• Israel, for the first time since the October 1973 war, fires warning shots into Syria

    The civil war in Syria has taken an ominous turn on Sunday as Israel, for the first time since the October 1973 Yom Kippur war, fired into Syria to warn the beleaguered Assad government that Israel would not tolerate shelling from Syrian territory into Israel; on four separate occasions last week, mortars from Syria fell in the Golan Heights, an area Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 war; it appears that the mortar fire was not intentional, but rather stray rounds, the result of errand shelling; on Saturday nine days ago, a few Syrian tanks entered a no-man’s land near the Israel border, in violation of the 1974 cease-fire and force-separation agreement between Israel and Syria

  • U.S.-Iran tensions rise as Iran tries to disrupt U.S. reconnaissance flights in Gulf

    Tensions between the United States and Iran increase as news emerged last week of an attempt by four Iranian fighter planes, on 1 November, to shoot down a U.S. Predator drone engaged in a surveillance mission over international water in the Persian Gulf

  • CIA-commissioned climate change report outlines perils for U.S. national security

    U.S. national security leaders believe that the accelerating pace of climate change will place severe strains on U.S. military and intelligence agencies in coming years; the reason, according the National Research Council, the U.S. top scientific research body: climate changes will trigger increasingly disruptive developments around the world; a 206-page National Research Council study, commissioned by the CIA and other U.S. intelligence services, concludes that states will fail, large populations subjected to famine, flood, or disease will migrate across international borders, and national and international agencies will not have the capacity or resources to cope with the resulting conflicts and crises

  • Cleanup of most contaminated U.S. groundwater sites unlikely for many decades

    At least 126,000 sites across the United States have contaminated groundwater that requires remediation, and about 10 percent of these sites are considered “complex,” meaning restoration is unlikely to be achieved in the next 50 to 100 years due to technological limitations; the estimated cost of complete cleanup at these sites ranges from $110 billion to $127 billion, but the figures for both the number of sites and costs are likely underestimates

  • Nanostructured material stronger than a speeding bullet

    Providing protection against impacts from bullets and other high-speed projectiles is more than just a matter of brute strength; while traditional shields have been made of bulky materials such as steel, newer body armor made of lightweight material such as Kevlar has shown that thickness and weight are not necessary for absorbing the energy of impacts; new tests of nanostructured material could lead to better armor against everything from gunfire to micrometeorites

  • DARPA seeks multi-band, portable sensor to provide soldiers with clear images

    Clip-on or helmet-mounted camera system would fuse useful aspects of visible, near infrared, and infrared images into a single shot under all weather and visibility conditions; the Pixel Network for Dynamic Visualization program, or PIXNET, technology would ingest the most useful data points from each component sensor and fuse them into a common, information-rich image that can be viewed on the soldier’s heads-up display, and potentially be shared across units

  • Smart camera to describe what it sees -- and reason about what it cannot see

    Army scouts are commonly tasked with covertly entering uncontrolled areas, setting up a temporary observation post, and then performing persistent surveillance for twenty-four hours or longer; what if instead of sending scouts on high-risk missions the military could deploy taskable smart cameras? A truly “smart” camera would be able to describe with words everything it sees and reason about what it cannot see

  • CHAMP, Boeing’s non-kinetic alternative to traditional explosive, in first operational test

    CHAMP, Boeing’s counter-electronics weapon system, uses high-powered microwaves to degrade or destroy electronic targets without collateral damage; it was recently successfully passed its first operational test at the Utah desert

  • Looming sequestration causes Navy to looking at future technology, fleet size

    Adm. Mark Ferguson, vice chief of naval operations, offered a revealing look at the potential future for the Navy if sequestration, or automatic defense cuts, goes into effect in January; without some sort of adjustment by Congress, currently the subject of discussion on Capitol Hill, the nearly 10 percent across-the-board Department of Defense budget cuts are slated to commence in 2013 and continue for ten years

  • Faster data analysis on tactical handheld devices

    The Office of Naval Research (ONR) announced a new program to optimize tactical handheld technology for quick decision-making in the field; the Exchange of Actionable Information at the Tactical Edge (EAITE) program, designed to sift through data from multiple sources for faster analysis

  • Experts, engineers gather to contribute to DARPA’s Plan X

    DARPA’s Plan X will attempt to create revolutionary technologies for understanding, planning, and managing DoD cyber missions in real-time, large-scale, and dynamic network environments; Proposers’ Day dialogue cements program approach

  • Twenty-year anniversary of U.S. last full-scale nuclear test

    The first U.S. nuclear test, code named Trinity, took place in southern New Mexico forty-seven years earlier, on 16 July 1945; in all, the United States conducted 1,030 nuclear tests – the last one, code-named Divider,  took place twenty years ago, on 23 September 1992

  • Hezbollah drone represents changing technological landscape for Israel

    Israel’s air defenses worked just fine in handling the drone launched by Hezbollah last week: the drone was picked up by Israeli surveillance as it was launched from southern Lebanon, then tracked as it flew south over the Mediterranean; it was allowed to enter Israeli air space so that after it was shot down, its remains could be collected and analyzed; still, the incident made many Israelis sit up and take notice; Israel, a country which has pioneered the use of UAVs as an integral part of military operations and which has held a monopoly on operating drones in the region, was forced to realize that is adversaries, too, now had access to the technology

  • Worries about UAV use in both military and domestic missions exaggerated

    Dr. Steven P. Bucci, a Senior Fellow for Homeland Security & Defense Issues at the Heritage Foundation, talked with Derek Major, the Homeland Security News Wire’s executive editor, about the growing use of UAVs in both military and domestic law-enforcement missions; Bucci says that in targeting militants, American drone operators exercise a great deal of care to minimize, and eliminate if possible, death and injury to innocent civilians; he also says that the use of drones in domestic law-enforcement missions, if done properly, will not pose Big Brother risks, because drones may make surveillance easier and cheaper, but it will not give law-enforcement agencies any new authorities

  • DARPA seeking tools for identifying hidden explosives at standoff

    The threat to U.S. soldiers from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) is as varied as the makers of IEDs are resourceful in how they design and conceal the explosives; interdisciplinary teams needed to develop proof-of-concept demonstrations of technology for identifying presence of embedded explosives in opaque, high-water-content substances