February 7th, 2012
04:36 PM ET

Meet the mule-bot

By Jennifer Rizzo

The military's tech incubator has revealed its latest effort to perfect a robotic beast of burden.

The LS3, which has been in development since 2010, is being built to carry heavy loads for troops in the field, and the Defense Department's research and development arm has for the first time released footage of the new mule-like robot in action.

Designed to carry 400 pounds of equipment, travel up to 20 miles at a time, and move at speeds as fast as 10 mph, the LS3 is meant to fit into a Marine or Army unit in a "natural way," the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency said in a news release.

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Filed under: DARPA • Defense Spending • Military • Technology
Secure Androids set to deploy
A U.S soldier checks his cell phone while on patrol in Iraq in December. Smartphones are first being deployed to soldiers
February 3rd, 2012
05:31 PM ET

Secure Androids set to deploy

By Mark Milian

U.S. soldiers will be among the first to receive newly approved smartphones capable of capable of handling classified government documents over cellular networks,  according to people involved in the project.

The phones will run a modified version of Google's Android software, which is being developed as part of an initiative that spans multiple federal agencies and government contractors, these people said.

The smartphones are first being deployed to U.S. soldiers, people familiar with the project said. Later, federal agencies are expected to get phones for sending and receiving government cables while away from their offices, sources said. Eventually, local governments and corporations could give workers phones with similar software.

The Army has been testing touchscreen devices at U.S. bases for nearly two years, said Michael McCarthy, a director for the Army's Brigade Modernization Command, in a phone interview. About 40 phones were sent to fighters overseas a year ago, and the Army plans to ship 50 more phones and 75 tablets to soldiers abroad in March, he said.

"We've had kind of an accelerated approval process," McCarthy said. "This is a hugely significant event."

Read the whole story here

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Filed under: Military • Technology
The invisible revolution is online
January 30th, 2012
02:01 AM ET

The invisible revolution is online

By Jamie Crawford

Guided by an army of "geeks with a conscience," a network of digital activists, working mostly in the shadows, is emerging to challenge the restrictions of repressive governments around the world.

Sascha Meinrath is part of that army.

Working with a team of tech experts inside a nondescript building in downtown Washington, Meinrath is developing new technologies that could one day be used to evade government censors and secret police. "You can imagine any of the world's hot spots, and we have been contacted by people there," he told CNN.

With governments in Iran, Syria, Cuba and elsewhere around the world trying to clamp down on freedom of expression both in public and online, the march is on to put a stop to it.

Since coming into office, the Obama administration has actively supported the construction of detours around Internet censors in repressive environments like Iran and Syria, thereby enabling activists to communicate with each other, and organize, without the threat of surveillance by the very governments they are trying to subvert.

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Filed under: State Department • Technology
January 10th, 2012
06:02 PM ET

The "mule" drone

By CNN National Security Producer Jennifer Rizzo

"You call, we haul" could be the motto for a new unmanned helicopter drone being tested to deliver cargo and supplies to Marines in Afghanistan.

A first of its kind, the unmanned chopper can carry 6,000 pounds of supplies to troops in remote and dangerous regions without the risks of sending a piloted aircraft or truck convoy.

The military already has an arsenal of high-flying surveillance drones and unmanned armed aircraft that can hit targets with Hellfire missiles.

Adding a cargo drone to the mix could reduce the loss of troop lives, according to the Marine Corps, which is spearheading the testing. In addition, it could reduce loss of equipment and supplies on ground resupply missions and be another option for delivering supplies by air when the weather, terrain or threat from enemy fighters pose too great of a risk to pilot an aircraft.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • drones • Marines • Military • Technology
December 6th, 2011
08:31 AM ET

Downed drone was on CIA mission

By CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr

A U.S. stealth drone that crashed in Iran last week was part of a CIA reconnaissance mission which involved both the intelligence community and military personnel stationed in Afghanistan, two U.S. officials confirmed to CNN Tuesday.

A senior U.S. official with direct access to the assessment about what happened to the drone said it was tasked to fly over western Afghanistan and look for insurgent activity, with no directive to either fly into Iran or spy on Iran from Afghan airspace.

A U.S. satellite quickly pinpointed the downed drone, which apparently sustained significant damage, the senior official said.

When you absolutely have to get there fast (and bomb something)
November 17th, 2011
09:26 PM ET

When you absolutely have to get there fast (and bomb something)

By National Security Producer Jennifer Rizzo

The military took a big step forward in the pursuit of speedy strike capability with the successful test of a hypersonic speed weapon, one designed to travel five times the speed of sound for long distances.

The military was only willing to share some details, and the exact speed was not one of them. But from its launch from Kauai, Hawaii, CNN calculated the vehicle traveled an average of 4,800 miles per hour in order to reach the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands in 30 minutes.

