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February 16 2013

February 19, 2013



Windows 8 tablet alternatives to Microsoft’s Surface Pro

Samsung, Acer, Asus and Lenovo are selling Windows 8 alternatives to Microsoft’s upcoming Surface Pro tablet

Agam Shah

February 7, 2013 (IDG News Service)

Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablet with the Windows 8 OS is due to ship on Feb. 9, starting at $899.

The tablet will have a 10.6-inch screen and come in models with 64GB and 128GB of storage. Surface Pro’s early reviews have been mixed, and there are many Windows 8 alternatives already available from Samsung, Acer, Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard. The tablets come with touchscreens and Intel’s Core processors, and a keyboard attachment turns the tablets into full Windows 8 laptops. The tablets mostly come with 128GB of storage.

Microsoft’s Surface Windows 8 Pro tablet

But the Core processor demands a lot of power, so these tablets won’t offer the battery life of Microsoft’s Surface RT or Android tablets, or even Windows 8 tablets running on Intel’s tablet-specific Atom chip code-named Clover Trail. Windows RT devices cannot run existing Windows applications, however, so Surface Pro alternatives could appeal to buyers looking for a PC and tablet in one.

“I would absolutely love a product that could double as a tablet for easy carrying,” said Catherine Chang, who is master instructor at Chang’s Taekwondo America in Methuen, Mass.

She already uses laptops at home and school, and uses Apple’s iPhone 4 often for tasks such as email and Web browsing. But she is looking to buy a new laptop and has considered a tablet, and a device that combines the best of both is attractive, Chang said.

Lenovo’s IdeaPad Yoga 13


Lenovo has coined the term “multimode” for devices that merge tablet and laptop functionality. The Chinese PC maker is selling Yoga 13 starting at $1,049 with a 13.3-inch touchscreen.

The device turns into a tablet by folding the screen, which leaves the keyboard exposed. It can feel uneasy using Yoga 13 in tablet mode with the fingers flitting over the non-functioning keys at the back of the device, but that hasn’t stopped people from buying the popular device. Yoga 13 comes with Intel’s Core i3 processor and is available on Lenovo’s website.

The Yoga 13 has a 13.3-inch screen, weighs 1.5 kilograms and offers eight hours of battery life, which is comparable to laptops. The screen displays images at a 1600-by-900-pixel resolution, and the device has a webcam.

A less expensive option would be the ThinkPad Twist, which has a classic convertible laptop design and starts at $829. Lenovo sells the ThinkPad Tablet 2 with Windows 8 starting at $629, but the device runs on Intel‘s Atom tablet processor. A smaller version of the Yoga 13, the Yoga 11, with Windows RT and an ARM processor, starts at $749.

Samsung’s Ativ Tab Smart PC Pro 700T

Samsung’s Ativ Tab Smart PC Pro

The design of Samsung’s Ativ Tab Smart PC Pro 700T is similar to the Surface Pro; the screen detaches from the keyboard base to become a tablet. That design is truer to tablets than Lenovo’s Yoga 13, in which the keyboard base remains latched on even when the device is in tablet mode.

The Ativ Tab Smart PC has a Core i5 processor, an 11.6-inch screen and weighs roughly 857 grams in tablet mode, and more with the keyboard base. The tablet offers roughly eight hours of battery life on active usage, and five hours on video. The touchscreen displays images at a 1920-by-1080-pixel resolution, and 4GB of memory comes standard. Other features include webcams on the back and front, a Micro-SD slot and a micro-HDMI port. The tablet is priced starting at $1,199 and is available via Samsung’s website.

Samsung also sells the Ativ Smart PC 500T Tablet with Intel’s Clover Trail processors for $749 through Microsoft’s online store. Samsung also sells the Ativ Tab tablet with Windows RT in some regions.

Acer Iconia W700


Acer’s Iconia W700 with an Intel Core i5 processor and 128GB of storage is listed for $999 on Acer’s website, but the model is listed as being out of stock on Amazon and Newegg. However, a less-expensive 64GB version that was originally priced at $799 is available on multiple retail sites, with prices starting at $750.

The tablet has an 11.6-inch screen that displays images at a full high-definition resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels. The Iconia W700 weighs 1.04 kilograms and offers eight hours of battery life. Other features include a micro-HDMI port, a 5-megapixel back camera and a front camera. It’s tough for a power PC user to live with just 64GB of storage, so it may be prudent to wait for Iconia W700 or look at alternatives.

Asus Taichi


One of the coolest hybrid devices is the dual-screen Taichi ultrabook, which has two screens — one on the front and one on the back of the display panel. At first glance it looks like a laptop with an 11.6-inch screen, but closing the laptop lid activates another 11.6-inch touchscreen on the back panel for the device to become a tablet. The device was the scene-stealer at the Computex trade show last year, but unspecified issues caused delays in availability.

The device comes in two models. The Taichi 21 DH51 model has an Intel Core i5 processor and 128GB of solid-state drive storage, and is available through multiple retailers, and also on for $1,288. A Taichi 21 DH71 has the faster Intel Core i7 processor and 256GB SSD storage, and is available on for $1,565. The models weigh 1.2 kilograms and have high-definition screens that can display images at a 1920-by-1080-pixel resolution. Other features include 4GB of RAM, a 5-megapixel webcam and two USB 3.0 ports.


U.S. said to be target of massive cyber-espionage campaign

Washington Post

By Ellen Nakashima, Published: February 10

A new intelligence assessment has concluded that the United States is the target of a massive, sustained cyber-espionage campaign that is threatening the country’s economic competitiveness, according to individuals familiar with the report.

The National Intelligence Estimate identifies China as the country most aggressively seeking to penetrate the computer systems of American businesses and institutions to gain access to data that could be used for economic gain.

The report, which represents the consensus view of the U.S. intelligence community, describes a wide range of sectors that have been the focus of hacking over the past five years, including energy, finance, information technology, aerospace and automotives, according to the individuals familiar with the report, who spoke on the condition of anonymity about the classified document. The assessment does not quantify the financial impact of the espionage, but outside experts have estimated it in the tens of billions of dollars.

Cyber-espionage, which was once viewed as a concern mainly by U.S. intelligence and the military, is increasingly seen as a direct threat to the nation’s economic interests.

In a sign of such concerns, the Obama administration is seeking ways to counter the online theft of trade secrets, according to officials. Analysts have said that the administration’s options include formal protests, the expulsion of diplomatic personnel, the imposition of travel and visa restrictions, and complaints to the World Trade Organization.

Cyber-espionage is “just so widespread that it’s known to be a national issue at this point,” said one administration official, who like other current and former officials interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

The National Intelligence Estimate names three other countries — Russia, Israel and France — as having engaged in hacking for economic intelligence but makes clear that cyber-espionage by those countries pales in comparison with China’s effort.

China has staunchly rejected such allegations, saying the Beijing government neither condones nor carries out computer hacking.

Dating to at least the early 1980s, China has made the acquisition of Western technology — through means licit and illicit — a centerpiece of its economic development planning. The explosion in computer use has greatly aided that transfer of technology.

China’s intelligence services, as well as private companies, frequently seek to exploit Chinese citizens or people with family ties to China who can use their insider access to U.S. corporate networks to steal trade secrets using thumb drives or e-mail, according to a report by the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive.

The National Intelligence Estimate comes at a time when the U.S. government is making a concerted effort to develop policies that address cyberthreats against the nation.

“We need the NIE on cyber for a systematic and comprehensive understanding of what the most dangerous technologies are, who are the most threatening actors and what are our greatest vulnerabilities,” said former deputy defense secretary William J. Lynn III, who requested the report in 2011 but has not seen or been briefed on the contents.

Some officials have pressed for an unclassified summary to be released publicly. Michael Birmingham, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, declined to comment on the report, except to say that “as a matter of policy, we do not discuss or acknowledge the existence of NIEs unless directed to do so.”

A range of sectors

Much of China’s cyber-espionage is thought to be directed at commercial targets linked to military technology. In 2011, when Chinese hackers attacked network security company RSA Security, the technology stolen was used to penetrate military-industrial targets. Shortly after, the networks of defense contracting giant Lockheed Martin, which used RSA security tokens, were penetrated by Chinese hackers. The company said no data were taken.

Companies in other sectors also have been targeted, though the reasons for the espionage are not always related to economic interests. The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post recently disclosed that they believe their networks were compromised in intrusions that originated in China.

Despite those disclosures and the growing prevalence of cyber-espionage, companies remain reluctant to report incidents.

“It’s harder for companies to suggest that they haven’t been attacked,” the administration official said. “The question is, how do they respond when they are asked about it? Is it in their interest to work with other companies and with the government to alleviate some of the problem?”

A watershed moment came in January 2010, when the tech titan Google announced that its networks had been hacked and that the intrusions originated in China. The intruders made off with valuable source code and targeted the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists and dissidents, the company announced.

In a new book, Google chief executive Eric Schmidt says China is the world’s “most sophisticated and prolific” hacker, adding: “It’s fair to say we’re already living in an age of state-led cyberwar, even if most of us aren’t aware of it.”

Administration’s response

In recognition of the growing problem, the State Department has elevated the issue to be part of its strategic security dialogue with China. Within the past year, the Justice Department has set up a program to train 100 prosecutors to bring cases related to cyber-intrusions sponsored by foreign governments.

In many ways, the moves are a response to what experts have described as the government’s earlier passivity in tackling the problem.

“The problem with foreign cyber-espionage is not that it is an existential threat, but that it is invisible, and invisibility promotes inaction,” a former government official said. The National Intelligence Estimate, he said, “would help remedy that” by detailing the scope of the threat.

Some experts have said that cyber-espionage’s cost to the U.S. economy might range from 0.1 percent to 0.5 percent of gross domestic product, or $25 billion to $100 billion. Other economists, while viewing the problem as significant, have pegged the losses lower.

The White House is set to soon release a trade-secrets report, compiled by U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel, that highlights the need for companies to work with the government to stop the pilfering, said officials familiar with the report.

The government cannot mount a case on its own. A company needs to think it was wronged, have enough evidence that can be made public and be willing to burn bridges with the country accused of the hacking, officials said.

The White House is also expected this week to issue an executive order on cybersecurity that calls for voluntary standards for critical private-sector computer systems and for enhanced sharing of threat information by the government with companies to help secure private-sector systems against cyber-intrusions.


Digital Textbook Laws Signal Shift in Education Content Field

By Robert Lindstrom

February 11, 2013


Two recent developments in California portend a sea-change in the way educational content is created, delivered and paid for.

Textbooks have been part of the education process and informal bodybuilding for centuries. They are the academic starch in every student’s diet. They are also a costly burden on students and K-12 schools. And they are a cash cow for textbook publishers.

The textbook industry has built itself into an inescapable juggernaut by turning countless numbers of trees into hulking volumes that wind up as educational must-haves. It also has adopted a sly strategy of regularly changing its major sellers just enough to force K-12 schools and college students to buy new editions on a regular basis. Many students pay as much as $1,000 per year or more for their cellulose-based tomes.

Enter digital textbooks. Already accounting for as much as 10-11% of the textbook market, digital textbooks are projected to reach 50% market penetration within five years. The reason is both economic and technological: shrinking education funding, ballooning tuitions, rising costs for printing and distribution, increasing use of laptops and tablets for studying.

The future of digital textbooks is guaranteed. Even now, the main reason students say they buy textbooks in print when the same material is available digitally is because they can resell their books and recover some of their investment. Roughly a quarter of students who buy ink-and-paper textbooks say they do so because they want to keep them for future reference – and to flatten photographs.


Breaching the Textbook Fortress

Most of the buzz about digital textbooks centers on the promise of lower cost, easier revision, online delivery and lumbar relief. However, most of the evolving business models for digital content do little to ease the iron grip large publishers have on educational content. Digital textbooks, like their print cousins, are proprietary. Copy protection prevents them from being resold or repurposed. Rented digital textbooks cannot be kept for future reference. And then there is the money. The cost of digital textbooks will remain a considerable load for students as long as the majority of textbook creators, publishers and distributors are for-profit entities.

Enter the California State Legislature. In January, two bills authored by Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) became law. Together, the bills mandate the creation and distribution of 50 core textbooks in digital form to be made available at no cost to students in lower-division courses offered by the University of California, California State University and California Community College systems.

•SB 1052 provides for the development of digital textbooks and creates the California Open Education Resources Council, made up of faculty members, to develop the list of targeted courses and create and oversee the approval process.

•SB 1053 creates the California Digital Open Source Library to house the digital open source textbooks and related materials.

The California Open Education Resources Council will solicit bids to produce the textbooks. The first digital volumes are expected to be available for the 2013-2014 school year. For students who still want to work on their biceps, hardcopy versions will be available for $20.


Barbecuing the Cash Cow

While traditional publishers and new educational content ventures have been ramping up the digital textbook market, state governments and educational institutions have been glacially slow to leverage the efficiencies of digital publishing. The technology has been available for years, but educators and lawmakers have generally held to their tradition of leaving the textbook business to the established publishing industry.

The California bills rewrite the equation. The digital textbooks created by the California Open Education Resources Council are not only required to be free for students, they are required to be published under a Creative Commons license. That means colleges and universities in other states will have access to the books. In addition, the digital textbooks will be encoded in a non-proprietary format, such as XML, allowing them to be easily distributed and repurposed.

Of course, due to changing priorities and fickle budgets, government will never bear the entire load for digital textbooks and likely will remain a minor player. Breaking the headlock of the publishing industry will require other sources of underwriting.

Enter crowdfunding. In December, a project that aims to produce and distribute education apps for the California Education and Environment Initiative Curriculum (EEI) reached and exceeded its goal of raising $20,000 from individual donors through Kickstarter, the online crowdfunding site. If the design, coding and distribution process goes as planned, 6th grade students, their teachers and their parents will soon have access to a pair of apps entirely bought and paid for by the digitally literate public-at-large.

The group behind the effort is a social media network called EcoDads. Its effort to adapt the State Board of Education-approved curriculum into flexible, interactive lessons for use in classrooms provides another tantalizing model for producing and distributing educational content. Imagine thousands of digital citizens using the creative power of their wallets to guide education in fertile and affordable new directions.


Shedding Pounds, Shifting Strategies

State-funded, crowd-funded and freely distributed digital textbooks will not obsolete the textbook publishing industry any more than online education will replace physical campuses, but they represent an encouraging glimmer of digital literacy enlightenment that holds the promise of shaking up the market by adding unconventional, non-profit sources to the competitive mix. Though it would be naive to overestimate the commitment of government or underestimate the clout of the publishing industry, the California bills and the EcoDads crowdfunding venture point the way toward new models for creating, accessing and sharing educational content.

The digital writing is on the wall: The print textbook is destined to go the way of the inkwell. Eventually, except in an historical context, the terms text and book will part company. In their place new terms will emerge to describe new forms of educational content as well as yet-to-be-invented methods of distribution and funding. And when that day finally comes, a great weight will have been lifted off the shoulders of students everywhere.


The Pentagon’s GPS Problem


Feb. 9, 2013 – 2:45 p.m.

By Frank Oliveri, CQ Staff


Signals from the U.S.military’s space-based Global Positioning System have been integrated into daily life and commerce, from cars to smartphones. If the satellites’ position, navigation and timing information suddenly disappeared, much of the global economy would be hobbled.

The armed forces are even more dependent. They use the GPS for almost everything that moves, from targeting bombs and coordinating fighter planes, warships, tanks and infantry to operating and guiding an increasingly important worldwide armada of aerial drones.

“We have a very heavy reliance on space and we consider GPS foundational in military operations,” says Gen. William L. Shelton, who heads the Air Force Space Command in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The GPS has been operating since the late 1970s, but it wasn’t until 2007, when China used a missile to destroy one of its own aging weather satellites in low-Earth orbit, that it became clear just how vulnerable the GPS is, both to other nations’ improving missiles and to relatively cheap jamming and hacking techniques. Another wake-up call could come soon, with reports that China is planning another anti-satellite test.

In recognition of these vulnerabilities — and the military’s overwhelming dependence on the GPS — the Pentagon and Congress in recent years have invested billions of dollars to develop new satellites with signals three times stronger than current models and with the capacity to exceed even that strength if necessary to override interference. The government also is investing in more sensitive and discriminating antennas and receivers, as well as a new encryption code, known as military code, or M-code, that would make it far more difficult to hack into the signals.

Such improvements will make the GPS more secure and more resilient, but they will not make the satellite network immune from attack. In an implicit recognition of the system’s vulnerability, the military is working hard to develop tactics and strategies for getting along without the GPS and other space assets for short periods.

“We may be asked to operate in areas where they may not have continuous command and control links, where our networks are under attack, where our space assets are under attack, not just by anti-satellite means, but by cyberspace or direct attack against our ground station — where freedom of action is going to be challenged,” says Mark Gunzinger, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, who, while at the Pentagon, wrote military directives that helped shape the planning for such eventualities.

The 2011 National Security Space Strategy, according to an unclassified summary, broadly laid out what the nation could do to prevent and deter such attacks, including teaming up with other countries on diplomacy, identifying attackers more accurately and, should deterrence fail, directly attacking those trying to disrupt the system.

The military also is trying to develop ground-based alternatives for delivering navigational signals.


Mounting Concerns

The fiscal 2013 defense policy bill completed in December authorizes $1.26 billion for investment in second- and third-generation GPS and new, more secure control terminals. But lawmakers also required the military to explain how it would function without the system — in “GPS-denied environments.”

Specifically, along with asking for descriptions of threats to the GPS, Congress directed the Defense Department to propose changes in tactics, techniques and procedures that would allow the armed forces to operate when the GPS and other space assets are “degraded or denied” for up to two months.

The language results from evidence accumulating over several years that the military needs better preparation for a loss of the GPS. In April 2010, Robert J. Butler, the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for cyber and space policy, told the House Armed Services Committee that the results of a military exercise called “a day without space” were “stark.”

The results of that exercise were more ominous than that, according to Alison Brown, who runs NAVSYS Corp., which focuses on GPS technologies. The military, she says, “saw catastrophe” without the satellites.

Brown says the armed forces have been slow to react to their shortcomings, and, perhaps, have focused their resources too tightly on building more powerful satellites.

Indeed, many of the technological steps being taken to address weaknesses in the GPS chain are still “many, many years” from full deployment, Shelton says.

The M-code, for example, is on certain variants of GPS satellites, but the military has yet to integrate it fully into equipment that receives GPS signals. The first third-generation satellite is expected to launch in 2015. New receivers and antennas are slowly making their way into operation. “There’s a whole series of things that have to happen,” Shelton says.


Jamming and Spoofing

Even before China’s anti-satellite test in 2007, the U.S. military was worried that its enemies were seeking ways to cripple or disrupt the GPS.

In 2003, for example, U.S. officials announced that they had destroyed GPS jamming sites in Iraq. A year later, Air Force Secretary James G. Roche suggested that the Iraqi sites, which had been quickly neutralized, didn’t surprise the military.

“We had been waiting for this to happen and wondering when someone would finally do it,” he said at the time.

In addition to jamming, another form of attack is spoofing, which is a method of hacking into a GPS signal and altering the information it imparts.


A spoofing attack could, for example, fool fighter pilots or drones into believing they are somewhere different. The tactic involves broadcasting a slightly stronger signal than that received from the GPS satellites. It requires the exact location of the target, which is important because the GPS works by measuring the time it takes the signal to travel from satellite to receiver. The spoofing signal then slowly deviates to the hacker’s preferred course. Indeed, Iran’s capture of a U.S. military drone in 2011 is widely believed to have resulted from a spoofing attack where the drone pilot accidentally landed the plane in Iran, believing it was landing at its base in Afghanistan, according to reports.

Shelton said he believes the military has come up with solutions to address these weaknesses, as well as workarounds that would enable armed forces to function without the GPS.

The satellites fly in a medium-Earth orbit, roughly 12,552 miles in space, arranged so that at least four satellites are in view from virtually any point on the planet. The altitude and the number of GPS satellites in the constellation, Shelton says, make it exceedingly difficult for potential adversaries to attack them all directly.

Shelton says the military also has taken steps to counter jammers. GPS signals are rather weak — think of a 40-watt bulb from more than 12,000 miles away — so jammers easily can project stronger signals than the satellites.

The military has sought to strengthen its signals using M-code and a third-generation GPS, senior military officials say.

