The pace of change in the national security arena is accelerating at a dizzying rate.
In the last few months, we’ve seen a reorganization of the Defense Department’s acquisition operation, a new Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, the procurement launch for the department’s planned single-award Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract, the proposed creation of a new U.S. Space Force, formation of a new Army Futures Command and a new Defense Department Cyber Strategy, just to name a few highlights.
These and other events point to a Defense Department that is clearly operating under tremendous external pressures in the form of rapid technology advancements, global security shifts and budget constraints.
Source: Incoming: Preparing the Defense Department for the Future, One Idea at a Time | SIGNAL Magazine
Up until the digital age, wars involved a limited number of combatants with clear identities battling within distinct boundaries visible on a map. These conflicts ended either with a victor or as a stalemate. But today’s information warfare does not fit this traditional model. Instead, it comprises an unlimited number of potential combatants, many with hidden identities and agendas.
Cyberspace is a theater of operations that is nowhere and everywhere. Within this domain, information warfare will not and in fact cannot come to any conclusion. This conflict closely resembles an incurable disease that can be managed so the patient can lead a productive life but is never completely cured.
Current weapons in the disinformation battle have so far not shown significant results.
Source: Information Warfare Requires Personalized Weaponry | SIGNAL Magazine
Four newly announced projects led by Sandia National Laboratories aim to advance quantum computing technology, according to an announcement from the laboratories.
Design and construction of the quantum computer itself—formally known as the Quantum Scientific Computing Open User Testbed (QSCOUT)—under the direction of Sandia researcher Peter Maunz, is a $25.1 million, five-year project that will use trapped atomic ion technology. Researchers consider trapped ions promising because quantum bits are encoded in the electronic states of individual trapped atomic ions.
Source: Shaping the Quantum Computing Future | SIGNAL Magazine
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Chief Procurement Officer Soraya Correa announced this week that DHS will follow a new strategy for obtaining information technology services. Rather than pursue a re-competition of the Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading-Edge Solutions (EAGLE) II, the department will offer an array of options for industry, including greater opportunity for small businesses, under EAGLE Next Generation.
EAGLE Next Gen will not be a single contract vehicle, but instead will be a suite of contract vehicles, DHS says in a published announcement. The new approach is designed to balance the use of existing governmentwide acquisition contracts in conjunction with the creation of a portfolio of IT services contract vehicles with specialized, targeted scope.
Source: EAGLE Next Gen Offers Small Business Opportunities | SIGNAL Magazine
Known as the SMC, the U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, part of the service’s Space Command, is at the helm of the military’s satellite communications. Confronting a contested space environment and the need to innovate faster, the SMC is pursuing a reorganization involving its contracting and decision-making approaches to improve the nation’s defense-related satellite communications.
Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson announced in September 2018 at the Air Force Association’s annual meeting that she was working with Air Force leaders and Joint Staff on a proposal to establish and support a unified combatant command for space. She also stated that in February she would be sending to Congress its related budget proposal for fiscal year 2020.
Source: The Air Force Restructures its Space and Missile Systems Center | SIGNAL Magazine
The United States faces a threat unlike any in its history. The cyber threat zips around the world at blinding speeds and continually transforms. It can neutralize billion-dollar weapon systems and leave entire cities in the dark. It also can be wielded by superpowers, smaller governments or criminal organizations. At the same time, however, legislation, strategies, policies, authorities and a vigorous spirit of cooperation across government and the international community are all aligning to meet that threat.
“For me, I believe we’re in a moment of history we’ve never been in. The cyber threat creates challenges because of the pace, the sophistication and the proliferation of those threats that emanate in and through cyberspace,” says Maj. Gen. Burke “Ed” Wilson, USAF (Ret.), deputy assistant secretary of defense for cyber policy in the Pentagon.
“I’m challenged to find in history a problem set or a threat type that moves at the pace and with the sophistication and that proliferates as easily as what we’ve seen over the last 10 or 15 years.”
Source: On the Cyber Edge of History | SIGNAL Magazine
New iterations of software are being written to connect different devices via the cloud. This will affect networking concurrent with the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the introduction of 5G wireless connectivity. And, the cloud is topping its own status by providing layered services that mimic the cloud itself.
Col. Al Mink, USAF (Ret.), is managing partner of Systems Spirit LLC and a principal at Deep Water Point LLC, where he leads the cloud practice. A former combat pilot with 3,000 hours of flight time, he now aims his sights on cloud migration and adoption in the federal government. “Clouds have more than just traditional server capabilities,” Mink says.
“They offer really advanced capabilities where you no longer have to build the infrastructure yourself for your advanced capability. You can just use it in a cloudlike fashion.”
Source: Cloud Services Hone Innovation | SIGNAL Magazine
Consultancy PwC estimates that by 2030 artificial intelligence products and systems will contribute up to $15.7 trillion to the global economy, with China and the United States likely the two leading nations. But it is the potential military consequences that have governments most worried, fearful of falling behind – but also nervous that untested technology could bring new dangers.
In the United States, Pentagon chiefs have asked the Defense Innovation Board – a collection of senior Silicon Valley figures who provide the U.S. military with tech advice – to come up with a set of ethical principles for the use of artificial intelligence in war.
Last month, France and Canada announced they were setting up an international panel to discuss broadly similar questions. So far, Western states have stuck to the belief that decisions of life and death in conflict should always be made by humans, with computers and algorithms simply supporting those decisions. Other nations – particularly Russia and China – are flirting with a different path.
Source: Commentary: Are China, Russia winning the AI arms race? | Reuters
Now, after many years of gradual progress, we are entering an exciting period in attaining fusion by magnetic confinement.
The international ITER project in France that will demonstrate the feasibility of using fusion as a large scale power source is now 60 percent complete. ITER is known as the “world’s biggest fusion experiment” and, at present, the first plasma is scheduled for the middle of the next decade.
A key remaining problem, however, is instability of the plasma, which can lead to events called disruptions, during which the plasma is lost very rapidly.
Source: Nuclear Fusion: We’ve Discovered a Way to Stabilize Super-hot Plasma
The window of opportunity for getting a deal on the Clean Vehicles Directive (CVD) is closing while the need for such a deal has never been so high: air pollution is responsible for 400,000 premature deaths every year, and greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector are still on the rise.
The future of the European e-mobility industry is at stake. Postponing the transition to electric vehicles would only help international competitors become more dominant.
For example, while patting ourselves on the back for having roughly 1,600 e-buses on the road in Europe today, the Chinese city of Shenzhen completely electrified its fleet of 16,000 buses in 2018. Overall, China operates close to 400,000 electric buses, and exports them across many markets.
Source: EU needs clean vehicle procurement rules to boost e-mobility in cities – EURACTIV.com