Sponsored by Spectra Group
16 Jul 20. USAF wants to expand training for cyber teams. The Air Force has selected the Air National Guard’s training and education center at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base in Tennessee to be the focal point for training a cadre of defensive focused cyber teams, according to a news release.
These teams, called mission defense teams (MDTs), will protect critical Air Force missions and installations such as critical infrastructure or computers associated with aircraft and remotely piloted systems.
The teams are an outgrowth of the service’s communications squadrons, which have performed much of the IT and cyber defense at the base or wing level. Now, with the Air Force outsourcing much of its IT management, the service was able to free up personnel and resources to focus on protecting these critical assets.
The new crews differ from the cyber protection teams that the Air Force, and other services, provide to U.S. Cyber Command as part of the cyber mission force.
At first, 20 students will participate in the mission defense team pilot class in mid-August. If that is successful, it will expand to six 20 student classes in 2021. The ultimate goal is to graduate 1,000 students each year across the service beginning in fiscal year 2023, the Air Force said.
These teams will be stationed at 84 locations around the world.
“This is an exciting moment for TEC and its future as an agile, innovative, and resilient center of learning for the total Air Force and the National Guard Bureau,” Col. Kenneth Lozano, the commander of the traning and education center, said.
The Air Force has taken a “total Air Force approach” to cyber, to include its cyber mission force teams and mission defense teams, meaning, these forces are made up of combined active duty, guard and reserve forces.
Prior training efforts for mission defense teams began at the 223rd Cyberspace Operations Squadron at Little Rock Air Force Base with a Cyber-Protect and -Defend course. The first classes were held in August 2019.
The Air Force said to date, the schoolhouse has trained 160 airmen. The goal is for the training and education center at McGhee Tyson to assume 1,000 graduates a year, with the majority of training to transition there in 2022.
One of the biggest hurdles thus far, is procuring a range for trainees to operate on. The Air Force is working through the Defense Cybercrimes Center to procure a cyber range and certify instructors. The price tag associated with this for the initial 20 students is $1.5m. (Source: Defense News)
16 Jul 20. Israel Weapon Industries, an SK Group Member and a leader in the production of combat-proven small arms for military forces, police units, law enforcement agencies, and governmental entities around the world – announces the expanding of its portfolio with a comprehensive riot-control solution. The newly offered solution uses versatile methods to maintain the public order and safety with minimum force application. These qualities make it – as intended – perfectly suitable for the operational use of Law Enforcement Agencies, Military Personnel, Police Units, Prison Services, and riot-control Special Forces.
IWI’s riot-control solution, tailored to client’s needs, includes conceptual and operative methodology, defensive products such as tactical anti-stab uniforms, anti-stab and bulletproof vests, tactical helmets, shield, multipurpose grenades and more, offensive tools such as multi-shot 12 gauge shotguns, 37-38mm launcher, 40mm launcher, ammunition, drones, and tactical courses for all levels.
“Civil disorder, characterized by extremists violently demonstrating, or even a legal and peaceful demonstration which escalated into an uncontrollable riot, can result in property damage and human casualties. There is a great importance to handle the situation with minimum use of force and lethal equipment to keep the public safe and retrieve order”, says Ronen Hamudot, VP Marketing and Sales at SK Group. “Only a well-structured methodology of proper use of law enforcement techniques, procedures, and tools will ensure the order and reestablish the confidence to the citizens”.
Hamudot explains that IWI’s vast experience with proven track record as a solutions provider, for military forces and law enforcement agencies enabled the company to create a holistic solution that gives the authorities the right means to control a riot while minimizing the use of force and avoiding unnecessary casualties. “As the pandemic continues to spread around the world, and with its effect on different aspects of our lives, there is a greater need for such a solution to keep the civilians safe”, he says.
15 Jul 20. USAF information warfare command reaches critical milestone. Less than a year after being created, 16th Air Force reached its full operational capability this week. Less than a year after being created, the Air Force’s new information warfare command has finalized its organizational structure and has reached the milestone known as full operational capability, its commander said July 15.
Sixteenth Air Force/Air Forces Cyber, created in October, combined what was previously known as 24th and 25th Air Force. The move placed cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, electronic warfare and weather capabilities under one commander, serving as the Air Force’s first information warfare entity. The new organization has an expansive mission that includes serving air components and combatant commanders across the globe in intelligence while also working as the Air Force component to U.S. Cyber Command and the Air Force component to the NSA.
