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Ballistic Missile Defense in the Asia-Pacific Region: Cooperation and Opposition – CRS

The growing number and modernization of ballistic missiles in the Asia-Pacific region poses a security challenge for the United States and its allies and is thus a concern for many in Congress. The United States has made ballistic missile defense (BMD) a central component of protection for forward-deployed U.S. forces and extended deterrence for allied security. The configuration of sensors, command-and-control centers, and BMD assets in the region has slowly evolved with contributions from treaty allies, primarily Japan, Australia, and South Korea.

Observers believe that North Korea has an arsenal of hundreds of short-range ballistic missiles and likely dozens of medium-range Nodong missiles; the extended-range Nodongs are considered capable of reaching Japan and U.S. bases there. Longer-range North Korean missiles appear to be under development but remain unreliable, with only one successful test out of five in the past 15 years. The U.S. intelligence community has not yet concluded that North Korea can build nuclear warheads small enough to put on ballistic missiles, but there is significant debate among experts on this question.

Full Report: Ballistic Missile Defense in the Asia-Pacific Region: Cooperation and Opposition (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

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Sleep in the Military: Promoting Healthy Sleep Among U.S. Servicemembers

 

“Sleep disturbances are a common reaction to stress and are linked to a host of physical and mental health problems. Given the unprecedented demands placed on U.S. military forces since 2001, there has been growing concern about the prevalence and consequences of sleep problems for servicemembers. Sleep problems often follow a chronic course, persisting long after servicemembers return home from combat deployments, with consequences for their reintegration and the readiness and resiliency of the force. Therefore, it is critical to understand the role of sleep problems in servicemembers’ health and functioning and the policies and programs available to promote healthy sleep. This report provides the first comprehensive review of sleep-related policies and programs across the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), along with a set of actionable recommendations for DoD, commanders, researchers, and medical professionals who treat U.S. servicemembers. The two-year multimethod study also examined the rates and correlates of sleep problems among post-deployed servicemembers, finding negative effects on mental health, daytime impairment, and perceived operational readiness. The research reviewed evidence-based interventions to treat sleep disturbances among servicemembers and veterans and exposed several individual- and system-level barriers to achieving healthy sleep. Implementing evidence-based treatments is just one step toward improving sleep across the force; as the research recommendations highlight, it is equally important that policies and programs also focus on preventing sleep problems and their consequences.”

Full Report: Sleep in the Military: Promoting Healthy Sleep Among U.S. Servicemembers
Source: RAND Corporation

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Department of Defense Selected Acquisition Reports (SARs) (As of December 31, 2014)

Department of Defense Selected Acquisition Reports (SARs) (As of December 31, 2014)
Source: U.S. Department of Defense

The Department of Defense (DoD) has released details on major defense acquisition program cost, schedule, and performance changes since the December 2013 reporting period. This information is based on the Selected Acquisition Reports (SARs) submitted to the Congress for the December 2014 reporting period.

SARs summarize the latest estimates of cost, schedule, and performance status. These reports are prepared annually in conjunction with submission of the President’s Budget. Subsequent quarterly exception reports are required only for those programs experiencing unit cost increases of at least 15 percent or schedule delays of at least six months. Quarterly SARs are also submitted for initial reports, final reports, and for programs that are rebaselined at major milestone decisions.

The total program cost estimates provided in the SARs include research and development, procurement, military construction, and acquisition-related operations and maintenance. Total program costs reflect actual costs to date as well as future anticipated costs. All estimates are shown in fully inflated then-year dollars.

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Getting to the Left of SHARP: Lessons Learned from West Point’s Efforts to Combat Sexual Harassment and Assault

Getting to the Left of SHARP: Lessons Learned from West Point’s Efforts to Combat Sexual Harassment and Assault
Source: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College

On July 26, 1948, President Harry Truman signed Executive Order 9981, ending the practice of segregating the military services by race. That same year, the Army allowed women to join the services on an equal basis with men. Both of these steps preceded the larger societal changes that allowed fully equal treatment of all types of American citizens in military service. Just over 2 years ago, Congress repealed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, allowing for gays and lesbians to openly take their place in the military. Our procedures and policies for successful gender integration have grown and evolved. The authors share five principles for leaders and commanders on the prevention of sexual harassment and assault, as well as associated “Tips” for implementation: (1) Leaders identify and break chains of circumstance; (2) Education is preferable to litigation; (3) What’s electronic is public; (4) Don’t ignore pornography; and, (5) Unit climate is the commander’s responsibility. These principles and their associated tips are not panaceas, and these recommendations are submitted for discussion and feedback.

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CRS Insights: Increased Department of Defense Role in U.S. Ebola Response, CRS Insights (October 1, 2014)

CRS Insights: Increased Department of Defense Role in U.S. Ebola Response, CRS Insights (October 1, 2014)

Increased Department of Defense Role in U.S. Ebola Response, CRS Insights (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

On September 16, 2014, President Obama announced a major increase in the U.S. response to the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The Department of Defense (DOD) submitted requests to Congress to make excess Overseas Contingency Operations funds appropriated for FY2014 available to support this effort. The requested funds would be used to provide humanitarian assistance, including:

  • transportation of DOD and non-DOD personnel and supplies;
  • coordination of delivery of supplies from both DOD and non-DOD sources such as isolation units,
  • personnel protective equipment, and medical supplies;
  • construction of 17 planned Ebola treatment units;
  • and, training and education in support of sanitation and mortuary affairs functions to limit the spread of the Ebola outbreak.

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Data Flood: Helping the Navy Address the Rising Tide of Sensor Information

Data Flood: Helping the Navy Address the Rising Tide of Sensor Information
Source: RAND Corporation

In the U.S. Navy, there is a growing demand for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) data, which help Navy commanders obtain situational awareness and help Navy vessels perform a host of mission-critical tasks. The amount of data generated by ISR sensors has, however, become overwhelming, and Navy analysts are struggling to keep pace with this data flood. Their challenges include extremely slow download times, workstations cluttered with applications, and stovepiped databases and networks — challenges that are only going to intensify as the Navy fields new and additional sensors in the coming years. Indeed, if the Navy does not change the way it collects, processes, exploits, and disseminates information, it will reach an ISR “tipping point” — the point at which its analysts are no longer able to complete a minimum number of exploitation tasks within given time constraints — as soon as 2016.

The authors explore options for solving the Navy’s “big data” challenge, considering changes across four dimensions: people, tools and technology, data and data architectures, and demand and demand management. They recommend that the Navy pursue a cloud solution — a strategy similar to those adopted by Google, the Intelligence Community, and other large organizations grappling with big data’s challenges and opportunities.

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