While this specific vehicle is not planned to go into production, the test was meant to collect data on the technology and performance.

Filed under: Military • Technology
Pentagon: Bunker buster not intended for Iran
Loading the MOP during a 2007 test in New Mexico
November 16th, 2011
06:48 PM ET

Pentagon: Bunker buster not intended for Iran

By Sr. National Security Producer Charley Keyes

The military's newest and most powerful ground-penetrating bomb is not intended for Iran's underground nuclear and weapons facilities specifically, a Pentagon spokesman said Wednesday.

"The system's not aimed at any one country," said Pentagon spokesman, Capt. John Kirby. "It's to develop a capability we believe we need."

The new Massive Ordinance Penetrator, known as the MOP, is able to explode 200 feet underground and designed to destroy deeply buried and fortified targets such as the ones Iran is believed to have constructed to protect its nuclear research facilities.

"It gives us a far greater capability to reach and destroy an enemy's weapons of mass destructions that - weapons of mass destruction that are located in well-protected underground facilities, without getting into specifics, to - to a magnitude far greater than we have right now," Kirby said at a Pentagon briefing.

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Filed under: Iran • Military • Pentagon • Technology • weapons
DEBATE PREP: America the cyber sucker?
November 16th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

DEBATE PREP: America the cyber sucker?

Editor’s note: This analysis is part of Security Clearance blog’s “Debate Preps” series. On November 22, CNN, along with AEI and The Heritage Foundation, will host a Republican candidate debate focused on national security topics. In the run-up to the debate, Security Clearance asked both the sponsoring conservative think tanks to look at the key foreign policy issues and tell us what they want to hear candidates address.

By The Heritage Foundation's James Jay Carafano, Special to CNN

The scene from "Casablanca" says it all.

"I'm shocked-shocked to find that gambling is going on in here," Police Inspector Renault declares.  Immediately, the croupier hands the chief inspector his roulette table winnings.

Renault's disingenuousness disclaimer could be the tag line for U.S. cyber security policy. Just last month, the Director of National Intelligence delivered a report to Congress – "Foreign Spies Stealing U.S. Economic Secrets in Cyberspace."  Its "shocking" conclusion: China and Russia are stealing us blind.

Quelle surprise! Chinese beachheads in U.S. cyberspace have turned up time and again for years.  Not long ago Chinese hackers so thoroughly penetrated the computer network at the U.S. National Defense University in Washington, D.C., the entire system had to be shut down and cleaned out.

As for the Russians, they've long been recognized as a real "bear" online.  The infamous Russian Business Network (RBN) brazenly ran all manner of illicit online operations- and there was never much doubt that they were working in collusion with Kremlin officials. FULL POST

Filed under: 2012 Election • Analysis • Bachman • Cain • China • Cybersecurity • Debate Preps • Gingrich • Huntsman • Paul • Perry • Romney • Russia • Santorum • Technology
Military surges MRIs to war zone to diagnose brain injuries
November 1st, 2011
02:27 PM ET

Military surges MRIs to war zone to diagnose brain injuries

By CNN National Security Producer Jennifer Rizzo

For the first time ever, MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) systems were deployed to a combat zone last month, ending an initiative by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps to obtain the technology for brain injury treatment in Afghanistan.

The military hopes the MRIs, machines that use magnetic fields and radio waves to take pictures of organs and structures in the body, will allow for "cutting-edge discoveries" in the diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care of servicemembers with traumatic brain injuries and concussions, according to U.S. Navy Medicine spokesman Capt. Cappy Surette.

While the MRIs are standard commercially-available systems, the support trailers for the machines were designed to endure "vast temperature swings, fine sand and power generation" in Afghanistan, according to Surette. The trailers also have to be shielded so that the systems will not interfere with military communication frequencies.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Technology
November 1st, 2011
01:52 PM ET

Hackers shut down Palestinian internet network

Internet service is completely cut off in Gaza Tuesday and partially shut down in the West Bank after an attack on the main Internet provider to the Palestinian territories, according to a minister with the Palestinian Authority.

"This is a very serious and vicious attack," Dr. Mashour Abu-Daqqa, the minister of Communications and Information Technology, told CNN. The attack, which affected most of the Palestinian Internet communication network, also targeted domain addresses, said Abu-Daqqa.

The minister said hackers are using international IP servers originating in Germany, China, and Slovenia to send millions of attacks in the form of viruses to penetrate and disrupt the Internet communications.

There is no word on who, exactly, is behind the attacks.

"It does not mean the attackers are from there, it is only the origin of these virus attacks using these international servers and other international country servers," Abu-Daqqa said. FULL POST

Filed under: China • Cybersecurity • Germany • Palestine • Slovenia • Technology • UNESCO
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