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February 11, 2012

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11Feb2012

Fast Phones, Dead Batteries

FEBRUARY 6, 2012

WSJ.com

By GREG BENSINGER

Days after buying his Samsung Electronics Co. Galaxy Nexus smartphone from Verizon Wireless, David Jacobs found himself switching off the fourth-generation broadband connection that had drawn him to the $300 device in the first place.

“I love everything about the phone, but with 4G on, it just sucks down the battery,” said the 25-year-old Mr. Jacobs, who lives in Los Angeles and works in digital advertising. “It’s very frustrating. Why can’t I get a phone to last a whole day?”

Mr. Jacobs is among the rising number of 4G smartphone users who are discovering their speedy broadband service also zips through battery life. The main culprit is spotty 4G service—even in the nation’s largest cities—which requires the phones to search constantly for a signal, draining their batteries.

Fourth-generation service is just starting to take hold, but complaints about battery life could slow the push by wireless carriers to convert customers to the higher-speed networks. Smartphone makers, however, are working on ways to respond to the new power demands.

Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc. and Sprint Nextel Corp. are investing billions of dollars to expand their 4G networks over the next two to three years on a technological standard known as long-term evolution, or LTE, with the promise of speeds of as much as 10 times those of the ubiquitous 3G service.

The carriers want customers to switch to the new networks because the technology requires less bandwidth to deliver datathan 3G, leaving room for more customers to download music or television shows. And with faster download speeds, 4G users are inclined to use more data, meaning they will need pricier service plans.

“Every time we add a customer to LTE, it is a much more efficient and cost-effective network than the 3G network,” Verizon Communications Inc. Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo told investors at a conference last month. Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group PLC co-own Verizon Wireless.

Device makers such as Samsung and Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. are banking on their 4G devices to put a dent in sales of Apple Inc.’s iPhone, which continues to gain market share even though it lacks the faster service. Apple, with its new iPhone 4S, was the only smartphone manufacturer in the top five to gain U.S. market share in last year’s final quarter, according to comScore.

The spottiness of 4G stems at least in part from the measured approach carriers have taken to it, rolling out the service city by city. There were just 6.3 million subscribers of 4G LTE in the U.S. at the end of last year out of a total of 138.4 million smartphone users, according to research firm Informa Telecoms & Media.

Tips and Tricks For Battery Life

There are a few things smartphone users can do to help limit battery drain on their 4G devices:

Ensure that you live in an area with 4G LTE service. If AT&T and Verizon Wireless don’t offer 4G in your city, your phone can search in vain all day for a signal.

Turn off your 4G connection when you aren’t using it, such as when you sleep. You also can switch it off when you don’t need the fastest speeds— when using email, for instance.

Switch off your Bluetooth and GPS when not in use.

Dim your screen, except when you need it for streaming videos. Screens can account for a big drain on battery power.

Many applications run all day and night and can eat into a battery’s charge. Use a program such as JuiceDefender to search for apps you may have downloaded that you don’t need to run all the time, and erase them.

Switch off Wi-Fi capability unless you have a strong signal. As with 4G, a weak signal can cause your phone to keep searching, and drain your battery. Conversely, switching to Wi-Fi only where your signal is strong can help to extend battery life.

Verizon Wireless’s 4G network covers 200 million Americans, while AT&T reaches less than 80 million. Sprint, which has just begun to build out its 4G LTE service, offers 4G today on a competing technology known as WiMax that it will phase out.

Despite the fact the carriers are offering 4G service, they don’t have it on every block, as they do with 3G,” said Carl Howe, a vice president for research firm Yankee Group. “So you’ve got a situation where the phones are sending out their signals searching and searching for a 4G tower, and that eats up your battery.”

Verizon Wireless and Sprint both said through representatives that battery life should improve as 4G LTE network upgrades reduce the need for phones to search for a signal. An AT&T spokesman declined to comment.

But erratic service isn’t the only problem. Battery technology isn’t keeping pace with smartphone advances. As consumers demand more powerful smartphones packed with features, device makers are rapidly improving processing speeds and the operating software that drives the phones. At the same time, developers are increasing battery life by just 1% each year, on average, according to Mr. Howe.

Samsung recently promised to roll out smartphones this year that can last all day with regular use on a single charge by bulking up the batteries themselves and reworking how phones seek out wireless signals. Last month Motorola Mobility brought out a version of its Droid Razr smartphone, known as the Maxx, with a larger battery for longer life.

“Of course Motorola came out with a better battery life right after I bought my regular Droid Razr” a few days after Christmas, said Dan Antonucci, a 31-year-old Los Angeles resident.

Mr. Antonucci said he turns off Verizon Wireless’s 4G LTE connection while in his office at a casting agency, though he uses the high-speed mobile network to watch basketball games at home. “I can sit on one side of my couch and get a signal, but on the other side I don’t, and the phone just searches,” he said. “I think I don’t turn off my 4G enough.”

Bita Goldman, 28, an attorney in New York, said she carries an extra charger with her for her HTC Evo smartphone, which runs on Sprint’s WiMax 4G network. “By 4 o’clock, I have to charge it,” said Ms. Goldman, who typically keeps her phone’s 4G connection switched off. She said she has considered buying the $55 extended-life battery, but found it too bulky.

Tom Harlin , an HTC Corp. spokesman, said HTC is building longer-lasting batteries and updating the phones’ software.

Most customers, though, are still on 3G networks that don’t demand as much from their batteries. Jason Taylor, a manager of the Wireless Zone store in Kansas City, Mo., which sells Verizon Wireless products, said 4G devices are selling well but they are geared more for customers who are interested in streaming video and using lots of data.

“For people looking to just send email and do some Web surfing, we sell them the iPhone,” Mr. Taylor said.

 

USAF Procurement Chief To Leave In March

Aviation Week

Feb 6, 2012

By Amy Butler abutler@aviationweek.com

WASHINGTON

David Van Buren, who has served as a top procurement official in the U.S. Air Force for four years, is planning to seek employment in private industry and will leave his post March 31, according to service officials.

Service officials say it is “premature to speculate who and when a replacement will be named.”

Van Buren held various procurement titles but has performed the role of the Air Force’s top acquisition executive since the departure of Sue Payton, the service’s last Senate-approved procurement chief, in April 2009.

As senior acquisition executive, Van Buren has been in the thick of attempts to right years of Air Force acquisition problems, including several cracks at a KC-135 tanker replacement. That came to fruition under his leadership in February 2011 when Boeing was finally named the uncontested winner over its rival, EADS North America.

In a notice to senior department leaders distributed Feb. 3, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley notes that Van Buren was integral to the Air Force’s Acquisition Improvement Plan, a multipronged strategy to refocus, train and equip the procurement workforce to regain its prowess in purchasing complex weapon systems.

This had been tarnished since the fall of former top procurement officer Darleen Druyun nearly a decade ago; she admitted to steering contracts unfairly to Boeing, where she eventually took a position as a vice president. She was later terminated and served time in jail for the malfeasance.

Van Buren also has had a hand in efforts to reduce the price of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle. “Dave has made a stunning difference in achieving best value for both our warfighters and taxpayers,” Donley says in his memo.

Though clearly respected by Donley and other acquisition officials at the Pentagon, Van Buren was often dreaded by aerospace contractors. Some executives say his heightened attention to detail was frustrating, though his defense colleagues say this trait has been an asset as they try to reduce the cost of weapon programs.

 

DoD Wants Innovation, Firms Want Less Risk

Defense News

Feb. 6, 2012 – 03:20PM |

By ZACHARY FRYER-BIGGS |

 

As U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta previewed upcoming budget cuts and force restructuring Jan. 26, he made one point clear: Innovation is at the heart of the Pentagon’s future.

Yet with large U.S. defense contractors increasingly averse to taking risks, experts say they fear that independent and internal research and development (both known as IRAD), the linchpins of leap-ahead technology, are either underfunded or failing to focus on innovative technology.

Contractors are unwilling to take risks on ideas that may not have an immediate market, and the Department of Defense hasn’t been clear about what it’s interested in buying, said Peter Singer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

“Being risk-averse has gotten into their DNA,” he said. “They’ve gotten used to a system where it’s the customer who takes all the risk.”

At the same time, DoD says creative technologies are crucial to helping the department in a squeezed budget environment.

“We’re depending a great deal on being at the technological edge of the future,” Panetta said. “I think we even have to leap forward. If we’re going to deal with the kind of challenges we’re going to face, we’ve got to be smart enough, innovative enough, creative enough to be able to leap forward.

“Can we do that? Can we develop the kind of technology we’re going to need to confront the future? You know, I’m confident we can. But there are risks associated with that,” the defense secretary said.

So what happens if big companies don’t take risk? For one, prime contractors face an uphill battle to retain market share, as small and non-U.S. contractors look to pilfer contracts with new ideas. And if DoD can’t find innovation elsewhere while other nations continue increasing investment in their forces, the U.S. military’s dominance could wane.

IRAD refers to two very different pools of investment funds: independent R&D, which DoD pays for as part of contracting overhead; and internal R&D, which contractors pay for themselves using their own revenue.

Independent revenue represents roughly $4 billion in annual expenditures by DoD. Internal R&D typically accounts for 2 percent to 3 percent of revenue for U.S. companies, according to analysts.

These two types of investments have historically served as seed money for technologies DoD didn’t necessarily know it needed. Neither type of funding is tied to existing programs but instead can be spent developing any idea. They typically serve as the backing for many of the more radical, potentially significant technological innovations, such as stealth technology.

But these investments are risky, because payoff can’t be guaranteed.