They concede that the GPS still could be overpowered by a terrestrial signal. Shelton points out, however, that bigger jammers emit stronger, more detectable signals of their own that could make them easier for U.S. forces to locate and destroy.

The military also is working to secure the rest of the GPS communications chain. Antennas and receivers are being improved, for example, with newer receivers able to notify the user if the signal is being jammed.

In the end, military officials say they will need to take an all-of-the-above approach because the GPS and its associated technologies will become more vulnerable over time, sometimes with relatively simple jammers and other equipment.

“People have observed the American way of war for 20 years and we have enjoyed an impressive freedom of action,” Gunzinger says. “Our enemies will challenge freedom of operations in all those domains and some of those tools are not that expensive.”



Stage Set For Battle Over Domestic Drones

By: Dan Verton


02/11/2013 ( 3:17pm)


Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn on Feb. 6, announced the cancellation of the Seattle Police Department’s controversial surveillance drone program after citizens and civil liberties groups voiced concerns about privacy.

McGinn joins a growing list of state and local officials who are buckling under extreme pressure from their constituents and privacy advocates who argue that police departments are moving too far, too fast, on drone deployments without concrete policies and procedures to safeguard the privacy of law-abiding citizens.

State legislatures around the country are also stepping up activities designed to limit or ban the use of domestic surveillance drones. To date, Florida, Maine, Montana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Virginia have introduced anti-drone bills.

The cancellation of the Seattle program, which included two drones purchased under a regional homeland security grant program, comes just days before the Unmanned Systems Program Review 2013, sponsored by the Arlington, Va.-based Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). The event is expected to attract hundreds of senior industry and government officials involved in unmanned systems development and program management.

AUVSI Chairman Peter Bale wrote Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell on Feb. 8 regarding pending legislation that would impose a moratorium on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles by public agencies in Virginia. According to Bale, the proposed moratorium would not only deny public safety officers the use of what AUVSI called “potentially life-saving technology,” but it would also hurt Virginia’s economy.

“I believe this proposed moratorium will not only hinder the ability of [unmanned aerial systems] to assist police, firefighters and other first responders in keeping Virginia communities safe, but also jeopardize current and future manufacturing jobs in the Commonwealth in the rapidly growing unmanned systems sector,” wrote Bale.

Unmanned drones are best known for their use by the military in the post-9/11 armed conflicts in the Middle East. The Pentagon and Intelligence Community use drones to conduct detailed surveillance on countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, as well as targeted strikes on Al Qaeda leaders and other terrorists. In early 2007, more than 700 drones had been deployed in Iraq alone.

However, advances in drone development has led to smaller and smaller vehicles that can often fly at altitudes that make them undetectable to the public. And while drones are widely deployed by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for border surveillance, the use of drones by state and local law enforcement agencies in the skies above cities and towns has raised a variety of privacy concerns.

Through the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, Congress granted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) responsibility for developing the safety guidelines necessary for integrating unmanned drones into the national airspace system by Sept. 2015. To date, those guidelines have focused primarily on safety, with little or no focus on privacy.


A report released Jan. 30 by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), highlighted the FAA’s lack of focus on the legal issues surrounding the deployment of drones for commercial and local law enforcement purposes.

“Although the text of this act places safety as a predominant concern, it fails to establish how the FAA should resolve significant, and up to this point, largely unanswered legal questions,” stated the CRS report Integration of Drones into Domestic Airspace: Selected Legal Issues. “For instance, several legal interests are implicated by drone flight over or near private property. Might such a flight constitute a trespass? A nuisance? If conducted by the government, a constitutional taking?”

The CRS report goes on to state that since most drone use will likely occur in federal airspace, “Congress has the authority or can permit various federal agencies to set federal policy on drone use in American skies. This may include the appropriate level of individual privacy protection, the balancing of property interests with the economic needs of private entities, and the appropriate safety standards required.”

These issues have resonated on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have raised concerns with the FAA about privacy protections. The FAA responded in Nov. with a letter to Rep. Howard McKeon (R-CA), chair of the Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus, stating the agency was delaying the announcement of drone test sites because of privacy concerns.

“Our target was to have the six test sites named by the end of 2012,” then acting FAA administrator Michael Huerta said in the letter. “However, increasing the use of UAS in our airspace also raises privacy issues, and these issues will need to be addressed as unmanned aircraft are safely integrated.”

Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy, told Homeland Security Today 2013 may be the year when we see a national-level debate about the potential use of drones by law enforcement in the US.

“It’s a dynamic situation that is subject to change,” said Aftergood. “Industry clearly had a head start, with strong support in Congress and a rosy view of the future full of potential applications for unmanned aerial systems. But privacy values are deeply rooted in society and will have to be addressed by all parties. The debate cannot be avoided indefinitely. It needs to be engaged directly.”



Obama announces cyber executive order during speech


By Amber Corrin

Feb 12, 2013


President Barack Obama announced during the State of the Union address on Feb. 12 that he has signed an executive order on cybersecurity. (White House photo)

President Barack Obama on Feb. 12 signed an executive order on cybersecurity, aiming to strengthen the nation’s critical infrastructure through cross-sector information-sharing and framework. He announced the move in his State of the Union address at just before 10 p.m. Eastern Time.

“We cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing in the face of real threats to our security and economy,” Obama said. “Now Congress must act as well, by passing legislation to give our government a greater capacity to secure our networks and deter attacks. This is something we should be able to get done on a bipartisan basis.”

Accompanied by a presidential policy directive that updates 2003’s Homeland Security Presidential Directive 7, Obama’s plans build on cybersecurity measures already underway throughout the government and industry. It also includes new provisions for identifying the most pressing risks, establishing standards and disseminating data on cyber threats.

“It is the policy of the United States to enhance the security and resilience of the Nation’s critical infrastructure and to maintain a cyber environment that encourages efficiency, innovation and economic prosperity while promoting safety, security, business confidentiality, privacy and civil liberties,” the executive order states. “We can achieve these goals through a partnership with the owners and operators of critical infrastructure to improve cybersecurity information sharing and collaboratively develop and implement risk-based standards.”


The order expands the current defense industrial base information-sharing program that has been in place since 2011 between the Defense Department and some private organizations, including top contractors. Under the voluntary Enhanced Cybersecurity Services program, which effectively takes the former pilot project a step further, is designed to exchange real-time threat data and help bolster protections.

“This voluntary information-sharing program will provide classified cyber threat and technical information from the government to eligible critical infrastructure companies or commercial service providers that offer security services to critical infrastructure,” the order states.

The sharing of unclassified information also receives a boost in the order, which directs the attorney general, DHS secretary and director of national intelligence to produce within 120 days guidelines for agencies to produce, quickly disseminate and track unclassified reports on cyber threats.

Obama’s directive includes plans to expedite the processes for issuing clearances for cybersecurity experts — part of broader plans to attract and retain subject-matter experts from outside the government.

Among other key themes in the executive order include a focus on a “consultative process” for strengthening U.S. cybersecurity, including the participation of industry, academia, advisory councils and other stakeholders in the development of cyber strategies. There are also provisions for the establishment of voluntary guidance, standards and best practices — much of which is delegated to the National Institutes of Technology, which is charged with developing baseline framework.

“The cybersecurity framework shall include a set of standards, methodologies, procedures and processes that align policy, business and technological approaches to address cyber risks,” the document states. “The cybersecurity framework shall provide a prioritized, flexible, repeatable, performance-based and cost-effective approach, including information security measures and controls, to help owners and operators of critical infrastructure identify, assess and manage cyber risk.”

Beyond the information-sharing and standardization efforts, the administration puts into place privacy and civil liberties protections based on the Fair Information Practice Principles. Furthermore, under the PPD, Obama also directs government agencies to review, refine and clarify existing cyber efforts, partnerships and regulations, as well as implement integration and analysis capabilities to help with planning and decision-making.

“This endeavor is a shared responsibility among federal, state, local, tribal and territorial entities, and public and private owners and operators of critical infrastructure,” a White House fact sheet noted. “While there has been extensive work done to enhance both the physical and cyber security and resilience of critical infrastructure, this PPD will create a stronger alliance between these two intertwined components.”

The executive measures, which have been in the works for months, come as the 113th Congress prepares to again take up cybersecurity legislation that failed last fall. On Feb. 13 Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) are expected to reintroduce the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, a controversial bill that last year passed in the House but went no further.

The president also touched on the looming agency budget cuts, though he focused on the broader economic threats that sequestration poses come March 1. “These sudden, harsh, arbitrary cuts would … certainly slow our economy and cost hundreds of thousands of jobs,” Obama said. He called on Congress to “work to pass a budget that replaces reckless cuts with smart savings.”


DARPA looks to avert battles over high frequency spectrum


Tue, 2013-02-12 07:56 AM

By: Mark Rockwell


Defense Department researchers are looking for help in developing ways to share vital bandwidth in cramped radio spectrum among military and commercial users.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants to develop technology that allows military radar to work alongside commercial communications networks in radio spectrum, especially at higher bandwidths like 2-4 GHz range.

There has long been tension between the military and private commercial wireless network providers over the limited amount of radio spectrum, as wireless data and communications applications explode. The higher spectrum, like that in the 2-4 GHz range, is particularly valuable to both interests, since it is capable of carrying more advanced, data-heavy, services.

“Balancing national security requirements of radars and military networks with the growing bandwidth demands of commercial wireless data networks calls for innovative approaches to managing spectrum access,” said DARPA on Feb. 8

Specifically, the agency is looking to its Shared Spectrum Access for Radar and Communications (SSPARC) program to improve radar and communications capabilities for military and commercial users by creating technical solutions to enable spectrum sharing.

SSPARC, said the agency, will focus on technologies to share spectrum in the 2-4 GHz frequencies, but technologies developed in the program could be applicable at other frequencies as well.

The agency wants to collaborate with private industry and experts on the technology and will host a Proposers’ Day on February 26, 2013, in Arlington, Va., in the DARPA Conference Center.

The SSPARC program looks to support two types of spectrum sharing: Military radars sharing spectrum with military communications networks, and military radars sharing spectrum with commercial communications networks, said DARPA.

“We see a technical approach based on cooperation between radars and communications networks as a ‘win-win’ for the military and commercial communities,” said John Chapin, DARPA program manager. “A key goal is to enable increased spectrum access for the systems while ensuring military security needs are protected.”

