Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Register for the AFDAA 2021 Summer Meeting


Virtual Conference Dates: July 28, 2021 – July 29, 2921

The Association of Forensic DNA Analysts and Administrators (AFDAA), RTI International, and NIJ’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) are partnering to host the AFDAA summer meeting virtually on July 28th and 29th this year. This virtual conference will allow the continued dissemination of research and exchange of ideas among forensic DNA scientists despite an ongoing pandemic.

AFDAA is a nonprofit 501c3 organization composed of professionals engaged in the forensic aspects of DNA analysis for the judicial system. Members include forensic DNA analysts, supervisors, and administrators with hundreds of forensic DNA professionals in over 75 agencies and companies across 25 states and international laboratories.

AFDAA typically holds meetings twice per year, in the winter or spring and the summer. As the field of forensic DNA and the organization have grown over the years, the winter/spring meeting has evolved into focused workshops on topics of current interest, usually held at the Texas DPS Headquarters Complex in Austin, Texas.

AFDAA provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and information among forensic DNA scientists to:

  1. Keep current on the methods, techniques, and procedures presently used in the field of forensic science.
  2. Promote the dissemination of information on research and developments of new techniques within the field.
  3. Stay abreast of the latest legislative issues concerning DNA analysis.
  4. Network with other DNA crime laboratories and personnel.
  5. Obtain formal training and attend guest lectures.
  6. Share and troubleshoot forensic DNA data and/or issues.


Monday, July 19, 2021

Statement from Assistant Director Bryan Vorndran on Joint Cybersecurity Advisory Regarding Chinese State-Sponsored Cyber Operations

 FBI Cyber Division Assistant Director Bryan Vorndran released the following statement in response to a joint National Security Agency, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and FBI cybersecurity advisory regarding Chinese state-sponsored cyber operations.

The FBI and our partners are determined to disrupt the increasingly sophisticated Chinese state-sponsored cyber activity that targets U.S. political, economic, military, education, and counterintelligence personnel and organizations. The FBI remains committed to imposing risk and consequences for this type of repeated malicious cyber activity, and we urge our partners to apply these recommended mitigations to decrease the risk this actor poses to their networks.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Official Testifies on DOD Budget Request for Construction, Energy, Environmental Programs

 July 15, 2021 | BY Terri Moon Cronk , DOD News

As part of the President's Fiscal Year 2020 budget, the Defense Department's official performing the duties of the assistant secretary of defense for sustainment was on Capitol Hill to discuss the DOD's military construction, energy, installations and environment programs.

A decentralized energy system.

Paul D. Cramer told the House Armed Services Committee the 2022 budget request supports the department's efforts to address mission requirements and ensure service members have a safe and resilient place to live and work. 

He said the budget request also begins to address resilience challenges. 

"We are requesting $26.1 billion for military construction and sustainment restoration and modernization funding to address critical mission requirements and life, health and safety concerns within our current fiscal environment," Cramer said. "This funding will be used to replace, restore and modernize enduring facilities to enhance their resilience to climate events, and [it] promotes elimination of excess and obsolete facilities." 

The department is committed to protecting the quality of life of its personnel and their families, he said, adding the DOD's primary focus in that regard is to ensure access to safe, quality and affordable family and unaccompanied housing. 

The Army reserve uses wind turbines for energy efficiency.

"Our budget includes $1.4 billion to support our worldwide non-privatized family housing inventory, which includes more than 34,000 government-owned and 5,800 and leased-family housing units. This request also demonstrates our continued commitment to modernizing unaccompanied personnel housing, with more than $477 billion requested for eight construction projects," he said.

With regard to privatized housing, the department continues to prioritize actions that improve the tenant experience and rebuild tenant trust, Cramer said. 

"Our initial phase was predominantly focused on implementing the [Military Housing VI Tenant Bill of Rights] and the National Defense Authorization requirements embedded in those rights," he told the committee. "The department has issued all policy guidance necessary to implement all rights at all MHBA housing projects. With few exceptions, all 18 tenant rights are now available." The bill of rights commits the DOD to ensuring privatized housing tenants receive quality housing and fair treatment from the Military Housing Privatization Initiative Project owners that operate and maintain privatized housing.

