities to U.S. national security leadership, she said.

"Space Force … is the latest and greatest thing that's going on, absolutely, here at the Pentagon," the general said. "But I would argue it's the biggest thing that's going on right now for our country in terms of the capability that we bring to bear as an independent service, to protect and defend all of the services that we depend upon every single day, coming from space."

A civilian woman sits between two Air Force generals after signing official documents.

Space Force became a military service Dec. 20. "We have really been launching off like a rocket getting this service in place," Crider said. The Space Force's motto is "Semper Supra," which means "always above," she added.

The services rely on satellite communications, and the availability of those communications anywhere around the world is necessary, the general said. So the Space Force must be able to make those services reliable, resilient and secure for those who need them, Crider said. If missiles are being launched, she said, the United States must know where they're going and must be able to protect any of its forces and assets that are in any domain.

Technology is changing fast, and there's a lot of it, Crider said.

Space Force uniform.

"There are so many areas where we apply technology, and all of our careers and all of our jobs are affected by technology," she said. "So it's really important, and we believe in the Space Force it's very important to have a good, solid level of understanding of some of the basic concepts that are driving our technologies today."

"Technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning are concepts that are important to understand. It's also important to know when and how to apply them, how they're being used today, and what it means to use artificial technology to help people do their jobs better and more effectively and to allow machines to do things that humans normally would do," the general said.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Maryland Man Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison for Cyberstalking Former Girlfriend and Threatening Workplace Violence

             WASHINGTON – Brandon Spann was sentenced today to 30 months in prison after earlier pleading guilty to a federal cyberstalking charge.

            The announcement was made by Acting U.S. Attorney Michael R. Sherwin, and Robert E. Bornstein, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division.

            Spann, 30, a resident of Maryland and a former employee of the Department of Education, plead guilty on February 13, 2020 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He was sentenced by Judge Amy Berman Jackson. Following his incarceration, he is subject to three years of supervision.

            According to the government’s evidence, from approximately November 2017 to July 2019, Spann undertook a pattern of stalking, harassing, and threating behavior towards his former girlfriend. As described in the plea documents, this behavior escalated, eventually targeting the victim through approximately 30 other individuals, including her friends, siblings, and parents, as well as their friends, family, and colleagues, many of whom were unfamiliar with the victim. The over 400 communications included description of murder plans, including numerous false obituaries, threats of workplace violence, and slanderous claims concerning the professional, personal, and sexual reputation of the primary victim. Judge Berman Jackson stated that although cyberstalking cases are rare in her courtroom, the “havoc and terror” wreaked by Mr. Spann “deserved law enforcement attention” and acknowledged that the “ever expanding ripples” of his threatening communication had “real consequences” to the victims, including the closure of an office, the loss of a victim’s job, and several victims’ ongoing fear and anxiety.

            Spann was arrested on July 23, 2019, in his home in Maryland and he has been in custody ever since. Spann will get credit for the time he already has served. The court also granted a joint motion from the parties that will require Mr. Spann to pay more than $7,000 in restitution to two of the victims for their attorney’s fees and lost wages.

            This matter was investigated by the FBI WFO's Safe Streets Violent Crime Task Force. This task force is charged with investigating acts of violence and criminal threats within the Capital Region and is composed of FBI Agents, Deputy Marshals of the United States Marshals Service, U.S. Capitol Police Officers, CSOSA Supervision Officers, and Detectives from the Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department.

            The investigation into this matter was conducted by special agents from the FBI’s Washington Field Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew Floyd of the Violent Crime and Narcotics Trafficking Section and Peter Roman of the Cyber Crime Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia prosecuted the case.

Structures Metal Shop Aids Evacuation Flight's COVID-19 Mission


A team of structural journeymen from the 786th Civil Engineer Squadron installed the first of two biocontainment unit ramps aboard a C-17 Globemaster III at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Air Force Senior Airman Dyllan Greer, Air Force Airman 1st Class Tyler Sellitto, Air Force Airman 1st Class Austen Campbell and local national employee Thomas Spies have been working diligently to calculate and construct ramps fabricated from aluminum diamond-plated metal to smoothly load units such as a negatively pressurized conex for the 10th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Flight's COVID-19 mission.

Airmen wearing face masks assemble a ramp.

The handcrafted ramps improved safety and efficiency. Before they were installed, wood boards were used for the task, creating a tripping hazard with questionable durability. Now, the slip-resistant ramps ensure medics can remove their focus from their feet while working around an infection control unit to better care for their patients

During the week-long construction, the four-member team used six various machines.

