By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. Army is looking for ideas on how to develop a non-lethal weapon capable of knocking out remote weapon stations on enemy vehicles without endangering nearby civilians.

Instead of blowing up hostile armored vehicles and the surrounding city block, the Army wants to have the ability to disable them by using nonlethal force, keeping civilian housing, hospitals, schools, mosques safe, avoiding the strong negative sociopolitical ramifications should they be attacked in the normal manner.

“The sociopolitical ramifications of collateral damage, especially the type of damage that can be inflicted with traditional anti-armor assets, have made it increasingly difficult for the dismounted soldier to engage lightly armored vehicles,” according to an April 20 solicitation.

The April 20th solicitation was posted on a government website for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, which is designed to encourage small business to engage in federal research and development.

Remote weapon stations, or RWS, are “often highly instrumented to provide vision, range finding as well as weapon stabilization,” the Army explains. “If the instrumentation can be blinded or the stabilization destroyed, they become far less dangerous to the dismounted soldier and the civilian population as a whole. If the entire electronics of the RWS can be disrupted, even basic traversing and firing functions become disabled.”

The solicitation, which closed to submissions June 20, suggests another soft spot, targeting a vehicle’s mobility, such as its engine. “It is imperative that these mechanisms are not viewed as lethal to bystanders,” the Army says.

The armor disablement weapon also needs to have enough range (more than a hundred yards) to keep dismounted U.S. soldiers far away enough from heavily armed vehicles. Other specifications include less than five pounds in weight, the ability to disable a vehicle in less than five minutes, and capable of targeting buildings.

By Debbie Gregory.

An Airman from the 92nd Maintenance Group used his innovative ideas to potentially save the KC-135 Stratotanker fleet more than $1 million in parts and man-hours by creating a unique piece of equipment.

Tech Sgt. Shawn Roberge has developed a mechanism to hold the landing-gear doors closed on the nose of the 1950’s era plane, a problem persists with every KC-135.

“The KC-135 has areas prone to damage,” Roberge said. “One of the major areas is where the nose landing doors catch on the outside fuselage skin, tearing it from the current frame design.”

The mechanism could potentially save the Air Force about $1.5 million if Roberge’s invention is used on the entire fleet of 431 Stratotankers that are still in commission.

Roberge created the part with aluminum, keeping it simple, sturdy and durable. The design incorporates three arms that are connected by hinges. Two arms secure it to the underside of the wheel well of the aircraft’s nose, and the third arm hangs down below the doors. When Roberge swings the doors up, a latch on the third arm locks them into place.

Roberge’s design is one fourth the weight of his previous steel design.

When the plane is in flight and preparing to land, two doors open on the bottom of the plane’s nose, and out spring the landing gear and its wheels. But when the plane is being taxied around the air base for repair, the doors must be held shut.

The old technology, which consists of a webbed strap to keep the doors closed, causes the edges of the doors to snag and peel back the sheet metal. Each time it happens, it causes about $3,500 in repair time and material costs.

Roberge’s invention solves the problem.

“The Air Force is empowering our airmen to think outside the box,” Roberge said. “In the past, you couldn’t do that.”

By Debbie Gregory.

Since 2001, California has lost more jobs to China than any other state. Approximately 562,500 of the state’s jobs, a 3.34% share of California’s 16.8 million jobs in 2017, were outsourced.

The main losses are due to technical outsourcing by Northern Californian Silicon Valley companies, as well as Southern California’s apparel industry.

According to a recently released report entitled “The China Toll Deepens,” the trade deficit in the computer and electronic parts industry grew the most.

This comes as President Trump’s trade war with China continues to escalate, with the administration imposing $250 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods.

The report, coauthored by Economist Robert Scott and Research Assistant Zane Mokhiber states that the growth of the U.S. trade deficit with China, which has increased by more than $100 billion since the beginning of the Great Recession, almost entirely explains why manufacturing employment has not fully recovered along with the rest of the economy. And the growing trade deficit with China isn’t just a post-recession phenomenon hitting manufacturing: it has cost the U.S. millions of jobs throughout the economy since China entered the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, a finding validated by numerous studies.

