Russia’s well-known cyber attacks on Western nations could be setting the country up for a powerful backlash, offers a retired U.S. Army expert formerly based in Moscow. After years of relentless penetrations and attacks on databases and infrastructure in U.S. and NATO countries, Russia now is finding itself as much—if not more—of a target of reciprocal cyber assault capabilities increasingly wielded by the West.
February’s invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin was a shock to geopolitical order. NATO and the United States acted quickly to aid Ukraine while avoiding entering a war against Russia and shoring up any threat to NATO and the United States. From their early observations of the war, U.S. officials from Congress, and the cyber and intelligence communities are looking closely to glean understanding and apply key knowledge to U.S. actions and defenses.
The battle for cyberspace may hinge on outer space as experts expand the digital frontier. The leading U.S. military communications organization is working with partners in NATO to exploit and dominate space communication systems with an eye to hurling defense systems into an advanced technology future.
Maj. Gen. Lance K. Landrum, USAF, has been nominated for appointment to the grade of lieutenant general, with assignment as deputy chairman, NATO Military Committee, Brussels, Belgium.
Capt. Stephen G. Mack, USN, has been selected for promotion to rear admiral and will be assigned as deputy chief of staff, submarines, Maritime Command Headquarters Command, and commander, submarines, NATO, Northwood, United Kingdom.
NATO is increasing the amount of joint work on command and control (C2) systems as a result of increases in common funding, according to the alliance’s secretary general. Jens Stoltenberg told a media roundtable that “We are on the right track” as the allies are stepping up to meet changing challenges. These efforts include developing an offensive cyber capability and establishing a unified approach to China.
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.
As a lead nation, Germany has been successfully designing and implementing the Federated Service Management and Control capability as part of the development of the NATO Federated Mission Network. Throughout the joint approach, NATO member states, partner nations Austria and Switzerland, the NATO Communications and Information Agency, the Allied Command Transformation and Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, which are both NATO strategic commands, as well as Allied Command Operations have been continuously involved in its design and incremental implementation.
The formation of the U.S. Space Force has led to more advanced cooperation in the space domain with existing and new partners, according to the force’s chief of space operations. Gen. John Raymond, USSF, noted that some nations even followed the U.S. example in giving space an increased priority as a warfighting domain.
Speaking at a Defense Writers Group media roundtable, Gen. Raymond stated that the United States is stronger as a nation with a stable and secure space domain. “The United States is a spacefaring nation, and we’ve long known that access to space and freedom to maneuver in space underpin all the instruments of our national power,” he declared.
Mariners can obtain situational awareness of surface maritime traffic by looking out to sea and by using devices such as radars and automated identification system transponders on ships. These systems can identify vessels along with pertinent data about their voyage. But these methods have limitations. Master mariners with powerful binoculars can tell a lot just by looking at a ship far off in the distance; however, they can’t see beyond the horizon, in bad weather or at night. The horizon even limits radar and transponder data can be manipulated or deleted.
Germany, the United States and many other nations are facing a more diverse, complex, quickly evolving and demanding security environment than at any time since the end of the Cold War. The resulting challenges to national and international security and stability could be as harmful to societies, economies and institutions as conventional attacks.
Given adversarial threats in the Indo-Pacific region and Europe, especially from Russia and China, the Arctic region’s strategic importance is increasing. As such, over the last several years, the U.S. military has focused on growing its cold weather operation capabilities. Beginning in 2016, the U.S. Marine Corps in particular, through host and NATO ally Norway, has maintained a presence in the Kingdom of Norway to train and develop the skills necessary to operate in extreme conditions.
Even in the summer, Norway offers challenging, rugged terrain that helps hone the cold-weather survival and mountain warfare skills of the U.S. Marines. In May, Marines and sailors with 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, along with the Marine Forces Europe and Africa, deployed to northern Norway above the Arctic Circle as part of Marine Rotational Force-Europe (MRF-E) 20.2. The warfighters worked directly with the Norwegian Army to advance their skills and improve allied interoperability, says Lt. Col. Brian Donlon, USMC, commander of 3rd Battalion, who leads the MRF-E contingent.
The U.S. Navy is adapting its Atlantic forces to interoperate better with those of its NATO allies while also incorporating navies from non-alliance countries. This approach includes incorporating a more expeditionary nature into U.S. forces while also extending the areas NATO and non-NATO forces operate to confront a growing multidomain threat from Russia. Traditional North Atlantic naval activities now extend into the Arctic Ocean, where changing conditions have opened up new threat windows.
Ensuring the mobility of troops and support equipment in the European theater will depend on coordinated command and control. In anticipation of crises actions and needs, improvements are needed during the upfront coordination as well as to the last mile of transportation capabilities that are insufficient to meet the military’s equipment transportation needs.
The strategic importance of NATO’s military forces in Europe remains high, especially in the rear area of Europe, as NATO works to strengthen the alliance and improve deterrence measures against adversaries, including Russia. Because deterrence relies on situational awareness, data and information that feed a clear operational picture are critical components, say Leendert Van Bochoven, global lead for National Security and NATO, IBM, in The Netherlands; and René Kleint, director, Business Development Logistics & Medical Service, Elektroniksystem-und Logistik (ESG) GmbH, in Germany.
