The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) launched its Systems-Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies (SUBNETS) initiative this week, which aims to find out “the characteristics of distributed neural systems and attempt to develop and apply therapies that incorporate near real-time recording, analysis and stimulation in next-generation devices inspired by current Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS),” according to The Raw Story.
Some patients who are not responsive to certain therapies use “Deep Brain Stimulation” devices as an alternative therapeutic tool. Nearly 100,000 people around the world currently live with DBS implants, which are devices that can only deliver “electrical stimulation to reduce motor impairment” at this time, but DARPA is confident it can also be used to treat depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, Tourette’s, epilepsy, general anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“If SUBNETS is successful, it will advance neuropsychiatry beyond the realm of dialogue-driven observations and resultant trial and error and into the realm of therapy driven by quantifiable characteristics of neural state,” says Justin Sanchez, DARPA program manager.
“SUBNETS is a push toward innovative, informed and precise neurotechnological therapy to produce major improvements in quality of life for servicemembers and veterans who have very few options with existing therapies,” he said. “These are patients for whom current medical understanding of diseases like chronic pain or fatigue, unmanageable depression or severe post-traumatic stress disorder can’t provide meaningful relief.”
DARPA sent out a request for covering new hardware, neural system modeling software, and basic research on brain function. The agency “expects that successful teams will span across disciplines including psychiatry, neurosurgery, neural engineering, microelectronics, neuroscience, statistics, and computational modeling.”
More than $70 million has been budgeted during the next five years for SUBNETS, the agency said. The Obama administration considered it part of its basic neuroscience research initiative announced in April.
In a development that could herald the end of the mighty aircraft carrier, the Defense Department has put out a call for technology firms to help it develop an underwater unmanned mothership that could launch drone airplanes as well as submarines and surface boats.
The call for bids from contractors went up on the government’s Federal Business Opportunities web site August 22. The project is known as Hydra, and the bid posting describes it as, “an unmanned undersea system, providing a novel delivery mechanism for insertion of unmanned air and underwater vehicles into operational environments.”
The Hydra project is being carried out by DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, an arm of the Department of Defense. DARPA is perhaps most famous in the public mind for inventing the earliest version of the internet, then known as ARPANET, in the early 1970s.
According to the Daily Finance web site, the most likely bidders on the project are the defense contractors that already build most of the American submarine fleet, Huntington Ingalls and General Dynamics. But Boeing, which already builds a robotic submarine called Echo Ranger (pictured), is also a candidate.
Why build what is sure to be a costly new piece of military technology? Because, says the DARPA posting, it will save money in an era when we never know where the next threat coud come from.
“The rising number of ungoverned states, piracy, and proliferation of sophisticated defenses severely stretches current resources and impacts the nation's ability to conduct special operations and contingency missions,” DARPS says. “The Hydra program represents a cost effective way to add undersea capacity that can be tailored to support each mission.”
"The climate of budget austerity runs up against an uncertain security environment," Hydra program manager Scott Littlefield said, quoted by Information Week. "An unmanned technology infrastructure staged below the oceans' surface could relieve some of that resource strain and expand military capabilities in this increasingly challenging space."
SOURCES: Daily Finance, Information Week, Federal Business Opportunities
Top special operations commander Adm. William McRaven ordered a transfer of military files detailing the Navy SEAL raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout from the Defense Department to the CIA.
McRaven’s decision seems not to have effected the Obama administration, which vowed that it would be the most transparent in U.S. history, though it violated federal rules and the Freedom of Information Act.
According to CIA spokesperson Preston Golson, the Navy SEALS worked temporarily under the command of the CIA, which would make the record of their raid on bin Laden’s hideout confidential CIA information and exempt under the FOIA.
“Records of a CIA operation such as the [bin Laden] raid, which were created during the conduct of the operation by persons acting under the authority of the CIA Director, are CIA records,” Golson said.
The Associated Press noted that moving the documents allowed the Pentagon to deny any record of them – a move the AP believes could be a new policy for removing sensitive information from the public eye.
“Welcome to the shell game in place of open government,’’ Director of the National Security Archive, a private research institute at George Washington University, Thomas Blanton said. ‘‘Guess which shell the records are under. If you guess the right shell, we might show them to you. It’s ridiculous.’’
The quiet transfer was mentioned in the final page of an inspector general’s report, which mentioned the Obama administration granting special privileges to Hollywood executives planning “Zero Dark Thirty,” a movie about the raid.
The report was released by Project on Government Oversight, a non-profit government watchdog group in Washington.
A recent Pentagon survey about sexual assaults in the military has produced some surprising results. According to the survey, more male service members have been sexually assaulted than female service members.
When the Defense Department revealed that 26,000 service members were victims of sexual assault in the 2012 fiscal year, most assumed that the majority of the victims were women. The Pentagon’s survey indicates that 14,000 of the victims were male and 12,000 were female.
“It appears that the DOD has serious problems with male-on-male sexual assaults that men are not reporting and the Pentagon doesn’t want to talk about,” said Elaine Donnelly, the head of the Center for Military Readiness. She noted that only two percent of men are sexually assaulted by women, The Washington Times reported.
“The [Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Office] continues to focus its attention on women who experience abuse but don’t report it, overlooking the far greater numbers of men who, according to the survey, are experiencing abuse but not reporting it,” Donnelly said. “If the Pentagon considers the survey results a credible reflection of hidden reality, they must also concede that there are more men than women who are being sexually assaulted.
Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said the Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Office “recognizes the challenges male survivors face and has reached out to organizations supporting male survivors for assistance and information to help inform our way ahead.”
Smith continued: “A focus of our prevention efforts over the next several months is specifically geared toward male survivors and will include why male survivors report at much lower rates than female survivors, and determining the unique support and assistance male survivors need.”