U.S. companies are no longer investing IRAD in early development, the initial stage in which an idea moves from concept to product, said David Berteau, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“To us, the pure research part of IRAD is going away,” he said.

Company executives said privately that shareholders are not interested in R&D risk. That is especially true with internal R&D, the executives said, as pressure to improve profit margins trumps other company concerns.

The Pentagon has made investment a more difficult sell because it doesn’t give companies enough direction as to what kinds of technology are important to the department, the executives said.

“Unless you’re pretty sure as a company that there’s a market for it, you’re going to be less inclined to spend that IRAD money,” Berteau said. “This is in contrast to the commercial model of IRAD, where you don’t invest solely based on the guarantee of a subsequent market. You have to invest or you won’t have a market at all.”

Spokesmen for several top defense companies said the companies continue to value internal R&D, and their individual innovation units have produced new technologies that have been useful to DoD.

“They all have really neat innovation labs, and they just have to prioritize them,” Singer said.

The spokesmen also confirmed plans to maintain the current level of investment for the immediate future.

But increasing the level of investment will be critical to national security, and the concern over shareholder backlash is overblown, said Heidi Wood, a Morgan Stanley market analyst.

“It’s a misconception to say that shareholders do not pay for innovation,” she said. “Apple is now the most valuable company in the world, and they’re valuable because they’re highly innovative. We’d pay more for defense if we saw greater innovation and with it, more attractive returns. As we stand today, the defense industrial base looks more and more like a sexy utility.”

Wall Street analysts said top company executives are paid like risk takers, without the risk.

“While the compensation packages of defense CEOs compares their pay to Google, Apple and other high-flying tech companies, they don’t actually take real risk like commercial executives do, who live and breathe on potential success or failure,” one analyst said. “And when asked about the lack of risk taking, they act like they’re waitresses who can only take orders from the customer. But they certainly don’t pay themselves like that.”

If U.S. defense companies do not invest in the innovation that will drive the defense market in the future, other companies will, Berteau said.

“There’s a lot of innovative technology being developed today out of the global commercial market that has importance for defense, but because it’s not being developed by defense companies, the defense establishment has difficulty finding such innovation and taking advantage of it,” he said.

The fact that the U.S. military serves as the sole customer for many defense contractors means that greater communication and guidance is needed, said Loren Thompson, chief operating officer of the Lexington Institute.

“When there’s only one customer, mainly the government, contractors need some guidance as to where research investments will be fruitful,” he said.

European defense companies also tend to invest more heavily in R&D, with giants BAE Systems and Finmeccanica routinely spending more than 10 percent of revenue on research. The accounting standards in Europe, however, differ from U.S. standards, with some externally contracted research included in the European numbers.

Smaller companies also may have greater opportunity to present new technologies, but the inherent complications of the U.S. acquisition system makes it difficult for non-primes, experts said.

If the Pentagon continues to demand innovation, prime contractors face two choices: take the risk and invest in early-stage R&D, potentially with the help of greater guidance from DoD, or face the prospect of diminished market share as small and non-U.S. contractors move in with new ideas.

The possibility remains that the Pentagon’s latest strategy buzz won’t last, and innovation will gain no greater prominence than it has in the past. But if Panetta’s predictions hold true, without innovation, a smaller force will not be able to fulfill the full range of missions the DoD is expected to complete.

Analysts said that given the current budget climate, that change is likely.

Kurjanowicz said industry would be willing to invest in higher-risk efforts if the department were more clear about areas of interest.

“Companies will take risk if the department is serious in our communication,” he said.

Senior DoD officials are sending that message now, Kurjanowicz said.

“They’re getting the message out to industry, and I think you’ll hear this more and more, pushing them to take risk, and go ahead and invest in areas where we identify we need new capabilities to help us with the updated strategic guidance,” he said.

DoD proposed a rule in March 2011 that mandates reporting on independent R&D spending, information that Kurjanowicz said will be used to help improve communication and direct investment. To that end, DoD has launched a website, www.defenseinnovationmarketplace.mil, which will have information on areas of interest to the agency, among other resources, he said.

Focus on innovation and on communication with industry, a key problem according to industry executives, is what it will take to encourage R&D investment, Singer said. “They really are saying the right things, and showing that they recognize the importance of innovation, but it remains to be seen.”

 

Hackers manipulated railway computers, TSA memo says

NextGov
By Aliya Sternstein 01/23/12
APLenny Ignelzi/AP File

This story has been updated with new information from the railroad industry and to clearly state the industry’s contention that the TSA memo was inaccurate.

Hackers, possibly from abroad, executed an attack on a Northwest rail company’s computers that disrupted railway signals for two days in December, according to a government memo recapping outreach with the transportation sector during the emergency.

On Dec. 1, train service on the unnamed railroad “was slowed for a short while” and rail schedules were delayed about 15 minutes after the interference, stated a Transportation Security Administration summary of a Dec. 20 meeting about the episode obtained by Nextgov. The following day, shortly before rush hour, a “second event occurred” that did not affect schedules, TSA officials added. The agency is responsible for protecting all U.S. transportation systems, not just airports.

“Amtrak and the freight rails needed to have context regarding their information technical centers,” the memo stated. “Cyberattacks were not a major concern to most rail operators” at the time, adding, “the conclusion that rail was affect [sic] by a cyberattack is very serious.”

While government and critical industry sectors have made strides in sharing threat intelligence, less attention has been paid to translating those analyses into usable information for the people in the trenches, who are running the subways, highways and other transit systems, some former federal officials say. The recent TSA outreach was unique in that officials told operators how the breach interrupted the railway’s normal activities, said Steve Carver, a retired Federal Aviation Administration information security manager, now an aviation industry consultant, who reviewed the memo.

“This TSA program is a start to bring, at a higher level, an understanding of the national impact to cyberattacks,” Carver said. The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team and the Pentagon’s National Security Agency “have provided great information on the particular threat. They don’t say how it has affected others. TSA tells you how it affected others.”

The incident summary praised several TSA personnel for explaining the unfolding situation in context. When TSA investigators began to suspect the exploit was an intentional act rather than a glitch, they acted under the assumption it could present a broader danger to the U.S. transportation system, according to the memo.

“Some of the possible causes lead to consideration of an overseas cyberattack,” the write-up stated. Investigators discovered two Internet access locations, or IP addresses, for the intruders on Dec. 1 and a third on Dec. 2, the document noted, but it does not say in which country they were located.

“Information stating the incidents were a targeted attack was not sent out” until midday on Monday, Dec. 5, according to the memo. The data that train operators needed to diffuse the situation was made available to them, officials wrote. Alerts listing the three IP addresses went out to several hundred railroad firms and public transportation agencies, as well as to partners in Canada.

“The processes set in place for government to work with the industry in real-time communications regarding a cyber event aligned superbly,” the recap stated.

Participants in the Dec. 20 meeting included representatives from information technology firm Indus Corp., the Association of American Railroads, and Boeing Co., as well as government officials from TSA, the Homeland Security Department’s cybersecurity divisions, the Transportation Department, and the U.S. Coast Guard.

But, on Monday, officials at the Homeland Security Department, which oversees TSA, said following additional in-depth analysis, it appears that the rail infiltration may not have been a targeted attack.

“On December 1, a Pacific Northwest transportation entity reported that a potential cyber incident could affect train service,” DHS spokesman Peter Boogaard said. “The Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and our federal partners remained in communication with representatives from the transportation entity in support of their mitigation activities and with state and local government officials to send alerts to notify the transportation community of the anomalous activity as it was occurring.”

Based on the memo, it is unclear if other railway companies have experienced similar network incidents. Companies often are reluctant to discuss computer breaches openly for fear of scaring off customers. And, sometimes, businesses never detect the intrusions, they add.

For government to improve cyber emergency response, “the biggest thing is to start with the communications staff,” Carver recommends. “There needs to be an interpreter who can take the information coming out of the U.S. CERT, take that, extract that out, and determine what it means for operations.”

Rail industry representatives said they were not at liberty to discuss the contents of the government memo but said the memo was inaccurate. “There was no targeted computer-based attack on a railroad,” said Holly Arthur, a spokeswoman for the Association of American Railroads. “Railroads closely monitor cyber security as a fully integrated part of both the industry’s overall security plan, as well as individual company plans. Continuous coordination on cyber security occurs across the industry and with the federal government,” she said.

“In addition to security measures, railroads like other high tech industries have multiple backup capabilities and ultimately manual operation procedures to address virtually any type of disruption,” Arthur said.

 

Panel chair introduces bill to reduce pensions

FedTimes

By STEPHEN LOSEY | Last Updated:January 25, 2012

Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., on Wednesday introduced a bill that would increase how much federal employees pay toward their retirement and steeply reduce pensions for new employees.

HR 3813, the Securing Annuities for Federal Employees Act, would raise contributions for current Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) employees by 0.5 percentage points per year for three years, beginning in 2013. This would make FERS employees contribute 2.3 percent of each paycheck toward their pensions, and require an 8.5 percent contribution from CSRS employees.

The bill would eliminate the so-called FERS annuity supplement for new retirees beginning in 2013, except for employees facing mandatory retirement such as air traffic controllers. Today, FERS employees who retire before reaching age 62 receive a supplement equal to the Social Security benefit they will be eligible for once they reach age 62.

The bill would create a new category of employee called “secure annuity employees” — new employees hired beginning in 2013 with less than five years of previous federal service — who would receive much-reduced pensions.

Secure annuity employees would have their pensions calculated based on the average of their five highest salaries instead of their three highest salaries, as is the current method. Those employees would also have their pensions calculated at a lower 0.7 percent rate, instead of the 1 percent most FERS employees under 62, and the 1.1 percent that over-62 FERS employees, receive.

