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Spotlights on Innovation

November 2017


The Silent All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) project was initiated to address a gap in warfighter capability identified by the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab and registered on the Science and Technology (S&T) Gap List for the Special Operations Component Commands [United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), Naval Special Warfare Command (NAVSOC), and Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC)].


In 2011, Program Executive Office Integrated Warfare System 5.0 (PEO IWS 5.0) established an approach to innovation new to the Navy and has ignited warfighter creativity to deliver solutions. The initiative, dubbed Tactical Advancements for the Next Generation (TANG), employs a customized suite of Applied Design methodologies to tackle human-centered challenges within DoD. The hyper-collaborative process brings together today’s warfighter with a diverse group of stakeholders and experts to solve complex challenges. Working alongside the Sponsor, multi-disciplinary project teams conduct immersive research in the challenge domain to frame the problem space and better understand the pain points surrounding the topic. To discover unexpected insights, the team also explores tangentially related fields that provide different perspectives and responses to similar challenges.


One battalion’s work with a handful of old c​omputers is putting infantry squad leaders in the role of an NFL coach with the ability to plan, execute and review an entire mission, complete with instant replay. The gear, dubbed Tactical Decision Kits, came out of a combination of unused recreation rooms in the barracks, recognition that Marines spent a whole lot of time playing video games and one commander’s move to put the two together to make realistic gaming part of warfighting at the lowest levels.


The National Capital Region (NCR) Medical Directorate has developed a Rapid Innovation Design Cycle initiative which has resulted in a scalable, sustainable regional framework for innovation design across military treatment facilities (MTFs) in the NCR, with nearly 500,000 beneficiaries in the Military Health System’s most populous region.


If the Navy wants to detect nautical​ mines from the sky, the job often requires an MH-60 helicopter and an on-board countermeasure system. This arrangement lets operators learn about these mines and do so from a safe distance. Now the service wants something more nimble. One solution could be a small quadcopter sporting an ultra-sensitive magnetometer sensor system. This setup would allow the instrument to detect mines and then relay the information almost immediately to a handheld Android device.


Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific’s (SSC​ Pacific) BEMR laboratory demonstrates how cutting edge, low cost commercial of the shelf (COTS) mixed reality technology—virtual and augmented reality— is applied to training, operations, prototyping, and maintenance applications within the Navy and Marine Corps in the near future.

The U.S. Navy has conducted its first test of a new hypersonic missile. The test was announced by Vice Adm. Terry Benedict, the director of the Strategic Systems Program (SSP), at the Naval Submarine League’s annual symposium in Arlington, Virginia, on November 2. “I’m very proud to report that at 0300 on Monday night SSP flew from Hawaii [Pacific Missile Range Facility] . . . the first conventional prompt strike missile for the United States Navy in the form factor that would eventually, could eventually be utilized if leadership chooses to do so in an Ohio-class tube,” Benedict said, according U.S. Naval Institute News, which first reported his remarks. “It’s a monumental achievement.”


Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division (NSWCCD) has embraced human-centered design (HCD) as a vehicle to strengthen its culture of innovation. A​ccording to Carderock Director for Innovation Garth Jensen, Carderock’s adoption of HCD comes from an understanding that “innovation is a social phenomenon, as much as it is a technological phenomenon. Once you understand innovation as a social phenomenon, then it’s only natural to pursue HCD because it starts by putting people at the center – understanding how people’s complex needs, beliefs and behaviors inform the problem and the solution.”


DARPA is looking for people with i​nnovative ideas to participate in its "swarm sprint" exercises. The project would inform tactics and technologies for large groups of unmanned air and ground robots in certain environments. The OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program envisions future small-unit infantry forces using small unmanned aircraft systems and/or small unmanned ground systems in swarms of 250 robots or more to accomplish diverse missions in complex urban environments. By leveraging and combining emerging technologies in swarm autonomy and human-swarm teaming, the program seeks to enable rapid development and deployment of breakthrough capabilities to the field.