Cramer said his office's portion of the budget also requests about $3.6 billion for environmental programs — supporting activities ranging from man-critical habitat and avoiding training restrictions to addressing drinking water health advisories — and making the best use of the department's cleanup dollars. 

Two officers tour a Navy construction project.

On what he called resilient installations, Cramer said the DOD's goal is to prepare for peer competition, where even the U.S. homeland is contested. "The department is addressing a change of technology operational and policy initiatives to enhance the use of energy and warfighting. To that end, we are requesting $4.3 billion in energy investments, including both insulation energy and operational energy," he noted. 

That includes about $287 billion for the DOD's Energy Resilience and Conservation Investment Program, Cramer said. "A significant increase over last year's requests reflect the significance of risk to energy systems," he added.

United States Government Launches First One-Stop Ransomware Resource at

 WASHINGTON – Today, as part of the ongoing response, agencies across the U.S. government announced new resources and initiatives to protect American businesses and communities from ransomware attacks. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), together with federal partners, have launched a new website to combat the threat of ransomware. establishes a one-stop hub for ransomware resources for individuals, businesses, and other organizations. The new is a collaborative effort across the federal government and the first joint website created to help private and public organizations mitigate their ransomware risk.

“As ransomware attacks continue to rise around the world, businesses and other organizations must prioritize their cybersecurity,” said Secretary Mayorkas.  “Cyber criminals have targeted critical infrastructure, small businesses, hospitals, police departments, schools, and more.  These attacks directly impact Americans’ daily lives and the security of our Nation. I urge every organization across our country to use this new resource to learn how to protect themselves from ransomware and reduce their cybersecurity risk.”

“The Department of Justice is committed to protecting Americans from the rise in ransomware attacks that we have seen in recent years,” said Attorney General Garland. “Along with our partners in and outside of government, and through our Ransomware and Digital Extortion Task Force, the Department is working to bring all our tools to bear against these threats.  But we cannot do it alone.  It is critical for business leaders across industries to recognize the threat, prioritize efforts to harden their systems, and work with law enforcement by reporting these attacks promptly.” is the first central hub consolidating ransomware resources from all federal government agencies. Prior to today, individuals and organizations had to visit a variety of websites to find guidance, latest alerts, updates, and resources, increasing the likelihood of missing important information. reduces the fragmentation of resources, which is especially detrimental for those who have become victims of an attack, by integrating federal ransomware resources into a single platform that includes clear guidance on how to report attacks, and the latest ransomware-related alerts and threats from all participating agencies. includes resources and content from DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the U.S. Secret Service, the Department of Justice’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Departments of the Treasury and Health and Human Services.

Ransomware is a long-standing problem and a growing national security threat.  Tackling this challenge requires collaboration across every level of government, the private sector, and our communities. Roughly $350 million in ransom was paid to malicious cyber actors in 2020, a more than 300% increase from the previous year. Further, there have already been multiple notable ransomware attacks in 2021 and despite making up roughly 75% of all ransomware cases, attacks on small businesses often go unnoticed. Like most cyber-attacks, ransomware exploits the weakest link. Many small businesses have yet to adequately protect their networks and will help these organizations and many more to take simple steps to protect their networks and respond to ransomware incidents, while providing enterprise-level information technology (IT) teams the technical resources to reduce their ransomware risk. 

DHS, DOJ, the White House, and our federal partners encourage all individuals and organizations to take the first step in protecting their cybersecurity by visiting

Monday, July 12, 2021

Nanosatellites Could Play Pivotal Role in Defense Against Enemy Missiles

 July 12, 2021 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

Two Missile Defense Agency nanosatellites — known as CubeSats — that launched June 30 into low-earth orbit from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California could play a large role in the future of U.S. missile defense.

The CubeSat Networked Communications Experiment Block 1 — part of MDA's Nanosat Testbed Initiative — uses small, low-cost satellites to demonstrate networked radio communications between nanosatellites while in orbit. MDA will conduct a 90-day demonstration, with a mission extension of up to one year, to ensure the two CubeSats can navigate properly, receive and send signals to radios and networks and operate as intended.

A photo shows a satellite.

"These satellites will test key technologies that mitigate risk for systems, such as the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor," Walt Chai, MDA director for space sensors, said. "The CNCE Block 1 mission will demonstrate the viability of advanced communications technologies using reduced size, weight and power in support of missile defense communications architectures."