Ross said defined benefit pensions such as those paid out to FERS and CSRS employees are unaffordable and are vanishing in the private sector. But federal employee groups denounced Ross’ plans at a House hearing Jan. 25, and said the proposals would deeply harm the government’s ability to attract and retain talented workers.

“Shared sacrifice is fair, but singling out federal employees and retirees for disparate treatment threatens to do permanent harm to a federal civil service critical to meeting the increasingly complex and deeply important tasks of government,” Dave Snell, director of retirement benefits services at the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, told the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on the federal workforce.

Ross also said members of Congress should be treated no better than oteveryday federal employees, and he called for eliminating the generous pensions enjoyed by lawmakers and their staffs — their pensions are now calculated at 1.7 percent. New members of Congress and staffers who fall into the secure annuity category would receive a 0.7 percent pension, like all other new federal employees, under Ross’ plan.

“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” Ross said. “Taxpayers have had enough of, ‘Do what I say, not what I do’ from Washington.”

The Office of Personnel Management said that the 1.5 million CSRS retirees have an average annual pension of $35,000, and that 361,000 FERS retirees receive an average pension of $12,780. But the Congressional Research Service said last January that 275 lawmakers who retired under CSRS received an average pension of $69,012, and another 180 lawmakers who retired under FERS or partly under both programs were receiving an average pension of $40,140 — far higher than average federal employees.

Most secure annuity employees — including lawmakers and congressional staffers — would have to contribute 4 percent of their paychecks toward their FERS pensions.

But firefighters, air traffic controllers, nuclear materials couriers, and law enforcement officers — including Customs and Border Protection officers, Capitol Police and Supreme Court Police — under the secure annuity plan would have to contribute more — 4.5 percent — because they receive a higher pension rate. Secure annuity employees in those jobs would receive a pension rate of 1.4 percent for their first 20 years, and 0.7 percent for all subsequent years.

Non-secure annuity employees in those special occupations would get a pension rate of 1.7 percent for their first 20 years, and 1 percent for all subsequent years.

Ross said a markup for his bill has not yet been scheduled.

 

Air Force announces first female four-star general nominee

2/7/2012 – WASHINGTON (AFNS) — President Barack Obama nominated Air Force Lt. Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger for promotion Feb. 6, which, pending Senate approval, would make her the first female four-star general in Air Force history.

Wolfenbarger currently serves as the military deputy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition here and she is one of four female lieutenant generals in the Air Force.

“I am humbled and honored to have been nominated by the President to the rank of general and to serve as commander of Air Force Materiel Command. I look forward to participating in the Senate confirmation process when the time comes. At present, I remain focused on the important Air Force acquisition work I’ve been charged with,” Wolfenbarger said.

A Beavercreek, Ohio, native, Wolfenbarger was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1980 after graduating in the first class with female cadets at the Air Force Academy.

She also holds a graduate degree in aeronautics and astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge.

The general has held several positions in the F-22 System Program Office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; served as the F-22 lead program element monitor at the Pentagon, and was the B-2 system program director for the Aeronautical Systems Center, Wright-Patterson AFB.

She commanded ASC’s C-17 Systems Group, Mobility Systems Wing and was the service’s director of the Air Force Acquisition Center of Excellence at the Pentagon, then served as director of the headquarters AFMC Intelligence and Requirements Directorate, Wright-Patterson AFB.

Prior to her current assignment, Wolfenbarger was the vice commander of AFMC, Wright-Patterson AFB.

She has been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Achievement Medal, the National Defense Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Medal.

Wolfenbarger received her third star in December 2009 and became the Air Force’s highest-ranking woman in January 2010.

(Courtesy of Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs)

 

 

Four Ways the U.S. Could End Up at War with Iran Before the Election

Time

By Jay Newton-Small | @JNSmall | February 9, 2012 |

Most political analysts in Washington believe that war with Iran is unlikely, especially before the November U.S. elections. Politically it would be hard for President Obama to engage in another Middle Eastern war given the war weariness of the U.S. electorate, let alone the question of being able to afford it at a time when Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from the Pentagon budget. There also seems little appetite from the international community to wage war with Iran, especially since Tehran is still allowing United Nations inspectors into their nuclear sites and, for the first time in recent history, sanctions seem to be working.

That said, despite the political, economic and military reluctance to go to war with Iran, there are four ways the U.S. could still end up embroiled in such a conflict before the elections. And by conflict, no one is envisioning troops on the ground. More likely: a bombing campaign or, worst-comes-to-worst, a naval one in the Strait of Hormuz. “I don’t think we’re going to go to war with Iran, but I do think we could get dragged into it,” says Michael Breen, vice president of the Truman Project.

Iran wants a war.Not a full-blown one, which would happen if they closed the Strait of Hormuz, shutting down the flow of oil and provoking international condemnation. But, say, one where they throw out International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors. Such a move would be seen as a deliberate provocation–clear proof that Tehran had decided to head toward weapons grade uranium. If that leads to bombing by the U.S. or Israel or both, the Iranian people would rally around their leaders. “I think there are hardline elements in Tehran that would welcome a military attack,” says Karim Sadjadpour, an Iranian expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “It’s a dangerous and unpredictable gamble, but it’s the one thing that could potentially repair the country’s deep internal political fractures and distract from widespread popular disaffection.” It would also be a well-calculated risk: many observers believe that unless an air assault is sustained for weeks and weeks, it would set back the Iranian program only a few months, perhaps two years at most.

Iran underestimates President Obama’s resolve and the U.S. political climate.Let’s face it, the U.S. has drawn dozens of redlines over the past decade and Iran, much like North Korea, has zigzagged all over them with impunity. President George W. Bush seemed to set a new redline every six months that Iran flouted. So far they haven’t tested Obama. But they may think him distracted by the world economy and the presidential election and somehow take this as an opportunity to press forward secretly with enrichment, moving closer to weapons grade uranium. “We don’t know how Iran calculates the pros and cons of getting nukes,” says Michael O’Hanlon, a foreign policy export at the Brookings Institution. “Given our lack of such knowledge, we should be careful about assuming when they might make their next move.” Given what is known about the Iranian program, it is virtually impossible for it to develop an actual bomb by November 2012. But if Iran did manage to press toward weapons grade materiel under the noses of the IAEA inspectors and this was discovered, then the consequences might be severe. Given his strident statements on Iran (and the bellicose GOP candidates watching his moves), Obama could never allow Iran to get that close to a bomb on his watch without taking action.

The accidental war. The Strait of Hormuz is a small place for maneuvering and some trigger happy Iranian or American could misfire and the situation could snowball. This has happened before. Towards the end of the Iran-Iraq war when U.S. warships were accompanying oil tankers through the waterway, U.S. naval ships exchanged gunfire accidentally between both Iraqi and Iranian forces in 1987 and 1988. On July 3, 1988, the U.S.S. Vincennes, believing it was under attack, shot down an Iranian commercial flight killing all 290 passengers and crew aboard. Just imagine what such an action might trigger in today’s climate.

Israel goes it alone.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is convinced Iran is intent on acquiring a nuclear bomb as soon as possible–with Israel as Tehran’s likely target if it were ever used. Though the U.S. isn’t as convinced of Iran’s intentions, Israel might nevertheless make the political calculation to attack now. Obama and Congress wouldn’t be able to do much to punish Israel before the elections. If the Israelis wait till after the U.S. elections the political repercussions would be a lot harder for the Jewish State. It’s a gamble because if Obama wins reelection, they risk severely damaging relations with the U.S. “I don’t see that U.S. political calendar will compel Israel to attack Iran before November 2012,” says Sadjadpour. “The Israelis could also calculate that it’s better to wait to see a potential Republican administration in Washington in 2013 that might do the job for them.” In any case, few analysts believe Israel would act without U.S. blessing

*I put an asterisk here because although these are all possible ways the U.S. could go to war with Iran in the coming months, the most likely action is nothing at all. “We cannot predict how Iran will react as sanctions bite steadily harder, whether some incident in the Gulf will occur and escalate out of control, or whether an Israeli raid could trigger a conflict between the U.S. and Iran,” says Anthony Cordesman, a national security analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “What we can predict is that a mixture of escalating Iranian threats and nuclear activities, and the rising impact of U.S. and international sanctions, does increase these risks.”

 


Feds look beyond LightSquared to set GPS interference standards

A top transportation official wants rules to prevent interfering uses in the future

By Stephen Lawson, IDG News Service
February 08, 2012 09:20 PM ET

Network World

 

A high-ranking federal official and aviation industry leaders called on Wednesday for rules to prevent future interference with GPS, looking beyond a proposal by would-be hybrid mobile operator LightSquared that may be doomed by broad opposition.

LightSquared’s proposed cellular data network can’t be made compatible with GPS, and the government should set interference standards to prevent future conflicts over companies trying to establish such services, Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari told a House Aviation Subcommittee hearing on Wednesday.

Porcari, who co-signed a letter last month that ruled out solving interference issues between the two systems in the coming months or years, repeated that assertion at the hearing and gave more details of the reasoning behind it.

The National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing Executive Committee (PNT ExComm), which Porcari co-chairs with a deputy secretary of defense, has effectively dismissed LightSquared’s proposal. PNT ExComm represents eight federal departments and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. However, the Federal Communications Commission has the ultimate authority to squash the carrier’s plan or let it go forward.

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A high-ranking federal official and aviation industry leaders called on Wednesday for rules to prevent future interference with GPS, looking beyond a proposal by would-be hybrid mobile operator LightSquared that may be doomed by broad opposition.

