The Defense Intelligence Agency is overhauling two critical but aging intelligence systems along with its strategy and organizational structure to enhance the organization’s ability to provide essential intelligence on militaries around the world.
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's Research Directorate is increasingly leveraging U.S. industry solutions to fill any gaps in the agency’s capabilities. The directorate is employing a robust array of contracting, partnership measures, infrastructure development and research vehicles to harness emerging technologies and capture innovation in advanced analytics and modeling; data management; modern software engineering; artificial intelligence; and improved workflow processes.
Research into artificial intelligence may hold the key to advancing every aspect of intelligence operations. Yet, as extensive as its effects would be, the effort to develop effective artificial intelligence also will require a broad-based coordination among government, industry and academia.
Katharina McFarland, commissioner on the National Security Council’s Commission on Artificial Intelligence, is not hesitant to offer a far-reaching opinion on artificial intelligence’s (AI’s) potential for changing the nature of intelligence. “This technology is almost the equivalent of electricity back in the 1800s,” she says. “I think it’s going to be ubiquitous.”
Increasing intelligence requirements and skillful collection technology have flooded the intelligence community with raw information. To address this problem, big data and artificial intelligence technologies aid the initial processing and exploitation of the information. But as technology continues to grow in capability, consumers must temper expectations regarding its impact on intelligence analysis.
The small business sector must seize the day and immediately begin taking the steps necessary to implement tools for cyber resilience and cyber readiness. Scaling cybersecurity services, education and training are crucial to national security.
Regarding the cyber warfare landscape for 2021, the most critical group to secure is the small and midsize business sector (SMBs), particularly following the pandemic. When working with tech-specific organizations and the military, process management and a sense of purpose can overcome inertia and apathy until a financial loss appears.
As part of the Army’s efforts to eventually unify its tactical and enterprise networks, the service is developing three pilot technologies designed to simplify the planning and management of its tactical network.
With plans for future U.S. Army soldiers to work with a cadre of autonomous systems, scientists at the Army Research Laboratory are examining the intricacies of communication to support effective operations between groups of soldiers and robotic systems. They are finding ways to measure communication and study conversational processes to understand human-autonomy team performance, trust and cohesion.
Despite being equipped to lay waste to the countryside, the U.S. Army is cleaning up waste and practicing conservation as part of a broad effort of environmental measures. The service is actively pursuing environmental policies that range from preserving endangered species to reducing its carbon footprint by converting its fleet of tactical vehicles to electric power. These efforts are undertaken both at U.S. bases and installations and overseas during training and actual deployments.
Understanding environments is a principal task for every soldier, says Lt. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, USA, director of the Army staff. At the tactical level, the Army must have a deep understanding of the environment.
Earlier this year, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin signed off on the U.S. Defense Department’s first-ever strategy for Joint All-Domain Command and Control, or JADC2, giving his imprimatur to an ambitious vision of a fully networked U.S. military.
JADC2 aims to provide rear-echelon commanders with continuous connectivity to front-line sensors, providing real-time data and offering an unassailable decision advantage to U.S. forces.
On the digitally managed battlefield envisaged by JADC2, autonomous vehicles and networked weapons would be remotely controlled via cloud-based AI-enabled software, so that a coordinated attack by land, sea, air and cyber forces can be launched with the swipe of a finger.
As China continues to threaten U.S. national security through a whole-of-society warfare strategy, a government-private sector partnership must be a fundamental component of the U.S. government’s approach to information advantage and countering China’s attacks.
Starting this fall, high school students in the state of Georgia will have the unique opportunity to take an elective course in intelligence and national security studies. The class will introduce students to the field of intelligence, the associated activities to gather intelligence, the roles of the U.S. intelligence community (IC), national security, the limits and capabilities of intelligence, careers in the field, and how intelligence plays a role in decision-making.
The U.S. Navy is moving ahead at full speed to equip its assets with effective cybersecurity. However, the diverse nature of those assets—some are city-size ships while others are small but vital systems—confound planners seeking to ensure interoperable security measures.
Officials with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment have found a unique solution to a software challenge while fielding the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical Increment 2. The validation of the process could pave the way for other units to implement the fix if they encounter a similar issue.
Mission command is the critical component in ensuring success under a large-scale combat operation. As the senior sustainment commander and sustainment coordinator within the Army’s only forward-stationed Stryker Brigade, the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, unfettered access to all elements within the regiment is required.
