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October 25 2014

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IBM preps for a post-silicon world

Big Blue leaves manufacturing to devote more attention to next-generation research

By Patrick Thibodeau

Computerworld | Oct 20, 2014 12:42 PM PT


IBM’s decision to get out of the semiconductor manufacturing business may be of little consequence in a post-silicon world.

In a deal announced today, GlobalFoundries is getting IBM’s semiconductor manufacturing business and IBM is paying the company $1.5 billion to take it. In exchange, IBM gets access to manufacturing scale it does not have.

IBM’s latest weak quarter, also announced Monday, clouds the manufacturing exit. CEO Ginni Rometty all but apologized for the slack earnings. But that doesn’t change the fact that silicon is reaching its performance limits and there’s no clear replacement.

IBM is one of the few global companies with the resources to figure out what comes next.

In announcing the GlobalFoundries deal, IBM said it has no plans to cut its planned $3 billion investment in semiconductor technology research over the next five years. The bigger issue is whether it is spending enough to extend silicon technologies and, ultimately, replace them.

In July, IBM detailed plans to invest in quantum computing, as well as brain-like emulation system called neurosynaptic computing. It is also investigating new materials to replace and extend silicon, including carbon nanotubes and graphene.

“A lot of our research focuses on post silicon,” Arvind Krishna, general manager of IBM’s manufacturing & development, said in an interview.

IBM is working on 10-nanometer and 7-nanometer chip designs — and beyond — but as size shrinks and silicon transistors near the point of physical limitation, manufacturing gets more expensive.

Silicon still has a ways to go, and IBM is researching how to get more use out of it by combining it with other materials. “Different materials may be able to extend silicon,” said Krishna.

Solving the problem of what comes next isn’t just IBM’s problem, according to said Nathan Brookwood, a semiconductor industry analyst at Insight 64. “The stakes are not only high for IBM, the stakes are high for the entire semiconductor industry,” he said.

There is general agreement that silicon chips will reach their limit at about 7 nanometers, about a decade from now. But Brookwood said nothing is ever certain, and you can’t count out the possibility that someone will figure out a way to extend the technology another decade.

On the question of whether IBM is spending enough on research, Brookwood points to companies such as Intel and Samsung, which are also investing on extending silicon’s usefulness. If one of these companies doesn’t develop a breakthrough, “then it’s not just IBM that’s in trouble, it’s the entire semiconductor industry,” he said.

For users of IBM’s mainframe and Power-based systems, the deal with GlobalFoundries changes nothing, said Krishna.

“Given that all the design, all the software, all the operating systems, all of the firmware and all of the other system advantages that we put in remain with IBM, my basic answer would be it does not impact our mainframe, or power system or our storage clients at all,” he said.

Matt Eastwood, an analyst at IDC, said the deal makes sense because of the changing economics of the semiconductor manufacturing business. “The cost of semiconductor manufacturing is going to continue to increase, making it a business where scale will matter more and more going forward,” said Eastwood.

IBM has been working to increase adoption of its Power architecture. Last year, it formed the OpenPower Consortium, which made Power hardware and software available for open development. The goal is expand use of this architecture.

Global Foundries “also hopes that IBM’s focus on growing the OpenPower ecosystem will create new demand for semiconductor manufacturing services,” said Eastwood.

Krishna said GlobalFoundries’ manufacturing capability will also help. “Over time, you will get the at-scale manufacturing that actually assures the longer-term sustainability of these systems,” he said.

GlobalFoundries was created when AMD’s manufacturing arm was spun off. The company operates in the U.S. and is headquartered here, but its majority owner is Abu Dhabi.


It’s Time to Wake Up: Chinese Hacking Is Eroding U.S. Military Superiority

October 21, 2014

Countering Chinese cyber espionage must be a top priority

By Mackenzie Eaglen & Charles Morrison


Earlier this month, the latest cyber-attack against J.P. Morgan garnered national headlines. And most Americans are aware of – if not affected by – last year’s Target and this year’s Home Depot data breaches.

Yet many Americans know much less about the regular and sophisticated theft of many of the U.S. military’s cutting-edge weapons systems. The cybercrime has reached the point where the FBI has warned American companies about a group of sophisticated Chinese government-backed hackers that has been working for years to steal economic and national security secrets from the U.S. government and private contractors. The notice comes after the Justice Department indicted five People’s Liberation Army officials in May for commercial espionage.

Systematic Chinese cyber espionage has resulted in significant damage to U.S. national security. However, Congress seems to be doing little to help. Part of it can surely be chalked up to what has been called “data breach fatigue.” Presumably the same mindset has infected the nation’s capital.