MDA is developing the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor payload. When eventually deployed on satellites in low earth orbit, it will detect and track hypersonic and ballistic missile threats and provide critical data to the Missile Defense System and the warfighter. 

"The missile defense architecture will require communications between interceptors, sensors and command and control systems to quickly identify, track and destroy incoming enemy missiles before they reach their targets. The CubeSats will allow the agency to demonstrate the capabilities quickly and affordably," Chai said.

CubeSat missions allow for flexibility that includes rapid follow-on flights featuring planned, incremental technology improvements with overall greater cost efficiency than using larger, more traditional satellites. 

"The ability to use CubeSats for low-cost access to space is essential in maturing technologies for future applications in missile defense," Shari Feth, head of the Innovation, Science and Technology directorate at MDA, said. "For the NTI efforts, we only need something small to take technology experiments to space in order to test in the relevant environment and gather accurate data. CubeSats are the perfect platform for this." 

CubeSats are a subset of the small satellite family of satellite systems known as nanosatellites. A small satellite is generally considered to be any satellite that weighs less than 300 kilograms (660 pounds). Within the small satellite family, CubeSats are defined by standardized characteristics such as shape, size and weight.

Two people work on a device.
A photo shows a satellite.

The standard CubeSat "unit" is referred to as a 1U. A 1U CubeSat is a 10 centimeter cube with a mass of up to about 1.33-1.5 kg. CubeSats typically range in size from 1U to no more than 27U in size. 

By conforming to very specific CubeSat standards, reduced mission costs are realized — including costs associated with transporting CubeSats to, and deploying them into, space, Feth said. 

Most CubeSats are produced as commercial off-the-shelf products. This is due, in part, to the standardization inherent to CubeSats, making mass-produced components and off-the-shelf parts attractive for commercial vendor production. 

The cost per satellite is about $1.3 million versus hundreds of millions required for traditional satellite construction. The hardware was built, and the bus and payloads were integrated, under a Rapid Innovation Fund contract.

"The ability to leverage the rapid advances in commercial CubeSat technology, as well as the growing base of commercial small launch providers, enables a unique testing capability never before available," Eric Cole, NTI project lead for MDA, said. "The ability to test in the relevant environment of space enables testing to achieve higher technology readiness levels, making the technology transition path into operational systems much more viable."

According to Jeff Keller, chief engineer for technology maturation at MDA, a primary advantage to maturing technology through NTI is the ability to divide complex challenges into discrete parts. "This allows us to effectively balance risk and cost by utilizing a series of phased demonstrations. Each mission leverages lessons learned from the previous mission," he said. 

The overall result is that engineering and development of CubeSats is less costly than more highly customized small satellites. CubeSat payloads also enjoy the cost benefits from commercial CubeSat technology, but they tend to be more specialized for the missions selected by the CubeSat user.

Commercial applications for CubeSats range from communications, remote sensing to environmental applications. For MDA's CNCE Block 1 experiment, there could be commercial applications for the communications technologies being demonstrated, Feth said.

Engineers handle device

"We leveraged the department's Small Business Innovation Research and Rapid Innovation Funding programs to select the cutting edge CubeSat vendors," Yazmin Carroll, director of MDA's technology maturation unit, said. The vendors provide the spacecraft and payloads to meet the NTI mission needs in support of key missile defense technology maturation."

MDA and industry have worked together to uniquely define and tailor a quality, safety, and mission-assurance approach to balance risk and technology development costs. MDA and industry have also worked together to align industry standards and best practices to improve CubeSat technology development efforts, Keller said.

The CubeSats went to space aboard a VOX Space LLC, a subsidiary of Virgin Orbit, LauncherOne rocket as part of a payload-sharing arrangement with the DOD Space Test Program.

Other agencies involved in CNCE Block 1's CubeSat development and experimentation are: defense department-led Mobile CubeSat Command and Control, or MC3, ground station network, Space Dynamics laboratory (Mission Integrator), Space Micro Inc. (Payload) and Blue Canyon Technologies (Spacecraft Bus).

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Marine Receives DOD's First Jaw Reconstruction Using 3D-Printed Teeth

 July 9, 2021 | BY Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Jacob L. Greenberg

A Marine assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 7 at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, received the Defense Department's first immediate jaw reconstruction surgery using 3D-printed teeth at the Naval Medical Center San Diego.