The next onslaught on the power grid may come not from a cyber adversary but from our warmest neighbor. Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory are exploring how to protect the grid against a coronal mass ejection from the sun that could physically damage the nation’s electrical infrastructure and knock out power for several weeks with resultant societal chaos and massive economic losses.
Winner of The Cyber Edge 2021 Writing Contest
Convincing senior defense decision makers to significantly invest in artificial intelligence capabilities that would add more value to the United States’ already digitized operational capabilities—particularly in the cyber domain—needs more than pronouncements that “AI can save the taxpayers money.” It requires a logical progression of defining the objective, identifying the need, demonstrating specific results, conducting comprehensive cost analysis and, particularly in the case of applications in the cyber domain, thoughtfully discussing resilience and deception.
With social media platforms representing one of the main conduits for adversarial propaganda, researchers are examining how information spreads across the digital environment and how it spills into action outside of the online presence. A recent breakthrough in sentiment analysis—with an algorithm that can detect sarcasm—from the University of Central Florida as part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s SocialSim project, aids in this understanding and in defense.
With only months remaining before this fall’s Project Convergence 2021, U.S. Army researchers aim to integrate roughly 20 systems with the service’s fledgling artificial intelligence-enabled targeting technology known as FIRES Synchronization to Optimize Responses in Multi-Domain Operations.
2nd Place in The Cyber Edge 2021 Writing Contest
The United States stands on the cusp of a future defined by great power competitions that will undoubtedly be characterized by broad, deep and subtle cyber warfare strategies and tactics. The nation must make a deliberate decision to defend the digital human attack surface effectively by blurring traditional battle lines and creating a combined homeland and external battlespace.
3rd Place in The Cyber Edge 2021 Writing Contest
A military-age male left home and traveled through the city, unaware he was being surveilled. Those watching him knew his patterns and preferences. They collected his point of departure, route and destination to predict when he would be most vulnerable for attack. Arriving at a marketplace, he meandered through a few high-traffic areas. Passing down a quiet corridor, he finally provided a clear shot. His smartphone buzzed and its screen flashed: “Two-for-one sale at the nearby pretzel shop!” He was struck by a precision-guided advertisement.
During large-scale combat operations and operations in austere environments, the modern warfighter must remain light and agile and enjoy ease of communication with both higher and lower echelons. These requirements highlight the necessity for and relevance of devices such as the Global Rapid Response Information Package.
The U.S. Navy is looking for speed—not speed of platforms or vehicles, but of innovation. Introducing new capabilities into the force rapidly is vitally important to maintain the combat edge necessary to deter or defeat adversaries that are building up steam in their efforts to confront the U.S. military.
This will require tapping industry for innovative information technology advances. Ensuring that speed of capability may require working with the commercial sector to steer it into the right areas to suit naval needs. Ultimately, software-defined systems may hold the key to keeping ahead of the deployment curve in technology-based systems.
The U.S. military is using open architecture platforms on a greater scale, deploying interchangeable hardware and software systems to its major weapon programs. In particular, the Navy’s Naval Air Systems Command, known as NAVAIR, and its Program Executive Office, Aviation Common Systems and Commercial Services, are increasingly using flexible “systems of systems” in many of its major aviation programs. The application of open architecture is allowing the Navy—and the Defense Department—to consolidate common resources, decrease risk, reuse software, enhance maintenance abilities, reduce costs and increase tactical options.
Back to basics may be the mantra for integrating innovation into the U.S. Navy. The long-held goal of network-centric warfare is more important than ever, and standards definition may hold the key for successful naval innovation.
The need for innovation is emphasized by advances by peer adversaries around the world. To keep up with ever-increasing challenges, the Navy is looking toward new weapons, unmanned systems and advanced dataflow to unify its operations against potential foes’ growing capabilities.
Cybersecurity program managers are facing the dilemma of appropriately balancing compliance with threat tracking and mitigation. Today, amidst the ever-growing problem of data breaches, organizations are investing in protection. But simply complying with security and privacy standards seldom means systems and data are automatically secure.
The personnel within the Realities Lab at the Army Cyber Institute located at West Point explore every aspect of extended reality technologies, developing new tools, conducting studies and asking the hard questions.
The Realities Lab is dedicated to research in what is becoming known as extended reality, or XR, a term that includes augmented, virtual and mixed reality. Extended reality technologies offer a wide range of military uses, including realistic training available virtually anywhere, modeling and simulation for weapon system development, and actual situational awareness on the battlefield.