But the Pentagon cares about these breaches, and Congress should start paying serious attention. Last year, the Washington Post reported on a classified Defense Department report that revealed Chinese hackers have compromised the designs of more than two dozen U.S. military weapons systems. The list of impacted programs reads like a catalogue of weapons critical to current U.S. military dominance, including the stealthy F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the F/A-18 fighter jet, the Patriot missile system, the Army’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile defense system, the Navy’s Aegis ballistic missile-defense program, the V-22 Osprey, UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, and the Littoral Combat Ship. The Washington Free Beacon reports that other data stolen by the Chinese include the P-8 Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft and RQ-4 Global Hawk drones.

As the Chinese continue their military modernization while undermining America’s, Pentagon officials have increasingly sounded the alarm that U.S. military technological superiority is at risk. This technological superiority, in the words of Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Frank Kendall, “is being challenged in ways that I have not seen for decades, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. Technological superiority is not assured and we cannot be complacent about our posture. This is not a future problem. It is a ‘here-now’ problem.”

Many Pentagon leaders have looked to “leap-ahead” technologies to address this growing problem, investing in “seed corn” that will eventually sprout into game-changing technologies and capabilities. Yet, alarmingly, the Chinese have also compromised many of the next-generation technologies that the U.S. military is relying upon to maintain a leg-up in its competition with China. According to the Free Beacon, compromised technologies include “know-how related to directed energy weapons, drone video systems, technical data links, satellite communications, electronic warfare systems, and electromagnetic aircraft launch systems.”

If this trend continues unabated, the consequences would be palpable for security in East Asia and beyond. The better Beijing is able to counter the U.S. military’s most advanced capabilities of both today and tomorrow, the lower the threshold will be for aggression and coercion in the region.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs has already said as much. In a recent defense strategy, he predicted that continued inadequate defense budgets over the next 10 years will exacerbate “the risk of interstate conflict in east Asia.”

Still others are sounding the alarm. The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission found last year that there is “an urgent need for Washington to take action to prompt Beijing to change its approach to cyberspace and deter future Chinese cyber theft.” The Commission’s 2014 report, due out next month, promises to be even blunter about the growing challenge. Whether it will be enough to spur action on Capitol Hill remains an open question.

Policymakers should be very concerned that China already has many of the proverbial keys to America’s military supremacy kingdom—not only the information on how our forces achieve it today, but also how they plan to maintain it for tomorrow. Worse, if current trends continue, cyber breaches will only accelerate declining U.S. military technological supremacy and put the lives of service members at increasing risk.

Countering Chinese cyber espionage must become a top priority for the executive branch and Congress before yet another cyber theft exposes what little is left of the secrets that help uphold America’s technological supremacy.

Mackenzie Eaglen is a resident fellow for national security at the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

Charles Morrison is a research assistant at the American Enterprise Institute’s Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies.


3D-Printing May Enable Troops to Make Drones on Demand

November 2014

By Valerie Insinna


In the future, it may be possible for military jet pilots to manufacture and deploy small 3D-printed drones to conduct surveillance or help perform search-and-rescue missions.

That capability to produce unmanned aerial systems on demand could be onboard aircraft in 2040 or even earlier, BAE Systems scientists and engineers said in a series of promotional videos released this summer.

Additive manufacturing, the technical term for 3D printing, is the process of creating an object by layering substances, gradually forming the part. Traditional manufacturing processes, on the other hand, take a piece of raw material and then cut or grind it down to form the needed component.

Although the technology has been around since the 1980s, it has predominantly been employed for modeling and prototyping. As printer resolution and material strength improves, the technology is leaping forward at a rapid pace, experts told National Defense.

BAE scientists envision a future when a pilot can request UAS support mid-mission. Then, engineers sitting in a remote location could send computer-aided design data — basically a blueprint for a 3D-printed component — to an onboard printer, which would print a drone with the size, range and payload capability to support whatever operations are ongoing.

“This creates the ultimate adaptable taskforce, with a lead aircraft able to enter any unknown scenario and quickly manufacture an effective toolset for any task,” a BAE news release stated.

A machine that can construct a drone from scratch in a matter of minutes sounds more like a gag from “The Jetsons” than a credible future technology, but industry is already hard at work figuring out just how to make that happen.

A team of researchers from the University of Virginia in August debuted the Razor — a small, 1.8-pound UAS with an airframe constructed of nine 3D-printed parts that join together to form a flying wing.

“It comes out of the printer, you snap it off the tray, and you click it into place. It’s that easy. There’s no post-processing at all,” said David Sheffler, the project’s lead. Sheffler is a lecturer at the university and a former Pratt & Whitney engineer.