In addition to institutions such as NATO and the European Union (EU), one of the biggest players in North Atlantic defense is data, say European experts. Yet, nations often overlook the lessons generated by the private sector and not always pursuing effective investments in military information technology.
Those points were discussed at the AFCEA Europe Joint Support and Enabling Command (JSEC) virtual event in late September. Maj. Gen. Erich Staudacher, GEAF (Ret.), AFCEA Europe general manager, offered that data increasingly sprawls into military mobility. He recited an old Latin saying that navigation is necessary, all the more in this sea of data.
A large number of national NATO contract competitions for resources could instigate bidding wars, causing delays during critical troop movements and confusion in the rear echelons. According to one leader of forces in Europe, adversaries may find it difficult to resist this opportunity to take advantage of the conditions to aggravate the situation by distributing disinformation and launching cyber attacks on commercial carriers. Consequently, during these critical early phases of military force mobilization, shared sensitive information and key infrastructure will need to be secured and defended.
New challenges facing the West have compelled NATO to refresh domestic capabilities that have long been overlooked, alliance leaders say. These capabilities focus largely on logistics, but they also encompass new areas of concern such as cybersecurity and the supply chain.
The global economy—and especially more technologically advanced countries like the United States—are increasingly dependent on space-based capabilities like GPS and satellite communications.
“When considering our daily lives,” explained retired Canadian Gen. Robert Mazzolin, now chief cybersecurity strategist for the Rhea Group, a global engineering firm. “There’s not an operation or activity that’s conducted anywhere at any level that’s not somehow dependent on space capabilities,” he went on.
On both sides of the Atlantic, NATO and European leaders are struggling to address the threat posed to vital space systems by foreign hackers, cyber warfare and online espionage. Huge swathes of the global economy are utterly dependent on orbital capabilities like GPS that look increasingly fragile as space becomes more crowded and contested.
The Air Force recently hosted a large exercise in the United Kingdom’s North Sea airspace, the Defense Department reported on June 5. The service’s 48th Fighter Wing held the exercise to continue the advanced training of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Africa and NATO partners given the persistent and growing near-peer threats in the region.
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.
With the U.S. Defense Department’s pursuit of Joint all-domain operations and the integrated command and control technologies needed to support activities across sea, land, air, space and cyberspace, the Army is looking at how to move beyond its first year of experimentation. The service is working to put in place a more sustainable approach to assessing and experimenting with Joint All-Domain Command and Control, or JADC2, capabilities, to support large-scale combat operations through each warfighting domain.
The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Missouri, has been awarded a $25,439,155 firm-fixed-price delivery order to contract FA8621-15-D-6266 to provide C-17 training devices and spares for the NATO Airlift Management Program located at Papa Air Base, Hungary. The training system will consist of one C-17 Weapon System Trainer (composed of an air vehicle station with an instructor operator station (IOS) and a loadmaster station with an IOS, a learning center complete with computer-based training systems, core integrated processor task trainer, courseware and initial spares to support these items for two years. Work will be performed at Papa AB, Hungary, and is expected to be completed June 1, 2022. This award is a sole-source acquisition.
Jacksonville-based Crowley Solutions was awarded a multi-year contract by the U.S. Army 409th Contracting Support Brigade-Theater Contracting Command. Under the Third Party Logistics Europe Wide Movement contract, the company will provide transportation of personnel and cargo and procurement of material handling equipment to the U.S. government, NATO and non-NATO partners throughout the European Command area of responsibility, supporting the 21st Theater Sustainment Command and Theater Movements Center, headquartered in Kaiserslautern, Germany. The contract runs from May 2020 until May 2023, with an estimated value of $49 million, and is on a task-order basis.
An ad hoc group of international defense and national security experts are brainstorming the future in a two-day online symposium analyzed by tools from the world’s most well-known artificial intelligence (AI) computer. Titled “Securing the Post-COVID Future,” the event is exchanging ideas from among active duty military and civilian expertise. Findings during the 50-hour nonstop event are being evaluated by tools from the Watson platform, IBM’s question-answering computer that bested Jeopardy!’s top two champions in a competition a few years ago.
NATO is doubling down on cyberspace defense with increased partnerships and new technology thrusts. Information exchanges on threats and solutions, coupled with research into exotic capabilities such as artificial intelligence, are part of alliance efforts to secure its own networks and aid allies in the cybersecurity fight.
The threats the alliance networks face constitute relatively the same ones confronting other organizations. NATO faces the double challenge of securing its own networks and information assets, as well as helping its member nations improve their own national cyber resilience.
NATO is evolving to adapt to present-day threats, and part of that strengthening means improving the deployment of forces to the European continent from allied nations. The organization’s new Joint Support and Enabling Command, known as JSEC, is taking on that role. The new command is in the process of building itself up, defining doctrine, forging relationships, and developing the necessary personnel and information technology infrastructure to support its operations.