A Marine patient wearing dark glasses smiles while looking into a mirror.

On Nov. 18, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jaden Murry, Combat Logistics Battalion 7, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, California, had nearly all of his lower jaw removed because of a tumor. It was reconstructed with a segment from his fibula, a bone in the lower leg.

"I wasn't too nervous," Murry said. "Even though I hadn't been in a hospital since I was three, I knew I was in good hands. I had to put all of my faith and hopes in the hands of strangers. I had to trust them all."

Navy Lt. Justin Odette, one of the medical center's oral and maxillofacial surgery chief residents, and Navy Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Hammer, a maxillofacial surgical oncologist and reconstructive surgeon, were members of the multi-department team of surgical specialists who performed the procedure on Murry.

"All of the providers worked as a team to keep his recovery on track," Hammer said. "We were able to safely remove his tracheostomy tube within a week of the surgery, and it was then we knew he was making strides in the right direction."

A dentist puts the bottom row of 3D teeth into the mouth of a patient.

The tube is placed in a hole in the patient's neck to use for breathing when there's concern about the patient's airway in the post-operative period.

Murry said the doctors kept his family informed throughout the planning and operation itself.

"My mother called Dr. Odette with questions I wouldn't have thought to ask, and my grandfather assured me everything was going to be alright," Murry said. "He calmed me down and put my mind at ease. Dr. Odette and Dr. Hammer have been very good at passing information to me and my family."

As Murry continued to heal after the surgery, the doctors tested his healing process with his new lower jaw.

"To see him swallowing, speaking, walking and not using a tracheostomy tube one week post-surgery was a huge victory," Hammer said.

A man lines up a dental prosthesis with a mold of the jaw.

"It was weird to hear my own voice," Murry said. "I just made a sound and everyone there cheered. My grandfather made me try to say my ABCs."

Murry will be on a soft food diet of chicken noodle soup, baked beans and ramen noodles while he recovers with the Wounded Warrior Battalion.

"I really look forward to getting back into a healthy mindset of working out, running and bodybuilding," he said.

Murry will continue to have check-ups until his final prosthesis is installed, and then he'll be able to resume life as normal and eat solid foods.

(Petty Officer 3rd Class Jacob L. Greenberg is assigned to Navy Medical Center San Diego.) 

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Future of the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure Cloud Contract

 July 6, 2021

Today, the Department of Defense (DoD) canceled the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) Cloud solicitation and initiated contract termination procedures. The Department has determined that, due to evolving requirements, increased cloud conversancy, and industry advances, the JEDI Cloud contract no longer meets its needs. The Department continues to have unmet cloud capability gaps for enterprise-wide, commercial cloud services at all three classification levels that work at the tactical edge, at scale -- these needs have only advanced in recent years with efforts such as Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) and the Artificial Intelligence and Data Acceleration (ADA) initiative. 

"JEDI was developed at a time when the Department’s needs were different and both the CSPs technology and our cloud conversancy was less mature. In light of new initiatives like JADC2 and AI and Data Acceleration (ADA), the evolution of the cloud ecosystem within DoD, and changes in user requirements to leverage multiple cloud environments to execute mission, our landscape has advanced and a new way-ahead is warranted to achieve dominance in both traditional and non-traditional warfighting domains," said John Sherman, acting DoD Chief Information Officer.

Concurrent with the cancellation of the JEDI Request for Proposals (RFP), the DoD announced its intent for new cloud efforts. The Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability (JWCC) will be a multi-cloud/multi-vendor Indefinite Delivery-Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract. The Department intends to seek proposals from a limited number of sources, namely the Microsoft Corporation (Microsoft) and Amazon Web Services (AWS), as available market research indicates that these two vendors are the only Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) capable of meeting the Department’s requirements. However, as noted in its Pre-Solicitation Notice, the Department will immediately engage with industry and continue its market research to determine whether any other U.S.-based hyperscale CSPs can also meet the DoD’s requirements. If so, those Department will also negotiate with those companies. 

The Forensic Microbiome: The Invisible Traces We Leave Behind

 Each human carries a distinct microbial signature, a signature that is shed into the environment and left on objects that are touched. 

Our new article discusses NIJ’s portfolio of work on microbiome research including how researchers successfully linked touched objects to the individuals who touched them and, in turn, serve a trace evidence for forensic identification.