The airframe is manufactured in about 31 hours using a technique called fused deposition modeling, in which a material is melted and dispensed layer-by-layer to form a structure, he said. The Razor’s electronics — such as the motor, servos, autopilot and batteries — are all off-the-shelf components, and its computational powerhouse is an Android smartphone.

Solid Concepts Inc., a Valencia, California–based additive manufacturing provider, already uses the technology to produce fixed-wing UAS airframes, said Frederick Claus, its business development manager. The company can create the fuselage, wings, nose cone and tail for multiple aircraft overnight.

Both Sheffler and Claus believe that it will become possible to print an entire drone, including its electronic components, batteries and motor, in a couple of decades.

“Making electronic circuitry 3D printed, that’s almost a no-brainer,” Sheffler said. “Making motors with windings and that type of geometry, I think there’s some work to do with that, getting wiring to the point where you can print that out, but I absolutely think that’s feasible in the next 20 years or so.”


Claus believes the military could have a limited capability to print UAS as early as 12 years from now. Those aircraft would not be durable, high-performance systems, but they would get the job done, he said.

“If a special forces guy needs to print a UAV, and all he has to do is fly it over the hill and find the bad guys … they might just fly it, and then when they’re done with it, they push a button and blow it up,” he said.

But if such a technological leap is to occur, additive manufacturing companies and the government must get to work developing industry standards for 3D printers and materials, Claus said. Printers, materials and processes must all be qualified.

For instance, few companies have developed “design allowables” that measure the strength of a material based on engineering and performance data, he said. Such information is necessary to give manufacturers and customers confidence in the structural integrity of a component.

“Once you have that kind of information, which is really powerful, you can now take it to the Navy, you can take it to the [Federal Aviation Administration], you can take it to anyone that’s interested and convince them that it’s real, it’s legitimate and that they should use it,” Claus said.

Additional short-term challenges include figuring out how to speed up the printing process and developing new, stronger materials, Sheffler said. The FDM process used to make the Razor, for example, took a laborious 30 seconds per layer.

Other machines that use different printing techniques can layer materials in seconds and at greater resolution, but those systems are limited to specific materials, he said. Because an airframe must be constructed out of a strong, lightweight material, that limits the options available.

These kinds of barriers can be eliminated in about a decade, Claus said. “Ten years out, those things aren’t going to be issues anymore. These things we’re talking about in concept are going to be real.”

But as the technology proliferates, there will be other challenges, Sheffler said.

Three-D printed drones are most often thought about in an offensive context, of soldiers deployed in a warzone printing a drone that can fly beyond the line of sight and conduct surveillance on enemy forces.

However, Sheffler pointed out that it’s just as important from a defensive standpoint to develop additive manufactured drones. With 3D printers available commercially and becoming less expensive every year, it might not be long before U.S. adversaries design and manufacture their own systems.

“Anything I’m doing, the bad guys can do. They’re probably thinking about it and they’re developing that capability,” Sheffler said. “I think what we’re doing is trying to understand what those capabilities are so that we can be ready for them.

“What do you do to combat that? How is this going to be a threat, and then what do you do to counter that threat?” he asked. “I think that’s really probably the more important side of what we’re doing here — understanding what you have to do to protect yourself, because it’s coming.”


China attacks push Apple to warn users of iCloud threats

By Michael Kan

IDG News Service | Oct 21, 2014 8:46 PM PT


Apple has warned users about attacks on its iCloud website, after monitoring groups alleged that China had tried to intercept customer information from the service.

Although China was not named, Apple said Tuesday it was “aware of intermittent organized network attacks” on its iCloud service that were designed to obtain user information, according to a company support page.

Apple said the iCloud servers are still secure but advised customers accessing the service to always verify that they’ve connected to an authentic iCloud website via a trusted browser.

Starting over the weekend, visits to Apple’s iCloud site in China began returning an invalid digital certificate, a sign that the connections had been tampered with using a technique known as “man-in-the-middle attack”, according to anti-censorship group

Such attacks involve the hacker trying to eavesdrop on the communication by tricking victims into believing they’ve visited a secure website. Once duped, the victim’s activities can be monitored. alleged that the Chinese government was behind the attack, as a way to steal username and password information from Apple’s iCloud users. But on Tuesday a spokeswoman with the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the country opposed any form of hacking.

The man-in-the-middle attack on the iCloud service was just one of several in China that have targeted U.S. websites. Starting late last month, visits to Yahoo’s site from the country were also mysteriously returning invalid digital certificates.

Both Apple and Yahoo have declined comment.

Security vendor Netresec analyzed the attack on the iCloud service, and said it appeared to be conducted over networks belonging to China Telecom, and China Unicom, two state-controlled broadband providers. Both companies did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The attack on the iCloud service came just after Apple began officially selling its iPhone 6 in mainland China. Before it launched, Apple had increased the security on its iOS software, following a request from a Chinese regulator.