LightSquared’s proposed cellular data network can’t be made compatible with GPS, and the government should set interference standards to prevent future conflicts over companies trying to establish such services, Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari told a House Aviation Subcommittee hearing on Wednesday.

Porcari, who co-signed a letter last month that ruled out solving interference issues between the two systems in the coming months or years, repeated that assertion at the hearing and gave more details of the reasoning behind it.

The National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing Executive Committee (PNT ExComm), which Porcari co-chairs with a deputy secretary of defense, has effectively dismissed LightSquared’s proposal. PNT ExComm represents eight federal departments and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. However, the Federal Communications Commission has the ultimate authority to squash the carrier’s plan or let it go forward.

LightSquared wants to build an LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network that uses frequencies next to the band assigned to GPS. It would form half of a system that would also include a satellite network, and the company would sell each to carriers at wholesale. The FCC conditionally approved the LTE network plan in January 2011 as part of its push to open up an additional 500MHz of spectrum to mobile broadband. The agency said any interference issues would need to be resolved before LightSquared could launch the network.

Porcari and other speakers, including representatives from GPS vendor Garmin and the industry groups Airlines for America, called for a coordinated effort among government agencies to prevent future interference with GPS by other services. His own proposal calls for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and PNT ExComm to set standards for what uses would be allowed in adjacent spectrum bands. The proposals would be communicated to all affected parties, including potential new users of spectrum.

“Establishing those standards would give them a good sense of what kind of uses would be compatible and which would not,” Porcari said.

In his testimony, Porcari repeated PNT Excom’s conclusion that no more tests of LightSquared’s system were warranted after the last round, in November, showed that 75 percent of tested general-navigation GPS devices received harmful interference from the LTE transmissions. The federal government spent substantial funds, including US$2 million from the Federal Aviation Administration, on tests of commercial GPS gear such as phones and car navigation devices and on avionics systems, he said.

“Due to the Administration’s commitment to increase access to broadband, the investment was merited, but given the results we reviewed, further investment cannot be justified at this time,” Porcari wrote.

One critical system that was shown to suffer from interference in the FAA’s tests was TAWS (terrain awareness and warning systems), designed to warn pilots of terrain ahead and prevent crashes into mountains, Porcari said. LightSquared proposed to fix interference with TAWS by adjusting the density and operations of its network where necessary. But there are too many variables involved, Porcari said.

“In sum, LightSquared’s proposal would require constant, individual monitoring and adjustments to over 40,000 broadcasting sites nationwide, to ensure that they could be, and would remain, consistent with air safety requirements. This is simply not practical,” Porcari said. LightSquared said the Transportation Department has refused to discuss the issue directly with the company.

LightSquared has alleged that the November tests were rigged by parties, including PNT ExComm, that are biased toward GPS manufacturers. On Wednesday, Porcari refuted those charges.

“We worked with LightSquared. They were part of developing the testing protocols, they were part of the testing itself,” he told the hearing. The test results were independently reviewed by labs with no ties to the GPS industry, he said.

The hearing on Wednesday before the Aviation Subcommittee of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure was billed as a general discussion of protecting and improving GPS, but most of the session was focused on the LightSquared controversy. LightSquared slammed the meeting as “a one-sided trial of LightSquared in absentia.”

“Despite repeated requests, we were told there was no need to testify because LightSquared was not the subject of the hearing,” the company said in a statement. Harbinger Capital Partners, the hedge fund that owns LightSquared, also called the hearing unfair.

 

CQ WEEKLY – IN FOCUS
Feb. 4, 2012 – 1:07 p.m.

Military Plan Hits BRAC Wall

By Megan Scully, CQ Staff

The Pentagon’s plan to start another round of closing and consolidating military bases as early as next year has been met with sharp criticism from all corners of Capitol Hill, where many lawmakers contend that the heartburn-inducing process simply won’t produce enough savings.

Lawmakers, who would have to authorize a base realignment and closure process, or BRAC, weigh the benefits of a streamlined defense infrastructure against their fears of losing job-producing installations in their districts and states. So far, the scales in Congress are tipped against the Pentagon’s proposal.

The last round of base closures, in 2005, has soured many lawmakers, who argue that the BRAC cost $35 billion through fiscal 2011 while yielding only $15.4 billion in savings, according to Defense Department figures provided to Congress last year.

The upfront costs of those closures — which include environmental remediation and the relocation of civilian and military personnel — are largely over. But it will still take years for the Defense Department to recoup its initial investment in the now-seven-year-old BRAC. After that, the savings generated by shedding excess infrastructure will add up over time.

This potential for significant long-term savings, however, will likely do little to sway most lawmakers to support another BRAC. The Budget Control Act enacted in August placed caps on defense and non-defense discretionary spending over the next decade, a move intended to put a dent in the nation’s deficit. As a result, lawmakers are focused intently on the next 10 years, with little attention given to what comes next.

In short, any politically painful proposal that costs money in the short term with no promise of savings within the 10-year window will face stiff political resistance.

Lawmakers — including key Democrats such as Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin of Michigan and Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad of North Dakota — are flatly resisting an immediate BRAC.

“BRAC is a painful process with questionable cost savings,” Conrad, whose state includes Minot and Grand Forks Air Force bases, said in a recent written statement.

Excess Capacity

The Pentagon acknowledges that it has more facilities than it needs. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz said last month that his service has plenty of excess capacity — estimated to be 20 percent back in 2005 and likely higher now. As the Pentagon trims the size of the Army and the Marine Corps, excess capacity will likely increase.

Todd Harrison, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, says that it may not make much sense to drag another politically sensitive issue into the already-charged budget debate.

“Is this even a realistic option; is this even a serious option, right now?” he asks.

The lack of early cost savings from the 2005 BRAC doesn’t help. But some BRAC veterans say the 2005 round isn’t a good example. Congress approved that BRAC in late 2001. With the subsequent wartime buildup of ground forces, the process ended up focusing heavily on shifting and relocating forces and offices, with relatively few major closures.

By comparison, the four earlier BRAC rounds — in 1988, 1991, 1993 and 1995 — were all conducted in relative peacetime. From 1988 through 1995, the military shrank from 2.2 million to 1.6 million troops, necessitating the closures of dozens of bases.

During those four rounds, the Defense Department cut its infrastructure by about 20 percent, yielding a net savings of $29 billion through fiscal 2003, with rough expectations at the time to save another $7 billion annually, according to a May 2005 Government Accountability Office report. By 1998, the cumulative savings generated by those rounds surpassed the costs.

The situation in 2013 — with cuts to ground forces under way and overseas deployments winding down — may more closely resemble the earlier BRAC rounds.

The 2005 round “is a horrible example of what base closures ought to be,” says David Berteau, a senior official on the 1991 and 1993 BRAC commissions. “The difference between what DoD is proposing now and the situation in ’05 is, we actually are reducing the size of force structure and the defense establishment.”

It is “much more legitimate to consider a base closure under these circumstances,” says Berteau, now an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The goal, he says, should be to reduce the upfront costs while also boosting near-term savings. In short, the Pentagon must make tough decisions, standing down unneeded units and force structure rather than focusing on relocation. “It’s critical that base closures be done, but it’s also critical that they be done right,” Berteau says. “We can’t repeat the mistakes of 2005 the next two times around.”

There might be a political logic, too. South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, a Senate Armed Services panel veteran, says that lawmakers can’t call for overhauling the military while also opposing base closures. “We can’t have it both ways.”

 

 

 

Congress Appears to Be Trying to Get Around Earmark Ban

NYTimes

By RON NIXON

Published: February 5, 2012

 

WASHINGTON — Members of Congress may no longer be able to direct federal money to projects back home because of a moratorium on legislative earmarks, but that has not stopped them from trying.

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A coalition of budget watchdog groups says that in the absence of the age-old practice of Congressional earmarks, the legislative tools that let members attach pet projects to bills, lawmakers appear to have found a backdoor method: special funds in spending and authorization bills that allow them to direct money to projects in their states.

“We thought we’d gotten rid of earmarks,” said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a budget watchdog group in Washington that is part of the coalition. “But it looks like Congress has just moved on to other methods that are less transparent than the old way, like creating these slush funds.”

The latest example, the groups say, is the recently passed budget for the Army Corps of Engineers. Budget documents show that Congress included 26 different funds — totaling $507 million — for the corps to spend on various construction, maintenance and other projects that were not included in President Obama’s budget or the final spending bill.

The funds were financed by reducing money for projects included in the president’s budget request and adding $375 million to the corps budget, documents show.

Congress also gave the corps criteria to use in selecting projects and instructed it to report within 45 days about how it intends to spend the money from the funds, according to the budget documents. On Monday, the corps will release the list of projects it plans to finance.

The watchdog groups — which include the conservative National Taxpayers Union and Americans for Tax Reform, led by the antitax activist Grover Norquist — note that the 26 new corps funds add up to nearly the same amount as the earmarks in the 2010 budget. The funds are listed in the House and Senate joint report that accompanies the spending bill, but they are not in the text of the bill, one of the ways Congress used to add earmarks.

And despite a big budget deficit and calls to reduce government spending, lawmakers actually added more to the corps budget than the Obama administration had requested.

Critics say the special funds in the corps budget are the latest example of members of Congress trying to circumvent the earmark ban to funnel money to their districts, in the form of corps engineering projects. In the absence of earmarks, lawmakers have tried pressing agencies for money or in some cases threatened to tie up Congress if projects are not financed.

For example, in 2010, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, threatened to block Obama administration appointments unless money was provided for a harbor dredging project in his home state.

Will Hollier, a lobbyist and former Congressional staff member, said the financing maneuver used for the Army Corps might simply be Congress’s way of adjusting to the new realities in Washington.

“I think Congress is now starting to see that they simply can’t give up their responsibilities and leave everything to the administration,” Mr. Hollier said. “It’s their way of trying to be relevant in the post-earmark era.”

Last year, the House Armed Services Committee created a $1 billion special fund in the defense authorization bill that allowed members to add amendments that directed money to projects in their districts. Lawmakers said the amendments were not earmarks because recipients would have to compete for the money.

But a report by the staff of Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, found that 115 of the 225 amendments added had previously been earmarks. Several of the amendments were added by freshman Republicans who had campaigned against earmarks. The fund was heavily criticized, and the amendments were stripped from the bill after a public outcry.

Robert Dillon, a spokesman for the Senate Energy and National Resources Committee, which oversees the Army Corps, denied that the agency’s budget had been derived through earmarks by another name.

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“These are not earmarks,” Mr. Dillon said. “Unlike earmarks, the funds are not directed to a particular project by a single member of Congress.”

The funds, he added, were for projects that were not in the president’s budget or had not been adequately funded. “The president sent over his budget, and Congress disagreed with some of his funding priorities,” Mr. Dillon said.

Gene Pawlik, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers, said the agency would follow whatever criteria Congress laid out in its budget instructions. He added that many of the criteria were similar to those that the corps already used.

But Mr. Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense said Congress had added other criteria, like the number of jobs provided, which makes it easier for members to force the corps to pursue what he called questionable projects that were previously financed only through earmarks.

John Paul Woodley Jr., a former assistant secretary of the Army for public works who oversaw the corps, said it was unusual for Congress to use added jobs as a criterion for corps projects.

“I can’t ever recall that being used as one of the items that we looked at when we considered a project for funding,” said Mr. Woodley, who oversaw the corps under the administration of President George W. Bush and during the early part of the Obama administration.

One example of using a jobs criterion to finance a questionable project, watchdog groups say, could be the Delaware River dredging project. For years, lawmakers from Delaware and Pennsylvania have earmarked millions of dollars to dredge the river to allow bigger ships to enter the port of Wilmington. But with an earmark ban in place, members have had to lobby the administration or the corps for money. Lawmakers and local officials have argued that the project is essential to national security and the local economy.

But a 2010 report by the Government Accountability Office questioned some of the economic claims of the project. Local officials called the report flawed.

Wilmington is in competition with several East Coast seaports, including Charleston, S.C., Savannah, Ga., and Miami, that are seeking money from the corps for dredging projects. Officials at the ports say that an expansion of the Panama Canal will mean larger ships coming through in 2014, but that the ports are not deep enough to accommodate them.

In the past, Congressional delegations simply earmarked money for the ports, but the ban on earmarks has made it more difficult to finance the projects. Lawmakers from South Carolina, Georgia and Florida say their states would be hurt economically unless they are able to deepen their ports to allow larger ships.

Mr. Ellis said the special funds created in the corps budget seemed to be a way of skirting the earmarks ban and getting the corps to pay for the dredging.

“If that is the case, it means that the Obama administration is doing the earmarking for Congress,” Mr. Ellis said. “So much for a ban on earmarks.”

 

Army Airship Floats

Nextgov

By Bob Brewin   02/01/12 06:04 pm ET

The original post misstated the size of the LEMV. It has been corrected.

The Army’s Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) airship has been inflated since last September and has been hanging around in a former dirigible hanger at the old Lakehurst Naval Air Station in southern New Jersey (which now goes by the awkward name of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst), according to John Cummings, a spokesman for the Army Space and Missile Defense Command.

Though the airship has been floating inside that hanger for close to six months, it has yet to make a flight, as various systems are integrated into the LEMV, which is the size of a football field.

Cummings declined to provide a flight date, but did say the command and contractor Northrop Grumman are pursuing “an aggressive schedule” to get it in the air. Not to be overly cranky, but Northrop originally predicted a test flight in the spring of 2011 and a long endurance flight acceptance test for the Army by the end of 2011.

The LEMV will carry a whole bunch of sensor widgets to monitor battlefields, and Stephen Kreider, the Army’s deputy program executive officer for intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors, has big plans for the airship. In a Jan. 11 presentation, Kreider envisioned the LEMV becoming a program of record, which could mean the Army could end up with a fleet of airships.

I look forward to eyeballing the 2013 LEMV when the Army releases its budget in a couple of weeks.

 

Cyber Pros: Pick Your Avatar

Nextgov

By Brittany Ballenstedt   02/10/12 02:09 pm ET

Federal cybersecurity workers might not be far from being able to access top-notch training directly from their computer desktops.

Robert Hollingsworth, director of the security engineering and computer security training division at the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security Training Center, told Wired Workplace on Thursday that State and the Homeland Security Department have begun training federal cyber pros using virtual worlds, where each user has an avatar and is walked through different cyber scenarios.

The virtual worlds courses are part of the Federal Cybersecurity Training Event, or FedCTE, a joint program between State and DHS. The program started in 2008, after the Obama administration’s Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative identified a need for addressing cybersecurity training and education within the federal workforce. FedCTE courses also were developed using the specific cybersecurity roles identified by the National Initiative on Cybersecurity Education, Hollingsworth said.

Thus far, the virtual worlds program has trained more than 243 students from 68 agencies on cybersecurity topics like cyber protection, response and mitigation, Hollingsworth said. “The demand is going through the roof,” he said. “It’s a way for these remote programs to address these cybersecurity areas and be continually modified as vulnerabilities are discovered and new security practices are identified. Even previously trained people can address new concerns in a timely fashion.”

Still, Hollingsworth noted that one challenge for government is simply defining the roles, requirements and job tasks needed for federal cybersecurity work. But a goal of the virtual training is to help overcome that hurdle, he added. “We’re finding there are a lot of roles and responsibilities that may be unique to a department, and we can go in and customize those portions and touch those individual job descriptions and tweak it,” he said. “That would be too hard to do in a real classroom every time, but it’s not too hard to adjust these virtual modules.”

Going forward, Hollingsworth said the program will continue to expand to include more cybersecurity workers, particularly as it gets more popular through word of mouth. “It’s in the ground floor now, but we feel it’s going to be mainstreamed and that this form of training will become more of a normal activity for federal security workers,” he said. “It will be on their desktops at some point and they can train as needed. It’s another tool in their toolbox

 

Air Force tests next-gen networks, devices for operational use

by Senior Airman Jason J. Brown

633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

 

2/6/2012 – JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. (AFNS) — Everywhere you look, people are tapping, talking and swiping away at smartphones and tablets. Rapidly-emerging technologies give users information immediately, and these super machines fit easily in the palm of your hand.

The Air Force is planning to implement these high-tech handhelds into daily operations and, in preparation, the Air Force C2 Integration Center kicked off the Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment here Jan. 13.

Dubbed Unified Communications I, the goal is to determine commercial cellular carriers’ ability to provide sufficient service to support the Air Force’s mission sets.

According to Ken Gunter, the JEFX event manager, the four-week experiment will test the networks and hardware of Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint to see if the carriers will accommodate communications needs.

Teams of emergency response, civil engineer and maintenance Airmen will use Apple iOS and Google Android-based smartphones, tablets and mobile hotspot devices in a variety of scenarios to test their functionality and effectiveness.

“Our goal is to do things smaller and faster,” Gunter explained. “We need to move away from our current infrastructure, like (land mobile radios) and first- and second-generation wireless, and transition from five networks down to two — wireless cellular and assured (local area network). Legacy systems have to go away, as they’re too expensive to maintain and not flexible.

“Five years ago, we couldn’t do what we’re able to do now,” he continued. “Now, I can put a device in an Airman’s hand with all the capabilities of a phone and computer. The Air Force told us to find the future architecture of communications, and these devices are being tested to get us there.”

In 2012, the Air Force plans to introduce “tens of thousands” of smart devices, according to officials. The JEFX will validate the mobile strategy being developed at the Air Force level and across the entire Department of Defense.

Gunter said the Air Force is choosing cellular over Wi-Fi connections because cellular is more secure, provides greater range, and costs less to operate and maintain.

“One or two cell towers can cover an entire base, as opposed to establishing potentially thousands of access points for Wi-Fi connections,” he said. “Also, all four carriers will offer 4G coverage in our area here within the next year. With the current available 4G network, we have 10 times the bandwidth we had even four months ago.”

The experiment will look at carriers’ augmented technologies, such as the infrastructure needed on base to ensure maximum, uninterrupted coverage and improve signal penetration in buildings.

“We need networks and devices that will allow us to do our mission, like launching our planes and securing the base in the event that commercial communications goes out in a hurricane or other catastrophic event, when that communication is most critical,” Gunter said. “For example, say there’s a crash at an air show with 10,000-plus civilians on base, all using their cell phones. How do we prioritize network coverage to ensure first responders can do their job? That’s what we’re here to figure out.”

The AFC2IC chose JB Langley as the test site for the experiment as a cost-saving measure. The organization’s labs are located in surrounding Hampton, Va., and Air Combat Command mission partners are headquartered at JB Langley, eliminating temporary duty assignment costs.

The JEFX UC1 experiment will be followed by second field exercise, UC2, slated tentatively for July. During that exercise, the group plans to include units and personnel from Fort Eustis, and will focus on the features of applications of various devices.

“We want to pull in as many functional areas as we can here, including our Fort Eustis mission partners,” Gunter said. “These technologies promote interoperability and allow us to avoid stovepipe systems. That cuts down response times and makes communicating more seamless, which further enables joint operations.

