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Current Topic: Military Technology

Soldiers of Reason: The RAND Corporation and the Rise of the American Empire
Topic: Military Technology 6:51 am EDT, Jul  8, 2008

From Publishers Weekly:

When President Eisenhower famously warned against the military-industrial complex, he largely meant the Department of Defense–funded programs of the RAND Corporation. Alex Abella presents a sometimes dry but thorough account of this think-tank, which he asserts not only played a key role in the U.S.'s biggest foreign misadventures in Vietnam and Iraq but also, through its development of rational choice theory, has affected every aspect of our lives, not necessarily for the better. Abella, working with the cooperation of the usually secretive organization, details RAND'S history, from analyst Herman Kahn's energetic support of a virtually unrestrained nuclear arms buildup to the organization's role in sparking America's involvement in Vietnam and the current war in Iraq. But even more, Abella says, RAND theorists' notion that self-interest, rather than collective interests like religion, governs human behavior has influenced every aspect of our society, from health care to tax policy. The RAND Corporation continues today—as brilliant, controversial and, in Abella's view, amoral as ever—with the complicity of all Americans. If we look in the mirror, Abella concludes, we will see that RAND is every one of us. The question is, what are we going to do about it?

Your daily Simpsons reference -- this time, from "Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy":

In the treehouse, the neighborhood kids try to figure out what's up with the adults.

Bart: So finally, we're all in agreement about what's going on with the adults. Milhouse?

Milhouse: [steps up to blackboard] Ahem. OK, here's what we've got: the Rand Corporation, in conjunction with the saucer people --

Bart: Thank you.

Milhouse: -- under the supervision of the reverse vampires --

Lisa: [sighs]

Milhouse: -- are forcing our parents to go to bed early in a fiendish plot to eliminate the meal of dinner. [sotto voce] We're through the looking glass, here, people...

Soldiers of Reason: The RAND Corporation and the Rise of the American Empire

GAO Sustains Boeing Bid Protest: Agency Recommends Air Force Reopen the Bid Process
Topic: Military Technology 10:03 pm EDT, Jun 18, 2008


The Government Accountability Office (GAO) today sustained the Boeing Company’s protest of the Department of the Air Force’s award of a contract to Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation for KC-X aerial refueling tankers. Boeing challenged the Air Force’s technical and cost evaluations, conduct of discussions, and source selection decision.

“Our review of the record led us to conclude that the Air Force had made a number of significant errors that could have affected the outcome of what was a close competition between Boeing and Northrop Grumman. We therefore sustained Boeing’s protest,” said Michael R. Golden, the GAO’s managing associate general counsel for procurement law. “We also denied a number of Boeing’s challenges to the award to Northrop Grumman, because we found that the record did not provide us with a basis to conclude that the agency had violated the legal requirements with respect to those challenges.”

The GAO recommended that the Air Force reopen discussions with the offerors, obtain revised proposals, re-evaluate the revised proposals, and make a new source selection decision, consistent with the GAO’s decision. The agency also made a number of other recommendations including that, if the Air Force believed that the solicitation, as reasonably interpreted, does not adequately state its needs, the Air Force should amend the solicitation prior to conducting further discussions with the offerors; that if Boeing’s proposal is ultimately selected for award, the Air Force should terminate the contract awarded to Northrop Grumman; and that the Air Force reimburse Boeing the costs of filing and pursuing the protest, including reasonable attorneys’ fees. By statute, the Air Force is given 60 days to inform the GAO of the Air Force’s actions in response to GAO’s recommendations.

GAO Sustains Boeing Bid Protest: Agency Recommends Air Force Reopen the Bid Process

Google Contra
Topic: Military Technology 10:28 pm EDT, Jun 10, 2008

Google Reader recognizes the Contra cheat code.

America's Medicated Army
Topic: Military Technology 6:25 am EDT, Jun  9, 2008

"When you search someone's house, you have it built up in your mind that these guys are terrorists, but when you go in, there's little bitty tiny shoes and toys on the floor — things like that started affecting me a lot more than I thought they would."

America's Medicated Army

Reserve wants soldiers to protect networks
Topic: Military Technology 9:42 pm EDT, Jun  2, 2008

The Army Reserve is looking for soldiers with a knack for information technology to help fight the nation’s wars in cyberspace.

Reserve wants soldiers to protect networks

The Military's Internet 'Civil War'
Topic: Military Technology 7:05 am EDT, Jun  2, 2008

To many in the military, the need for secrecy outweighed the Internet’s value for rapidly and widely sharing ideas. While jihadists built entire intelligence and recruiting machines online, huge swaths of the U.S. military were walling themselves off from the Internet.

But not entirely.

The Army cleverly dodged the bans, setting up its own versions of popular Web 2.0 sites, but hiding them behind password-protected portals. In that way, the Army appears to have found a middle ground between Internet proponents and skeptics. On this toehold, the land combat branch is steadily building new Internet tools that might help the United States catch up to Internet-savvy jihadists. In late April, the land-warfare branch even launched an official blogging service for officers.

The Military's Internet 'Civil War'

Defense Intelligence Strategy 2008
Topic: Military Technology 7:02 am EDT, May 23, 2008

Apparently the theory is that if we buy enough Chinese laptops, they won't have any left for themselves.