Dumfries, Virginia-based ALEX - Alternative Experts, LLC announced on April 1 that is was awarded a Joint Non-lethal Weapons Directorate contract. Under the measure, the company will support the Joint Non-lethal Weapons Directorate by providing subject matter experts to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and to eight U.S. Combatant Commands across the globe, related to human effects scientific support and range coordination.
The United States and NATO are facing greater threats from the Russian Federation, and a growing interest from China, in the waters of the North Atlantic and the Arctic, warned Vice Adm. Andrew “Woody” Lewis, USN, who spoke Tuesday at AFCEA International and IEEE’s MILCOM conference in Norfolk, Virginia.
The dual-hatted commander oversees both the U.S. Navy’s Second Fleet and NATO’s new Joint Force Command Norfolk. To combat rising threats and provide stability, both commands must improve their operational abilities in these northern waters, he said.
NATO is accelerating its efforts to input innovation into its operational capabilities. This effort is aided both by industry and academia and by different nations that bring new technology applications to the alliance table. But even the best ideas are encountering speed bumps, and adversaries are moving quickly to exploit their own technological advances.
NATO’s Science and Technology Organization took notice of the military potential of same-frequency simultaneous transmission and reception, or SF-STAR, capability employed with full-duplex radio technology, and in 2017 formed an exploratory team to examine the potential use in tactical communications and electronic warfare.
Carlsbad, California-based Viasat upgraded the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) ultra high frequency (UHF) satellite communications (SATCOM) control stations to comply with the new integrated waveform baseline. The upgrade will provide NATO with improved interoperability, scalability and flexibility across legacy and next-generation platforms, according to the company.
Members of an international panel of cyber experts recommend recruiting personnel some might consider misfits in the cyber realm.
Horizon Technologies announced on May 9 that is would be supporting two major NATO end users by providing the company's FlyingFish Airborne Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) system. The contracts total more than £14 Million over the next few years, according to John Beckner, CEO. “These orders are significant because they include new fixed and rotary-wing platforms as well as new government end users. The units were ordered for immediate delivery and will be used as part of NATO and FRONTEX missions,” he said. The U.K.-based company offers exportable DO-160G airborne-qualified satellite phone SIGINT systems for a wide variety of fixed and rotary-wing aircraft.
NATO is taking a comprehensive approach to building a cyber policy that would deter adversaries, defend its member nations and provide key capabilities in multidomain operations. This approach to the alliance’s cyberspace strategy takes into account resilience, counter-cyber activities and operational capabilities in both civilian and military elements.
Yet when it comes to NATO cyber policy, much remains to be established. With 29 member nations all having different needs and different approaches to cyber operations, the alliance has not yet arrived at a fully functional policy. It continues to seek input from its nations while incorporating necessary capabilities amid continuing changes in the cyber domain.
The requirement to partner with allied nations and share a classified network will only grow in the coming years, leaders say. In combined exercises, engagements or missions, coalition partners need to be able to connect digitally to share communications, resources and information to strengthen defenses and partnerships. At the Pentagon, the Joint Staff is working to improve coalition systems and how the U.S. can connect securely to those networks outside of the national networks, one expert shares.
Trident Juncture 2018, a large-scale NATO military exercise, wrapped up late last year. But in the weeks since, the alliance has been doing something it has never done before by using big data science to help inform lessons learned from the exercise.
NATO’s longtime motto says that an attack on one NATO member is considered an attack on all the alliance. Today, this creed also applies to cyberspace, alliance leaders indicate. NATO’s new Cyberspace Operations Center, formed in August 2018, takes up the mantle of defending the alliance in the digital realm.
The phrase, “These are critical times for the NATO alliance,” has been used so often it is almost a cliché. But these times are not defined by a cliché, as the alliance faces multiple challenges within and without. Deliberate discussion has always been the method of determining NATO policy and direction, but the window for that approach is narrowing. NATO must decisively confront several challenges.
Brig. Gen. Joseph D. McFall, USAF, has been assigned as deputy commander, NATO Mission Iraq, Baghdad, Iraq.
Brig. Gen. Charles B. McDaniel, USAF, has been assigned as component commander, E3-A, NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force, Allied Command Operations, Geilenkirchen, Germany.
Between October 25 and November 7, 50,000 military participants from 31 nations will conduct a defensive live exercise in the North Atlantic and Baltic Sea. One of the largest exercises ever, the NATO event, Trident Juncture 18, is meant to ensure that NATO forces “are trained, able to operate together and ready to respond to any threat from any direction,” according to a statement from the alliance.
Brig. Gen. David M. Hamilton, USA, has been assigned as deputy chief of staff for operations, Allied Rapid Reaction Corps, NATO, United Kingdom.
Technologies are spawning a revolutionary improvement in command and control that will have a transformative impact on how it is conducted at the operational level. These advancements, particularly artificial intelligence, are changing command and control functions such as sensing, processing, “sensemaking” and decision-making. Even greater changes lie ahead as innovation serves a larger role in defining both form and function.
Lt. Gen. Austin S. Miller, USA, has been nominated for appointment to the grade of general and assignment as commander, Resolute Support Mission, North Atlantic Treaty Organization; and commander, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan.