Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Two Men Charged in Social Media Account Takeover Schemes Involving Professional and Semi-Professional Athletes

 NEWARK, N.J. – Two men will appear in federal court to face charges that they were involved in the unauthorized takeover of social media and other personal online accounts belonging to professional and semi-professional athletes, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.

Trevontae Washington, 21, of Thibodaux, Louisiana, and Ronnie Magrehbi, 20, of Orlando, Florida, are each charged in separate criminal complaints with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse. Washington is scheduled to appear today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Janis van Meerveld in the Eastern District of Louisiana. Magrehbi is scheduled to appear today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gregory Kelly in the Middle District of Florida.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in courts:

At various times between December 2017 and April 2019, Washington and Magrehbi took part in illegal schemes to gain access to social media and other personal online accounts belonging to professional and semi-professional athletes, including athletes employed by the National Football League (NFL) and the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Washington is alleged to have compromised accounts belonging to multiple NFL and NBA athletes. Washington phished for the athletes credentials, messaging them on platforms like Instagram with embedded links to what appeared to be legitimate social media log-in sites, but which, in fact, were used to steal the athletes’ user names and passwords. Once the athletes entered their credentials, Washington and others locked the athletes out of their accounts and used them to gain access to other accounts. Washington then sold access to the compromised accounts to others for amounts ranging from $500 to $1,000.

Magrehbi is alleged to have obtained access to accounts belonging to a professional football player, including an Instagram account and personal email account. Magrehbi extorted the player, demanding payment in return for restoring access to the accounts. The player sent funds on at least one occasion, portions of which were transferred to a personal bank account controlled by Magrehbi, but never regained access to his online accounts.

The wire fraud conspiracy charges carry a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The computer fraud conspiracy charges carry a statutory maximum of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the U.S. Secret Service, under the direction of Special Agents in Charge Mark McKevitt in Newark, Caroline O’Brien-Buster in Orlando, and Leslie Pichon in New Orleans; members of the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice Financial and Computer Crimes Bureau, under the direction of New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal, and members of the Thibodaux, Louisiana, Police Department.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Torntore of the U.S. Attorney’s Cybercrimes Unit in Newark.

The charges and allegations in the complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

DOD Takes Steps to Safeguard Supply Chain

 Sept. 29, 2020 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the domestic and foreign supply chains has led the Defense Department to focus more intensely on identifying critical infrastructure and vulnerabilities and to take measures to protect those assets, said the executive director for international cooperation, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment.

Gregory Kausner spoke today at the ComDef 2020 forum, a virtual conference providing insights and perspectives on issues facing the international defense communities.

A soldier uses network gear in the field.

Regarding the programmatic impacts of COVID-19 across the department, Kausner said: "To be very blunt, we're still assessing those impacts. We're doing so with a scalpel, trying to understand what the short-term, medium- and long-term consequences are and then appropriately reorienting the department's efforts through a broad range of responses."

Since Kausner's area of focus is international suppliers, he mentioned some steps his office is taking.

After identifying weaknesses in the foreign supply chain, the department has been in diplomatic consultation at the highest levels of government to ensure allies and partners understand the impacts of foreign supply chain disruption to the U.S. warfighter, he said.

A researcher in a lab conducts a test on a wearable battery prototype.

In turn, the department has balanced its concerns with an understanding of the dynamics of the pandemic, and its resurgence at times, which affects nations in different ways, he said, adding that not every country is equally prepared to deal with those effects.

Besides working through nation-to-nation diplomacy, Kausner said the department has often worked with officials at the state and provincial levels, where authority from the central government is often delegated. Also, engagement at the company level has been fruitful.

Besides working with allies and partners, Kausner said the department has identified weaknesses in the foreign supply chain and has looked for ways to shift work to less vulnerable foreign suppliers and in some instances to re-shore, meaning to bring the manufacture of critical parts and technologies to the U.S.

Kausner listed areas of critical components and technologies that the department is focused on protecting: microelectronics; rare earth metals; hypersonics; fully networked command, control and communications; directed energy; cyber; space; quantum science; artificial intelligence; machine learning; autonomy; biotechnology; and, a 5G network. 

Two aircraft fly together.

Alliances and partnerships are stronger when everyone cooperates and supports each other, he emphasized, noting that foreign companies are working on key technologies and research that can benefit everyone's national security.