The sophistication of the attack probably means the hackers had access to an Internet service provider, allowing them to create the insecure connections to the Apple site, said Su Gim Goh, a security adviser with F-Secure. “It’s not something that a script kiddie could have done,” he said, adding that an organized group or government could have been behind it.

“iCloud is a big service abroad. This is one good way to look at user content,” he said.

Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan represents Apple’s second biggest market behind the U.S. On Tuesday, said Apple had changed its domain name system in China to avoid the attack.


Software dev shortage transcends international boundaries

By Fred O’Connor

IDG News Service | Oct 21, 2014 2:16 PM PT


The dearth of software development talent isn’t an issue restricted to U.S. businesses. Finding programmers, especially to fill positions in the growing field of health IT, is a global challenge, said speakers Tuesday during a panel discussion on developing a health IT workforce.

“The lack of software developers is not just in health IT. It hurts the global economy,” said Mary Cleary, deputy CEO of the Irish Computer Society, at the EU-U.S. ehealth Marketplace and Conference in Boston.

Technology can help health care, but there’s a worldwide shortage of developers who can create the necessary applications, said Colin Reid, CEO of TotalMobile, a Belfast company that develops mobile software. The U.K. National Health Service uses TotalMobile’s software and the company counts health care as one its largest markets.

“This is too important to be left to HR. It’s really a business issue,” said Reid, who added that the technology industry lacks female employees and could improve its efforts to reach underprivileged youth who may be interested in a software development career.

To increase people’s interest in programming careers, TotalMobile sponsors the Belfast chapter of Women Who Code, a global nonprofit that is trying to increase the number of women in IT, and CoderDojo, which runs coding clubs for children and teenagers, as well as holding hackathons.

Getting children engaged with programming is especially important and the government can play a role in developing this interest, panelists said.

Reid noted that children love technology-related classes in school, but don’t show the same enthusiasm for learning how to program. Attracting children to programming as they get older is challenging because they tend to avoid the discipline since they don’t understand it, he said. Governments, he continued, can help remedy this by adding programming courses early in the education process.

“What young children have is no fear. They’re not born with the ability to code. They need to learn technology,” said Cleary.

In Massachusetts, the state’s public schools introduce science and technology curriculum in the fourth grade and especially try to pique interest of girls, said Therese Murray, president of the state Senate.

“Starting from schools is really the answer,” said Marwan Abdulaziz, executive director of TECOM Investments’ Science Cluster, which operates a Dubai business park for life sciences companies and another for businesses in the alternative energy and environmental industries.

Employee retention is a challenge in Dubai since many United Arab Emirates workers are expatriates who plan on returning to their home nations in five to 10 years, he said. To counter this issue, the country is looking to develop a tech workforce from its native population.

But more science and technology education may not solve the tech industry’s hiring challenges if the curriculum isn’t relevant to the issues businesses face, said the panelists.

Abdulaziz became involved with the committee that plans the syllabus for colleges in the United Arab Emirates since it lacked business input and “was a bunch of universities talking to each other.”

“At the end of the day you want your graduates to work in these companies,” he said, adding that the committee now includes more business perspectives.

The United Arab Emirates isn’t the only government incorporating business voices into higher education lesson planning.

Classes in Massachusetts community colleges are “tailored” to meet the IT needs of the state’s businesses, said Murray. The state sought industry input on what skills would be needed over the next five to 10 years, she said.


In Ireland, Cleary’s organization is auditing health care providers to ascertain what health IT skills and occupations are required and which ones are needed. The plan is to create a database that allows providers to better assess their health IT technology and staffing situations.

“We’re trying to map out health IT skills,” she said.

Fred O’Connor writes about IT careers and health IT for The IDG News Service. Follow Fred on Twitter at @fredjoconnor. Fred’s e-mail address is fred_o’


Sinclair unveils UAS test range

Oct 22, 2014, 11:46am EDT

Tristan Navera

Staff Reporter- Dayton Business Journal

Sinclair Community College has unveiled a new indoor test range for unmanned aerial systems.

The community college says it is opening up its 35,000-square-foot fieldhouse, which is located in the basement of Building 8 on its downtown campus, for use flying unmanned systems. The hope is that schools, companies, and those in Sinclair‘s own UAS programs will be able to use the space to fly craft there for testing and training.

“This is the first indoor test range for UAS that also includes expertise and expert assistance,” said Steve Johnson, president of Sinclair in an event Tuesday. “We can provide the training, orientation and exposure here.”

