A technologist who has never served in the military and has never worked in government has taken the reigns as chief information officer (CIO) of the Department of Defense. But Dana Deasy has plenty of experience in almost 37 years as a private industry information technology executive, leading the IT needs of such venerable corporations as JP Morgan Chase & Co., BP Group, General Motors North America, Siemens Corp. Americas, and Tyco International.
Experts speaking at the AFCEA Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium in Baltimore agree that the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in warfighting, and in command and control (C2) applications in particular, could provide advantages to the warfighter in terms of faster information processing and improved decision making and cyber defense. The hitch, though, is that the quality of data used to build algorithms and add to machine learning can vary. This impacts the quality of AI-related conclusions, which could put warfighters at great risk.
Companies or government agencies that strive for innovation have to keep development at the forefront, experts say. And the action of providing impactful ideas that turn into effective products is always “far more complicated in reality,” according to Jennifer Yates, assistant vice president, AT&T Labs.
The U.S. Army may be catching up to adversaries in the information warfare domain, but the pace of change remains a challenge.
“The biggest [capability] gap we have is keeping pace. It is very much a cat-and-mouse game. When you have a cat-and-mouse game, you see a lot of change, so we try to anticipate things,” says Gary Blohm, who directs the Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate (I2WD) at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.
The Department of Defense (DOD) has long been at the tip of the spear when it comes to successfully melding IT security and operations (SecOps). Over the past few decades, the DOD has shown consistent leadership through a commitment to bringing security awareness into just about every facet of its operations. The growing popularity of hybrid IT poses a challenge to the DOD’s well-honed approach to SecOps.
After about a year, the U.S. Air Force is extending its smart base pilot program at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Montgomery, Ala. The effort takes advantage of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and applies the smart city concept to the base. The lessons learned at Maxwell likely will be applied to Air Force bases around the world.
Unmanned systems and robots are rapidly changing the character of warfare. As the U.S. Defense Department considers their increased use, the time is ripe to discuss both the opportunities and challenges these autonomous systems present on and off the battlefield for military communicators. Communicators deliver and protect command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) services. Unmanned systems rely on digital communication channels to execute tasks and share information. The more systems, the more links required.
The scope of managing these channels is set to explode.
The Defense Information System Agency’s Joint Regional Security Stack (JRSS) initiative is driving and delivering solutions to network defenders and operators across the department, answering a call placed three years ago when the Department of Defense (DOD) cyber strategy established as one of its goals the need to “defend the DOD Information Network, secure DOD data and mitigate risks to DOD missions.”
The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is increasing the warfighter’s ability to operate in the complex spectrum environment by providing operational support through electromagnetic battlespace planning, radio frequency deconfliction and joint spectrum interference resolution. DISA’s Defense Spectrum Organization (DSO) ensures the agency and the DOD maintain information dominance through effective electromagnetic spectrum operations.
Russia is focusing more and more on artificial intelligence, machine learning and autonomous systems, and this effort is like none seen before, according to an expert. The country is calling for an increased response from its academia, industry and military to develop these technologies, said Samuel Bendett, associate research analyst, Center for Naval Analyses.
The U.S. Army is making some long-needed changes to the way it’s configuring the networks required to prepare for, conduct and win wars. With the promise of increased resources, the service plans to do more than just upgrade its information technology. Instead, it has designed a strategy that incorporates the successes of the past, adjusts where needed in the present and sets the stage for a future that takes advantage of innovative solutions.
NATO is moving into the digital realm deliberately, avoiding a headlong rush into new technologies, even though it is committed to modernizing its communications and information systems on a large scale. The alliance is incorporating new information technologies without breaking either the bank or speed records by tapping the expertise of others to bring digital benefits to the organization and its forces.
NATO is building a wide range of technological capabilities, including open source intelligence, counterterrorism, artificial intelligence, space-based surveillance, electronic warfare and biometric solutions, some of which were previously left to the individual nations or other international organizations.
The flurry of activity amounts to a complete metamorphosis of NATO’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets, according to Matt Roper, the joint ISR chief within NATO’s Communications and Information Agency. Roper notes that the alliance’s new direction results directly from the 2012 summit in Chicago.
As global security becomes more uncertain, NATO only grows in importance to its members. We’ve seen the repeated bad behavior of Russia, the continued chaos of the Middle East, the influence of Iran moving throughout the region and beyond, the increasingly bellicose activity of North Korea, and the ceaseless threat of ISIS all affecting NATO’s strategic interests. The alliance represents a unique set of international political and defense standards, values and norms that form the basis for rules-based order in Western civilization. Further, member nations underpin each other’s economies with dynamic trade and security.
Every day, more and more government organizations are moving IT functions and data storage to the cloud. Early last month, the U.S. Department of Defense signed a multimillion-dollar contract to encourage organizations under its umbrella to move to the cloud. While the needs of public-sector entities differ from those of the private sector, there are some hard-won data security lessons corporations have learned—such as encryption key management and the use of cryptographic gateways—that can be useful for government organizations as they plan and execute a migration to the cloud.
While space has been a contested domain from the beginning—from the first trial of an anti-satellite weapon in 1959—what has changed is the United State’s confidence in being able to deter attacks, according to several officials who testified recently about U.S. space warfare readiness before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Armed Services. The space domain is more complex and more is at stake, the experts told Congress.
“"Today’s military commanders are facing serious threats in a space domain that is increasingly congested, contested and competitive," said Gen. Robert Kehler, USAF (Ret.), former commander, U.S. Strategic Command.
NATO views Russia as a key to regional security and seeks to work with the country on a variety of issues. However, the alliance views some Russian actions with suspicion, and recent statements from Kremlin leaders are not viewed as constructive, according to a leading NATO general.
The resurgent national power is involved in many areas of importance to NATO. And other countries, such as China, India and Pakistan, have concerns in these areas and must be included in discussions. But their role tends to be in support of their own regional interests, whereas Russia is making moves near the borders of NATO members.
The U.S. Army is ahead of the Navy and Air Force in adopting and integrating the multiple battle domains, but is still analyzing how best to apply it the battlefield.
To succeed in the battlespace of the future and to ensure combat superiority over peer adversaries, the U.S. military must be equipped with capabilities to defend information networks in cyberspace and to secure unimpeded access to the electromagnetic spectrum. Adversaries are developing cyber and electronic warfare capabilities to conduct information operations against U.S. systems that will likely threaten the speed and accuracy of military communications, intelligence and data sharing channels, while maliciously altering or stealing the information itself. These capabilities often have complementary effects, which means integrating cyber and electronic warfare could provide a stronger protection and attack capacity for U.S.
Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford, Army chief information officer (CIO)/G-6, said the service is interested in small satellite technology, dynamic spectrum access, the ability to leverage existing infrastructure, alternatives to space-based precision, navigation and timing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and air and ground robotics.
Gen. Crawford specified that the technologies are not capabilities gaps but instead are technological areas of interest. He made the comments while presenting a keynote speech at the AFCEA Army Signal Conference in Springfield, Virginia.