Whether acquiring innovative technologies from the department's own labs, U.S. industry or foreign companies, "the key to innovation is not just the innovation itself, but also the adaptation to the innovation and the integration of the innovation, because, without that, it's simply a shiny object," he said.

Monday, September 28, 2020

DOD and HHS Award $20 Million Contract to On Demand Pharmaceuticals to Develop Domestic Production of Critical Pharmaceutical Ingredients

 Sept. 28, 2020

On September 28, the Department of Defense (DOD), in coordination and on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), signed a $20 million contract award with On Demand Pharmaceuticals (ODP) to develop a domestic production capability for critical active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and final formulated medicines using their proprietary Pharmacy on Demand technology.

This investment will enable ODP to fully develop its small footprint pharmaceutical production technology, initially developed with funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Critical APIs and their starting materials have long been sourced from overseas, and the collaboration with ODP is expected to increase the onshore production of three critical APIs that ultimately form the building blocks for final formulated medicines used to treat critically ill U.S. service members and COVID-19 patients. 

This contract award is part of the ongoing collaboration between DOD’s Defense Assisted Acquisition (DA2) Cell and HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) to apply HHS Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds to critical technology development projects to support the COVID-19 pandemic response. Execution of the award will be overseen by DARPA. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Examining Vaccines

A service member wearing a face mask takes something from an open drawer.

 A Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command sailor opens the vaccine refrigerator to examine flu vaccines at Naval Health Clinic Hawaii, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Sept. 14, 2020.

NASA, DOD Agree to Collaborate More Closely in Space

 Sept. 22, 2020 | BY DAVID VERGUN , DOD News

While advancing plans for unprecedented lunar exploration under the Artemis program, NASA also is building on a longstanding partnership with the Defense Department according to a memorandum of understanding announced today by Space Force Gen. John W. "Jay" Raymond and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

The agreement commits DOD and NASA to broad collaboration in areas that include human spaceflight, space policy, space transportation, standards and best practices for safe operations in space, scientific research and planetary defense.

A rocket travels through a blue sky.

The agreement was discussed today at the Air Force Association Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies' Space Power Forum.

The MOU replaces an agreement signed 14 years ago between NASA and the U.S. Air Force Space Command, under which the two organizations exchanged research and development information, sought to reduce duplication of system development and collaborated in the long-term planning of each organization's space roadmaps.

The security of the space domain has become more challenging with competitor nations able to jam, spoof, hack and use lasers to attack satellites and communications systems, Bridenstine said.

"We want to see behaviors improved in space," he said, "and the Space Force will be an important partner in ensuring space is secure and is used peacefully for the benefit of all of humanity."

An enclosed aircraft sits at rest.
A rocket lifts off from Florida launch pad.

Raymond said the Space Force will defend assets in space including GPS satellites, weather satellites, communications satellites, missile warning satellites, space domain awareness satellites, rockets and the International Space Station.

Those assets are vital to the joint force and those capabilities are shared with allies and partners, he added.

NASA, on the other hand, is in science, technology and exploration missions, which are distinct from what the Space Force does, Raymond said.

But besides operating together in the space domain, the two organizations share the space industrial base, research and development and science and technology that benefit both, he said.

A rocket lifts off from a launch pad.

This MOU reiterates the close collaboration that DOD has had with NASA since its founding in 1958, Raymond said, mentioning that most of the astronauts leading up to the moon landings were military personnel.

Bridenstine mentioned that as part of its Artemis program, NASA plans to send the first astronauts to the lunar surface in 2024 and establish a sustainable presence there by the end of the decade. The agency will then use the Moon to prepare for its next giant leap — human exploration of Mars.

Raymond said the Space Force will support those missions as well.

AI Aids DOD in Early Detection of COVID-19

 Sept. 22, 2020 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency and Defense Innovation Unit are applying commercial technology for early detection of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, which causes the COVID-19 coronavirus disease.

That technology is known as Rapid Analysis of Threat Exposure, or RATE, and it consists of non-invasive, wearable devices that provide early warning of infection up to 48 hours before a person becomes symptomatic, helping ensure military readiness, and protect against the threat of further spread of the disease, said DTRA Science and Technology Manager Ed Argenta.

An airman man points to a watch on his wrist.

Just like the ''check engine'' warning that comes on in a car, said DIU Human Systems Director Dr. Christian Whitchurch, the system is designed to alert service personnel that something is wrong, leading them to pursue early diagnostic testing with their physician  and then treatment.

RATE integrates consumer commercial-of-the-shelf wearables to measure key biomarkers. That data is then processed in the cloud to allow users to see their hourly RATE score through a secure website, he noted.

Data from 165 different biomarkers is collected by RATE and that data is then processed in the cloud to allow users to see their hourly RATE score through a secure website, he noted. 

Researchers work with a monitor that has many wires extending from it.

The innovative technology uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to increase effectiveness of detection, he added

Using RATE, researchers discovered that exposure to infectious agents causes subtle changes in people's physiology before they experience symptoms. Identifying these changes early in the infection is critical to containing the spread, as asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals don't yet show signs of infection, and can unwittingly spread the disease to others, Argenta said. An early warning solution could potentially alert people to their possible infection, and enable them to quarantine and change their behaviors sooner to avoid infecting others.

Picture of a medical scan.

The RATE model was trained via AI and ML on 293,109 participants, including 256,320 controls and 36,782 with known hospital acquired infections and correlated to these common attributes: temperature, pulse oximeter and cardiac measures, he explained. 

Dr. Joe Frassica, the chief medical officer and head of Philips Research North America, the company assisting DTRA, said ''As we continue to get new data from monitored cases of COVID-19, we will be able to refine the RATE-COVID algorithm in the near future. We hope that this will not only allow us to protect people from contracting the disease, but to also intervene early and treat those who are infected.''

An airman points at a computer screen.

Whitchurch said developing RATE began in March 2018, and it did test for another coronavirus, SARS, as well as pneumonia in that DTRA/DIU development prototype. As the effort quickly pivoted in 2020 to identifying COVID-19, the CARES Act provided additional funding for a total of $7 million to refine the technology.

The Defense Department is set to oversee an extensive rollout of RATE devices to nearly 5,000 people in the coming weeks, Whitchurch said. The Navy, Office of the Secretary of Defense and DTRA and DIU personnel began receiving RATE devices in June. U.S. Northern Command is receiving RATE devices this month and the U.S. Military Academy is slated to receive theirs next month.

Friday, September 18, 2020

DOD Seeks Industry Input Into Dynamic Spectrum Sharing

 Sept. 18, 2020

The Department of Defense issued a request Sept. 18 for industry to develop information papers on dynamic spectrum sharing. This request for information, or RFI, seeks insight into innovative solutions and technologies for dynamic sharing of the department’s current spectrum allocation to accelerate spectrum sharing and 5G deployment.  The intent is to ensure the greatest effective and efficient use of the Department of Defense’s spectrum for training, readiness, and lethality.  

“We hope our industry partners will come forward with innovative ideas to address the questions in this RFI,” said DOD Chief Information Officer, Honorable Dana Deasy. “DOD’s partnership with industry is imperative in this extremely technical and competitive field.  What we learn in this effort has potential to benefit the entire nation and keep the U.S. as the global leader of 5G technology for many years to come.” 

The scope of the effort, according to the RFI, is to have vendors look at the “broad range of spectrum DOD currently uses in order to understand both the art of the possible, as well as current industry trends in spectrum utilization.”  The scope is intended to cover all approaches to spectrum management, including the best methods for sharing spectrum with both military and civilian users.

DOD looks forward to industry’s input on this important topic.  Responses are due on Oct. 19.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

NICU Assessment


Holly Rozoff, a registered nurse assigned to Naval Medical Center San Diego's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, checks on an infant, Sept. 15, 2020. The hospital's NICU specializes in the care of sick or premature newborns. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way many facets of health care are conducted, and NMCSD's NICU has adapted some of its techniques and practices to keep both staff and patients safe while delivering the high quality health care patients have come to expect. NMCSD’s mission is to prepare service members to deploy in support of operational forces, deliver high quality health care services and shape the future of military medicine through education, training and research. NMCSD employs more than 6,000 active duty military personnel, civilians and contractors in Southern California to provide patients with world-class care anytime, anywhere.

DOD works with Allies on Cyber Threats

 Sept. 17, 2020 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

Open and reliable access to the Internet is essential for global security and prosperity. However, growing cyber threats from state and non-state actors threaten those values, the Defense Department's principal director for Cyber Policy said.

Madeline Mortelmans, spoke today at an event hosted by the Association of European Journalists in Madrid, Spain.

Airman works on computers

Adversaries China, Russia, Iran and North Korea are increasingly taking malicious cyber activities in the gray zone, which is below the threshold of armed conflict, to undermine U.S. and allies' security, she said.

China is using cyber espionage for military and economic advantages, Mortelmans said. In 2018, the Justice Department estimated that more than 90% of economic espionage cases involved China and more than two-thirds of the cases involved in the theft of trade secrets were connected to China; this in spite of their 2015 pledge not to use espionage for their economic benefit.

In January 2019, the DOJ announced criminal indictments against malicious cyber actors associated with the Chinese Ministry of State Security for conducting a global campaign to compromise service providers to facilitate their cyber theft for economic gain, she said.

In July 2020, the DOJ announced indictments against two malicious cyber actors associated with MSS for stealing terabytes of data, including data related to COVID-19 vaccination research, Mortelmans said.

Russia is conducting cyber espionage that has the potential to disrupt critical infrastructure and erode confidence in America's democratic system, she said. For example, they've made attempts to interfere in the 2016, 2018 and now 2020 U.S. elections, as well as elections of allies and partners.

North Korea has hacked financial networks and cryptocurrency to generate funds to support their weapons development program, she said.

Airmen work on computers.
An airman works on network gear.

Iran has conducted disruptive cyberattacks against U.S. and allies' companies, along with information operations to push their own narrative across the Middle East, Mortelmans said.

Violent extremist organizations use cyber to recruit terrorists, raise funds, direct attacks and distribute gruesome propaganda online, she mentioned.

There are also cyber criminals who pose a growing threat from their use of ransomware to extort money from local and state governments as well as the commercial sector, she said.

In response to these threats, U.S. Cyber Command has taken a comprehensive and proactive approach, she said, that involves being able to defend forward anywhere in the world, in order to respond to cyber and other threats before they reach the homeland, Mortelmans said.

Defending forward includes understanding what adversaries are trying to do and what the threat looks like. This effort includes working with allies and partners, she noted.

Besides having an understanding of adversaries' intention, Cybercom has the tools and expertise to conduct defensive and offensive cyber operations, she said.

Two men work on computer.

A cyber operation can constitute an act of war or use of force, she pointed out. An attack is based on the effects that are caused, rather than the means by which they are achieved. An example would be an attack on critical infrastructure such as the power grid.

A cyberattack does not necessarily require a cyber response, she added.

Flu Vaccine Essential During COVID-19 Pandemic

 Sept. 17, 2020 | BY Macy Hinds, Navy

Flu season is coming. In the United States, flu season usually starts in the fall and lasts through the winter. While influenza viruses circulate year-round, most flu activity peaks between December and February, but can last as late as May.

Not only is flu season about to begin, the COVID-19 pandemic is still in full swing, further stressing the importance of the flu vaccine. The vaccine could help reduce the overall impact of contagious respiratory illnesses on the population and decrease the burden on the health care system during the overlapping flu season and COVID-19 pandemic.

A sailor disinfects another sailor's arm.

While the COVID-19 and influenza viruses are different, symptoms of the two are very similar, making it difficult to differentiate between them based on symptoms alone.

Navy Capt. Lisa Pearse, Navy Region Hawaii public health emergency officer from Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Pearl Harbor said, "Both can cause high fevers, body aches and headaches. COVID-19 is more likely to cause a cough and shortness of breath, but those symptoms could also occur with influenza. Lab testing may be required to tell them apart. One specific difference is that only COVID-19 often  causes a loss of smell or taste."

While there is no vaccine for COVID-19 yet, the flu shot can help reduce the risk of illness, hospitalization and death from an influenza infection.

"The very best thing you can do to prevent influenza is to get your flu shot," Pearse emphasized.

There may be options to when and where to obtain a flu shot.

"The influenza vaccine is expected to arrive later than usual this year for the Navy, so most of the big flu drives will be delayed slightly and will occur in November/early December, but specific dates will be released soon," Pearse said. 

A sailor examines a flu vaccine.

Immunizations clinics may currently look different due to the pandemic. Changes in hours of operations, services, safety precautions and entry requirements at a local military treatment facility are important in planning a visit. For the safety of healthcare personnel and other patients, masks must be worn. Those who have or may have COVID-19, regardless of exhibiting symptoms, are encouraged to postpone their visit to an immunization clinic.

It's uncertain what COVID-19 coupled with the flu season will look like this year. However, there are preventative steps people can take to help protect themselves and their families, while reducing the burden on health care resources. In addition to getting the flu vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends staying home when sick, covering both nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, washing hands, avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and preserving a strong immune system by getting plenty of sleep, staying active, managing stress, drinking fluids and eating nutritious foods. These everyday actions combined with the vaccine can help slow the spread of contagious respiratory illnesses and prepare people for a joint COVID-19 and flu season to come.

For TRICARE beneficiaries who want to get a flu vaccine before it is available at the clinic, use a TRICARE network participating pharmacy at no cost. To learn about TRICARE coverage and the flu vaccine, click here.

(Macy Hinds is assigned to Naval Health Clinic Hawaii)

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Technology Proliferation, Influence Ops May Be as Disruptive as COVID-19

 Sept. 16, 2020 | BY C. Todd Lopez , DOD News

The COVID-19 pandemic has been globally disruptive in nearly every facet of life. But other things may prove as disruptive in the future, said leaders of the military intelligence community.

Military personnel sit at computer terminals in a room with a large screen.  One service member is standing.

One advancement that may possibly be as disruptive as COVID-19 is the revolution in information technology that's available to everybody — not just the U.S. and its allies, Navy Vice Adm. Robert Sharp, director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, said during an online forum today with the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association and the Intelligence and National Security Alliance.

"It's this revolution in remotely-sensed and geo-located data, which is available to everyone," he said. "It's available to us, but it's also available to our competitors. [Also] the revolution in smart machines and artificial intelligence — once again, [it's a] great opportunity for us, but it's not only our opportunity. That's the competition space."

Another area of concern is something Sharp called "GEOINT assurance." With the growth of open-source geospatial intelligence coming from multiple sources, it becomes less certain that the information can be trusted, he said.

A graphic, computer-generated line map of the world highlights points of cyber activity.
A computer-generated line map highlights points of cyber activity around the world.

"How do you have confidence in the ones and zeros that you're using for making decisions based off of," he asked.

Army Gen. Paul Nakasone, director of the National Security Agency and commander of U.S. Cyber Command, cited influence operations as the next possible great disruptor. Influence operations, he said, have a very low barrier to entry, enabling just about anybody to engage in them.

"We've seen it now in our democratic processes," Nakasone said. "I think we're going to see it in our diplomatic processes, we're going to see it in warfare, and we're going to see it in sowing civil distrust in different countries."

A man in a military uniform sits before two computer screens; one displays a map while the other displays related data.

Influence operations, he said, are all enabled by the proliferation of inexpensive technology that allows anybody with an agenda to get online.

"The great technology that's enabling so much of what we're doing is also that dual-edged sword that malicious cyber actors and others are being able to use to create doubt, or to be able to question authority, or to be able to ... to spread messages that are far from true," he said. "I think influence operations, just in general, will be for us one of the things that we'll be dealing with not just every two or four years, but this is the competitive space that we're going to be in as intelligence agencies and as our nation.

DHS Provides $10 Million to Local Communities to Prevent Targeted Violence and Terrorism

 WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has awarded $10 million to 29 select projects to support the development of a nationwide Terrorism and Targeted Violence Prevention (TVTP) Framework. These awards were made through a competitive process under the Fiscal Year 2020 Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention Grant Program.

“With these grants, DHS has prioritized programs aimed at improving communities’ ability to prevent individuals from mobilizing or radicalizing to violence. These programs will create or enhance locally-based prevention frameworks to address these emerging threats,” said Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad F. Wolf. “DHS stands in absolute opposition to violent extremism, no matter its motivation or form. We will continue our constant efforts to combat all forms of domestic terror.”

These projects address the wide range of violent ideologies and mobilization factors that lead to targeted violence. This Fiscal Year’s program prioritized countering domestic terrorism. The TVTP Grant Program builds on the promising practices in the field of prevention. It is the only federal grant program dedicated to enhancing prevention capabilities in local communities.

Projects selected under the TVTP Grant Program cover many aspects of prevention, including building resilience, intervention, recidivism prevention, and reintegration programs at the local level. The projects selected directly support the objectives of the September 2019 DHS Strategic Framework for Countering Terrorism and Targeted Violence. Making these funds available for local prevention partners is a key milestone in the implementation of the Strategic Framework.

DHS evaluated 95 eligible applicants based on selection criteria, prioritization of grant program objective, and diversity of applicant types, activities, and geographic distribution as outlined in the FY20 Notice of Funding Opportunity. TVTP Grant Program funds support the development of local prevention capabilities at a time when DHS is observing an uptick in online efforts for terrorism recruitment and radicalization from a variety of sectors.

 For more information, including full list of grant awardees, please see the TVTP Grant Program site at

US Customs and Border Protection Launch Biometrics Website

On September 1, 2020, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations successfully launched their biometrics entry/exit website. The purpose of the site is to deliver information to the public and other stakeholder groups. The site provides a user-friendly communication channel for promoting facial comparison technology and biometrics information in a dynamic and inviting manner.

As a testament to CBP’s commitment to privacy protections, outlined in the DHS Fair Information Practice Principles, the website includes the current locations using facial comparison technology as well as information on how to request alternative screening and copies of CBP’s privacy signage on display. The information provided, including a link to CBP’s Traveler Verification Service Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA), is yet another tool in CBP’s arsenal to ensure technology sustains and does not erode privacy protections.

CBP is committed to improving its public messaging and helping the public better understand the technology.

Please refer to the link below for the new biometrics website:


Trump Administration Releases COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Strategy

 Sept. 16, 2020

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Defense (DoD) today released two documents outlining the Trump Administration’s detailed strategy to deliver safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine doses to the American people as quickly and reliably as possible. 

The documents, developed by HHS in coordination with DoD and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), provide a strategic distribution overview along with an interim playbook for state, tribal, territorial, and local public health programs and their partners on how to plan and operationalize a vaccination response to COVID-19 within their respective jurisdictions.

“As part of Operation Warp Speed, we have been laying the groundwork for months to distribute and administer a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it meets FDA’s gold standard,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “This in-depth, round-the-clock planning work with our state and local partners and trusted community organizations, especially through CDC, will ensure that Americans can receive a safe and effective vaccine in record time.”

The strategic overview lays out four tasks necessary for the COVID-19 vaccine program:

  • Engage with state, tribal, territorial, and local partners, other stakeholders, and the public to communicate public health information around the vaccine and promote vaccine confidence and uptake.
  • Distribute vaccines immediately upon granting of Emergency Use Authorization/ Biologics License Application and once CDC has made vaccine recommendations, using a transparently developed, phased allocation methodology.
  • Ensure safe administration of the vaccine and availability of administration supplies.
  • Monitor necessary data from the vaccination program through an information technology (IT) system capable of supporting and tracking distribution, administration, and other necessary data.

On August 14, CDC executed an existing contract option with McKesson Corporation to support vaccine distribution. The company also distributed the H1N1 vaccine during the H1N1 pandemic in 2009-2010. The current contract with McKesson, awarded as part of a competitive bidding process in 2016, includes an option for the distribution of vaccines in the event of a pandemic.

“CDC is drawing on its years of planning and cooperation with state and local public health partners to ensure a safe, effective, and life-saving COVID-19 vaccine is ready to be distributed following FDA approval,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield. “Through the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, CDC will play a vital role in deciding, based on input from experts and stakeholders, how initial, limited vaccine doses will be allocated and distributed while reliably producing more than 100 million doses by January 2021.”

Detailed planning is ongoing to ensure rapid distribution as soon as the FDA authorizes or approves a COVID-19 vaccine and CDC makes recommendations for who should receive initial doses. Once these decisions are made, McKesson will work under CDC’s guidance, with logistical support from DoD, to ship COVID-19 vaccines to administration sites.

“The Department of Defense is uniquely positioned to help guide the OWS distribution strategy due to its vast logistical experience,” said General Gustave Perna. “Americans can trust that our country’s best public health and logistics experts are working together to get a vaccine to them as soon as available.”


- Operation Warp Speed Strategy for Distributing a COVID-19 Vaccine

- COVID-19 Vaccination Program Playbook

- COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Infographic

Visit the Operation Warp Speed page at

About Operation Warp Speed:

OWS is a partnership among components of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense, engaging with private firms and other federal agencies, and coordinating among existing HHS-wide efforts to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.

About HHS & CDC:

HHS works to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans, providing for effective health and human services and fostering advances in medicine, public health, and social services. To learn more about federal support for the nationwide COVID-19 response, visit

CDC works 24/7 protecting America’s health, safety and security. Whether disease start at home or abroad, are curable or preventable, chronic or acute, or from human activity or deliberate attack, CDC responds to America’s most pressing health threats. CDC is headquartered in Atlanta and has experts located throughout the United States and the world.

About DoD:

The Department of Defense’s enduring mission is to provide combat-credible military forces needed to deter war and protect the security of our nation. The Department provides a lethal and effective Joint Force that, combined with our network of allies and partners, sustains American influence and advances shared security and prosperity.