The fieldhouse, which will still at times be open for athletic use, has a 25-foot ceiling height, giving 878,000 cubic feet of testing space. As far as the school can tell, it’s the largest indoor UAS range in the state, and will be able to fly rotorcraft as well as some smaller fixed-wing systems. It was the site of Destination Dayton, a high school UAS competition this past summer.

It’s another move from the school on the UAS realm. At the Ohio UAS Conference, the school unveiled plans for a $4 million, 28,000-square-foot UAS Training and Certification Center in Building 13. It’s got six active permissions from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly aircraft at Wilmington Air Park and Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport. But the new indoor range will allow for UAV testing and training on-campus.

It’s also a boost to the efforts of the Dayton region, where leaders have been hoping to draw more business and research around the emerging industry.

“This is yet another step toward being a national industry center for UAS training and certification,” said Maurice “Mo” McDonald, executive vice president for Aerospace and Defense at the Dayton Development Coalition. “These kinds of moves further our overall commitment to the unmanned aerial systems industry.”

Deb Norris, vice president of workforce development at Sinclair, said the space could also be used during the Ohio UAS Conference. Sinclair has been growing its own set of UAS, now with over 50 vehicles from 21 different manufacturers.

“Many of these might look like toys, but they’re used today by first responders and a number of other professions,” Norris said.

Hackers face off this weekend to solve Air Force’s cyber challenges

Oct. 23, 2014 – 06:28PM |

By Oriana Pawlyk

Staff writer

Even as national cybersecurity awareness month comes to a close, the Air Force is producing an event that will bring all kinds of hackers together to test their best coding skills.

The Air Force Research Laboratory, along with the Wright Brothers Institute and Code for Dayton, is hosting “LabHack,” a 26-hour competition for tech-savvy coders to complete data challenges and also create real-world solutions to challenges that could affect military warfighters.

“We wanted to join forces and challenge people to create innovative ways to solve Air Force problems through analyzing human-centered research,” said Scott Galster, AFRL chief of the applied neuroscience branch of AFRL’s 711th Human Performance Wing, in a release. Galster is one of the event’s organizers.

And aside for being judged on creativity, originality, technological complexity and applicability, participants have another obstacle — pulling an all-nighter.

The hacking starts Oct. 25 at 10 a.m. at the Tec^Edge Innovation and Collaboration Center in Dayton, Ohio, and teams have until 1:45 p.m. the next day to develop their best software. Before the competition, members of the Air Force will brief participants on major issues the service faces everyday in the cyber realm. Members can then form self-selected teams and can walk through dozens of software development and data visualization workshops at the center.

“Attendance at the mini-conference is not required, rather, we have several industry experts coming in to teach through presentations and hands-on workshops on topics and technology that we believe will help participants,” said Dave Caraway, coordinator for LabHack.

The 66 hackers registered for the event are required to bring their own laptops and equipment, like a Cat5 network cable and wireless adapters, and if they plan on sleeping at the center, pillows, sleeping bags and toiletries, according to LabHack’s website. Breakfast, lunch and dinner — and even a late night snack — will be provided.

The hackers who’ve registered are from a variety of backgrounds and locations across the U.S. and Canada, including universities and organizations such as Stanford University, California, Rutgers University, New Jersey, University of Dayton along with AFRL, the Air Force Institute of Technology and the National Air and Space Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the release said. They include graphic designers, interface designers, and project managers who will work together to build software solutions to AFRL challenges.

“LabHack will challenge teams to focus on streams of data, and how to visualize them in an integrated way, how to conduct analysis in near real-time and how to make decisions based on the patterns that emerge,” Galster said

Members will then present their work at 2 p.m. the next day to Hackathon organizers and judges. Prizes include cash (up to $600), books, and software tools. All software created during LabHack will be open-source, permissively licensed, and posted on the LabHack website, the release said.

And a main incentive is to work together and have fun.

“Using a ‘Hackathon’ as our platform allowed us to bring the community together in a fun and competitive way, while supporting our Airmen,” Galster said.

The LabHack team has also constructed the event to be in a relaxed environment.

“Uniform of the Day is super hero or internet meme t-shirt of your choice. Comfy clothing required. BDUs permitted only if they allow you to blend in with the office furniture,” is listed on their FAQ page about dressing for the event.

To register or to learn more about the event, visit


Gilmore: Major Weapon Acquisitions Can’t Be Fixed Overnight

By Sandra I. Erwin

At a time when two-thirds of the Pentagon’s major weapon programs are behind schedule and over budget, the release of J. Michael Gilmore’s annual report to Congress can be as welcome as a skunk at a lawn party.

Gilmore’s response: Don’t shoot the messenger.