“Whenever there’s a need to set up and assess new technologies, that’s what we do,” Gunter said. “Warfighters come to us with problems, and we help find solutions. We’re excited about giving this amazing new technology to our Airmen to see how we can take the next step in streamlining how we accomplish our mission.”

 

Copyright lawsuit targets owners of non-secure wireless networks

Failure to secure routers may let others download copyrighted content, Liberty Media contends

By Jaikumar Vijayan

February 6, 2012 03:56 PM

Computerworld – A federal lawsuit filed in Massachusetts could test the question of whether individuals who leave their wireless networks unsecured can be held liable if someone uses the network to illegally download copyrighted content.

The lawsuit was filed by Liberty Media Holdings LLC, a San Diego producer of adult content.

The company has accused more than 50 Massachusetts people, both named and unnamed, of using BitTorrent file-sharing technology to illegally download and share a gay porn movie.

According to the compliant, the illegal downloads and sharing were traced to IP addresses belonging to the individuals named in the compliant and to several John Does. The complaint alleges that each of the defendants either was directly responsible for downloading and sharing the movie or contributed to the piracy through their negligence.

Even if the defendants did not directly download the movies, they had control over the Internet access used for copyright infringement purposes, the lawsuit noted.

“Defendants failed to adequately secure their Internet access, whether accessible only through their computer when physically connected to an Internet router or accessible to many computers by use of a wireless router,” Liberty Media claimed. “Defendants’ negligent actions allowed others to unlawfully copy and share Plaintiff’s copyrighted Motion Picture, proximately causing financial harm to Plaintiff and unlawfully interfering with Plaintiff’s exclusive rights in the Motion Picture.”

The lawsuit seeks either actual or statutory damages from each of the defendants.

Marvin Cable, a Northampton, Mass.-based attorney for two of the defendants in the case, said, “this negligence theory is a novel one,” both in Massachusetts and around the country. He predicted that Liberty Media will have a hard time making its argument, because there is no case law or statutory basis for the negligence claims.

If the company were to prevail, the case could have broad implications for those who provide free Internet access in places such as libraries, cafes, airports and schools, Cable said.

Marc Randazza, general counsel for Liberty Media, described the negligence claims as a new legal theory that the courts will need to weigh in on.

He pointed to a 1932 case in which the owners of two tugs boats were found liable for cargo that was lost when two barges they were towing were sunk in a storm. The plaintiffs in that case alleged that the tugboat owners were negligent because they had failed to install radios, which would have alerted them to the storm.

Though tugboats were not legally obliged to have a radio on board at that time, an appellate court held that the owners were negligent nonetheless for having failed to have one on board the tugboats.

The same standard needs to apply to owners of unsecured wireless access points, he said. This is how common law develops, Randazza said. You should know better than to leave your home wireless open.”

In general, to bring a negligence claim a plaintiff has to show that the defendants had a duty to perform, that they breached that duty and that the breach resulted in actual harm, he said.

Randazza added that businesses and others offering Internet access as a service are already legally immune from the action of users on their networks

 

Survey says only 2.3 percent of college students want federal jobs

GovExec.com

By Amanda Palleschi

February 6, 2012

A survey of more than 35,000 college students released Monday shows that only 2.3 percent of them plan on pursuing careers in federal government.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers conducted an online survey of students pursuing bachelor’s to advanced degrees at 599 schools in all 50 states and Washington. It asked about employment plans, salary expectations and ideal attributes of a first job.

Only 6 percent of respondents planned to go into public service at any level of government, the lowest percentage since NACE started surveying students in 2008.

The nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, which analyzed the NACE data, said there are 102,500 federal vacancies that must be filled in fiscal 2012. That number does not include temporary positions, student internships, and Postal Service or military jobs. Many of the openings would be for replacement hires, said John Palguta, vice president for policy at PPS.

Although the government has experienced some success in attracting top talent in recent years due to a struggling economy, the competitive advantage occurred only in some occupational areas. Hiring and recruiting is a particular problem in the STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — fields, according to Palguta. The survey included 6,868 students pursuing STEM degrees. Of those, more than one-third said they planned to seek jobs in the private sector; another 33.9 percent intended to go to graduate school. Only 3 percent said they planned to work for the federal government. The remainder said they wanted to work for nonprofits, teach or pursue other endeavors.

“The government has a huge need for good medical and public health professionals,” Palguta said. “There are indicators that the general economy is starting to revive a little bit. The government is going to have to start focusing on not relying on the economy to drive people. They are going to have to go out and really look for these folks.”

He added that the survey’s methodology does not compare public sector jobs to comparable private sector ones. Rather, the survey compares characteristics of applicant pools. The margin of error for the survey was plus or minus 3.7 percentage points, with a 95 percent confidence level.

When asked what they are looking for in a first job, respondents interested in the STEM fields were most likely to place a high importance on their starting salary — 30.5 percent expected to make more than $60,000 annually.

Overall, two-thirds of students in the NACE survey expected to make between $20,000 and $50,000 in their first job, while 15.4 percent expected to make more than $60,000 per year. An entry-level federal employee can expect to earn between $34,075 and $42,209 annually in Washington, with exceptions for certain agencies and slight variations in other parts of the country, the survey states. Of the federal jobs available in fiscal 2012, 15 percent are outside of Washington, Palguta said.

Typically, federal government jobs appeal to young people fresh out of degree programs because of their perceived stability and opportunities for advancement, Palguta said. But though the tradeoff to making less is often that government jobs offer more generous benefits, “people don’t join an organization because 30 years from the time they come on, they might be eligible for a good retirement plan,” he said.

“The kinds of folks most organizations want to attract have options,” Palguta said.

To attract more talent, PPS advocates abolishing the General Schedule pay system for federal jobs and instituting a “marketplace system” where pay would be based on going rates for talent in an occupation in each part of the country.

Republican lawmakers have used a recent Congressional Budget Office study of federal pay to defend extending a pay freeze on federal workers.

The CBO estimate found that federal workers made 16 percent more than private sector employees on average in pay and benefits combined, and 2 percent more in wages alone. The estimate noted significant differences in the pay gap, however, when statistics were broken down by employees’ education levels.

“What I fear and what we’re already seeing is that some folks look at the CBO findings and say, ‘Hey, look, CBO says federal workers are being paid 16 percent above [private sector] so we need to reduce compensation by 16 percent,’ ” Palguta said. “If you were to do that, it means some folks would be paid above market; some [already] below [market] would go even more below market and these would typically be your higher-level, more demanding jobs.”

 

Feds fight cyberattacks on public image

By Aliya Sternstein 02/06/2012

 

Cyberassaults on federal authorities are garnering increased attention due to publicity-seeking hackers, but those authorities say other, perhaps more harmful, intrusions are going undetected.

Hacker activist group Anonymous on Friday claimed to have intercepted a phone call between the FBI and U.K. Metropolitan Police Service agents about investigations into fellow hacktivists. On Jan. 19, the same anti-government protesters took credit for bombarding Justice.gov and FBI.gov with site-crippling traffic after U.S. authorities shuttered piracy file-sharing website Megaupload.

The cooperative then boasted on message boards that U.S. intelligence officials told Congress last week that hackers will surpass terrorists as the greatest menace to society. The FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence were referring to nations and nongovernment groups, perhaps hacktivists, with computer programs capable of disrupting not only websites, but also systems that operate power grids and other critical infrastructure.

“We assess that many intrusions into U.S. networks are not being detected,” DNI James Clapper testified on Jan. 31, regarding cyberespionage. “Although most activity detected to date has been targeted against unclassified networks connected to the Internet, foreign cyber actors have also begun targeting classified networks.”

To deal with online protesters, the FBI is increasing its presence internationally and the Homeland Security Department is instructing federal system administrators on how to recover from cyber strikes. DHS’ U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team warned in an alert that attackers could seek retribution for the Megaupload takedown and legislative proposals to block other websites suspected of intellectual property theft. The memo described the malicious software in play and other digital hallmarks of the attackers. DHS officials told agencies to keep on hand contact information for their Internet service providers, segregate critical Web services and collect normal traffic statistics to use as a point of comparison when investigating site interferences.

FBI officials on Monday said their computer systems were not breached, following claims that Anonymous wiretapped the call between U.S. and U.K. authorities and published an FBI email displaying the email addresses of participants on the call. Some observers have said one caller forwarded that message to a private email account that was subsequently hacked.

“The information was intended for law enforcement officers only and was illegally obtained,” the FBI said in a statement. “A criminal investigation is under way to identify and hold accountable those responsible.”

Justice Department officials Monday confirmed again that increased traffic activity on Jan. 19 degraded service. A spokeswoman said, “at this time, however, we would decline to comment on the specific steps undertaken to address the issue.”

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U.S. Air Force chief wants affordable new bomber

Reuters

Thu, Feb 9 2012

By Andrea Shalal-Esa

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Affordability will be a deciding factor in the U.S. Air Force’s drive to develop a new long-range bomber, the top general in the service said on Thursday, underscoring that he was not looking for an “extravagant” design.

Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz said it was critical that the military and industry come up with an airplane design that was affordable enough to be built in significant numbers and could be ready for delivery in the mid-2020s.

He said the Air Force wanted to avoid a repeat of its experience with the bat-wing B-2 stealth bomber built by Northrop Grumman Corp. (NOC.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

The Air Force initially planned to build 131 of the long-range heavy B-2 bombers, but high development and operational costs, coupled with the end of the Cold War pared the order to just 21 planes — each estimated to cost about $2 billion.

“We are not going to do the B-2 again. That is not in the cards,” Schwartz said after a speech hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.

Northrop, Boeing Co (BA.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Lockheed Martin (LMT.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) are eyeing possible bids for the new long-range bomber, one of few new development programs that the Pentagon is committing to funding even as it starts to cuts $487 billion from its planned spending over the next decade.