Imagery is yielding to meaning as extended reality heads down a new path of evolution. Where developers traditionally have concentrated on improving graphics to the point of realism, they now are shifting their focus to a different kind of realism that emphasizes meaning over appearance.
This approach is opening new doors for applications of extended reality, also known as XR. Uses such as automated driving, design for manufacturing, augmented reality and firefighting assistance already are growing in popularity and effectiveness, and varieties of those applications are on the horizon. In a few years, XR may be able to aid fighter pilots and the vision impaired.
Researchers at the Institute for Creative Technologies built the Rapid Integration and Development Environment, a test bed for evaluating modeling and simulation technologies for internal use. But the system, which plays a role in creating the Army’s Tactical Computing Environment, is finding users across the Defense Department and in the defense industry.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is using a 3D visualization tool to design innovative space probes, including the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover and its Ingenuity helicopter. The same tool can help researchers plan work in space’s complex environment.
The mixed reality, computer aided design (CAD) 3D visualization tool is known as ProtoSpace. It has been crucial to the lab’s collaborative development of spacecraft, says the technical lead for ProtoSpace, Benjamin Nuernberger.
The massive cyber attack on the United States via information technology vendor SolarWinds continues to send shockwaves through the departments of Defense, State and Homeland Security as well as other agencies. Damage assessments are ongoing. If the U.S. government in general and Defense Department in particular are to successfully defend against attacks by well-funded, patient and highly motivated enemies, they will need to change their approach to defending their networks and systems.
Public safety agencies are seeking ways to reliably grant mission-critical information access to authorized users while also ensuring security and data integrity. Technical pilot projects sponsored by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency demonstrated cross-domain federated identity, credential and access management for secure information sharing for first responders in Texas and Tennessee.
Personnel with the U.S. Defense Department’s Joint Tactical Networking Center continually push to improve interoperability of waveforms used jointly across the military to save costs, enhance communications and ultimately fight more effectively.
For some time, engineers at the Air Force Research Laboratory have been developing network collaborative autonomous technologies. Munitions that operate in coordination with unmanned aerial vehicles, decoys and other systems make decisions, shift course and achieve a mission. The researchers have successfully designed platforms to support such capabilities, as well as developing and integrating the complex subsystems that support the networking, collaborative operations and autonomy.
The U.S. Army is pursuing research into advanced technologies to further the service’s ability to conduct multidomain operations. Some of this research aims to improve existing capabilities by exploiting innovations, while others work toward basic breakthroughs in exotic areas. Many of these Army research efforts aim to draw from industry advances as they evolve.
For largely tactical multidomain operations (MDO), research underway at the Program Executive Office Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors (PEO IEWS) focuses on the office’s specialties as stated in its name. Yet, these efforts would have far-reaching effects throughout the Army and the defense community as a whole.
The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence published its final report this spring, grimly declaring that “America is not prepared to defend or compete in the AI [artificial intelligence] era,” and warning that “within the next decade, China could surpass the United States as the world’s AI superpower.”
To prepare, operate and fight in joint warfare against near-peer adversaries across all domains will take adroit leaders who provide effective decisions in near or real time. The Air Command and Staff College, or ACSC, has set a course to do just that: prepare leaders to thrive and fight with joint operations in a contested environment on a global scale using joint all-domain command and control, or JADC2. Leaders in the class learn to plan and execute multidomain operations against possible threats on land, sea, air, space and cyberspace to lead through the challenges of the expected future operational environment in 2030 and beyond.
The new, lighter-weight equipment being delivered to the Army’s prototypal enhanced signal battalion allows the unit to move faster and communicate better, which ultimately should enable warfighters to shoot more effectively.
The 50th Expeditionary Signal Battalion-Enhanced (ESB-E) is an immediate response force that provides worldwide contingency, force projection and forced-entry signal support to the XVIII Airborne Corps for power-projection operations during war and operations other than war.
The national security community needs to prepare now for the possibility that U.S. adversaries could develop and deploy quantum computers, which would render useless most conventional encryption algorithms, says Adrian Stanger, senior cryptographic authority, Cybersecurity Directorate, National Security Agency (NSA).