As the Defense Department’s director of operational test and evaluation, Gilmore is required by law to provide an independent assessment of the performance of major weapon systems. His findings might be bad news for some programs, but as he points out, the first step in correcting a problem is to identify the causes of the problem.

“My office has to make certain that DoD leadership, Congress and military users understand what major weapon systems can and cannot do, what the problems are, the operational implications of those problems, and prioritize resources to fix those problems,” Gilmore tells National Defense in an interview.

The Pentagon has come under renewed political pressure to shake up its acquisition process and lower the cost of weapon systems, which heightens the importance of testing, he says. “Defense Department systems are complex. It should come as no surprise to anyone that it can take a long time to get them to work.”

Many successful programs along the way experienced false starts and problems in operational tests. Whereas earlier “developmental tests” are done in labs and controlled environments, operational tests and evaluations are realistic live-fire drills that are mandated by law and must be performed before any weapon systems goes into full-rate production. In his next annual report due in January, there will be a litany of programs that did not perform as expected. “Does that mean programs are failing? No,” he says. “History clearly supports that.”

Even programs that live in perpetual procurement purgatory like the F-35 joint strike fighter eventually break free. “The F-22 fighter took two decades to field. We are still working on upgrades,” Gilmore says. “JSF will be around for 30 to 40 years. We’ll continue to work on it, and there will be many problems discovered. It should be no surprise.”

Congress created the office of the director of operational test and evaluation in 1983. The director is appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. DOT&E currently employs 80 government civilians and 20 military officers.

Testers historically have had a tense relationship with the acquisition bureaucracy. Before DOT&E existed, program offices had more direct control of test reports. Some acquisition offices and contractors view DOT&E as a nemesis whose reports make executives run around with their hair on fire.

Gilmore insists that his job is not to kill programs, but to inform the decisions makers. “The purpose of my office is to highlight problems in a straightforward way,” he says. “People can decide how important they are and how to fix them.”

There is no evidence that major programs have been canceled because DOT&E declared them ineffective, Gilmore says. “Sometimes that happens.” If the problems are too severe, the Pentagon could decide to terminate a program. “I don’t make those decisions,” he says. “We don’t engage in rationalization of the problems. We don’t try to rationalize their significance.”

Gilmore says his office gets unfairly blamed for things it does not control. As Congress prepares to once again consider proposals to reform the Defense Department’s acquisition process, Pentagon officials have suggested that changes might be needed in weapon testing and evaluations.

Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall wants tests to be conducted earlier in the development cycle. In his view, operational tests identify problems so late in the process that they become cost prohibitive to fix. Earlier tests, Kendall says, could help the Pentagon catch problems before the military sinks huge amounts of money into a program. This would help avert expensive redesigns and modifications — a costly lesson the Pentagon learned over the past decade from the F-35 fighter and other programs.

Gilmore says he support Kendall’s initiative. “It’s common sense.” But he cautions against taking it too far. Programs go through developmental testing in their early stages. Operational tests require a fully assembled prototype that can function in combat-like conditions.

If the Defense Department wants operational tests to occur earlier in the schedule, it will need to have “production representative” systems before the low-rate production milestone, says Gilmore. Typically that does not happen. He suggests that, in advance of operational tests, program managers conduct unofficial evaluations known as “operational assessments” that can give them an early sense of what might happen in OT. There is no requirement in the law to do operational assessments, he says, but nothing in the law precludes them.

Gilmore warns that moving up tests schedules alone will not accomplish much if earlier developmental tests are not thorough enough. “Developmental testing is one the first places that suffers when programs run into schedule and cost problems,” he says. “That shows up when we get to operational testing.”

Gilmore’s website is full of examples of programs that were technologically immature and as result, many problems were discovered in operational testing for the first time. “That is very late in the process,” he says. “The issue is that sometimes there is inadequate developmental testing.”

Any discussions about changes in test regimens stir suspicions that the Pentagon will cut test budgets in the name of efficiency. Gilmore has resisted suggestions that the cost of tests causes programs to run over budget. His office in August posted a presentation called “Reasons Behind Program Delays: 2014 Update” that seeks to discredit the accusations.

Infighting between program managers and testers is par for the course at the Defense Department. Kendall’s predecessor Ashton Carter commissioned an independent team in 2011 to probe complaints that developmental and operational testing led to cost and schedule slippages in programs. The investigation failed to prove that tests were to blame.

In a speech at a recent industry conference, Gilmore reinforced that point. “How are you going to compress testing in this era of constrained budgets? I think it’s a mistake,” he tells the conference. “It accepts the premise that testing is driving increased cost. The facts don’t support that premise.”

Many of the Defense Department’s current procurement woes are the result of decisions that were made long before the equipment was tested, Gilmore says during the interview.

