In order to make the unified network vision a reality, the Army will need to adopt an array of technical capabilities, including 5G, zero trust cybersecurity, software-defined networks and data fabric.
As the Department of Defense (DoD) transitions to 5G mobile technology for its warfighter and facility-based communications, the agency must take several considerations into account such as security and the ability to interoperate with other systems.
One of the biggest attractions of 5G is the promise of high-speed wireless data rates, but that’s just part of the picture, Chris Thomas, an information technology (IT) communications strategist and systems architect at Dell Technologies, told SIGNAL Magazine Editor in Chief Robert K. Ackerman during a SIGNAL Executive Video interview.
Cybersecurity in the federal government, especially for the Department of Defense, is a complex dance between agencies and commercial partners. To get things right, companies working with the government need to be adaptable and resilient in helping government customers meet their mission goals, said Dana Barnes, senior vice president of public sector at Palo Alto Networks.
Revolutionary ways to gather, parse and share information in the innovation era is propelling the intelligence community into resourceful ways of doing business. To tackle the challenges lightning-speed technology changes and applications generate, 18 U.S. intelligence organizations must accept cultural changes and risk toleration to prepare for adversaries weaponizing the same capabilities against the U.S. and its allies, experts agree.
The revolutionary advantages offered by defense use of 5G technology could be undone if the United States doesn’t begin now to meet and overcome a set of challenges, said an expert from the National Security Agency (NSA). These challenges range from developing effective security measures to ensuring the supply chain is not contaminated by parts made by foreign adversaries.
The rise of the People’s Republic China as a peer competitor vying for superpower status has emerged as an important challenge for the United States. To confront this competition, policy and decision makers must preserve and extend U.S. global interests to deter China if necessary and work in the international system in which the United States plays a vital role.
Government and the military are planning to benefit from the deployment of fifth-generation cellular, known as 5G, with new capabilities that take advantage of the different bandwidths used throughout the system. For civil government, that may translate to improved efficiency, which will allow skilled humans to move to higher skilled tasks. For the military, it may lead to better capabilities that give warfighters more flexibility and speed of action in combat operations.
If all goes as planned, a major mobile cellphone carrier will ultimately adopt technology developed under the Defense Advanced Research Project’s Agency’s Open, Programmable, Secure 5G program. Doing so will allow the open-source, secure technology to proliferate as so-called Internet of Things technologies become more ubiquitous.
The U.S. Defense Department already is looking beyond its massive $600 million investment in 5G experiments announced in October. Plans include a second round of experiments and the potential for expanding efforts with other government agencies and with international partners.
The European Union has released a new EU Cybersecurity Strategy designed to bolster Europe's collective resilience against cyber threats and help to ensure that all citizens and businesses can fully benefit from trustworthy and reliable services and digital tools, according to a published announcement.
The whole will be greater than the sum of its parts as evolving technologies come together to spawn entirely new capabilities that will affect the connected world. That connected world itself will be expanding as innovations empower people far beyond existing, and even envisioned, parameters
As with all advances, this new connected world will not be without drawbacks. Security and privacy concerns will be greater, as the potential threats become more ubiquitous. But some capabilities may bring their own solutions to these challenges.
U.S. government officials expect that 5G wireless connectivity will bring about so many new applications that the defense and intelligence communities will be able to influence the standard’s development. Various government organizations already are preparing for its innovative technologies with trial efforts and planning.
In some cases, experts believe that some of the biggest challenges concerning wireless connectivity—bandwidth, security and resilience—will be more easily met even with 5G’s complexity. And, the Open Radio Access Networks (Open RAN) technology approach offers even greater flexibility of networking for 5G.
As the military girds for a battlespace environment flush with big data, the COVID-19 coronavirus is forcing governments to adopt actions that can be applied to that requirement. Efforts underway to combat the virus are showing the way to data networking that can serve burgeoning civilian and military needs.
Just how these efforts constitute an exercise in synchronicity was explained by Terry Halvorsen, CIO/EVP, IT Mobile with Samsung Electronics. Speaking at the AFCEA Europe Joint Support and Enabling Command (JSEC) virtual event in late September, Halvorsen described how combating the coronavirus has taken on warlike aspects that can be extended across the information technology spectrum.
China’s global moves to gain technological hegemony over 5G and reshape the Internet to suit its own needs offer the potential to give the Middle Kingdom control over the telecommunications market and information itself. At the very least, it would achieve market dominance. But at most, it would control both the nature of the Internet and the information that flows through it, say Internet experts.
Third of a multipart series.
The seeds of future telecommunications are being planted in China. But the question remains, will they take root globally?
China’s cyber policy has both economic and political sides to it. On the economic side, flooding the global market with subsidized Chinese-made technologies offers the chance for major financial rewards as this equipment and its services become ubiquitous. On the political side, introducing Chinese standards to the Internet and cellular service will give the nation control over both services and data.
The implications of 5G for the U.S. Defense Department are profound. Among the plethora of capabilities it will provide—enabling the Internet of Things, low latency, higher bandwidth—5G could be used to run a multilevel secure coalition communications system.
Mark Lewis, director of defense research and engineering for modernization at the Pentagon, provided an update on the Department of Defense’s modernization efforts during his keynote on day one of the AFCEA/GMU Critical Issues in C4I Symposium.
Lewis is focused on the modernization priorities that will inform the warfighter of the future and will set them up to be successful in the 5-, 10- and 15-year time horizons.
There’s no question that 2020 is going to be a big year for technology transformation in the Defense Department. The National Defense Authorization Act gives DoD a $738 billion budget – a $20 billion increase over last year – with an emphasis on fielding the technology necessary for a faster, more agile force, while improving operations and efficiency across the enterprise. That means having fast, low-latency cellular and Wi-Fi connections at every access point and refreshing its legacy infrastructure.
The Secure 5G and Beyond Act, the Promoting United States Wireless Leadership Act and the Prague Proposals have topped the headlines in recent months. All three are focused on security.
The much-hyped 5G has begun to arrive, but in the United States, the truly transformative elements of these next-generation cellular networks are probably still four or five years off. Although improvements such as 100-times-faster speeds will enable more life-and-death type services, including remote surgery or self-driving cars, they also employ a more compromised hardware supply chain and offer a larger attack surface than current networks, federal officials warn.
“The anxiety from governments and regulators about the security issues [arising from 5G] and possible nation-state interference is at a fever pitch right now,” Robert Mayer, senior vice president for cybersecurity, USTelecom, says.
The United States and China are locked in a competition to take command of fifth-generation spectrum technologies known as 5G. Because those technologies will enable autonomous vehicles, smart cities and battlefield operations, the leading nation will reap commercial, economic and military benefits. To spur U.S. innovation, the Defense Department is largely relying on the National Spectrum Consortium, a research and development organization designed to develop revolutionary spectrum-related technologies through collaboration among industry, academia and government agencies.
Accessible radio frequencies are crucial for warfighter training, testing and operations. Ensuring access to the necessary electromagnetic spectrum for U.S. Defense Department missions is not an easy task, especially in a time of growing demand across the military and commercial sectors, explains Col. Frederick Williams, USAF, acting director of the Office of Spectrum Policy and Programs, Office of the Secretary of Defense, or OSD. The military operates in a wide range of spectrum bands, both on an exclusive and shared basis. In the last several years, Defense Department operational requirements for spectrum access have increased.
5G wireless technology is poised to take the world by storm, offering fast and effective network connectivity at data throughput speeds once reserved for dedicated fiberoptic landlines. This increased speed will also fuel new developments in wireless applications and connected devices to vastly increase the size, depth and interconnectivity of networks of all kinds.
A National Science Foundation effort to ensure U.S. national leadership in wireless technologies will not stop at fifth-generation capabilities commonly referred to as 5G.
The extensive program, Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR—pronounced power), already has established testing grounds in three states—Salt Lake City, Utah; Raleigh, North Carolina, and New York City. Additionally, the National Science Foundation (NSF) recently released a request for proposals for a rural broadband testing area. The goal is to establish four city-scale testbeds, which NSF officials refer to as platforms. Each platform will ultimately be connected virtually as a shared innovation lab for wireless research.
Across 15 blocks in New York City sit the beginnings of an extensive wireless testbed, which will help advance driverless car, smart city and other technologies for the modern urban environment. The outdoor laboratory, known as COSMOS, provides a platform for researchers to experiment with a low-latency, ultra-high bandwidth wireless network during everyday life in West Harlem.
The U.S. Defense Department has released two more draft requests for prototype proposals seeking fifth-generation (5G) wireless solutions. The newly announced projects are for smart warehousing and asset management for Naval Supply Systems Command and augmented reality and virtual reality at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.