The entity was created to help the Air Force fight against adversaries in the so-called gray zone or competition space, where operations often fall short of armed conflict.
“In partnership with Air Combat Command as our lead [Major Command], we have now established the structure of the organization,” Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh, 16th Air Force’s commander, told a webcast hosted by the Mitchell Institute. “That foundational component of building an information warfare operational staff that executes all of our component functions. We organized that staff really consistent with what a [joint task force] looks like.”
Part of the difficulty in integrating elements was that some areas – such as intelligence or electronic warfare – had been intentionally stovepiped, Haugh said, as a way to ensure compliance with law and policy. As a result, the command worked with lawyers to ensure new roles and responsibilities consistent with polices and oversight.
In addition, Haugh said the command met all of Air Combat Command’s requirements on Monday to be fully operational capable.
One key focus for 16th Air Force, Haugh explained, is covergence, which involves leveraging the global nature of the command and merging the data throughout all its elements to generate outcomes. He said officials are now considering what problems need to be addressed by air components and combatant commands and what can 16th Air Force elements do to help.
But convergence in the information environment is complex.
“How do we organize ourselves around problems that also [don’t] constrain us by the geography? Because in many cases, that information that’s available to us will not necessarily be collocated with the adversary we’re targeting,” he said. “It’s taking advantage of our global access, our global access to the data and unique authorities, whether that’s intelligence authorities or the role that we play as a cyber component or the capabilities that we now stood up from an information warfare and an [information operations] perspective. How those come together and integrate are the outcomes that we are producing and will produce with our partners.”
Those partners could be the Department of State, a combatant commander, an air component, the Department of Homeland Security or the FBI.
“That’s the area, for us, that we think will be the secret sauce of 16th Air Force is how we integrate those functions together while enabling outcomes from our partners but also being able to execute the things that we’re responsible for,” he said.
New levels of coordination
Haugh explained that 16th Air Force has started creating several new elements as a way to improve planning and integration with other military organizations. For example, he said the 16th has created a J-39, which acts as the focal point for coordinating information operations with the joint staff and other combatant commands.
This role is necessary to help air components and combatant commands work togethers, especially given every information operations entity across the world understands the roles and functions of a J-39.
Additionally, 16th Air Force repurposed some resources from the two numbered Air Forces to create new information warfare planning units that have led to information warfare cells. The first of these cells, will integrate information operations and cyber feeding up to U.S. Cyber Command.
This unit will propose outcomes and capabilities for operations, focusing specifically on solving strategic problems, such as countering disinformation as a way to address foreign interference and malign influence, officials have said.
The second information warfare cell is tied closely with the air components at European and Indo-Pacific Commands.
While billets have been assigned to the cells, they have not hired all the personnel yet. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
15 Jul 20. RAF reveals ‘information node’ plan for Voyager tanker-transport aircraft. The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) plans to trial the use of an Airbus Voyager tanker-transport aircraft as an airborne information node for multidomain operations.
Speaking at the ‘virtual’ Air & Space Power Association conference, a senior officer noted that the experiment is part of a wider drive to develop a ‘next-generation air force’ under Project ‘Astra’.
“In the next few months we will launch Babel Fish VII, looking to put Deckard, Nexus, and Raven onto a Voyager tanker – experimenting with multidomain integration to understand which areas we wish to further develop the full capability,” said Air Vice-Marshal Lincoln Taylor, Chief of Staff Capability, HQ Air Command.
Babel Fish is a series of tests in which different airborne systems are inter-connected and able to communicate. The Babel Fish events to date have dealt with sharing information between the ‘fourth-generation’ Eurofighter Typhoon and the ‘fifth-generation’ Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II combat aircraft. Deckard is a ‘cloud’-based app, Nexus is a data platform, while Raven is a micro digitalised server.
“The real turning point [in developing this next-generation information sharing capability] was the formation of the RAF Rapid Capabilities Office [RCO] RCO Air Information Experimentation [AIX] programme in 2019. (Source: Jane’s)
10 Jul 20. US and Australia sign NGJ-LB PA to increase joint capabilities. The US Department of Defense (DoD) and Australian DoD have signed a Next Generation Jammer Low Band (NGJ-LB) Project Arrangement (PA) to increase their joint capabilities. The NGJ cooperative partnership will ensure commonality on future jamming Growler variants and will benefit the countries’ by sharing costs and risks. As a part of a larger NGJ system, NGJ-LB uses advanced digital and software-based technologies.