SSPARC program research, said the agency, includes spectrum sharing technologies appropriate for rapid adoption as well as longer-term, more fundamental changes to radar and communications system design. The rapid adoption portion of the program seeks to develop software and cost-effective upgrades to existing systems enabling deployment within the next five to eight years.

“The longer-term vision of the program is to create clean-sheet designs for radar and communications systems that push the state of the art in both areas, while incorporating spectrum sharing as a basic requirement,” Chapin said.

The SSPARC program will coordinate with appropriate spectrum management offices in the Department of Defense and other federal agencies. Interaction with commercial communications standards bodies is also planned.


“We recognize the critical role of regulations and standards for the success of new spectrum sharing technologies, so we intend to stay engaged in those areas throughout the research process,” Chapin said.

At the Proposer’s Day, DARPA wants to talk with experts in radar system design and operation; military communications system design and operation; commercial communications systems design, operation and standards; electronic warfare (EW) threats to and countermeasures for radar and communications systems; and U.S. and international spectrum regulations and regulatory processes.

The SSPARC program, said DARPA, seeks to foster the collaboration among the disparate areas needed to develop innovative spectrum sharing solutions.



Obama signals end to post-9/11 era in address


By John T. Bennett – Staff writer

Posted : Tuesday Feb 12, 2013 22:45:39 EST


President Obama on Tuesday drove a dagger into the post-9/11 era, declaring the fight against a changed al-Qaida no longer requires the U.S. to “occupy other nations.”

In the first State of the Union address of his second term, Obama declared al-Qaida “a shadow of its former self.”

“Different al-Qaida affiliates and extremist groups have emerged — from the Arabian Peninsula to Africa. The threat these groups pose is evolving,” Obama said. “But to meet this threat, we don’t need to send tens of thousands of our sons and daughters abroad, or occupy other nations. Instead, we will need to help countries like Yemen, Libya, and Somalia provide for their own security, and help allies who take the fight to terrorists, as we have in Mali.”

The commander in chief said “where necessary, through a range of capabilities, we will continue to take direct action against those terrorists who pose the gravest threat to Americans,” Obama said.

That striking passage was an apparent reference to — and a doubling down on — the heavy reliance on special operations missions and drone strikes on which his administration has relied since 2009.

The drone policy has come under fire from Republicans and Democrats alike on Capitol Hill in recent weeks. To that end, Obama defended his administration, saying it has worked “tirelessly to forge a durable legal and policy framework to guide our counterterrorism operations.”

Obama vowed to work with lawmakers in coming months to ensure the nation’s “targeting, detention, and prosecution of terrorists remains consistent with our laws and system of checks and balances.”

As for the last remaining large-scale American war of the post-9/11 era, Obama announced 34,000 more U.S. troops will leave Afghanistan “over the next year” after 33,000 already have left.

Most U.S. and NATO troops already have taken a backseat to Afghan National Security Forces and police personnel, which are now in the lead in more than 70 percent of their own country, according to Pentagon officials and lawmakers.

Washington is preparing a plan for how many American troops will remain there to fight al-Qaida and its allies after 2014.

“Beyond 2014, America’s commitment to a unified and sovereign Afghanistan will endure, but the nature of our commitment will change,” Obama said.

“We are negotiating an agreement with the Afghan government that focuses on two missions: training and equipping Afghan forces.”

Some congressional Republicans questioned Obama’s announcement hours before he spoke them at the dais in the House chamber.

“What surprises me most about the information I am receiving from the Pentagon is the president’s decision to halve the U.S. troops during the same year that the Afghan forces will be in the lead across the entire country for the first time,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., said in a statement issued a couple hours before the address.

“Moreover, he is deciding to conduct a significant withdrawal U.S. forces by 2014 without respect to anything that may happen on the ground over the next 12 months,” McKeon said. “This approach seems to be needlessly fraught with risk.”

Despite such criticisms, the commander in chief sent a message that he is aggressive moving to bring about an end to America’s longest war in its history.

“This drawdown will continue,” Obama said. “And by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over.”



Obamacare Regs Obama Plans to Ignore


Scott Gottlieb, Contributor

2/12/2013 @ 10:58PM

There’s a widespread refrain that insurance premiums in the small group and individual market are set to spike this fall, once the full complement of Obamacare regulations hit that market. The insurers have been making the rounds on Capitol Hill, inside think tanks, and the White House, quietly previewing their new rates. The hikes are substantial. There’s even a term for it in Washington: “rate shock”.

So what’s the Obama Administration to do? Most likely, phase in some of the regulations that are the biggest culprit of the premium surge. That means, letting some of the historically based underwriting remain in place for a time.

The easiest target is the statutory limit on pricing health insurance premiums with respect to a beneficiary’s age. This Obamacare provision (also known as the “age rating”) bars insurers from varying premiums between old and young enrollees by more than 3:1. So if a 25-year-old’s premium cost $500, than a 60-year-old’s premium can’t cost more than $1,500. At the time Obamacare passed, critics held that these regulations would spike premiums. That day is about to arrive.

Some think that the Obama team can’t suspend these regulatory provisions since they are hardwired into the law. But there is ample precedent where the administration took its own discretion to largely ignore implementation deadlines and otherwise tweak or delay key aspects of the statute.

For instance, the Obama team unilaterally decided to phase-in the guaranteed issue requirements of child-only policies, even though the law required this provision to be fully implemented by the fall of 2010. The administration delayed and then limited the W-2 reporting provisions for employers. These are just two examples.

To the degree that delaying implementation of the insurance market regulations will help insurance companies secure profits and ease the burden on consumers, there is likely to be little political opposition standing in the Administration’s way. Even AARP is likely to step aside. While delay of the age rating provisions will keep costs higher for seniors, the old peoples’ lobby is likely to be more focused on its bigger political goal: making sure Obamacare gets implemented smoothly.

All of these regulations, and especially the caps on insurance company margins (AKA the Medical Loss Ratio) have a more pervasive and longstanding effect than the just these near term price increases, as painful as those hikes will be. The combined effect of these regulations will make it harder for new insurance plans to enter the market. That means limiting competition and thwarting innovation in the kinds of insurance products that people will have access to.

The regulations raise the costs to insurers, while at the same time limiting their profitability. Since most new insurance plans see their profitability erode over time, to the degree that their profit margins are capped at the outset, and their costs driven higher, these provisions will make it nearly impossible for new plans to enter the market. The net effect will be to lock in the legacy insurance plans, handing the market the existing players.

What does that mean for you? If you like your insurance plan you will indeed be able to keep it. Maybe not the benefit package, but at least the provider. Because there won’t be many new firms entering the market.


Obama gives Congress a climate change ultimatum


Feb 13 2013 12:09am EST

By Patrick Rucker and Deborah Zabarenko


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday gave Congress an ultimatum on climate change: craft a plan to slash greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the dangers of a warming world, or the White House will go it alone.

“If Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will,” Obama said in his State of the Union address. “I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”

Congress should consider putting a price on climate-warming carbon emissions, Obama said, briefly nodding to his failed, first-term plan to confront climate change. Republican opposition means the president’s best chance to confront the issue will mean flexing executive power.

He vowed to push for more and cheaper solar and wind energy, and pledged to cut red tape to encourage more drilling for domestic natural gas, which Obama said had driven down fuel prices in the United States.

“But I also want to work with this Congress to encourage the research and technology that helps natural gas burn even cleaner and protects our air and water,” the president said.

Framing the politically charged issue in terms of recent severe weather, Obama said the nation should use its abundance of fossil fuels to pivot towards a no-emissions energy future.

To help pay for it, Obama proposed using revenue from oil and gas drilled on federal land to wean the nation off those same carbon fuels and promote clean energy.

“I propose we use some of our oil and gas revenues to fund an Energy Security Trust that will drive new research and technology to shift our cars and trucks off oil for good,” the president said.

About 30 percent of U.S. oil and gas production and 40 percent of the nation’s coal is managed by the Interior Department. The department collected roughly $12 billion in revenue from federal land last year.

Interior, steward of federal lands, already has proposed collecting higher royalties on some oil and gas exploration while critics have said the agency does a poor job of collecting revenue due taxpayers.

Energy efficiency is also key, Obama said, urging that Americans cut in half the energy wasted in homes and business in the next 20 years. He said the federal government would support states that create jobs and cut power bills by constructing more efficient buildings.



Building on his Inauguration Day pledge to confront climate change despite the skepticism of Republican critics, Obama framed the issue in terms of recent severe weather and took aim at those who deny the link between human activity and global warming.

“We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it’s too late,” he said.

Promoting renewable energy like wind and solar power could make the United States a more globally competitive economy, Obama said.

“Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America,” he said. “As long as countries like China keep going all-in on clean energy, so must we.”

The president’s first term saw a doubling of energy from wind and solar power and a measure to increase fuel economy standards to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. This year is expected to see rules to curb emissions from power plants, which accounts for about 40 percent of carbon emissions.

But Obama’s first-term ambition to put a price on carbon fell flat and any similar initiative is likely to fail while Republicans control the U.S. House of Representatives.

One of the executive actions Obama could take would be to increase green fuels for the U.S. military, the world’s largest petroleum buyer.

The Pentagon already has helped finance renewable fuel suppliers, and this spur to the renewable energy market could grow in Obama’s second term.

The Interior Department could require companies that drill or mine on federal land capture more methane, a potent greenhouse gas.



Iran Announces Upgrade of Nuclear Enrichment Facility

February 13, 2013

by VOA News


Iran says it is upgrading some key equipment at its main uranium enrichment facility, a move that could cause further alarm as the international community tries to put the brakes on Iran’s nuclear activities.

The head of Iran’s nuclear energy organization, Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani, told state-run media Wednesday workers have begun installing a new generation of centrifuges at its Natanz facility.

The upgraded centrifuges are capable of producing highly-enriched uranium needed for nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear ambitions are peaceful.

The announcement comes as United Nations investigators arrived in Iran for a new round of talks aimed at allowing the International Atomic Energy Agency access to the country’s nuclear program.

Similar talks last month failed to produce any agreement but Tehran signaled on Tuesday it might allow inspectors to visit the Parchin military site, which Western nations suspect is being used for nuclear weapons development. Iran says it is a conventional military site.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told the U.N. Security Council Wednesday she is hopeful some progress can be made in talks with Iran planned for later this month.

“There is no doubt that the pressure of sanctions has been instrumental in bringing Iran back to the negotiating table,” Ashton said. “But sanctions cannot be an end in themselves. The key is for Iran to comply fully with its international obligations.”

Ashton has been coordinating talks between world powers and Iran. The next round of talks between the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany and Iran is scheduled for February 26 in Kazakhstan.

The United Nations Security Council has demanded Iran suspend all enrichment-related activities and give U.N. inspectors access to its nuclear facilities.

Also Wednesday, the International Energy Agency said it estimates Iran lost $40 billion in oil revenue last year, following sanctions by the United States and the European Union meant to pressure Iran for its nuclear activity.



Defense Conferences Canceled, Imperiled As DoD Budget Woes Widen

By John Grady

Published: February 5, 2013


WASHINGTON: In a telling sign of the uncertain economic and spending climate in the defense world – faced with sequestration and the possibility of a year-long Continuing Resolution — at least three defense conferences have been cancelled in the last two months and defense companies continue to pare their participation in even the biggest shows, the air show in Paris and Farnborough.

Cancelation of the Military Health System Conference, set for Feb. 11-14, was announced in a memo signed by Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, and the three service surgeon generals. In past years, the conference has attracted 3,000 attendees and exhibitors.

The National Defense Industrial Association canceled its Monterey, Calif., wheeled vehicle event. The NDIA announced the cancelation on its web site:

“Due to withdrawal of support by the Department of Defense and the Department of the Army, it has made it impossible for NDIA to conduct the 2013 Tactical Wheeled Vehicles conference in Monterey, California. ”

The much smaller U.S. Air Trade and Technology show in Dayton, Ohio with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, has been canceled because it could not attract enough industry attendance. “Right now, quite frankly, it’s very difficult” to attract industry exhibitors because of the shrinking defense market and the tougher company reviews, Kent D. Owsley, show chairman, told the Dayton Daily News,

The future of association military trade shows and even military conferences that require travel — even to suburban Washington — has become cloudy at best.

Things began to look particularly difficult for defense conferences and trade shows after Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter issued a Jan. 10 memo on the need for fiscal restraint in the Pentagon. That has been followed by memos from each service offering strict guidance on expenses.

The Association of the US Army’s major winter conference in Fort Lauderdale, scheduled for Feb. 20-22, only received the official seal of approval for Army attendance from Army Secretary John McHugh on Feb. 1.

The Air Force Association is committed to its Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando later this month. Chet Curtis, director of policy and communications at the Air Force Association, notes that AFA has had experience in having to cancel its largest show in September 2001 in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the United States. The Association of the United States Army suspended its huge annual conference that year but held a much smaller one-day event a few months later.

Like other large defense contractors, Lockheed Martin cut the number of people it sent as well as the scale of its exhibits at these shows in the last two years.

Michael Friedman, a Lockheed Martin spokesman, acknowledged in an e-mail that these shows are “an important part of our business,” but “we continue to look for ways to drive affordability into our business and align our actions with customer priorities.” The long-term cycles of spending cuts, drawdowns and industry consolidations are nothing new to the industry, but the associations who dominate the conference business are keeping a watchful eye on what Congress and the Pentagon are doing and industry is planning.

Curtis saw as a good sign the Air Force’s early sanctioning of the event and the commitment of its senior officers and civilian to speak at the symposium. “We’re also seeing very strong industry participation” now. But, “If you call next week, the answer may be different.”

One way to keep military and Defense Department civilian attendance up is to make the event free to them, raising the potential audience touring the industry displays. AFA is not alone in this. The Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space exposition in April at National Harbor in suburban Washington has a similar policy. AUSA’s main annual conference (which it calls its annual meeting) is also free to attendees.


For Raytheon the changes in its attendance at defense trade shows came six years ago after a long-term review of their value, David Desilets, a company spokesman, wrote in an e-mail. It’s a process that continues. “We’ve reduced the overall number of events we attend.” Money is now spent only on, “select events that offer us the best opportunities to engage with our customers.” However, Raytheon has actually beefed up its presence at the two big air shows as it pursues a greater share of international business.

AFCEA is optimistic about its upcoming event with the Naval Institute in San Diego. “We’re still seeing large government presence,” said Tobey Jackson, AFCEA’s senior director of marketing and public relations. For the defense industry that means more senior officers and officials such as the Navy’s chief information officer on the show floor interacting with industry.

Peter Daly, chief executive officer of the Naval Institute believes “there’s a special synergy” that exists in the trade shows that also offer professional development programming. “That’s the ‘secret sauce'” in keeping them successful, with service members learning what industry has to offer and industry learning what they need. With “hundreds of billions of dollars at stake [in contracts], there’s even more importance to having people talking together” after sessions and in the exhibit areas.

Since the start of the year, Gordon R. Sullivan, AUSA president [John’s former boss, when he was spokesman for AUSA], has been telling audiences at association lectures and industry events that its winter meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was still on but would be smaller than in past years.

David Liddle, AUSA’s spokesman, said that as of Jan. 24 there were 100 exhibitors. In the past, there have been more than 150 occupying the Fort Lauderdale convention center, spilling out into large tents or temporary structures in parking areas to accommodate military and contractors’ exhibits.

Liddle said the number of Army attendees who will be covered by TDY funds is still uncertain. But one thing is perfectly clear. “The heavy hitters [senior uniformed and civilian leaders] will be there speaking [and touring the exhibits]. We enjoy tremendous support from the Army and the Army will do what makes sense, and cents with a C.”

One of the ways to improve prospects for defense conferences may be for producers to make shows more “local” – holding them in Washington, Tidewater, San Diego and Hawaii, close to large numbers of soldiers, sailors, airmen and their civilian counterparts.

The Navy League, AFCEA and the Naval Institute all are using this approach. “Most of the Navy systems commands are near here,” John Daniels, director of communications at the Navy League in Arlington, said. Its largest event is Sea-Air-Space at National Harbor in suburban Washington. That means there are no travel expenses for government attendees.

Last year, Sea-Air-Space had 11,500 registrants as attendees or exhibitors. Daniels said 1,020 were military and 2,419 were Defense Department civilians, precisely the audience the 175 exhibitors want.

“We’re moving forward as planned” with support from Huntington-Ingalls the Navy’s largest shipbuilder as a major exhibitor again. “We want to help bring [industry, the sea services, Congress and the public] to the table” since that is “part of our core mission.” Unlike most other defense associations, the Navy League does not have active-duty members, so attracting that audience to Sea-Air-Space is vital to its success.

Daly of the Naval Institute said that by partnering with AFCEA and taking the events to Virginia Beach and San Diego, with their large concentrations of sailors and Marines, the associations are putting on “local events” easily attended by mid-level officers, noncommissioned officers and civilians. “It’s the first level of common sense” for organizations like his to host events where there is an audience and bring the senior officers of the Navy and Marine Corps to them. “I am very bullish” for the future even if the restrictions on travel continue into the next fiscal year.

“The landscape has changed,” AUSA’s Liddle said. While AUSA is evaluating whether it will continue holding its winter meeting in Florida or to move it closer to Army installations, it is moving ahead with a new conference dealing with the Pacific in Hawaii this April. There are about 18,000 soldiers stationed on the islands. For AUSA, Hawaii is looking like a “local” event for it that reflects the change in defense strategy emphasizing the Pacific.

John Grady was the longtime communications director for the Association of the US Army. He is retired, but writes for ScoutComms, a public relations company, and other outlets.




Even Hobby Drones Could Be Made Illegal In Texas

A bill sponsored by a Dallas legislator would make it a crime to take photos of private land using a remote-controlled drone.

sUAS News

By Rebecca BoylePosted 02.12.2013 at 9:03 am


On a hazy day last January, an unmanned aircraft enthusiast piloted his camera-equipped drone in the vicinity of a Dallas meatpacking plant, cruising around 400 feet in the air. To test his equipment, he took some photos of the Trinity River with a point-and-shoot camera mounted to his $75 foam airframe. When he retrieved the remote-controlled aircraft, he noticed something odd in the photos: A crimson stream, which appeared to be blood, leaking into a river tributary.

The pilot, whose name has not been released, notified Texas environmental authorities, who launched an investigation. On Dec. 26, a grand jury handed down several indictments against the owners of the Columbia Packing Company for dumping pig blood into a creek. They now face hefty fines and even prison time stemming from the water pollution, and the plant has since been shuttered. Neighbors had complained about noxious fumes and other issues for a while, according to the local news. But investigators didn’t get involved until this drone pilot took his pictures.

Under a new law proposed in the Texas legislature, sponsored by a lawmaker from the Dallas suburbs, this type of activity could soon be criminal. Not the pollution–the drone.

Texas House Bill 912–and similar laws under debate right now in Oregon and elsewhere–are driving a burgeoning debate about how to use and control unmanned air systems, from an AR.Drone to a quadcopter. The Federal Aviation Administration is in the process of drafting new rules governing unmanned aircraft in civilian airspace, including military-style aircraft. But in the meantime, plenty of cheap, easy-to-use aircraft are already popular among hobbyists and, increasingly, activists and law enforcement.

Drones don’t have to be Predators to cause privacy concerns, in other words. In recent months, they’ve led to new legislative action in California, Florida, Missouri, North Dakota, Oregon and Virginia.


Texas state Rep. Lance Gooden, a Republican, is the sponsor of the latest bill, which would make it a misdemeanor to take photos with an unmanned aircraft. It’s unique because it criminalizes taking any data–photos, sound, temperature, even odor–of private property using an unmanned aircraft without the permission of the property owner. Law enforcement officers could only use drones while executing a search warrant or if they had probable cause to believe someone is committing a felony, and firefighters can only use drones for fighting fire or to rescue a person whose life is “in imminent danger.” Texas’ border-patrolling Predator drones are exempt within 25 miles of the Mexican border. There are additional penalties for possession, display or distribution of data captured by an illegally flown drone. Gooden said the goal is to protect Texans’ privacy.

For most people, when you say unmanned aerial vehicle, they think the Department of Defense–‘Oh man, the Predator, that one with the missile on it.’ That’s the disconnect.

“We’re not trying to get rid of drones; drones can be used for great purposes. We’re not trying to interfere with hobbyists’ use of drones. But you have a right to privacy on your property,” he said in an interview.

Ben Gielow, general counsel and government relations manager for the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, countered that limiting privacy concerns to unmanned aircraft makes little sense. “The response would be, what about manned aircraft doing the same type of mission, taking the same pictures? What about satellites and Google Earth?” he said. “What’s the difference if you have a picture from a manned aircraft or an unmanned aircraft? This is really a data issue; it’s about how the data is going to be used. So let’s have a conversation about that.”

He and other drone experts said the bill demonstrates how much drones are misunderstood in this country, and underscores why hobbyists and aircraft makers should be taking a more active role in explaining the technology’s potential benefits. Gielow and others described unmanned aircraft as simply another tool, easily, cheaply and legally used by law enforcement and civilians for a host of reasons.

“Just like any tool, yes it could be abused and used to do wrong. We need to ensure that there is transparency and accountability with the folks that use this technology,” Gielow said. “An outright ban, I think, would be a shame–not only for this new industry, but also for all the potential applications to do good.”

Those applications are numerous, according to Patrick Egan, an editor at the unmanned systems news site SUAS News and a civilian researcher for the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command. Organic farms could use aerial surveillance to monitor crop health and target insect or weed infestations, he said. Ecologists and animal welfare agencies could use them to hunt down poachers and monitor savannah wildlife. The U.S. Geological Survey, which has a vibrant drone program, uses unmanned aircraft to look at fault zones, woodlands, wildfires, invasive species and more. Ranchers could use it to monitor rangeland; environmental agencies could use it for air sampling; and developing countries could use it to check crop health. The drone industry just has an image problem, Egan said.

“For most people, when you say unmanned aerial vehicle, they think the Department of Defense–‘Oh man, the Predator, that one with the missile on it,'” Egan said. “The public has a perception of the military spying and taking out al Qaeda, and to me that’s the disconnect. People don’t understand that you can feed a hungry world with this technology, you can do public and private asset management, you can do a myriad of good things with this technology that don’t get press.”

Gooden said he doesn’t want to limit beneficial drone uses, from law enforcement pursuing criminal suspects to power companies checking downed lines. “But under no circumstances, ever, should people lose their right to privacy just because people want to take pictures,” he said.

These are bipartisan concerns, evidenced by the involvement of Gooden’s Senate cosponsor, Democratic state Sen. John Whitmire, and in Oregon anyway, the American Civil Liberties Union. “We are not and should not be a surveillance state. Drones should never be used for mass surveillance,” Becky Straus, legislative director of the ACLU’s Oregon office, told U.S. News & World Report.

Todd Humphreys, director of the Radionavigation Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin and a hobbyist who uses quadcopter drones for research, said he can sympathize with that worry, especially as drones become more ubiquitous. But it’s complicated.

“If there are folks operating on private land, flying over it and taking pictures, that would bother me, if it were my backyard or my barbecue or whatnot. So I sympathize with people who would find that intrusive,” he said in an interview. “But the legislation doesn’t discriminate between ill intent and intent to surveil, and incidental surveillance. If I am doing research on university lands, and I pitch my quadcopter in a banking maneuver, there’s definitely private land out there in the field of view of my camera right now. And it’s this incidental byproduct of my fairly innocent mission that is getting me crosswise with the law.”

That’s interesting because that type of incidental surveillance is exactly what led to the bloody river discovery. Had the Dallas hobbyist not been taking pictures of the river–which, as Gooden pointed out, is a public waterway–he never would have seen the illegal activity.

Gooden maintains that the hobbyist could have deleted any pictures showing private property and notified authorities, who would have then had probable cause for a search. “But if he decides he wants to move his drone over private property, that is not something that would be admissible under this bill,” Gooden said.

Laws governing airspace are already complex, and adding new layers specific to drones are unlikely to clarify matters. In its 1946 decision in United States v. Causby, the U.S. Supreme Court declared navigable airspace to be “a public highway” and within the public domain. Because of this, there’s no reason why a privately owned human-occupied aircraft can’t fly over private property. What’s more, federal laws and court doctrines hold that Americans should have no expectation of privacy in publicly viewable spaces, as Gielow put it. They do in homes and covered areas, but not open land.

Gooden countered that drones expand access–you’d hear a manned airplane or helicopter–and they glimpse areas and activities that would otherwise be invisible from a public vantage point. “If you have a ranch, you can pretty much expect that there are areas of your property that are not going to be visible to anyone. In a city, there are areas of maybe your back porch or windows that people can’t peer into,” he said. “But with these drones, you can come into someone’s back yard, turn on a camera and film their every move. This bill would simply say that’s not acceptable.”

While the FAA and state lawmakers continue to tackle the problem, drone operators and private landowners seem to have reached at least one possible solution. About two weeks after the bloody river discovery, an animal rights group flew a microdrone above private property in South Carolina, aiming to film what they said was a live pigeon shoot. The shoot never took place, but a low-caliber gunshot did take down the drone.

Humphrey said that’s a “Texas solution.”

“I say go ahead and fly drones over private property, and those who own it are legally entitled, if they wish, to try to shoot down your drone,” he said, only half kidding. “Let the market decide.”


Dayton Daily News


Updated: 6:17 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 | Posted: 6:17 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013


Pentagon creates new medal for cyber, drone wars


The Associated Press


They fight the war from computer consoles and video screens.

But the troops who launch the drone strikes and direct the cyberattacks that can kill or disable an enemy may never set foot in the combat zone. Now their battlefield contributions may be recognized with the first new combat-related medal to be created in decades.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced Wednesday that the Pentagon is creating a medal that can be awarded to troops who have a direct impact on combat operations, but do it well away from any combat zone.

“I’ve seen firsthand how modern tools, like remotely piloted platforms and cyber systems, have changed the way wars are fought,” Panetta said. “And they’ve given our men and women the ability to engage the enemy and change the course of battle, even from afar.”

The work they do “does contribute to the success of combat operations, particularly when they remove the enemy from the field of battle, even if those actions are physically removed from the fight,” he said.

The new blue, red and white-ribboned Distinguished Warfare Medal will be awarded to individuals for “extraordinary achievement” related to a military operation that occurred after Sept. 11, 2001. But unlike other combat medals, it does not require the recipient risk his or her life to get it.

Officials said the new medal will be the first combat-related award to be created since the Bronze Star in 1944.

A recognition of the evolving 21st century warfare, the medal will be considered a bit higher in ranking than the Bronze Star, but is lower than the Silver Star, defense officials said.

The Bronze Star is the fourth highest combat decoration and rewards meritorious service in battle, while the Silver Star is the third highest combat award given for bravery. Several other awards, including the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, are also ranked higher, but are not awarded for combat.

Response in the cybersphere was immediate and divided, and more often biting. While some acknowledged the contributions of cyber and drone warriors and said the award was the right thing to do, others dubbed the medal the “Geek Cross” and speculated that young video-gamers may soon get Purple Hearts for their animated wounds.

Over the last decade of war, remotely piloted Predators and Reapers have become a critical weapon to gather intelligence and conduct airstrikes against terrorists or insurgents around the world. They have been used extensively on the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and northern Africa.


Over the same time, cyberattacks have become a growing national security threat, with Panetta and others warning that the next Pearl Harbor could well be a computer-based assault.

The Pentagon does not publicly discuss its offensive cyber operations or acts of cyberwarfare. Considering that secrecy, it’s not clear how public such awards might be in the future. The federal government, for example, launched a broad leak investigation after reports surfaced that the U.S. and Israel may have been responsible for the Stuxnet computer virus that attacked computers in Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities.

According to the Pentagon criteria, the medal gives the military a way to recognize a single act that directly affects a combat operation, doesn’t involve an act of valor, and warrants an award higher than the Bronze Star.

“The extraordinary achievement must have resulted in an accomplishment so exceptional and outstanding as to clearly set the individual apart from comrades or from other persons in similar situations,” according to the Pentagon. It could include the “hands-on” but remote launching of a weapon and could specifically include efforts in space or cyberspace.

The medal is a brass pendant, nearly two inches tall, with a laurel wreath that circles a globe. There is an eagle in the center.


NIST begins cyber security initiative under White House plan

GSN Magazine

Wed, 2013-02-13 01:45 PM

By: Mark Rockwell

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) on Feb. 13 began its work to help establish the common, voluntary framework that will support critical infrastructure’s cyber security under President Obama’s new executive order.

NIST said it will issue a Request for Information from critical infrastructure owners and operators, federal agencies, state, local, territorial and tribal governments, standards-setting organizations, other members of industry, consumers, solution providers and other stakeholders.

The agency said it would use that input to identify existing consensus standards, practices and procedures that have been effective and that can be adopted by industry to protect its digital information and infrastructure from the full range of cyber security threats. The framework, it said, won’t dictate “one-size-fits-all” solutions, but will provide technology-neutral guidance recognizing the different needs and challenges within and among critical infrastructure sectors.

“As we move forward with the Cyber security Framework, NIST will be collecting input from a wide variety of stakeholders to come up with an effective set of voluntary standards that will safeguard our nation’s most critical infrastructure from Cyber security threats,” said Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank.

In its official Request for Information, to be published in the Federal Register, NIST said it would ask organizations to share their current risk management practices; use of frameworks, standards, guidelines and best practices; and other industry practices. The agency also plans to hold workshops over the next several months to collect additional input and will complete the framework within one year.

“The process for developing the framework reflects a core component of NIST’s work, bringing together various stakeholders to address a technical challenge,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Patrick Gallagher. “By collaborating with industry to develop the framework, we will better protect our nation from the Cyber security threat while enhancing America’s ability to innovate and compete in a global market.”

The RFI, it said, will request additional information on a number of core practices NIST views as applicable across industry, for example:

Encryption and key management—With multiple encryption tools in use at any given organization, how does one protect, store and organize encryption keys?

Asset identification and management—How does an organization determine which assets need protection and their value?

Security engineering practices—How does an organization design its systems to meet security needs?


NIST said the framework will consist of a roadmap and structure for future efforts, including a recommended process for how the standards within each sector will be reviewed by each stakeholder community.

The agency said the framework would include metrics, methods and procedures that can be used to continuously assess and monitor the effectiveness of deployed security controls as well as the effectiveness of framework standards, guidelines and best practices. The framework, it said, will provide a menu of management, operational and technical security controls, including policies and processes; and will lay a foundation for the development of effective conformity assessment based on NIST’s guidelines.




House GOP prepares stopgap spending bill to avoid shutdown

The Hill

By Erik Wasson 02/13/13 02:35 PM ET

House appropriators are finalizing a stopgap spending bill to prevent a government shutdown after March 27, and the bill could see a vote before the end of February.

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said Thursday that he is crafting a continuing resolution at the current level of spending, thereby separating the issue of a government shutdown from the question of how to deal with automatic sequestration cuts.

The stopgap spending bill would be set at the current level of $1.043 trillion for the entire fiscal year that began Oct. 1. It would specify that the $85 billion sequestration is allowed to take place unless it is separately turned off.

The bill would contain full-year appropriations bills for the Defense department, and also cover military construction and veterans’ affairs spending.

By going from a stopgap bill for these areas to a detailed appropriations bill, Rogers hopes to help the Pentagon cope better with the effects of sequestration. The CR alone was slated to cause an $11 billion shortfall for the Pentagon’s operations and maintenance account and the Rogers plan would allow the Pentagon to work around that limitation.

Impacts were projected to affect matters from Joint Strike Fighter procurement to the building of medical facilities to treat wounded soldiers.

“It is frankly to give them some flexibility to allow them to manage their business,” Rogers told reporters.

He noted that the details of the $518 defense portion of the bill as well as the veterans’ affairs bill have been hashed out with the Senate Appropriations Committee already.

“They are the only two bills that have been perfected,” he said.

Aides said that Rogers began moving forward with the bill after members on the defense, veterans and other committee urged him to do something to soften the blow of a year-long CR.

Leadership “does not object” to the Rogers initiative, an aide added, and the bill could see floor time anytime from late February until the current stopgap measure runs out after March 27.

Preparing the bill also helps the GOP deflect charges, such as one made by President Obama in the State of the Union, that it is eager to shut down the government.

“By doing Defense and Veterans’ Appropriations bills, we can show the public our vision for responsible funding for our national defense, as opposed to Obama’s vision, which is slash and burn sequestration cuts and a hollowed-out military,” a GOP memo states.

Rogers told reporters that his CR is consistent with sequestration although he wants to see the $85 billion in cuts replaced with entitlement reforms.

“I’m going to be throwing a bill up according to the law. I am trying to follow the law,” he said.

So far, Democrats and Republicans are deadlocked on how to replace the sequester, with Democrats seeking additional tax increases to turn off the cuts.

Rogers is meeting with Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) on Wednesday where the CR plan could come up.


Top Pentagon Brass Lay Out Details of Sequestration Nightmare


By Charles S. Clark

February 12, 2013

With less than three weeks to go before automatic governmentwide budget cuts, the entire leadership team at the Pentagon on Tuesday implored the Senate Armed Services Committee to cancel sequestration and adjust the continuing resolution set to run out March 27.

In an emotional hearing that prompted lawmakers to criticize their own and blast President Obama’s leadership, members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and top civilian officials laid out details of the harm across-the-board budget cuts would inflict on the nation’s military readiness and long-term effectiveness.

“Military readiness is in jeopardy due to the convergence of unprecedented budget factors,” said Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs. “We need help from our elected leaders to avoid hollowing out the force and compromising our nation’s security. Specifically, we need passage of a regular 2013 defense appropriation, and we need sequestration to be canceled.” Otherwise, the United States would have “a degraded capability,” and it would be “immoral” to send troops into battle, he added.

Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., called sequestration “arbitrary and irrational,” noting that it would not only weaken security but also harm education child care and airport safety. “We cannot afford to look the other way and pretend there is not a huge looming problem.”

Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter called the “twin evils” of sequestration and a year-long continuing resolution “more dangerous than it’s ever been” as the Pentagon faces its “biggest cut in history.” He warned that cuts of $42 billion by the end of fiscal 2013 would mean a “drastic shortfall in the funding we need to do training, which inhibits our capacity to fight.” The Defense Department, he added, “would have to go back and redo our national defense strategy.”

Carter’s testimony included grim details. He mentioned cuts of $2 billion to $3 billion in the TRICARE military health insurance program. “You can’t cut health care the way you can cut back depot maintenance or training,” he said, “because you can’t tell people they can’t be sick or see a doctor.”

He noted that a coming hiring freeze would disproportionately affect veterans, who make up 44 percent of the department’s civilian workforce. Layoffs would hit a significant portion of 46,000 temporary employees; more than $10 billion in funding — mostly to contractors and small businesses — would vanish. The Air Force, for example, plans to scale back facilities maintenance by about 50 percent, affecting 189 projects at 55 installations in 26 states, he said.

As of March 1, the services will begin canceling fleet maintenance work for the third and fourth quarters of the fiscal year, affecting 25 ships and 470 aircraft, he said. What will be put on hold are “contracts we intend to enter, such as multiyear contracts,” Carter said. The industrial base, particularly small businesses vital to the supply chain and to innovation, he said, won’t have the capital to stay in business. “All of the hard work our managers did for taxpayers to get a good deal for the government all goes down the drain,” Carter added.

Army Gen. Raymond Odierno told lawmakers he has cut 3,100 temporary and term employees from the workforce and ordered an immediate departmentwide hiring freeze. The Army has initiated planning to furlough up to 251,000 civilians for one day a week for 22 weeks. The service also is preparing to cancel depot maintenance in the third and fourth quarters, which would eliminate an estimated 5,000 temporary, term, contractor and permanent jobs. “We will reduce Army purchase orders with 3,000 companies,” of which 1,100 could face bankruptcy, he said.

“We are reducing institutional training across the Army. This will result in a backlog across our education,” Odierno added, noting that sequestration affects everything, including veterans suicide prevention programs.


Marine Corps Gen. James Amos said, “Readiness is at a tipping point in the sense that our ability to rebalance funding from long-term investments to short-term readiness is becoming unsustainable. By the end of calendar year 2013, less than half of our ground units will be trained to the minimum readiness level required for deployment.”

In an angry outburst, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the situation is “an Orwellian experience, a disconnect the likes of which I’ve never seen.” He noted the debate comes at a time of national security threats from North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Libya and Mali. McCain said it is disgraceful to treat the men and women of the military in a way that subjects them to such uncertainty. “The president during the campaign said sequestration won’t happen,” he said, adding that the Office of Management and Budget told agencies they needn’t send WARN Act layoff warning notices to contractors. “We elect presidents for a reason, to lead,” McCain said. He called on Obama to summon congressional leaders to the White House to “come to an agreement to prevent sequestration, not only for national security but for the benefit of men and women who serve.”

Despite her concern about funding cuts for ports in her home state, New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen said, “All members of Congress should take a second look at what we do here. All of us should put aside our sacred cows, meaning revenues and entitlement programs and look at all options.”

Addressing the Joint Chiefs, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., asked whether the situation was as bad as anything they’d ever seen and whether they’d thought of resigning. Gen. Dempsey agreed the situation was the worst, but said he and his colleagues were not inclined to run from a crisis.


Lawmakers Say Sequester Replacement Plan Slipping to Late March

CQ Roll Call

By Alan K. Ota

Roll Call Staff

Feb. 13, 2013, 4:49 p.m.


Even as they blame one another for automatic spending cuts set to take effect March 1, key lawmakers on both sides believe the best chance for a bipartisan deal to restructure the sequester will come by the end of March.

“The best time to redesign the automatic spending cuts will come with the [expiration of the] continuing resolution on March 27,” said Republican Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, chairman of the Joint Economic Committee. “The cuts will occur on March 1. Then there will be a fight in the CR over the design.”

Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md., said he believes a deal to restructure the spending cuts could be worked out as part of a continuing resolution carrying government funding through the rest of the fiscal year.

“It’s not a cliff that you fall off,” Cardin said of the automatic, across-the-board cuts. “That doesn’t happen on March 1. But there is pain on March 1.”

The flexibility on timing of a compromise stands in contrast to the public narrative both parties are weaving on the sequester, which targets the March 1 trigger date for the onset of $85 billion in draconian spending cuts. Each side is blaming the other party for the impasse in negotiations to reshape the plan they both agreed to in the 2011 deal (PL 112-25).

Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and his team stood in front of a podium emblazoned with Twitter hashtag #Obamaquester on Wednesday, while a digital clock loomed behind them, ticking off the 15 1/2 days until the deadline.

“I would hope that it wouldn’t happen. I’ve made that perfectly clear. The sequester is bad policy. It’s taking a meat-ax approach to government spending. That’s why the president ought to be forthcoming with a plan to replace his own sequester,” Boehner said.

The White House and senior Democrats volley back that spending cuts were designed to mollify the GOP and settle the 2011 showdown over raising the debt limit.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said Tuesday that Boehner had thrown “the ball in Democrats’ court to find a way out of what he called ‘the president’s sequester.'”

“One hundred and seventy-four Republican House members voted for this; 28 Republican senators voted for this. This is not the president’s sequester,” Reid said.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland said the GOP is being pushed by a conservative faction that is “so zealous” in its bid to reduce the size of government “that it has embraced the draconian cuts.”


Resolution Expiring

But key players on both sides say they believe the deadline is flexible because agencies can adjust their operations to deal with cuts over the short term and that Congress could reverse or reduce the cuts even after sequestration begins.

Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas and several lawmakers in both parties said this week that the true deadline for negotiations is later in March.

“I think what’s going to happen is the sequester is going to go into effect. And then the serious negotiations will probably start,” Cornyn said.

The hard deadline for reaching a deal will be March 27, the expiration date of the continuing resolution (PL 112-178), some lawmakers said.

“There’s about a month between the sequester and the CR. You’ve got a little bit of time,” Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla, said.

In the Senate, Reid has made clear he plans to unveil his own $120 billion sequester replacement package Thursday, with an evenly divided mix of spending cut and tax hikes to offset the automatic cuts. And he has said he will put the measure on the floor early in the week of Feb. 25. But Reid also has signaled there is plenty of leeway after March 1 to complete final action on a sequester alternative.

Boehner reiterated on Wednesday that he did not plan to move a House GOP sequester replacement plan, while emphasizing that the House had passed its own alternative roster of spending cuts to head off the sequester in December.

Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland, an adviser to Reid on his sequester substitute, said she remains focused on the March 1 deadline, however, and has scheduled a hearing Thursday to examine the potential effects of federal worker furloughs.

“That’s in the law. On March 1, the sequester is triggered,” Mikulski said. “I don’t deal in theories. I deal in the laws. Theories are for physicists.”



FAA starts search for UAV test sites; Dayton-Springfield region to apply

Dayton Daily News

Updated: 4:53 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 | Posted: 4:49 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013

By Barrie Barber and Jessica Wehrman

Staff Writers



Months of waiting lifted Thursday when the Federal Aviation Administration asked for proposals for six sites around the country where unmanned aerial vehicles can be tested.

And the Dayton-Springfield region wants in on the action.

The federal agency put out the request saying it’s looking for proposals from state and local governments, eligible universities and other public entities before it selects the six sites later this year.

Congress last year passed two bills to direct the FAA to create research and test sites for the aircraft for integration into civilian manned airspace by September 2015.

The Dayton Development Coalition will submit Ohio’s proposal to the FAA. The state has teamed with Indiana at one potential test flying site in southwest Ohio.

“This is a tremendous, tremendous potential to make a transition from a challenged economy into really a big aerospace opportunity that showcases Ohio power in the aerospace industry,” said Joseph Zeis, the coalition’s executive vice president and chief strategic officer.

The final piece of the application, a myriad of information from aerospace capabilities to economic impact, is due May 6.

The call for proposals arrived days after the Congressional Unmanned Aerial Systems Caucus, including U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, challenged the FAA to put site selection back on course after the agency last year indefinitely delayed picking locations citing a need to study concerns about drone surveillance intrusions into citizens’ privacy. The caucus said the FAA’s mission was to focus on safety, while Congress and other agencies focused on privacy issues.

The FAA was originally scheduled to pick the six sites by December 2012. UAVs are envisioned to have a wide range of roles, from flying over forests to spot fires to law enforcement surveillance.

“Our focus is on maintaining and improving the safety and efficiency of the world’s largest aviation system,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This research will give us valuable information about how best to ensure the safe introduction of this advanced technology into our nation’s skies.”

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said the sites are aimed at helping federal officials learn how unmanned aircraft systems operate in different environments and how they will impact air traffic operations. The sites will also help the agency develop standards for certifying unmanned aircraft and determine necessary air-traffic requirements.

The FAA will consider factors ranging from geography to climate to population and air-traffic density as it considers proposals.

Turner said the Dayton region is “a logical choice” to become one of the six sites.

“A selection of a location in our community for one of these sites will mean new jobs, untold economic development, and a foothold in an emerging industry,” he said.

The Dayton region has a foundation for UAV testing on a number of fronts, Zeis said.

The Air Force Research Laboratory has developed UAV sense and avoidance technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Springfield-Buckley Municipal Airport and Wilmington Air Park have acted as a home base for UAV testing. The application is expected to tout the region’s university research and development, UAV training and aerospace industry, among other key points.


Obama executive order redefines critical infrastructure

More companies could get designated as part of the sector under this week’s presidential cybersecurity order

Jaikumar Vijayan

February 14, 2013 (Computerworld)


President Barack Obama’s cybersecurity executive order, signed on Tuesday, could significantly expand the list of companies categorized as part of U.S. critical infrastructure sector, security experts said Wednesday.

The executive order requires federal agencies and critical infrastructure owners and operators to work cooperatively to minimize cyber risks and strengthen resilience to attacks. It also calls for the creation of new consensus security standards and best practices that critical infrastructure companies will be urged, but not mandated, to follow.

The order stems from what the White House has long said is the need for immediate action to protect critical assets against cyber threats.

Administration officials contended that the order was necessary because Congress has so far failed to adequately update cybersecurity legislation.

A key piece of the executive order is requires federal agencies overseeing critical infrastructure areas to identify organizations “where a cybersecurity incident could reasonably result in catastrophic regional or national effects on public health or safety, economic security, or national security.”


Such entities will then be designated as part of the U.S. critical infrastructure.

The order gives the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and sector-specific federal agencies 150 days to use a risk-based assessment approach to identify such organizations. Owners and operators of those businesses will then be notified by the DHS.

The order allows businesses to challenge a classification and ask to for reconsideration.

A separate Presidential Policy Directive (PPD-21) released on Tuesday scraps the previous national policy for federal agencies and departments to identify and prioritize critical infrastructure. That policy had been established under Homeland Security Presidential Directive-7 (HSPD-7) of 2003.

“This PPD updates our policy from a primary focus on protecting critical infrastructure against terrorism to protecting, securing, and making the nation’s critical infrastructure more resilient to all hazards – including natural disasters, manmade threats, pandemics, and cyber attacks,” a spokeswoman from the White House’s National Security Council told Computerworld via email Wednesday.

“The PPD is focused on clarifying Federal roles and responsibilities; integrating physical security and cybersecurity analysis and situational awareness; improving information sharing; and having the Federal government function more effectively to be a better partner to the critical infrastructure owners and operators,” she added.

The Presidential directive identifies 16 critical infrastructure sectors, including the Chemical, Commercial Facilities, Critical Manufacturing, Dams, Defense Industrial Base, Energy, Financial Services, Information Technology, Nuclear Reactors and Water and Wastewater systems.

The DHS is the designated federal agency for 10 of these sectors, including IT, Critical Manufacturing and Communication. The Treasury Department will oversee the identifying of critical infrastructure entities within the financial services sector while the Department of Defense will oversee the Defense Industrial Base sector.

The language in the executive order significantly broadens the number of entities that can be classified as being part of the country’s critical infrastructure, said Andrew Serwin, chair of the privacy, security and information management practice at law firm Foley & Lardner LLP.

The order defines critical infrastructure as any organization and associated systems where a cyberattack could pose a threat to U.S. national security, public safety and health or economic interests.

So businesses that support or partner with companies and federal agencies from the listed as part of the critical infrastructure sector could be designated as well. “I think that you could see a variety of other industries getting sucked into the definition of critical infrastructure,” Serwin said.

It’s unclear yet what risk criteria the federal agencies will use to identify entities, he said. “But you could see a scenario where any business of a certain size” could be considered critical.

Obama’s order does not require private sector owners and operators of critical infrastructure to adopt any of the new security standards and best practices. But they will be pressured to adopt them anyway from a due diligence standpoint, Serwin maintained.

“There are huge brand issues with cybersecurity and privacy,” Serwin said. “If you are in a designated critical infrastructure category, you don’t want to be the company that didn’t follow the recommendations.”

A wide range of companies from the health care, IT, financial services and other sectors need to determine whether they could be designated as part of the critical infrastructure sector under the executive order, said David Ransom, a partner at law firm McDermott Will & Emery.


The DHS secretary appears to have been given wide latitude to designate critical infrastructure under the order, Ransom said. The language leaves open the possibility that a wide range of private sector entities from a spectrum of industries could get classified as critical infrastructure.

“What their view is going to be remains to be seen,” he said.

The executive order’s open-ended definition of critical infrastructure gives the DHS and sector specific federal agencies the ability “to cast a wide net in the process of identifying which companies and their associated assets and systems might be included within their statutory capacity,” said John South, chief security officer at Heartland Payment Systems.

The key question though is whether broadening the list of companies will make much of a difference in heading off cybersecurity threats, South said.

Efforts to define critical infrastructure entities goes back as far as 1998 at least, he noted. Considerable progress has already been made in identifying information sharing capabilities of the sort described in the executive order, South added.

“Nothing in this directive clarifies what timely information sharing is and how this differs from where we are currently,” he said. “If there is no substantive product that provides actionable, timely intelligence – regardless of how wide the net of critical infrastructure is cast – we haven’t advanced very much.”


ACC continues planning for sequestration impacts

Posted 2/15/2013 Updated 2/15/2013 Email story Print story

by Tech. Sgt. Randy Redman

Air Combat Command Public Affairs


2/15/2013 – LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. — Air Combat Command officials continue to take actions to slow, and within the near term dramatically restrict, Fiscal Year 2013 spending in light of pending sequestration and a projected $1.8 billion dollar shortfall in overseas contingency funding.

“We are prioritizing our efforts to sustain force structure and preserve combat capability for the joint force,” said Gen. Mike Hostage, commander of ACC.

Hostage previously directed ACC units to reduce discretionary spending to the maximum extent possible without affecting mission readiness. Spending for temporary duties, equipment purchases and facility sustainment, restoration and modernization programs are being aggressively scrutinized or deferred in order to minimize spending.

ACC units are currently executing the wing flying-hour program to maintain combat readiness, and will adjust as sequestration-driven specifics are available. Depending on the outcome of budget decisions, ACC may have to reduce flying operations for two-thirds of squadrons across the command by mid to late May. This includes fighters, non-nuclear bombers, command-and-control, personnel recovery, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

“Remaining as mission-ready as possible is our imperative, and priority for flying hours will go to units that are deployed or preparing to deploy and to formal training units that provide fully qualified aircrews,” said Hostage.

If flying hours are drastically cut, aircrews will make heavy use of simulators and academic training to maintain basic skills, and maintainers will complete upgrade training and scheduled maintenance to the extent possible given availability of spare parts. While each weapon system is different, on average fighter pilots lose their currency to fly combat missions after 120 days of non flying. It takes approximately 90 days to conduct training to return a fighter pilot to CMR status, and recovering from lost currencies would take approximately 6 to 12 months.

The two largest aircraft test and training ranges in the United States will also be affected under sequestration. The Nevada Test and Training Range, and the Utah TTR may close in early summer, which would further affect combat training and test-and-evaluation evaluation activities. ACC’s aerial demonstration teams, which are important for recruiting and public awareness of the Air Force mission, are continuing their certification procedures for the 2013 season, but officials realize changes may be required under sequestration. Adjustments to the schedules will be announced as appropriate.

On Feb. 12, U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III told the Senate Armed Services Committee that unprecedented budget factors have placed the nation’s defense strategy in jeopardy.

“Sequestration threatens to carve crucial capability from America’s Air Force, with alarming and immediate effects on people, readiness and infrastructure, and, eventually, on modernization,” said Welsh. “If it occurs, it will significantly undermine your Air Force’s readiness and responsiveness today.”

Sequestration will have an effect through the remainder of FY 13 unless rescinded. The impact on ACC operations beyond FY13 will be determined when the FY14 budget becomes more clearly defined.


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