Recent cyber attacks on government computer systems have prompted the Marine Corps to speed up its plans to transition from a Corps-centric security credentialing system to a Defense Department-wide system spelled out in April.

In a July 1 message, Brig. Gen. Kevin Nally, C4 director with Marine Forces Cyberspace Command at Fort Meade, Maryland, said all system administrator and privileged user accounts on Corps systems, networks and enclaves must be changed to use DoD public key infrastructure credentials or smart cards.

Public key infrastructure, or PKI, is the security architecture for validating the identities of individuals or systems accessing information stored on and moving through a network.

“It is incumbent on all Marine Corps organizations to understand that this is a mandatory requirement and must comply within the [stated] timelines,” Nally said in the message.

Last month, the Office of Personnel Management’s system was breached — reportedly by China — and the personnel records of some 4 million current or former employees may have been compromised. Previous attacks on OPM may have exposed the personal information of 14 million people.

Also in June, the U.S. Army’s website, army​.mil, was defaced and temporarily brought down by a group calling itself the Syrian Electronic Army, and two Air Force subdomains were hit by a pro-Palestinian group going by the name AnonGhost.

The Pentagon released its second cyber strategy document three months ago. The first, released in 2011, is cited in the Marine Corps’ July 1 message.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter called the latest document a guide to developing DoD’s cyber forces and strengthening its defenses against attacks.

“It focuses on building cyber capabilities and organization for DoD’s three cyber missions,” Carter said in announcing the strategy. “To defend DoD networks, systems and information, defend the U.S. homeland and U.S. national interests against cyberattacks of significant consequence and support operational and contingency plans.”

As part of the strategy, the Pentagon is building a Joint Information Environment security architecture that, among other measures, will “shift the focus from protecting service-specific networks and systems to securing the DoD enterprise in a unified manner,” the document states.

The Corps has directed that by July 8 all operating system/root domain-level individual user system administrator passwords that have not already been PKI-enabled must be changed.

By July 15, the password of every individual system administrator and privileged user for every DoD computer, system, applications software, network device and every other form of information technology must be changed.

Marine Forces Cyberspace personnel will also conduct in-person validation with system admins and privileged users’ accounts to make sure the accounts are associated with an individual requiring access to them. Any accounts not validated will be deleted.

According to the timeline detailed by Nally, the cyber command will make sure that multi-factor authentication is in place and enabled for admins and users on systems that can remotely access other devices by the end of August.

Ray Letteer, chief of the command’s Cyber Security Division, said he does not expect the Corps to have any difficulty meeting the timeline. About 90 percent of personnel who use the Corps networks and system already use the kind of access codes required under the strategy, he said.

“The Marine Corps has been doing pretty well on this,” he said.

– Bryant Jordan can be reached at bryant.jordan@military.com.


The Office of Naval Research will meet with 200 industry reps later this month in advance of the Navy’s deep dive into additive manufacturing — aka 3D printing.

The Navy wants to give its ships at sea the capability of making parts as needed, something that not only will come in handy in emergency but would preclude the need to carry many spare parts that — ideally — never have to be used.

In September, the Navy expects to formally ask for proposals and will use the upcoming July 15 Industry Day to brief industry officials about what it’s looking for and get them to think about how to improve existing 3D printing technology, ONR said in an announcement Monday.

“We’re developing quality AM [additive manufacturing] metal processes for naval applications with titanium, aluminum and stainless-steel alloys,” said Program Manager Billy Short. “Ideally, we would one day like to see additive manufacturing machines built that could be placed on vessels and perform well even in the toughest sea conditions, but that is another technical leap beyond this current program.”

But ONR envisions the advances benefiting ground and aviation assets, as well, and Short said ONR will be looking for new ideas for the additive manufacture of critical metal-cast parts such as impellers, engine mounts and transmission housings.

Among the challenges the Navy faces for shipboard 3D manufacturing is materials storage.

“There are significant safety concerns,” Lt. Ben Kohlman of the Chief of Naval Operations’ Rapid Innovation Cell noted during a discussion of the technology last year. “The powder that’s used in the aluminum or titanium is highly flammable.”

All the briefings will be unclassified, but industry reps taking part must be U.S. citizens, according to the announcement.

The event will be held at the Stonegate 2 Conference Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

Additional information and registration may be found here.

– Bryant Jordan can be reached at bryant.jordan@military.com.

PutinRussia’s Aerospace Defense Forces will not have their new military nuclear warning satellite systems in place until months later than anticipated, the Moscow Times reported June 30.

Citing the TASS news agency, the Times reports that Russia has delayed the launch of its new military satellites by at least four months, leaving the country unable to detect a potential nuclear attack from space.

[Continue reading…]


The failure of a SpaceX mission to resupply the International Space Station will have serious implications not only for the company’s civilian and commercial business, but also its ambitions to crack into the military market.

The explosion of the company’s Falcon 9 on June 28 over Cape Canaveral, Florida — more than two minutes into flight — came just a month after it was certified by the U.S. Air Force to carry military satellites. [Continue reading…]

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket successfully launched the AFSPC-5 satellite for the U.S. Air Force from Space Launch Complex-41. This is ULA’s fifth launch in 2015 and the 96th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

Any Uncle Sam replacement to the cheap yet powerful Russian rocket engine used to launch U.S. military satellites is still years away, officials acknowledged.

The Air Force currently contracts with a company called United Launch Alliance LLC, a Colorado-based joint venture between Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co., to launch military and spy satellites. ULA flies two families of rockets, Delta and Atlas. The latter is powered during its first stage by the Russian-made RD-180 kerosene-liquid oxygen engine. [Continue reading…]