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Home | Tag Archives: nsa

Tag Archives: nsa

Op-Ed: Space Force an Unlikely Idea Best Left in the Hangar

To some, the idea of a Space Force might seem exciting, especially being locked to Earth as America has become since the Shuttle program was retired on August 31, 2011.

Since that time, we have been hitching rides aboard rockets of other countries to continue working aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Recently, space has become an exciting adventure once again with several successful launches of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and the beautiful return of its boosters to the landing pad.

So, it seems natural that the idea of a government funded Space Force would spark the imagination, until you read the fine print.

Earlier this month, Vice President Mike Pence held a press conference outlining the reasoning behind and the steps necessary to develop a Space Force as a new branch of the military.

His speech started off by talking of three new space policy directives signed by President Trump that “will reorient our space program toward exploration, unleash America’s burgeoning commercial space companies, and safeguard our vital space assets with a new space traffic management policy.”

For a brief minute, this might bring to light thoughts of the continued search for habitability on other worlds, alien life in any form, or even astro-mining for resources outside the confines of Earth. But then, Pence goes on to talk about the highest priority of the Space Force being the “safety and security of the American people” from “growing security threats emerging in space.”

Just after the second world war ended, the Air Force was created as its own branch of the military to ensure our dominance in the air. This is the reasoning behind the push for a Space Force, according to Pence. “Space is a warfighting domain just like land and air and sea,” he says.

Suddenly, the paranoia starts with some people wondering about what threats from space he could be talking about. Clips from movies like Independence Day start auto-playing in the mind.

According to the Trump Administration, the space environment has fundamentally changed from what was once peaceful and uncontested, to crowded and adversarial, with other countries seeking to disrupt our space base systems and challenge America’s supremacy in space as never before.

The Vice President talks of Russian missiles that can be launched mid-flight and China destroying one of its own satellites, and then proposes that these countries MAY target our satellites.

So, no attack from aliens looming on the horizon. Okay.   What exactly is the outline of the four-step plan?

First, the creation of a new combat and command for space, The United States Space Command, led by a four-star flag officer to insure integration across the military.

Second, an elite group of joint war fighters specializing in the domain of space, drawing men and women from across the military to support the Space Command by providing space expertise in times of crisis and conflict.

Third, the creation of the Space Development Agency that will ensure the men and women have the cutting-edge war fighting capabilities.

The fourth step calls for clear lines of responsibility and accountability by creating a single civilian position that reports to the Secretary of Defense to oversee the new branch of service as the New Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space.

Though no details on who is being considered to fill any of these roles for command or training of the personnel, it appears this four-step plan has more to do with militaristic maneuvers than pioneering a new frontier, as his speech initially led us to believe.

And with the looming and ever-increasing national deficit that seems to be causing cuts to other, perhaps more important programs, it appears unlikely that the creation of a Space Force will ever see fruition.

 

***

Amy Cooley is an astronomy enthusiast with a passion for making astronomy and everything cosmos-related, accessible to everyone through her blog Everyday Astronomy With Amy.

 

NSA Designates UTEP as a National Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) in Cyber Operations

The University of Texas at El Paso recently earned recognition as a National Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) in Cyber Operations. The designation from the National Security Agency is for academic years 2016–21.

The prestigious classification requires institutions to meet highly rigorous academic and programmatic criteria. There are only 16 designated CAEs across the U.S., and UTEP is one of two in Texas.

“UTEP is pleased to be recognized by the NSA as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations,” said UTEP President Diana Natalicio.

“This designation validates our success in developing highly competitive programs that prepare students to address some of the most important challenges in computer science and national security.  This new NSA-CAE designation will enable our Department of Computer Science to expand its successful efforts to engage students in work at the forefront of cyber-security,” Natalicio added.

The NSA CAE-Cyber Operations designation complements UTEP’s existing designation as a CAE in Cyber Defense.  The NSA Cyber Operations program aligns with the President’s National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE): Building a Digital Nation, and furthers the goal of broadening the pipeline of skilled workers capable of supporting a cyber-secure nation.

The program identifies institutions offering a curriculum that is deeply technical, interdisciplinary, and firmly grounded in computer science and engineering with extensive opportunities for hands-on applications through labs and exercises. In addition, it provides a particular emphasis on technologies and techniques in specialized cyber operations to enhance the security posture of the nation.

These technologies are critical to intelligence, military and law enforcement organizations authorized to perform such specialized operations.

This designation is specifically focused on the Secure Cyber-Systems concentration in the B.S. in Computer Science program in UTEP’s College of Engineering.

The NSA Cyber Operations program review committee evaluated UTEP’s computer science faculty as highly qualified and invested in conducting research related to cyber operations, and determined that the undergraduate curriculum is organized to impart to students the deep technical knowledge and skills needed to support a cyber-secure nation.

The new designation highlights the work done by the department to integrate cyber-security concepts into research, education, outreach and student extra-curricular activities. In collaboration with the U.S. Army Research Lab, the department has hosted several cyber-security hands-on workshops in which students learn how to tackle such problems.

The designation also aligns with one of University of Texas System Chancellor William McRaven’s eight “Quantum Leaps” – a cornerstone of his vision for the UT System – focused on national security. According to McRaven, the UT System is uniquely positioned to establish itself as a leader in national security, because within its institutions are great minds thinking and working on national security problems.

The UT System institutions have more than 40 centers and institutes focusing on cybersecurity, bioterrorism, policy and statecraft and other national security issues. The national security Quantum Leap will establish the UT Network for National Security, uniting these efforts to create a systemwide alliance, which will address the most vexing national security problems.

“UT El Paso has one of the nation’s top cyber security programs and its graduates are going to be on the front lines of combatting threats to national security,” McRaven said. “This designation is indicative of the very critical role UTEP – and higher education as whole – can and should have in protecting our nation.”

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