Schwartz said the Air Force had learned its lesson on the B-2 bomber program. “We are going to make our best effort to not overdesign an airplane,” he said, noting that the bomber would have to meet certain needs, including interfacing with existing spy planes, electronic warfare platforms and other sensors.

“We are not intent on delivering a capability that is extravagant, that is excess to our absolute needs,” he said, adding that the new bomber could be improved over time.

Rebecca Grant, an aviation expert who released a report on the new stealth bomber this week, said the Pentagon’s decisive commitment to proceeding with a new bomber marked a “huge change” after years of discussion about a “family of long-range strike” capabilities that could d have included cruise missiles, intercontinental ballistic missiles and unmanned planes.

In the report, she said the shift made sense given the Pentagon’s pivot toward the Asia Pacific region, and noted that several events during 2011 had underscored the importance of long-range strike weapons, including the use of B-2 bombers to hit hardened aircraft shelters in Libya.

B-2 bombers also stood ready as part of a back-up plan for the attack that killed Osama bin Laden in April, she said.

She acknowledge budget constraints, but said she believed industry could design an aircraft that would at least have super sonic dash speeds. Stealth was a given these days, but many other capabilities would be integrated on the new bomber.

Experts are calling for a fleet of 200 new bombers, but some wonder if the Pentagon can afford that many new aircraft at a time when defense spending is being cut sharply.

Grant argued in the report that the cost of developing a new bomber would be substantial, the Pentagon eyeing a price per plane of around $550 million.

But that was in line with other acquisition programs, including a $35 billion program to build new refueling tankers based on Boeing’s commercial 767 airliner, and well below the amount likely needed for development of a new nuclear submarine.

The cost of the new bomber program would not be certain until the Pentagon picked a design and set yearly quantities, probably sometime after 2018, Grant wrote in the report.

(Reporting By Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Bernard Orr)

 

Budget, personnel cuts forcing Air Force to refocus priorities

FCW.com

By Amber Corrin

Feb 06, 2012

As the Air Force prepares for impending budget cuts and reductions in personnel that are already underway, the service is finding it must fine-tune focus on core capabilities, including training and technology related to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR).

Besides the same budget struggles everyone else is facing, the Air Force is shedding jobs and must juggle financial pressure with urgent mission needs, according to a panel of Air Force officials. That challenges the ability to move forward with advanced  technology and ISR capabilities.

Speaking at a Feb. 6 lunch briefing held by AFCEA DC, the officials outlined some of their biggest concerns: finding intelligence in the data deluge pouring in from sensors and UAVs, training a new generation of airmen and securing cyberspace.

“The tactics that allow us to do very sophisticated surveillance, specifically to find targets within the [counter-insurgency operations], that pattern of life analysis – it’s driven us to collect lots of data within which there may be one nugget we need,” said Maj. Gen. Brett Williams, director of operations, deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and requirements, Air Force headquarters.”In the future we need to put the real onus on the operators to help us figure out how to deal with this. Our resources – time, people and money – are all limited.”

The calls for better automated tools to sift through ISR data echoed similar statements made by Defense Department officials over the past few years, which at least one member of the panel acknowledged.

“We’re probably not doing as much as we should be doing,” admitted Randall Walden, director for information dominance programs, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition.

But Brig. Gen. Scott Bethel, vice commander of the Air Force ISR Agency, said new tools and technologies are being developed and implemented.

“We are working on tools in several lanes – cross-cuing tools where sensors [communicate with each other] automatically. We’re working on using processes that are similar to systems already available in the commercial market; for example, facial recognition,” Bethel said. “We’re trying to take these processes up a notch or two…and allow machines do these basic analytical processes. The notion is to maximize the place where we apply human brain power.”

The Air Force is also adjusting its approach to training incoming classes of airmen. Hailing from the digital generation, these students have different technical requirements and inherently learn differently than the smaller classes preceding them, according to Bethel.

“We are trying to figure out how to prepare our young men and women in a way that works for them, not a way that works for us,” Bethel said. “It’s important that training gets accomplished because as the force grows smaller, those expectations of what those young people are doing will grow.”

Beyond training, Air Force officials also need to change their thinking about cyber threats, according to Williams.

“Our mindset needs to be that we are going to be attacked, that there is going to be information that goes out the door and we need to prioritize our resources. The way to do that is to understand what they use and what happens [to the information] so we can decide what are the most dear things to protect,” Williams said. “We’ve got old think in cyber and we need to figure out new ways to think about it.”

 

India builds a mega data center

Unlike many large U.S. data centers, this one is vertical

Computerworld

By Patrick Thibodeau

February 7, 2012 07:21 AM ET

 

Computerworld – IBM has designed and helped to build a 900,000-square-foot data center in India that it says is the largest in that country in terms of size and power. It’s also among the largest in the world.

The data center was built for an Indian company, Tulip Telecom, which will make physical data center space available for clients. It will also provide cloud infrastructure services using IBM systems.

Mega-sized data centers are becoming increasingly commonplace, but this facility in Bangalore is different in one key respect: It’s vertical.

In the U.S., many large data centers are built in relatively rural areas that allow single-story, mall-style construction that stretches over multiple acres. That approach doesn’t work in India, where land and space is at a premium, said Steve Sams, vice president of IBM global site and facility services. “High-quality land in good locations is precious,” he said.

The first three floors are shared space. There are also four five-story towers where the data center facilities will be located. Each floor will have approximately 10,000 square feet of raised floor space built in modular style, or about 200,000 square feet of raised floor space in total. There will be two to three data centers on each floor, Sams said.

The facility will be able to support 100 megawatts, which puts it among the largest facilities in the world. It is located in one of the better areas of India in terms of power reliability, and it is connected to two different grids, said Sams.

The facility has multiple levels of security, including an intelligent camera system with 1,500 cameras that can track a visitor throughout the facility, said Sams.

Sams said the data center will have a PUE (power usage effectiveness) of 1.5. PUE is the ratio of total facility power, including everything from the cooling systems, UPS and lighting, to IT equipment power, the load associated with all IT equipment, the servers and storage.

The building that houses the data center was a shell for an uncompleted project within a business park. Work began in March last year.

The demand for data center space in India is expected to more than double over the next four years, according to Gartner. The research firm said the market is expected to reach $609 million this year and rise to $1.3 billion through 2016.

Data centers are getting gigantic. CyrusOne, for instance, announced last fall that it purchased a 40-acre parcel in Chandler, Ariz., to build a 1 million-square-foot data center with 110 megawatts of power capacity.

The National Security Agency is building a 1 million-square-foot data center in Salt Lake City at a cost of $1.2 billion.

China is building a cloud computing complex that’s expected to have some 6.2 million square feet of buildings, with 646,000 square feet of data center space rising to more than a million. China is experiencing, overall, a data center boom.

 

Lawmakers insert federal pension provisions in highway bill

Govexec

By Kellie Lunney

February 8, 2012

Legislative provisions to increase the amount government employees contribute to their pensions have been tucked into a major House bill, indicating the Republican leadership’s determination to change — one way or another — the federal retirement system in an effort to cut overall spending.

The 2012 American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, also known as the highway bill, contains provisions that would require federal employees and members of Congress to pay a total of 1.5 percent more toward their pensions over three years beginning in 2013. It incorporates, into a massive transportation bill (H.R. 7), provisions in stand-alone legislation (H.R. 3813) the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved last night to modify the federal pension system.

National Treasury Employees President Colleen Kelley said in a statement Wednesday that she is “appalled that the House Republican leadership would break pension promises made to federal workers years ago to fund a transportation bill.”

Lawmakers also would have to chip in more for their pensions under H.R. 7 and H.R. 3813.

Another measure included in both bills would place federal employees hired after Dec. 31, 2012, as well newly-elected lawmakers under a high-five average salary calculation for annuities rather than the current high-three average pay calculation. The current Federal Employees Retirement System-defined benefit pension is calculated by taking the retiree’s three highest salaries and dividing it by years of service and a variable pension accrual rate. Existing Civil Service Retirement System and FERS employees still would operate under the high-three calculation.

In addition, federal and Postal Service employees will be able to deposit lump sums from their unused annual leave into their Thrift Savings Plan accounts to boost their savings, under H.R. 7 and H.R. 3813.

 

Hearing highlights disagreement over cybersecurity incentives vs. regulation

By Josh Smith, National Journal 02/08/2012

Even as Congress takes up broad cybersecurity legislation, witnesses at a House subcommittee hearing highlighted lingering disagreement over just how to reduce cyber threats.

Laws and regulations have not kept up with the growing problem, the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ James Lewis told the House Energy and Commerce panel’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.

“This is largely a political problem. Our policies and our laws are inadequate,” he said. “We now know how to reduce risk on networks, but we have chosen not to do so.”

The Senate is expected to introduce broad cybersecurity legislation any day. The House, meanwhile, plans to develop cybersecurity responses in a range of individual committees, including the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Businesses have pushed for more federal help in combating cyber threats but favor incentives over regulation. Internet Security Alliance President Larry Clinton says the real problem is that companies are paying more than their fair share to prevent cyberattacks.

“Traditional approaches, including federal regulation, will not solve the problem as it will be largely reactive and not stay ahead of the changing nature of the threat,” Clinton said in written testimony. “Worse, bad regulation could be counterproductive, leading companies to expend their limited resources on building in-house efforts to meet regulatory demands over actually dealing with the threat proactively. Fundamental to stopping the advanced cyber threat is to understand that our biggest problems are not technological, but economic.”

Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., said he fears that American communication networks are “under siege” while countermeasures continue to lag.

“Every month, we learn more about these cyber threats. And what we have learned thus far worries me,” he said. “I am worried that our cyber defenses are not keeping pace with the cyber threats.”

Any approach to cyber defense will require efforts by both the private and public sectors, said the panel’s ranking member, Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif.

“I’m well aware of the threat–not just from criminal hackers but also from other countries,” said Eshoo, who has served on the House Intelligence Committee as well. “But talking about the problem is not enough. We need to act, and that requires the help of both the private sector and the federal government. The private sector represents 95 percent, and the government really represents 5 percent.”

The House bills so far include one from the Intelligence Committee that would increase public-private information sharing and incentives for businesses; and one from the Homeland Security Committee that clarifies federal authority to regulate cybersecurity as well as ensure information sharing

 

Aviation, GPS representatives warn of LightSquared’s ‘catastrophic’ plans

Nextgov

By Josh Smith, National Journal 02/08/2012

LightSquared cried foul on Wednesday after one of its staunchest congressional critics held a hearing that aired fears over the company’s proposed wireless networks.

The House Transportation Aviation Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wisc., held a hearing on “a review of issues associated with protecting and improving our nation’s aviation satellite-based global positioning system infrastructure.”

That, LightSquared charged, was nothing more than a thinly veiled attack on its network, which has been shown to interfere with GPS devices.

And indeed, while the hearing touched on a range of potential threats to GPS, LightSquared and the Federal Communications Commission were front and center.

The witnesses, who included government officials from the Transportation Department and the United Nations as well as representatives of the airline and GPS industry, took the FCC to task for allowing LightSquared’s plans to advance as far as they have.

The FCC, not represented at the hearing, has blocked LightSquared from activating its network until the interference issues have been resolved. But that’s not enough, said John Foley, a director of aviation technology at the GPS manufacturer Garmin.

Calling GPS a “valuable national treasure,” Foley said the FCC should have conferred more with other government agencies that take a dimmer view of LightSquared’s “catastrophic” plans.

“In short, Garmin and other manufacturers like it have had their businesses greatly disrupted by the failure of constituent parts of the government to coordinate effectively among themselves,” Foley told the panel. “Fortunately for businesses, consumers, and the nation, this year has in essence been a trial run. No system was actually launched or significant threat unleashed that wiped out or began to shut down GPS.”

Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari reiterated government findings that there are “no practical solutions or mitigations” for the interference issues in the near term.

“LightSquared’s proposal would require constant, individual monitoring and adjustments to over 40,000 broadcasting sites nationwide, to ensure that they could be, and would remain, consistent with air safety requirements. This is simply not practical,” Porcari said.

The most serious threat to GPS is other companies encroaching near the spectrum on which it operates, said Scott Pace, director of George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute.

LightSquared says the problem lies with GPS receivers, many of which were designed under the assumption that the neighboring spectrum would not be used for ground transmission. LightSquared spokesman Chris Sterns said the company should have had the opportunity to explain that to the subcommittee.

“Despite repeated requests, we were told there was no need to testify because LightSquared was not the subject of the hearing,” he said. “It’s outrageous that a congressional hearing set up to examine factual issues was only focused on one side of the story — a side of the story supported by commercial GPS makers who designed faulty devices that depend on using spectrum licensed to LightSquared.”

On Tuesday, LightSquared formally asked the FCC to require GPS devices to be compatible with other transmissions, but witnesses at Wednesday’s hearing said current standards are enough. Instead, Foley said, the FCC should be required to check with other agencies before proceeding with any plans that could harm GPS.

Petri has publicly sided with the GPS industry against LightSquared. Noting that GPS has long been in existence, Petri suggested LightSquared was using its spectrum in “inappropriate” ways. “Don’t blame GPS, a service that is vital to our national security, aviation safety and efficiency, serves billions of users and the overall public good,” he told the company in a letter last year.

Stay up-to-date with federal technology news al

 

Air Force cyber chief: Speed up acquisitions already

Nextgov

By Bob Brewin 02/08/2012

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Gen. William Shelton, commander of the Air Force Space Command, engaged Tuesday in what he called a “soapbox rant” to decry the military’s Industrial Age approach to acquiring cyber capabilities. He was speaking at a symposium sponsored by the Rocky Mountain chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, an industry group.

Shelton, who oversees Air Force space and cyberspace operations, said the Defense Department acquires cyber capabilities the same way it buys aircraft or satellites — a process that can take years, while new developments in computer hardware and software can happen in days or months. “I am frustrated by the lack of speed,” in cyber acquisitions, Shelton told an audience of more than 1,000 people at the symposium.

The current cyber acquisition system threatens the military’s cyber mission. He said the Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., which manages acquisition of information technology and cyber systems for the service, has started to develop capabilities to fill technology gaps “within hours or weeks,” but he did not provide any details.

The Air Force also must develop better situational awareness of potential threats in cyberspace because “we can’t defend [against] what we can’t see,” Shelton said, and dependence on networks has made them an attractive target for attackers.

Protecting those networks means the Air Force needs to move from a purely defensive posture to develop more resilient networks that can automatically reroute traffic when they come under attack, he added.

The Air Force requires technically trained personnel to handle its cyber mission and Shelton said the continuing lack of science, technology, engineering and math students who are U.S. citizens has created a “national security issue.” He proposed various incentives, including changes to the G.I. Bill, to boost the number of graduates in those critical fields.

Incentives may not help the Air Force meet its requirements, as Nextgov reported Monday that only 3 percent of science, technology, engineering and math students plan to work for the federal government.

 

Threatened Pentagon programs will play up cyber roles, experts predict

Nextgov

By Aliya Sternstein 02/08/2012

Military program managers whose operations are vaguely associated with computer networks could reposition their programs as being critical to cybersecurity to tap into one of the few untouched defense accounts and boost their own funding odds, some budget experts predict.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in January rewrote the nation’s military strategy to, in part, increase spending on cyberspace operations and cut back on ground troops. Panetta repeatedly has said “the next Pearl Harbor” could be a cyberattack that turns off electricity, financial transactions and government services. At a defense funding briefing, researchers from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments said they expect U.S. forces will have difficulty determining how much to spend on cyberspace and what exactly to spend it on because of the amorphous nature of the domain.

The challenge is reminiscent of the emergence of the Global Information Grid, or GIG, last decade, when military officials struggled to determine which activities supporting the U.S. warfighting data network should be considered part of the program, said Todd Harrison, a budget studies analyst at the center.

“Basically anything connected to any network was all part of the GIG,” including the power and water infrastructure, “so a toilet overflowing somewhere can affect the GIG,” he said.

Now that the Pentagon is focusing its investments on cyber, the same kind of piggybacking could occur. “If people believe that’s where money is going, they want to slap that label on themselves,” said CSBA President Andrew Krepinevich.

Defensewide cyber spending could increase from about $8 billion in fiscal 2012 to more than $13 billion by fiscal 2016 if the country suffers a cyberstrike on the scale of Pearl Harbor, according to an October 2011 industry forecast by TechAmerica.

Krepinevich said he is most concerned that the military does not have a strategy for fielding effective defenses against a catastrophic attack. “If warfare is classical physics, this stuff is quantum physics,” he said. The Pentagon has publicly stated its strategy is to deter adversaries with sophisticated intrusion-protection technologies that will sap the energy and resources of anyone who attempts penetration. But the problem with deterrence in cyberspace, he said, is identifying who the adversaries are in an anonymous domain.

Another factor complicating spending — the Homeland Security Department and the civil sector share the duty of defending U.S. networks. “The overarching problem is who is responsible for what,” Krepinevich said.

Last year, the Pentagon had to recalculate its cyber budget request twice after realizing the services each defined “cybersecurity” differently when they tabulated the cost of hardening their networks. Nextgov reported the discrepancies in March 2011 after noting the Air Force’s 2012 budget request for cybersecurity was twice the size of the entire department’s cyber spending proposal. Pentagon officials subsequently increased the $2.3 billion Defensewide figure to $3.2 billion.

The differing spending projections stemmed from the fact the Air Force’s $4.6 billion cyber budget estimate included “things” not typically considered information assurance or cybersecurity, Defense officials said at the time.

In July, the Government Accountability Office told Pentagon officials that until they defined the activities involved in cybersecurity, the military would not know how much it is spending to defend computer networks.

“Until DoD can provide a complete budget estimate for these operations, it will be difficult for the department and Congress to obtain an accurate and comprehensive view of the resources devoted to this emerging warfighting domain and make investment trade-off decisions,” the GAO auditors reported.

 

AF ‘Energy Horizons’ paper

by Tech. Sgt. Jess Harvey

Air Force Public Affairs

 

2/9/2012 – WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The Air Force’s Energy Horizons paper was released Feb. 9 and describes how the Service plans to increase energy supply, reduce demand and change the culture to meet mission requirements.

 

Energy Horizons, which was signed Jan. 25, is the Air Force vision for energy science and technology focusing on core Air Force missions in air, space, cyberspace and infrastructure, according to the preface by Mark T. Maybury, Air Force Chief Scientist.

The paper outlines where the Air Force is headed with regards to operational Energy.

The cover letter, signed by both Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, explains how effective energy management not only plays a key role in supporting national objectives, but is also essential to operational readiness.

“Energy is essential to all Air Force missions,” the letter states. “Improving energy efficiency, reducing demand and changing the culture is vital to mission success.”

The paper discusses cyber, space, air and infrastructure energies, how they enable Air Force mission success, and include emerging technologies that will further the force’s energy efficiency efforts.

The Energy Horizons paper, in its entirety, can be read at

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