U.S. defense intelligence agencies should aim to “eliminate” the capabilities of opponents to operate effectively against the United States from outer space or cyber space, according to a new Pentagon strategy for defense intelligence.

Defense intelligence shall “eliminate any advantage held by our adversaries to operate from and within the space and cyber domains,” says the new strategy document, “Defense Intelligence 2008″ (strategic objective IV).

“As stated in the U.S. National Space Policy, the focus of defense intelligence in space will be to ensure full situational awareness for military and civilian decision-makers, support military planning initiatives, and satisfy operational requirements. As addressed within the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative, cyberspace has become a vital national interest economically, militarily and culturally, and the current patchwork of passive defense is likely to fail in the face of greater vulnerabilities and more sophisticated threats.”

“Defense intelligence must do its part to defeat this critical threat.”

Defense Intelligence Strategy 2008

SASC Criticizes Secrecy of National Cyber Security Initiative
Topic: Military Technology 2:58 pm EDT, May 18, 2008

The committee applauds the administration for developing a serious, major initiative to begin to close the vulnerabilities in the government's information networks and the nation's critical infrastructure. The committee believes that the administration's actions provide a foundation on which the next president can build.

However, the committee has multiple, significant issues with the administration's specific proposals and with the overall approach to gaining congressional support for the initiative.

A chief concern is that virtually everything about the initiative is highly classified, and most of the information that is not classified is categorized as `For Official Use Only.' These restrictions preclude public education, awareness, and debate about the policy and legal issues, real or imagined, that the initiative poses in the areas of privacy and civil liberties. Without such debate and awareness in such important and sensitive areas, it is likely that the initiative will make slow or modest progress. The committee strongly urges the administration to reconsider the necessity and wisdom of the blanket, indiscriminate classification levels established for the initiative.

The administration itself is starting a serious effort as part of the initiative to develop an information warfare deterrence strategy and declaratory doctrine, much as the superpowers did during the Cold War for nuclear conflict. It is difficult to conceive how the United States could promulgate a meaningful deterrence doctrine if every aspect of our capabilities and operational concepts is classified. In the era of superpower nuclear competition, while neither side disclosed weapons designs, everyone understood the effects of nuclear weapons, how they would be delivered, and the circumstances under which they would be used. Indeed, deterrence was not possible without letting friends and adversaries alike know what capabilities we possessed and the price that adversaries would pay in a real conflict. Some analogous level of disclosure is necessary in the cyber domain.

The committee also shares the view of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that major elements of the cyber initiative request should be scaled back because policy and legal reviews are not complete, and because the technology is not mature. Indeed, the administration is asking for substantial funds under the cyber initiative for fielding capabilities based on ongoing programs that remain in the prototype, or concept development, phase of the acquisition process. These elements of the cyber initiative, in other words, could not gain approval within the executive branch if held to standards enforced on normal acquisition programs. The committee's view is that disciplined acquisition processes and practices must be applied to the government-wide cyber initiative as much as to the ongoing development programs upon which the initiative is based.

The committee also... [ Read More (0.2k in body) ]

SASC Criticizes Secrecy of National Cyber Security Initiative

Information Operations during Counterinsurgency Operations
Topic: Military Technology 2:58 pm EDT, May 18, 2008

The purpose of this article is to apply a theory of operational and tactical information operations (IO) employment as limited and non-lethal effects during counterinsurgency operations. It focuses on four integrating elements of IO: psychological operations, civil-military operations, public affairs and computer network operations. The author simulates a practical case of IO and develops a concept of operation. The approach presented is from a Spanish army perspective. He finds that the knowledge and managing of IO is of significance and will become essential to understand and face the scenes of future conflicts and new wars.

Information Operations during Counterinsurgency Operations

FBI Fears Chinese Hackers Have Back Door Into US Government
Topic: Military Technology 4:24 pm EDT, May  9, 2008

Some months ago, my contacts in the defense industry alerted me to a startling development that has escalated to the point of near-panic in nearly all corners of Government security and IT infrastructure. The concern: a high number of counterfeit Cisco routers and switches installed in government networks that experienced upgrades and/or new units within the past 18 months.

The US government has been attempting to avoid these issues by only using higher-end Cisco partners/suppliers; however, the highly competitive lowest-bid environment of government procurement has inspired several vendors to look for cheap alternatives for hardware ...

A few weeks ago, my sources provided information on a scathing investigation summary by the FBI. They've indicated that a critical Powerpoint document has been quietly circulating after a few internal presentations.

As you can see, the FBI is concerned about critical infrastructure damage, AND, the potential of access to secure government systems. Many have been speculating that the counterfeit hardware will provide backdoor capabilities and access into compromised networks for the originators of the equipment. In fact, some areas of speculation regarding the counterfeit Cisco equipment has focused on the possibility that the hardware is being manufactured expressly to deploy exploitable systems far and wide into the wild. The rationale being that the likely "wholesale" price of the counterfeit routers and switches are so low and profit margins likely very thin, that the only real advantage may be gained from downstream system exploits in the future.

The threat is real. Compromised hardware of potentially hostile foreign origin sits within secure networks of the US government, military, and intelligence services. And as you now see, the FBI has been concerned about it.

Graphic file export of the FBI's Powerpoint document slides.

FBI Fears Chinese Hackers Have Back Door Into US Government

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