Software-defined networks, commercial satellite communications, cognitive electronic warfare, intelligent radios and artificial intelligence applications all potentially offer the military advanced capabilities for the tactical environment, say Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory’s (APL’s) Julia Andrusenko, chief engineer, Tactical Wireless Systems Group, and Mark Simkins, program manager, Resilient Tactical Communications Networks.
The U.S. military services are meeting the challenge of upgrading without losing needed capabilities as they march toward the goal of a common command and control system. By focusing on this approach, they are positioning themselves for convergence under an all-encompassing strategy formulated by The Joint Staff. In effect, their efforts represent a devolution from multiple branches to a single outcome that will unify all elements of the military.
Ever since the Sputnik scare of 1957, space has been front and center on the U.S. national security agenda. Successive administrations have highlighted the essential role of space-based capabilities such as GPS, satellite imagery and real-time global communications in undergirding U.S. military power.
Standardization in communications equipment benefits multinational troops in an international environment by enabling them to communicate, increasing situational awareness for all. NATO’s Federated Mission Networking capabilities, currently in various stages of development, have been paramount in providing consistency within coalition partners in recent missions such as Afghanistan. The lines of communication remain strong because of the joint contribution of the Federated Service Management and Control capability Germany led.
The nature of military permanent change of station assignments can create gaps in the U.S. Defense Department’s protected posture to cyber assets. The current approach allows valuable institutional knowledge literally to walk out the door, often being replaced with inadequately prepared personnel walking in. This practice runs contrary to the Pentagon’s stated strategic goals that aim at building and maintaining a skilled workforce rather than solely acquiring new tools.
Researchers have learned some surprising lessons from the technologies developed under the Defense Department’s Squad X program, which will end this year. For example, artificial intelligence may not help warfighters make faster decisions, but it does provide a planning advantage over adversaries. Furthermore, when it comes to detecting and electronically attacking enemy signals, systems can make smart decisions without artificial intelligence.
NATO is at risk of losing its technology edge because of emerging and disruptive technologies increasingly developed within the civil sector. The growth of peer competitors’ determination, especially China, and the decline of technology education in Western countries are eroding the advantage they once skillfully held.
To address this state of affairs, the organization’s defense ministers are examining a number of activities. As a part of this initiative, the NATO Industrial Advisory Group (NIAG) conducted a study to provide the industry view of the implications of emerging and disruptive technologies (EDTs) and Chinese advances in defense operations and military capability development.
The federal government has been taking zero trust more seriously. Although a significant part of it has yet to be implemented, some initial work has been completed with zero trust network access, yet the outside-in approach to zero trust and complexity remains. But the more important aspect of zero trust relates to application and workload connections, which is what attackers care about and is not being protected today.
This “other side” of zero trust and a host-based micro-segmentation approach will lead to greater security and will stop the lateral movement of malware. Constituting multiple pilot projects is the best way forward in the inside-out approach to zero trust.
The push toward multidomain operations is geared toward meeting the multifaceted threat U.S. forces face worldwide, but its effects already are being felt in the Indo-Pacific region. Three nation-state adversaries, each with its own flavor of threat, are influencing U.S. efforts in that vast region to maintain peace and security.
The potential proliferation of hypersonic weapons highlights the need to advance a wide range of other technologies, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, autonomy, laser weapons and fully networked command, control and communications systems, says George Kailiwai III, director, requirements and resources (J-8) for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.
Always strategic, the island of Guam in the western Pacific Ocean in Micronesia is playing a growing role in the contested, troublesome, near-peer competition environment. The Defense Department is investing more into the military facilities of this U.S. territory, including adding networking and bandwidth solutions; joint all-domain command and control; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance solutions as well as additional U.S. forces. The measures will add key communications and advanced capabilities to the island as well as increase the military’s power projection abilities.
Given the remoteness of the Indo-Pacific region and the growing role of Guam in the theater, the Defense Information Systems Agency, or DISA, has been heavily investing in information technology and communications capabilities for the U.S. territory.
In the last few years, the Naval Sea Systems Command, or NAVSEA, has made great progress in advancing the Navy’s vision of developing a family of unmanned surface vehicles and unmanned undersea vehicles, says Capt. Pete Small, USN, program manager, Unmanned Maritime Systems (PMS-406), Program Executive Office, Unmanned and Small Combatants, NAVSEA. The service is pursuing an aggressive effort to add unmanned vessels, as well as improve autonomous capabilities and the supporting open architecture that enables autonomy across various platforms.