One example is the Army’s multibillion-dollar mobile communications system called WIN-T, or war fighter information network tactical. The system is about to go through its third operational test and its outcome will determine whether it can transition to full-rate production. WIN-T in earlier tests got bad reviews from the users for being too complex, unreliable and cumbersome for combat operations.

When soldiers tell testers the system is not suitable, that is a deal breaker for any program, Gilmore says. “We don’t test systems to exquisite golden standards. It doesn’t have to be perfect,” he says. “But soldiers are smart. They can work around some problems. But others, like the great complexity of the WIN-T soldier network extension and problems with its reliability, they can’t deal with.”

After last year’s tests, the Army was wise to make modifications to WIN-T and schedule a new round of operational tests, he says. Sometimes the military services rush programs to failure, he says. “You should not be schedule driven, you should be event driven, and think hard if you’re actually ready for the test,” he says. “Program managers are always under a horrible schedule pressure, because schedule delays means additional costs. The longer it takes to fix a problem the longer the engineering pool has to be funded.” There is also political pressure from contractors and their congressional backers to move systems into full-rate production in districts where hundreds of jobs might be at stake.

Gilmore also has recommended that the Pentagon revisit how system requirement are defined. That alone can set up a program for success or failure, he says. Usually requirements are written as technical specifications, but that is insufficient to ensure a system is militarily useful. Gilmore has repeatedly held up the Navy’s P-8 maritime surveillance antisubmarine airplane as an example of how to not define requirements.

Under the Pentagon’s procurement regulations, officials from the Joint Staff’s joint requirements oversight council, or JROC, must sign off on a system’s most important requirements, dubbed “key performance parameters.” In the case of the P-8, none of the KPPs specified that the aircraft needed to detect and destroy submarines, he says. In operational tests last year, the aircraft showed it could fly, but it was not able to perform wide-area antisubmarine surveillance. In an test that is supposed to replicate combat conditions, says Gilmore, the aircraft needs to do much more than just fly.

“I’m an advisor to the JROC,” says Gilmore. “I do make them aware of my concerns. But it’s up to the JROC to set requirements.”

Perhaps the most dramatic illustration of what happens when a major weapon system’s requirements, procurement strategy and test plans are out of kilter is the F-35. The aircraft’s mission systems have yet to be tested in the F-35, even though the program is already in production. Gilmore expects the program will move forward, albeit at a slower pace than many had hoped.

Almost every setback in the F-35 can be pinned on decisions that were made more than a decade ago, long before the current program leaders took over.

In the early days of the George W. Bush administration, the Pentagon agreed to proceed to low-rate production at the beginning of engineering development, with little to no testing. Normally, low-rate production starts after development is completed.

“The assumption was that models and simulations were so good that very limited testing would be needed either in flight sciences or mission systems in order for the plane to mature,” Gilmore says. “Those were bad assumptions. It took the department a number of years to realize that.” A program restructuring in 2010 added more time and money for developmental testing.

F-35 program executive officer Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan has put pressure on the contractors to improve the reliability of the aircraft. Poor reliability, says Gilmore, is a direct consequence of the decision to rush the program. “It is not a surprise that the aircraft availability rates are between 30 to 40 percent in the squadrons that have production aircraft,” he says. “I expect that to improve over time.” These are issues that should have been worked on before the aircraft went into production, with more component-level testing. It should not shock anyone, he adds, that as a consequence of the decision to start building airplanes before key components were fully tested, the aircraft remained immature.

The F-35 program office now has to play catch-up, and live with the consequences of those early decisions, he says. “You can’t test reliability at the end of the program.”

Gilmore is working closely with F-35 managers in preparation for operational tests in 2018. His office had recommended the aircraft undergo an “operational utility evaluation” in 2015 after software development is completed. But Gilmore later concluded that the mission systems would not be ready. “We continue to work on plans to do formal operational testing which probably won’t occur until 2018,” he adds. “We’re beginning preliminary work laying out some of the details of the operational test but we’re still several years away.”

Samsung devices approved for classified data

Oct. 24, 2014 |


Mobile devices from Korean electronics giant Samsung have been approved for classified U.S. government use. This marks the first time that consumer devices, validated by the NSA-managed National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP) standard, have been approved to handle U.S. classified information, according to a Samsung announcement.

Based on the specifications in 10 Memoranda of Agreement between the government and the company, the government added 10 devices to its Commercial Solutions for Classified (CSfC) Program Component List: The Galaxy S4, Galaxy S5, Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition), Galaxy Note Edge, Galaxy Alpha, Galaxy Tab S 8.4, Galaxy Tab S 10.5 and the Galaxy IPSEC Virtual Private Network (VPN) Client.


In its announcement, Samsung attributed the development to “Samsung’s successful testing and certification under the U.S. government’s Common Criteria Mobile Device Fundamental Protection Profile (MDFPP) and VPN Protection Profile (VPNPP) programs.”

Samsung mobiles were added earlier this year to DISA’s approved list for sensitive but unclassified use.

“The inclusion of Samsung mobile devices on the CSfC list proves the unmatched security of Samsung Galaxy devices supported by the KNOX platform,” said J.K. Shin, chief of Samsung’s mobile division.


What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls

Rasmussen Reports

Bottom of Form

Saturday, October 25, 2014


Forget the upcoming elections. Does it really matter who wins?

Fewer voters than ever think either major political party has a plan for the future, and most say neither party represents the American people.

Voters expect incumbents to win because election rules are rigged in their favor, but have Americans had it with the two-party system?

Tea Party and Libertarian challengers to Republican candidates have been plentiful this election cycle, while some Democrats suggest likely 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, seen by most voters as a liberal, is too moderate for them. [Their preferred choice is Senator Elizabeth Warren. Most Massachusetts voters like Warren, but that doesn’t mean they’d vote for her if she ran for president.

Several key governor’s races we looked at this week – Florida, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin – are neck-and-neck, showing voters don’t have a clear preference for either party.

Meanwhile, President Obama’s job approval rating remains so dismal that most Democratic senators running for reelection won’t even admit they voted for him.
But voters also strongly believe that most incumbents in the Democratic-run Senate and the Republican-controlled House don’t deserve reelection.

Democrats and Republicans remain tied on the Generic Congressional Ballot.

A couple recurring indicators suggest why voters are so disgusted.
Just 26% think the country is heading in the right direction. This finding has now been in the 23% to 27% range nearly every week since early June and has been below 30% most weeks this past year.

Eighty-five percent (85%) of Working Americans consider themselves middle class, and yet 64% of voters think the economy unfair to the middle class.

Interestingly, while Americans consider this a more divided country than four years ago, they’re arguing about politics a lot less than they were before the 2012 election.

One thing Americans are talking – and arguing – about is Ebola. Everyone’s keeping their cool so far, but some acknowledge that they have changed travel plans because of the outbreak of the deadly virus in the United States.

Even before the announcement that a doctor has been diagnosed with Ebola in New York City, Americans were more critical of the federal government’s response and less confident that the public health system will be able to contain the virus.

Thirty-eight percent (38%) of voters believe it’s better for America if the best people take government jobs rather than working the private sector instead. Just 23%, however, believe it is more honorable to work for the government.

More Americans than ever now believe it is possible for anyone in need of a job to land one.

Given the sense that the job picture is improving, it’s no surprise that beginning next year, Indiana will limit how long some can receive food stamps. Voters think that’s a good idea and believe deadlines should be extended to all public assistance programs.

While consumer and investor confidence remain largely unchanged, short- and long-term outlooks for the U.S. economy are better than they’ve been in more than a year.

Voters are now evenly divided over whether to repeal the new national health care law entirely or fix it piece-by-piece, but voters are growing less certain that a Republican-controlled Congress would actually repeal the law.

The one Senate race we looked at this week – in Kansas – threatens GOP hopes of taking over Congress. Independent Greg Orman still holds a five-point lead over incumbent Republican Pat Roberts in Kansas’ unexpectedly competitive U.S. Senate race.

Democratic challenger Paul Davis remains ahead of incumbent Republican Sam Brownback in the race for Kansas governor.

Republican Doug Ducey has pulled ahead of Democrat Fred DuVal in the closing weeks of Arizona’s gubernatorial contest.

Republican challenger Tom Foley still leads Democratic incumbent Dan Malloy in their Connecticut gubernatorial rematch as voters continue to grumble about the job Malloy has done over the past four years.

In other surveys last week:

— Houston’s lesbian Mayor Annise Parker recently subpoenaed sermons, speeches and private communications by pastors in the city opposed to a proposed gay rights ordinance. This prompted an angry response from advocates of religious freedom nationwide, and voters strongly agree that religious leaders standing up for the beliefs of their faith should not be subject to prosecution.

— Voters continue to think global warming is a serious issue, but when given the choice, they believe job creation is more important than fighting global warming.

— Voters also still believe American society is generally fair and decent, and a large majority maintains that those who immigrate here should adopt the culture. language and heritage.

Just half of Americans remain confident in the banking system, still down considerably from the days before the 2008 Wall Street meltdown.

Americans are also still concerned about inflation and continue to doubt whether the Federal Reserve Board can keep it under control.

Nearly half expect interest rates to go up next year.


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