Military Embedded Systems

Cyber Innovation Challenge focuses on situational awareness in cyber domain


November 24, 2015

Mariana Iriarte

Technology Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Cyber Innovation Challenge focuses on situational awareness in cyber domain
Photo by U.S. Army/ Capt. Meredith Mathis

McLEAN, Va. The U.S. Army launched Cyber Innovation Challenge with an industry day on November 18 asking industry partners, including non-traditional defense contractors, to deliver prototype solutions for rapid evaluation using a flexible acquisition model known as Other Transaction Authority.

The goal of the situational awareness challenge is to investigate new technology and solutions that could help tactical commanders visualize cyber domain and calculate the risk of cyber threats.

"It is the Army's number one gap to start to look to fill," says Russ Fenton, of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command's, or TRADOC's, Cyber Center of Excellence. "There is a list of cyber gaps, and at the top is situational awareness."

"Our priority on cyber is to figure out how to make acquisition responsive to the requirements," says Kevin Fahey, executive director for System of Systems Engineering and Integration, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, or ASA(ALT). "In this space, the best thing we can do is get it in the hands of users."

The prototypes acquired from these challenges will be placed in the hands of cyber soldiers for operational evaluation to inform specifications prior to fielding decisions and potential broader procurement.

According to an Army release, officials plan to make available a synopsis of the requirements for the situational awareness challenge to the industry for white papers in December. An initial down select will be conducted in January 2016, in March they will evaluate technologies in a lab setting, and in April they plan to award potential Other Transaction (OT) agreements.

While sensors, data feeds, data storage, analytics, visualization and planning tools are all important components of that requirement, the challenge focuses specifically on ways to measure and depict cyber risk for tactical commanders, Fenton says.

Eventually, the Army's goal is to hold three to four Cyber Innovation Challenges per year to help investigate priority requirements and to feed into CyberQuest, a TRADOC exercise beginning next year that will examine priority Army cyber requirements and relevant capabilities in an experimental environment.

The first challenge the Army hosted was from June to September and resulted in OT agreements with two vendors to deliver prototype equipment. It focused on deployable kits for cyber protection teams executing defensive cyber operations.

Read more on cyber:

High-speed Ethernet encryption to be demonstrated by Naval Research Lab and ViaSat

Encrypted combat training system completes flight demonstration

Taking on encryption's usability and key management problems


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