''It went pretty smooth,'' Greer said. ''I think we got all the proper measurements the first time due to all the machinery we have in the shop, and we were able to fabricate it without any issue.''

Tools and diagrams are displayed on a table.

Of the 30 jobs a week the structures metal shop is assigned, this job contrasted from the norm.

''This project is different because it is on an aircraft,'' Campbell said. ''There is more that you have to keep in mind working on a flight line. We have to make sure there’s no metal shavings when we leave the aircraft, and the work has to be completely clean. We had to run back to the shop for anything additional we couldn’t do on the spot. And, since the ramp is so large, it makes it more difficult than normal.''

An airman welds a seam on a ramp.

The team is proud to support the COVID-19 mission and is feeling good about their results.

''I'm confident our next installation will go without any issues,'' Greer said.

(Air Force Staff Sgt. Nesha Stanton is assigned to the 86th Airlift Wing.)

Organic Industrial Base Ramps Up to Fight COVID-19

 Aug. 18, 2020 | BY William King

Without losing focus on readiness and support to the warfighter, several of the Army's Organic Industrial Base facilities are producing, repairing and repurposing equipment to augment the supply of personal protective equipment and other potentially lifesaving medical equipment to support the whole-of-government response to COVID-19.

Managed by Army Materiel Command, the OIB consists of 26 depots, arsenals and ammunition plants that manufacture and reset Army equipment, generating readiness and operational capability throughout Army formations.

By nature of the production lines and facilities within the OIB, much of the artisan workforce is already working within the recommended social distancing guidelines, allowing them to continue their critical operations while taking the necessary steps to maintain a healthy working environment. Some facilities have implemented additional steps to maintain a healthy working environment, such as using telework to the maximum extent possible, working added or staggered shifts, installing transparent barriers to work stations and issuing protective equipment to the workforce.

A man wearing a face mask repairs a ventilator.

In addition to maintaining mission requirements, several OIB facilities have modified production capabilities and processes to meet Army needs for PPE and other essential items in response to the pandemic.

Army Aviation and Missile Command's Letterkenny Army Depot in Pennsylvania has taken steps to protect its workforce while maintaining its current workload providing repair and modernization of essential air, missile and space systems. Additionally, LEAD produced medical isolation gowns for a Pennsylvania-based health care system as part of a public-private partnership.

"As part of the Army's Organic Industrial Base, Letterkenny is prepared to respond when the nation calls," Army Col. Gregory Gibbons, LEAD commander said. "Part of that response is flexibility, and we're honored to provide a solution for our local community."

Joint Munitions Command facilities have produced more than 70,000 cloth face coverings and 2,300 gallons of hand sanitizer for Army personnel to continue their mission-essential work. The face coverings were developed and produced at Pine Bluff Arsenal, Arkansas, while the hand sanitizer was produced at McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, Oklahoma, and Crane Army Ammunition Activity, Indiana.

A man wearing protective equipment affixes a label to one of dozens of plastic gallon jugs on pallets.

Army Communications-Electronics Command personnel at Tobyhanna Army Depot in Pennsylvania collaborated with Army Medical Logistics Command medical maintenance technicians to establish the design requirements for producing the initial prototypes, and then sourced the electronic components to build 52 power supplies for ventilators.

Jack Rosarius, director of medical maintenance management for the Army Medical Materiel Agency, said in a May interview that he was impressed with the quality and turnaround time of the power supply units.

"Depot engineers visited the facility to examine a couple samples, and in very short order, produced what we needed," Rosarius said.

The new ventilator power supply design is slightly smaller than the original, and it's made with commercial off-the-shelf components. Tobyhanna was able to procure the components, fabricate and test the units in fewer than 11 days.

In addition to using existing OIB facilities and equipment, AMC is using additive manufacturing processes to design and 3D print essential parts and equipment. The Rock Island Arsenal-Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center's Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence will produce more than 1 million testing swabs on two printers by year's end for use by Defense Department personnel, reducing the demand on commercially available swabs that can now be used for the general public.

A man wearing protective equipment that includes a helmet with a hose attached to its back works at a manufacturing work station.

Army Col. Jimi Hendrix, RIA-JMTC commander, said he is impressed by what his team has accomplished and the external support they have received.

"Organizations across the AMC enterprise, the U.S. government and private industry have partnered with us to provide designs and seek [Food and Drug Administration] approval for the production of nasal swabs to support COVID-19 testing," Hendrix said. "Processes that usually take years are falling into place within weeks."

RIA-JMTC also has produced 55 power supply assembly covers for ventilators and 300 ear savers designed to extend the life of a mask and provide more comfort for the wearer.

(William King is assigned to the U.S. Army Materiel Command.)

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