Today’s battlefield is highly technical and dynamic. We are not only fighting people and weapons but also defending and attacking information at light speed. For mission success, the American warrior in the field and commanders up the chain need the support of highly adaptive systems that can quickly and securely establish reliable communications and deliver real-time intelligence anytime and anywhere.
U.S. Army leaders are sloughing off some of the old ways of fielding technology and embracing commercial and government advances in tactical communications. Facing a technology revolution, dangerous adversaries and budgetary constraints, leaders are working to get capabilities into the hands of warfighters faster.
The U.S. Army’s major overhaul of its network may lead to a communications structure capable of conforming to an array of operational situations, including the possibility of providing offensive cyber and electronic warfare capabilities.
The federal government is increasingly dependent on commercial technologies ranging from infrastructure to the cloud to security solutions. Identifying and incorporating the appropriate complex commercial solutions, however, can be overwhelming when the number of options and the level of risk are significant.
In the case of military operations, warfighters’ lives depend on having the right products with effective security. The best technologies must be found, potential cyber holes must be identified, and security gaps must be filled.
The U.S. Army’s efforts to bring electronic warfare, information warfare and cyber capabilities into expeditionary forces is succeeding, Army leaders report. To better support tactical commanders, the service developed a pilot program in 2015 to add such capabilities to brigade combat teams (BCTs). In addition to providing equipment, abilities and authorities to BCTs, the service deployed cyber electromagnetic activities (CEMA) teams to support the initiative known as CEMA Support to Corps and Below (CSCB). The CEMA teams, under the guidance of the U.S. Army Cyber Command, provide training to brigade combat teams (BCTs) through National Training Center (NTC) rotations at exercises and home-base training.
The U.S. Navy announced today that U.S. Strategic Command has approved the service’s next-generation narrowband satellite communication system for expanded operational use. The authorization paves the way for Navy and Marine Corps “early-adopter” commands to use the system on deployment as early as this fall, primarily in the Pacific theater, according to the written announcement. The Navy's on-orbit, five-satellite constellation—the Mobile User Objective System, or MUOS—began providing legacy satellite communications shortly after the system’s first satellite launch in 2012.
Some U.S. Army officials and other experts warn that the nation’s military may one day have to do something militaries throughout history have tried to avoid: fight in major cities. Urban combat, in many ways, neutralizes any technological advantage, but some technologies, such as robots and 3D learning maps, could still provide an edge.
Urban combat, even in smaller cities, is the most complicated, chaotic, brutal and bloody form of warfare. But experts increasingly caution that it is only a matter of time before warfighting in megacities—cities with populations of 10 million or more—becomes necessary.
Tactical command, control and communications (C3) is significantly changing as the U.S. military retools amid 17 years of conflict in the Middle East. During this period, much of the long-term joint tactical C3 planning and resourcing was overtaken in favor of addressing immediate—and vital—needs on the battlefield.
The U.S. Army took another step toward developing its fourth command when it announced that Austin, Texas, would be the location of the new Futures Command.
The service is pursuing the new command as a way to modernize and position itself “to achieve clear overmatch in future conflicts,” according to the Army. Having a central location for its modernization will unify its efforts, Army leaders said.
“The creation of the Army’s Futures Command constitutes the Army’s most significant reorganization effort since 1973,” said Army Secretary Mark Esper. “It is a new organization that epitomizes our commitment to bold reform and transforming the Army’s modernization process.”
Fraud, waste, and abuse (FWA) remains a major challenge to the federal government. From 2012 to 2016, the 73 federal inspectors general (IGs), who are on the frontline of fighting FWA, identified $173 billion in potential savings and reported $88 billion in investigative recoveries and 36,000 successful prosecutions and civil actions.
U.S. Marines on the move need to be able to negotiate the battlefield effectively. Part of operating on the fly also means working in the dark. To aid warfighters, the Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) recently began fielding advanced binoculars to help with improved vision at night, according to a June 18 report from Kaitlin Kelly, MCSC Office of Public Affairs and Communication.
The effort of the U.S. Marine Corps Systems Command in bringing the networking on-the-move platform to more aircraft is coming to fruition. The service announced on June 28 that it had placed a new iteration of tactical network family of systems known as the NOTM onto the MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft.
The new NOTM-Airborne Increment II System can provide communications access for up to five users, including access to networks, voice, email, video and texting capabilities while airborne, command officials noted.
Taking the network into battle can be challenging for Army soldiers operating on the tactical edge. The Army’s Command Post Computing Environment, known as CP CE, is an integrated mission command system that supports warfighters across intelligence, fires, logistics, maneuvers and airspace management capabilities. The need for this system to include open system architecture and be interoperable, cost effective and cyber secure are key goals of the Product Manager Mission Command (PM MC) of the Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T).
NATO’s power will grow as partnerships between governments and industry combine their strengths to increase security and bring about progress. The challenges nations face are as much about culture and people as they are about finding the right technologies and efficiently introducing them into the networking ecosystem.
More than 600 senior public and private sector leaders met at NITEC18 to learn about emerging capabilities, discuss digital transformation and collaborate to address the challenges NATO is facing today. The event took place in Berlin and was organized by AFCEA International in cooperation with the German Federal Ministry of Defence.
The U.S. Army’s do-it-yourself culture may hinder private cloud adoption, but the service’s premier cloud program could actually promote that DIY instinct.
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.