Artificial intelligence, or AI, seems to be everywhere. Home computers and smartphones now possess speech recognition. Social media platforms are able to tag and label faces and geographic locations. Companies are moving fast to develop vehicles with self-driving capabilities. This type of intelligence exhibited by machines has invaded most activities and new discoveries are constantly announced as part of a global trend to automate as much of our lives as possible.


The Navy’s vision for Sailor 2025 is clear, and Center for Security Forces (CENSECFOR) is running full speed ahead to make that vision real by creating High Velocity Learning. In 2016, the Center established the Velocity Lab, an innovation cell focused on answering two key ques​tions: How might we increase the mastery that we deliver to our Sailors and the Fleet within existing resources? How might we prepare our Sailors to fight to win and return with honor both now and in the increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) world of 2025 and beyond?


In light of the federal cybersecurity workforce shortage, turning to machines and automation to help secure federal systems and networks is no longer a suggestion; it'’s a necessity. This shortage can be attributed to several factors, one of which is that a lot of person-power is spent on mundane tasks that don’t need to be done by a human. This leads to higher levels of turnover in more junior roles — namely tier-one security operations center (SOC) operators and researchers.


In cooperation with DoD, Federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), Directorate of Intelligence and Information Sharing created, developed, and implemented the Domestic Law Enforcement Awareness Program (DLEAP) approximately 18 months ago. DLEAP utilizes highly customized commercial software to enable participating law enforcement agencies to execute searches, using pre-built analyst concepts, to quickly find responsive information regarding terrorism, criminal threats, insider threats, and suspicious activities.


Light fidelity, or ​Li-Fi, is a ground-breaking light-based communication technology which makes use of light waves instead of radio technology to deliver data. Li-Fi is a bidirectional, high-speed and fully networked wireless communication technology similar to Wi-Fi, but capable of 10 times faster transmission rates from point to point.

"Li-Fi technology has the potential of being faster than any radio based technology existing at present," said Dr. Bill Butler, project lead for the DISA Li-Fi University Affiliated Research Center (UARC) Project. "With Wi-Fi, all devices are fighting for the same 800 megabits per second (Mbps) of bandwidth. With Li-Fi, the entire visible and non-visible light spectrum is available for use — laying the groundwork for 10 gigabits per second (Gbps) transmission rates within the next calendar year."


The MH-60S Armed Helicopter is the Navy's premier rotary wing small unit warfare platform. Despite its many state of the art capabilities, the aircraft lacks a moving-map display, which is a critical tool for crews’ situational awareness. A software and hardware update is currently being developed to address this long-standing deficiency; however, it is years away from fleetwide implementation.


When former Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work heard the head of Google's parent company, Eric Schmidt, say this morning that America needs a national strategy for developing Artificial Intelligence, one image sprang to his mind's eye.

"The image that popped into my mind was of Nikita Khrushchev banging his shoe in the UN and saying, "We will bury you," Work said. Work told me Schmidt was "absolutely right" to call for America to come up with its own strategic plan to boost its work on AI, as China recently did. "


Innovators at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division; Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, Atlantic; and Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) have spent the last several months curating the output from a massive multiplayer online wargame leveraging the Internet (MMOWGLI) to examine how the Navy might address the emergence of greater-than-human intelligence from technological means, otherwise known as “the Singularity.”


CHIPS Magazine is published exclusively online by the Department of the Navy and sponsored by the DON Chief Information Officer and the DON Enterprise Software Initiative (ESI) Software Product Team at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific in partnership with SPAWAR Systems Center Atlantic.

Each issue of CHIPS contains a message from the DON CIO discussing the latest IT policies and initiatives in the department, as well as guidance from DON subject matter experts in areas of vital interest that cover the range of Navy information technology/information management, tactical as well as business systems and networks, communications, C4I, ISR, innovation, process improvement, OPSEC, cybersecurity, spectrum, information warfare and diversity/professional development.​

The October-December 2017 Edition focuses on the Cyber Threat.

In 2014, there were 317 million new malware variants; in 2015, a 36 percent increase was encountered, resulting in 431 million new malware variants discovered, according to a 2016 Symantec report. With over 1.18 million new variants released daily, how can we honestly believe that we can defend our networks and information utilizing traditional methods?


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