Scott said that Republican-supported tax cuts and spending increases will turbocharge the U.S. budget deficit with “a sugar-high that pushes up interest rates, attracting capital from abroad and strengthening the dollar.” He added, “Hitting China with 25% tariffs is not the solution.”

Los Angeles economist Sung Won Sohn said that even as much of California’s computer and electronics hardware manufacturing moved to Asia, “a lot of software jobs were created in Silicon Valley, and a lot of the hardware we import from China and Korea uses software manufactured in the U.S.”

Sohn cautioned that the numbers in the institute report may be “overstated,” but he added, “the conclusions are correct: We are losing jobs as a result of the huge trade deficit, and I blame much of it on unfair trade practices by China.”

After California, the states with the highest losses were Texas (314,000) New York (183,500), Illinois (148,200) and Pennsylvania (136,100).

By Debbie Gregory.

The biggest cloud companies, including Amazon, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle, had all been jockeying for bidding position for the winner-take-all Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract. IMB proactively filed a pre-award bid protest with the Government Accountability Office just days before final bids for the lucrative but controversial contract were due.

The contract was ultimately awarded to Microsoft Azure. Oracle Corp had also filed a protest against the Pentagon’s “winner-take-all” cloud computing contract, citing that it restricts the field of competition.

Defense Department officials said in early March that the $10 billion, 10-year contract would be bid out to a single cloud provider, arguing that using more than one provider would add needless complexity.

“We’ve never built an enterprise cloud,” said Dana Deasy, the Pentagon chief information officer overseeing the process. “Starting with a number of firms while at the same time trying to build out an enterprise capability just simply did not make sense.”

“Throughout the year-long JEDI saga, countless concerns have been raised that this solicitation is aimed at a specific vendor,” said Sam Gordy, general manager of IBM U.S. Federal. “At no point have steps been taken to alleviate those concerns.”

The Jedi project involves moving massive amounts of Defense Department data to a commercially operated cloud system. The JEDI cloud is expected to absorb some of the Pentagon’s existing efforts and is considered a “pathfinder” that the Defense Department will build upon for decades.

During this process, at least nine companies had coordinated their opposition in Washington to the government awarding the contract to a single provider.

The latest legal action follows a months-long coordinated lobbying campaign in Washington from IBM and other tech companies to encourage the Defense Department to change its procurement strategy. Whether it will work remains to be seen.

By Debbie Gregory.

So you’ve decided to take the big plunge and launch your business. Congratulations!  But if you can’t afford to have the office of your dreams in the prime location that you want, here are some alternatives.

Your local coffee shop may not be the ideal place to start your business, but at some locations you don’t even have to be a customer to reap the benefits. If your team consists of you, this may be an ideal temporary, short term option.

Working from home is the next best option. But in order to be successful here, you should delegate a space that is yours for you to work on your business, be it a dedicated room, space in the basement, the garage, or even a large closet.

Co-working spaces and shared office spaces offer flexibility, as well as the opportunity to collaborate. Incubators are all the rage for start-ups these days, and can be beneficial on many levels. A shared office space where two or three start-ups can work side by side does not only help in cost cutting. The businesses can learn a lot from each other. There are several places that sublet their conference rooms, projectors, and other office amenities to small businesses at an hourly or daily basis. You can book a hall for a day and hold your weekly or monthly meeting with your team members or prospective clients. It is a win/win situation at a very reasonable bargain.

If you identify a space that you think would work for you but it’s too much for you to take up on your own, you can turn it into a co-working space. Try to identify spaces that have sat vacant for an amount of time. The owner may be more flexible with you in an attempt to get it rented. Be sure that you are in a financial position to cover the cost of vacancy rates before you sign a lease.