It will expand and replace the legacy ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System (TJS), which is used on the EA-18G Growler aircraft.
NGJ-LB will help in tackling threats in the lower frequency bands of the electromagnetic spectrum.
US Navy AEA Systems and NGJ programme manager captain Michael Orr said: “This expanded partnership with Australia to develop the newest AEA jamming capability shows the level of commitment of both countries to ensure continued superiority of the electromagnetic spectrum.
“The NGJ-LB PA allows for joint sharing of the best technologies in the world, furthering the AEA capabilities of both the US Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
“Having a cooperative sustainment strategy will increase military effectiveness at home and abroad, strengthen technology capabilities, and reduce a duplication of effort across nations.”
The NGJ-LB programme is currently in the analysis phase, executing two Demonstration of Existing Technologies contracts with L3Harris and Northrop Grumman.
The programme is expected to move to the next phase of acquisition once the Capability Block 1 contract is awarded. It is expected later this year.
Under the Engineering and Manufacturing Development stage, the programme will commence developmental flight testing on the EA-18G Growler.
A low-rate initial production contract award will follow the completion of the Milestone C.
In May this year, the two countries signed an agreement to enter production, sustainment and follow-on development of the AN/ALQ-249 NGJ Mid-Band and follow-on variants. (Source: naval-technology.com)
10 Jul 20. Pentagon AI Gains ‘Overwhelming Support’ From Tech Firms – Even Google. Despite past battles over Project Maven and other military uses of AI, “Google and many others” are now working with the Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, its new acting director says.
Despite some very public blow-ups, “we have had overwhelming support and interest from tech industry in working with the JAIC and the DoD,” the new acting director of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, Nand Mulchandani, said Wednesday in his first-ever Pentagon press conference. Speaking two years after Google very publicly pulled out of the AI-driven Project Maven, Mulchandani said that, today, “[we] have commercial contracts and work going on with all of the major tech and AI companies — including Google — and many others.”
Mulchandani is probably better positioned to sell this message than his predecessor, Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, an Air Force three-star who ran Project Maven and then founded the Joint AI Center in 2018. While highly respected in the Pentagon, Shanahan’s time on Maven and his decades in uniform created some static in Silicon Valley. Mulchandani, by contrast, has spent his life in the tech sector, joining JAIC just last year after a quarter-century in business and academe.
But relations with the tech world are still tricky at a time when the two-year-old JAIC is moving from relatively uncontroversial uses of artificial intelligence such as AI-driven predictive maintenance, disaster relief and COVID response, to battlefield uses. In June, it awarded consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton a multi-year contract to support its Joint Warfighting National Mission Initiative, with a maximum value of $800m, several times the JAIC’s annual budget. For the current fiscal year, Mulchandani said, “spending on joint warfighting is roughly greater than the combined spending on all the of other JAIC mission initiatives” combined.
But tech firms should not have a problem with that, Mulchandani said, and most of them don’t, because AI in the US military is governed far more strictly by rivals like China or Russia. “Warfighting” doesn’t mean Terminators, SkyNet, or other scifi-style killer robots. It means algorithmically sorting through masses of data to help human warfighters make better decisions faster.
Wait, one reporter asked, didn’t Shanahan say shortly before his retirement that the military was about to field-test its first “lethal” AI?
“Many of the products we work on will go into weapons systems,” Mulchandani said. “None of them right now are going to be autonomous weapons systems.”
“Now, we do have products going on under joint warfighting which are actually going into testing,” he went on. “As we pivot [to] joint warfighting, that is probably the flagship product … but it will involve operators, human in the loop, human control.”
For example, JAIC is working with the Army’s PEO-C3T (Command, Control, & Communications – Tactical) and the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab (MCWL) on a Fire Support Cognitive Assistant, software to sort through incoming communications such as calls for artillery or air support. It’s part of a much wider push, led by the Air Force, to create a Joint All-Domain Command & Control (JADC2) mega-network that can coordinate operations by all five armed services across land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace.
That’s “lethal” in the buzzwordy way the modern Pentagon uses the term, since it contributes to combat effectiveness. But the AI isn’t pulling the trigger, Mulchandani emphasized. The whole point of a “cognitive assistant,” he said, is “there’s still a human sitting in front of a screen who’s actually being assisted.”
True, this kind of AI can help commanders pick targets for lethal strikes. That was an aspect of Project Maven that particularly upset some at Google and elsewhere.
But there’s a crucial difference. Maven used AI to analyze surveillance feeds and track potential targets, pushing the limits of object-recognition technology that Mulchandani said is still not ready for use on a large scale. For much of the current crop of warfighting AI, by contrast, the central technology is Natural Language Processing: in essence, teaching algorithms – whose native tongue is 1s and 0s – how to make sense of normal, unstructured writing, Online advertisers have invested heavily in NLP, driving rapid progress.
“With the Cognitive Fires Assistant, the core technology there is NLP,” Mulchandani said. While modern command posts do use computers to coordinate calls for artillery and air support, it’s not an automated process. If you look over a targeteer’s shoulder at their screen, “there’s literally 10 to 15 different chat windows all moving at the same time,” he said. “So we’re applying NLP technology to a lot of that information” to help condense it, structure it and highlight the most important items.
In fact, Mulchandani said, the military is full of complex, rigidly structured and exhaustively documented processes that are a natural fit for automation. The armed forces long ago figured out how to train young humans to do things the same way every time. Instead of making humans act like robots, why not train machine-learning algorithms to do the grunt work instead? After all, modern weapons systems and command posts already rely on large amounts of software – it’s just not particularly smart software.
“All of these systems are running on software and hardware systems today,” Mulchandani said. “What we’re doing with AI is either making them more efficient, making them faster …making them more accurate … reducing overload.
“There’s nothing magic that we’re really doing here, other than applying AI to already existing processes or systems,” he said.
Of course, the military’s existing processes and systems tend to involve coercion and deadly force, which makes privacy advocates and peace activists skeptical of much the Pentagon does, AI-enabled or not. But Mulchandani argues that the US Department of Defense operates under strict ethical guidelines. For example, DoD can’t touch surveillance data on US citizens, and the JAIC is not investing in any kind of facial recognition technology.
The longstanding regulation here is DoD 3000.09, which sets up an elaborate review process for any automated system that might lead to loss of human life – although, contrary to conventional wisdom, Pentagon policy doesn’t outright ban automated killing machines. This year, Defense Secretary Mark Esper formally adopted a set of ethical principles for military AI, which the JAIC is already writing into contracts, including the $800m one for joint warfighting – although the principles are not yet legally binding. The JAIC itself has an in-house ethics team headed by a professional ethicist, and, just as important, a testing team to make sure the software actually performs as intended.
China and Russia are not taking those precautions, Mulchandani warned. That doesn’t mean they’re getting ahead of the US in AI writ large, he argued. “There are some areas where China’s military and police authorities undeniably have the world’s advanced capabilities, such as unregulated facial recognition for universal surveillance… and Chinese language text analysis for internet and media censorship,” Mulchandani said. “We simply don’t invest in building such universal surveillance and censorship systems.”
However, “for the specific national security applications where we believe AI will make a significant impact,” he said, “I believe the United States is not only leading the world, but is taking many of the steps needed to preserve US military advantage over the long term – as evidenced.. by what we’re doing here at JAIC.” (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
Spectra Group Plc
Spectra Group (UK) Ltd, internationally renowned award-winning information security and communications specialist with a proven record of accomplishment.
Spectra is a dynamic, agile and security-accredited organisation that offers secure Hosted and Managed Solutions and Cyber Advisory Services with a track record of delivering on time, to spec and on budget.
With over 15 years of experience in delivering solutions for governments around the globe, elite militaries and private enterprises of all sizes, Spectra’s platinum and gold-level partnerships with third-party vendors ensure the supply of best value leading-edge technology.
Spectra was awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise (Innovation) in 2019 for SlingShot.
In November 2017, Spectra Group (UK) Ltd announced its listing as a Top 100 Government SME Supplier by the UK Crown Commercial Services.
Spectra’s CEO, Simon Davies, was awarded 2017 Businessman of the Year by Battlespace magazine.
Founded in 2002, the Company is based in Hereford, UK and holds ISO 9001:2015, ISO 27001:2013 and Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation.