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22 Oct 20. Talk of national 5G plan from DoD causes confusion, concern among lawmakers. Pentagon IT leaders have spent the week insisting the Defense Department does not want to build its own 5G network after a controversial request for information troubled lawmakers, including, most recently, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith.
The White House is reportedly pressuring the Pentagon to lease some of its prized spectrum for the lucrative 5G market to a single politically connected company, Rivada, using a non-competitive process. The White House’s push to fast track a contract for mid-band spectrum to Rivada Networks has alarmed senior administration officials, according to CNN.
Rivada and the Pentagon have both rejected those reports, but the denials haven’t squelched concerns on Capitol Hill that the administration is using the Defense Department to make an end-run around regulators in pursuit of an expensive boondoggle.
The concern on Capitol Hill and elsewhere stems from a September RFI from the Department of Defense that seeks industry input on dynamic spectrum sharing, or ways the Defense Department and commercial entities can safely operate on the same spectrum bands.
The RFI asks “how could DoD own and operate 5G networks for its domestic operations?” and “what are the potential issues with DoD owning and operating independent networks for its 5G operations?,” which has fueled fears and pushback in industry about DoD nationalizing a 5G network.
In a statement to C4ISRNET on Wednesday, Pentagon spokesperson Russ Goemaere said “No, DOD does not intend to own and operate a national 5G network.” Rather, he said, the DoD needs to better understand how dynamic spectrum sharing can support training, readiness and lethality in the contiguous United States.
“This RFI will help DOD understand best methods and approaches for owning and operating independent DoD 5G networks supporting ‘spectrum for training, readiness, and lethality,’ ” Goemaere said.
Rivada has also denied allegations that it’s in favor of a nationalized 5G network.
“We want to add our voice to those condemning, in the strongest terms, anyone planning to nationalize 5G in America. Whoever they may be. Assuming they exist,” the company said in a statement Oct. 8.
The company also released part of its response to the RFI earlier in the week that listed several reasons the DoD shouldn’t operate a national 5G network, including costs of operations and maintenance, as well as limited coverage and capacity.
Frustration on the Hill
The plan has been met with opposition from the wireless industry, Republican and Democratic lawmakers, and reportedly senior officials within the Trump administration. On Wednesday, Smith told reporters he too is opposed to what he has heard so far.
“I don’t initially support the idea of DoD controlling the 5G network and building it. Someone’s going to have to do a lot of convincing to show me that’s a good idea,” Smith said.
Smith said he agrees with U.S. efforts to counter Chinese dominance in 5G and build a western alternative, and he supports spectrum sharing between the Pentagon and private sector as a way there. But the prospect of a nationalized, DoD-led 5G network has “a lot of folks a little bit nervous” about its feasibility and effectiveness, Smith said, adding the administration’s true plans remained unclear.
“There is concern if DoD comes in and says, ‘we’re just going to build and control the network’ — and it’s a little murky right now exactly where the Trump administration’s at or whether or not they’re going to try to go forward with that plan,” Smith said. “That’s what we’re trying to get some answers to right now.”
The direct nature of the White House’s push, and emphasis on a fast result, has frustrated and confused congressional committees and agencies covering commercial spectrum allocation — such as the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and Federal Communications Commission — that are traditionally involved in forming telecommunications policy, according to one congressional staffer.
Leading the effort on Capitol Hill are Fox News commentator and GOP strategist Karl Rove, who is also a lobbyist for Rivada, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a close ally of the president.
“When you have somebody going directly to members, that’s usually a sign they’re trying to pull one over because they’re not interested in doing an evidenced-based approach, talking to experts for that member of Congress. Using people like Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich was an indicator early on that Rivada was not interested in engaging in good faith, but was interested in corporate welfare,” the staffer said.
Two lawmakers with jurisdiction over the issue — Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr., D-N.J., and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle, D-Pa. — said they are probing reports the White House had “instructed DoD to proceed immediately to a Request for Proposal (‘RFP’) in order to move forward toward a national 5G network.”
“According to press accounts, several political operatives or lobbyists with close ties to President Trump or his staff – including Karl Rove, Peter Thiel, Newt Gingrich and Brad Parscale – are pushing for the seismic shift in spectrum policy contemplated by the RFI,” they said in a statement this month, referring to the DoD RFI on dynamic spectrum sharing.
“These reports also suggest these Republican operatives are working for the benefit of a specific company, Rivada, Inc., which has long championed a national network that Rivada would construct and operate using its sharing technology.”
They argued that DoD has “limited or no legal authority … to construct, operate, or maintain a commercial communications network or lease its assigned electromagnetic spectrum (‘spectrum’) to private entities to provide commercial communications service,” and asked that the Government Accountability Office conduct a legal analysis to confirm it.
On the other side of the aisle, a Republican aide to the committee warned that Congress would have to be consulted before DoD proceeds beyond the initial RFI.
“DOD is collecting information to build a public record, which is never a bad thing, but if the DOD takes additional steps forward we would have to evaluate whatever those proposals may be,” the aide said. “[Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Greg Walden, R-Ore.] has publicly stated that he opposes a nationalized 5G network, as do all five FCC commissioners.”
Eighteen Senate Republicans led by Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet Subcommittee Chairman John Thune, R-S.D., wrote to President Donald Trump, to argue against, “nationalizing 5G and experimenting with untested models for 5G deployment,” and in favor of previous White House efforts, which emphasized the private sector building multiple 5G networks. They did not mention Rivada.
“While we recognize the need for secure communications networks for our military, we are concerned that such a proposal threatens our national security,” their letter said. “When bad actors only need to penetrate one network, they have a greater likelihood of disrupting the United States’ communications services.”
The spectrum sharing RFI
Dynamic spectrum sharing is a technology the Defense Department is working to develop. The Pentagon recently announced six vendors would take part in a test bed at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, part of $600m investment into 5G experimentation.
The new RFI for spectrum sharing, developed in part by the office of DoD chief information officer, is another step forward in developing ways to share spectrum so the DoD systems that will rely on 5G, like many radar systems, can continue operating unencumbered.
A major problem, according to former FCC commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth, is that the RFI is “vaguely worded and at times not very accurately worded.”
“A benign interpretation of the RFI is that they’re really focused on the technology and not on non-federal networks,” said Furchtgott-Roth, now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. “But the less benign is that ‘5G’ is really a codeword for civilian networks.”
Though the RFI has caused outcry, Furchtgott-Roth told C4ISRNET that the RFI did raise “good questions” about spectrum sharing with commercial companies. One of the routes the Pentagon explores in the RFI is leasing the spectrum it owns instead of reallocating.
“The Department believes that more spectrum sharing must be the norm and that technology is a way to achieve greater sharing,” said Goemaere, the DoD spokesman.
“As a result, DOD is looking for new approaches to spectrum policy, access, and use, and for innovative spectrum sharing technologies. This RFI seeks to expand DOD’s knowledge base, understand the state-of-the-art, and inform future DoD research, development and acquisition activities.”
Asked if the source selection process would be competitive, Goemaere told C4ISRNET that the DoD will “follow Federal Acquisition Regulations if any further acquisition is sought on this effort.”
Furchtgott-Roth said that the leasing aspect raises questions about the DoD’s authority to rent out federal assets — a piece that the DoD is also looking for answers to in its RFI. Any RFP would likely need to be a multi-award contract. Given the DoD’s challenges with sole-source contracts in the past, particularly its Joint Enterprise Infrastructure Cloud, multiple vendors are likely needed.
“It’s hard to imagine that the Pentagon would want to repeat that disaster,” Furchtgott-Roth said. (Source: Defense News)
21 Oct 20. TrellisWare Introduces New Body-Worn TSM™ Enabled Radio. The TW-860 TSM Spirit™ radio is designed for next-generation soldier systems, public safety, and first responder requirements.
TrellisWare Technologies, Inc., announced today the launch of the TW-860 TSM Spirit™ radio designed for next-generation soldier systems, public safety, and first responder requirements. Powered by the TrellisWare® TSM™ mobile ad-hoc networking (MANET) waveform, the TSM Spirit radio represents the most cost-effective TSM enabled radio available, making it easier to expand tactical networks to everyone who needs to be connected.
The TSM Spirit radio offers industry leading size, weight, and power (SWaP) among body-worn mesh networking radios, delivering voice, data and real-time positional reporting. The radio is designed to be integrated with wearable power systems, and body-worn antennas to further complement its slim, low profile form factor. The TSM Spirit radio provides spectrum support covering 225-450 MHz, 700-970 MHz, and 1250-2600 MHz all in a single software defined radio (SDR).
“We are excited about the possibilities with this new radio,” said Matt Fallows, vice president of global business development and customer support. “Considering the SWaP of the TSM Spirit radio, you have very wide spectrum coverage that supports global deployment. Compare that to the competition in this space, and you see narrowly banded radios covering only tens of megahertz, or a base radio with additional cost burden to purchase many RF hardware modules to cover multiple bands.”
Interoperable with all TSM enabled radios, the TW-860 TSM Spirit radio supports a true flat network with massive scalability in a single radio frequency (RF) channel, while still delivering rapid position location information (PLI) updates for every radio.
TrellisWare maintains an 800-node network at its company headquarters in San Diego and can demonstrate this unique capability upon request.
For more information visit https://www.trellisware.com/trellisware-radios/tw-860-spirit-radio/, or contact TrellisWare directly to arrange a live demonstration.
About TrellisWare Technologies, Inc.
TrellisWare Technologies, Inc. is a global leader in highly advanced algorithms, waveforms, and communications systems that range from small form factor radio products to fully integrated solutions. Our TSM™ waveform is incorporated into a wide range of systems, including TrellisWare® radios and trusted industry partner radios, as well as multiple government and commercial solutions. TrellisWare is delivering the next generation of communications for military and commercial markets When Nothing Else Works™. For more information on TrellisWare’s products and solutions, please visit www.trellisware.com. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
19 Oct 20. In September, Hughes Defense conducted a demonstration for the US Army of its HeloSat high-data rate communications through the rotor blades of a Black Hawk helicopter. In an exclusive interview with Armada International, Wayne Marhefka, senior director, Business Development at Hughes announced that during the testa in May, late June and at the end of September 2020, the Hughes system had delivered 17 Mbps on and off a flying Black Hawk.
The various demonstrations were performed for a variety of Army and some international customers, including special forces. “We were transmitting full motion video at all events – initially over Ku-band and Inmarsat I5 high capacity band and Ku-30B. Data rates have varied between 2Mbps to 17Mbps – we were amazed that we could get such a high rate through the rotor blades uninterrupted.”
Hughes has been working since a flight test in 2013 with a GD antenna: “we got 10 Mbps back then through the rotor blades but the problem was size, weight and power.” The big antenna helped us getting the higher data rates.
The military have desired beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) wide-band satcom, particularly to their helicopters to allow situational awareness to troops inside the helicopters and for ISR collection.
The antenna is sited on a removable mount fixed on the upper surface of the Black Hawk where the body of the helicopter and the tail meet. Attached to hard points, it is FAA certified.
“We have had around 14 different flights of between 40 minutes to one hour. Once flying we are testing how the units performs with the vibration, pitch and roll,” said Marhefka. The data rate also depends on the age of the satellite and its technology.
“Some customers want more information to the aircraft (4Mbps x 2Mbps), while other who are perhaps transmitting ISR video and images need more data off the aircraft (2Mbps x 4Mbps). So we need to make sure our system has a minimum capability of 4Mpbs x 4Mbps,” sadi Marhefka. (Source: Armada)
19 Oct 20. L3Harris Technologies Launches Compact Team Radio. L3Harris Technologies has introduced its compact team radio during AUSA Now 2020, the Association of the United States Army’s (AUSA) annual meeting and expedition which was held virtually this past week.
The small form factor, single-channel radio delivers robust voice and data capabilities for missions at the edge of the network including Nett Warrior and Integrated Visual Augmentation System. Sharing common accessories with the AN/PRC-163 Leader Radio and implementing a simple user interface reduce the logistics trail while increasing warfighter agility.
“The U.S. Army asked for a single-channel wideband MANET (Mobile Ad hoc Network) radio and L3Harris built a product in less than one year that checks all the boxes and exceeds our customer’s requirements,” said Dana Mehnert, President, Communication Systems, L3Harris.
This versatile, low-SWaP solution is engineered to provide a simple to use communications platform capable of operating in multi-domain challenges of dismounted, vehicular, maritime and airborne missions. (Source: Al Defaiya)
19 Oct 20. Defense Official Calls Artificial Intelligence the New Oil.
Artificial intelligence is the new oil, and the governments or the countries that get the best datasets will unquestionably develop the best AI, the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center’s chief technology officer said Oct. 15.
Speaking on a panel about AI superpowers at the Politico AI Summit, Nand Mulchandani said AI is a very large technology and industry. “It’s not a single, monolithic technology,” he said. “It’s a collection of algorithms, technologies, etc., all cobbled together to call AI.”
Spotlight: Artificial Intelligence
The United States has access to global datasets, and that’s why global partnerships are so incredibly important, he said, noting the Defense Department launched the AI partnership for defense at the JAIC recently to have access to global datasets with partners, which gives DOD a natural advantage in building these systems at scale.
“Industry has to develop on its own, and that’s where the global talent is; that’s where the money is; that’s where all of the innovation is going on,” Mulchandani noted, adding that the U.S. government’s job is to be able to work in the best way and absorb the best technology that it can. That includes working hand in glove with industry on a voluntary basis, he said.
He said there are certain areas of AI that are highly scaled that you can trust and deploy at scale.
“But notice many or not many of those systems have been deployed on weapon systems. We actually don’t have any of them deployed,” he said.
Mulchandani said the reason is that explainability, testing, trust and ethics are all highly connected pieces and even AI security when it comes to model security, data security being able to penetrate and break models. This is all very early, which is why the DOD and the U.S. government widely have taken a very stringent approach to putting together the ethics principles and frameworks within which we’re going to operate.
“[Earlier this year, one of the first international visits that we made were to NATO and our European partners, and [we] then pulled them into this AI partnership for defense that I just talked about,” he said. “Thirteen different countries are getting together to actually build these principles because we actually do need to build a lot of confidence in this.”
DOD loves larger budgets for AI, Mulchandani said, and there’s been incredible bipartisan support for it with the JAIC and all its other investments. “But in aggregate as a society or a country, our models are very different, which is [why] you have to look at all of the venture capital [and] all of the investment going in both in existing companies but also in new companies in AI.”
He said DOD continues to attract and have the best talent at JAIC.
“The real tricky part is: How do we actually take that technology and get it deployed? That’s the complexity of integrating AI into existing systems, because one isn’t going to throw away the entire investment of legacy systems that one has, whether it be software or hardware or even military hardware,” Mulchandani said. “[How] can we absorb the best of what’s coming and get it integrated into the system as where the complexity is?”
DOD has had a long history of companies that know how to do that, and harnessing it is the actual work and the piece that we’re worried about the most and really are focused on the most, he added.
A global workforce — the DOD technology companies — are global companies, he emphasized. “These are not linked to a particular geographic region. We hire. We bring the best talent in, wherever it may be, [and we have] research and development arms all over the world.”
DOD has special security needs and requirements that must be taken care of when it comes to data, and the JAIC is putting in place very different development processes now to handle AI development, he said.
“So, the dynamics of the way software gets built [and] the dynamics of who builds it are changing in a very significant way,” Mulchandani said. “But the global war for talent is a real one, which is why we are not actually focused on trying to corner the market on talent.”
He said they are trying to build leverage by building relationships with the leading AI companies to harness the innovation. (Source: US DoD)
19 Oct 20. How Northrop Grumman Is Giving Aircrews an Edge in Electronic Warfare. Going digital provides a generational leap in capability.
Over the past decade, aircrews have relied on infrared countermeasure and electronic warfare systems, such as Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures and the AN/APR-39 Radar Warning Receiver, to keep them safe during combat operations. These systems have been highly effective against current anti-aircraft weapons. Now, a more lethal generation of threats is beginning to appear on the horizon.
A digital battle for the electronic warfare domain is underway, with adversaries seeking to control the spectrum and deny access to airspace. Sophisticated and agile multi-spectral air defense weapons and airborne electronic warfare systems are coming online in conflict zones throughout the world, creating dense, highly contested environments.
Staying ahead in this era calls for thinking beyond legacy technologies. Northrop Grumman and its customers have responded by investing in an advanced adaptive electronic warfare architecture.
Bringing electronic warfare into the digital era
Fully digital and founded on secure, modular, open systems design principles, Northrop Grumman’s ultra-wideband digital receiver/exciter at its core provides significant advantages over heritage systems. This technology allows for extended frequency coverage, full spatial coverage and more rapid responses. Featuring highly efficient broadband power amplifiers and adaptive countermeasure modulations, it is designed to detect, identify, locate and defeat next generation sensors and weapons.
Doug Goldberg, an engineer at Northrop Grumman, was involved in the design of the architecture and the new systems that would ultimately take advantage of it.
“Analog systems, including the legendary ALQ-135, served the warfighter well for decades, but there are limits to what we can accomplish with those technologies. Our digital, adaptive, open systems architecture provides a generational leap in capability,” said Goldberg. “We cannot afford to chase the threat. We must stay ahead of it.”
Designing future-friendly systems
Sustainment costs for legacy, single-function systems can strain budgets. Obsolescence is an inevitable and sometimes costly concern.
Digital architecture has changed the equation. Electronic warfare suites can now perform multiple functions and support diverse mission sets, and components and software can be shared among a family of systems. Under this building block approach, in use now at Northrop Grumman, development costs and timelines decrease, upgrade cycles are faster and economies of scale kick in during production.
As new threats are identified, enhancements can be shared quickly throughout the product line. Often, only a software change is required to add new capabilities, minimizing the obsolescence risk and decreasing the time to field
Another benefit: Continued relevance for the fourth generation fleet.
“For the foreseeable future, we are going to have fourth and fifth generation fighters flying together,” said Ryan Tintner, vice president, navigation, targeting and survivability, Northrop Grumman. “To help our customers make the most of this mixed fleet, we are upgrading the electronic warfare suites of fourth generation aircraft to give them capabilities that rival or exceed newer aircraft systems. Interoperability is key, and this mix of aircraft is already resulting in new concepts of operations.”
Large or small, protection for all
From massive airlifters down to unmanned aircraft systems, the air operations picture has never before included such a diverse range of platforms. Large or small, they all need protection from radio frequency threats. The adaptive digital EW architecture makes it possible.
Northrop Grumman has been selected to provide its latest internal radio frequency countermeasure capabilities for the AC-130J and MC-130J Radio Frequency Countermeasures program. This system is critical to keeping special operators safe in the face of sophisticated, next-generation RF threats. Protecting large platforms is no small feat, and with a wingspan of more than 100 feet, these are some of the largest military aircraft flying today. The key to making it work is the common building block architecture.
The system is also applicable to other large aircraft in service around the world.
“The scalable nature of our architecture allows us to configure it for aircraft of nearly any size or mission,” said Tintner. “We can optimize it for anything from an airlifter down to a small helicopter or unmanned platform, podded or internal.”
Another platform taking advantage of the common EW building block design is the F-16 fighter. Northrop Grumman is currently demonstrating an electronic warfare suite for this widely fielded aircraft. This internal, digital radar warning receiver and countermeasure system uses an innovative ultra-wideband architecture to help keep the venerable F-16 effective for decades to come.
For aircraft where an internal system is not the preferred solution, Northrop Grumman’s newly exportable ALQ-131C offers this protection in a pod. The original ALQ-131 remains one of the most-installed electronic countermeasure systems ever, with decades of proven operation to its credit. With the digital EW architecture as its foundation, this upgrade provides the power to operate in highly complex and contested electromagnetic spectrum environments.
On rotary wing aircraft, the AN/APR-39D(V)2 radar warning receiver and electronic warfare suite controller provides spherical protection and the ability to detect a greater range of modern threats than previous systems. The AN/APR-39E(V)2, the next generation currently in development, builds on these capabilities to detect modern, agile threats across a broader and wider spectral range. Both were built with a pathway to additional functionality and an ability to install on aircraft with less available space, weight, and power. Planned integrations will impact thousands of aircraft worldwide.
17 Oct 20. US Army’s defensive cyber tools office to deliver new systems in the next year. The U.S. Army program office responsible for developing defensive cyber tools is beginning to field a new platform to installations.
Col. Mark Taylor, the project manager for defensive cyber operations at Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems told C4ISRNET that the new platform — called the Garrison Defensive Cyber Operations Platform — is heading to the war fighter in the next year.
A spokesperson for PEO EIS said the platform allows for integration into the global enterprise fabric, an Army enterprise computing environment, and will allow soldiers to work remotely. The Garrison effort started in early 2016, and the platform is being fielded to the Project Manager Defensive Cyber Operations’ Cyber Platform and Systems office.
Also in the works at PEO EIS, which has an annual budget of $4.3 billion, are plans to stand up a new network to help cyber defenders collaborate with development teams to fix technological issues while in the field. The new network, called the Defensive Cyber Operations Development Environment Network, will be stood up in the next year, according to Lt. Col. Peter Amara, product lead for applied cyber technologies. The team is still working on the architecture of the platform.
“It is a network or an infrastructure that’s supposed to enable our deployed forces to collaborate with development teams back here and industry and academia, etc.,” Amara told C4ISRNET in an interview before the annual Association of the U.S. Army conference. “When we have teams go out on mission and they encounter issues or problems, how do they talk back to developers to ensure that we actually fix, remediate, take care of that issue immediately without them, you know, actually coming back here before that issue is corrected?”
The Forge and the Armory
Another project under Project Manager Defensive Cyber Operations is the Forge. It was stood up a few years ago to quicken acquisition and innovation while building a stronger relationship with industry. In its first year, the Forge downsized a defensive cyber kit from 100 pounds to a deployable platform that could fit into an airplane’s overhead bin. In the last year, the Forge delivered another dozen software prototypes, Amara said.
The Forge works closely with another little-known project manager capability, called the Armory, which serves as storage for software tools developed by the Forge. When the Forge develops patches for software products, it’s the Armory that installs them.
“This central repository makes it much easier for the [program manager] to work with the the operational forces to keep that weapon system up to date,” Taylor said. “It also provides cost-control measures: Instead of having all those weapons systems all deployed out, we can effectively and efficiently use our resources to provide the cyberwarriors that are out on mission with the most up-to-date capability possible.”
The Armory operates like a traditional arms room for an infantry battalion, but instead of storing weapons, it keeps the deployable defensive cyber operations systems kits. At the Armory, the kits’ software and hardware are maintained so they are ready for deployment. That includes updating licenses, patching software, ensuring proper configurations and repairing some of the hardware that might come back from a mission in disrepair in order to ensure that when the system needs to deploy again, it’s ready.
“All that needs to be on the right configuration so it’s all working together properly, [because] when a soldier or cyber defender is out on mission, it could be for an extended period of time,” Taylor said. “When that system comes back, It probably needs to be looked at and maintain[ed].”
The Armory fielded more than 100 requests for the deployable defensive cyber operations kits during the coronavirus pandemic, Amara said. “We want to lean forward and do more” by fielding the kits across the regular Army, Reserves and National Guard, he added.
Because it bridges the gap between the Forge and operational forces, the Armory also plays a “critical role” in gathering soldier feedback on systems, Amara said. He explained that when cyber defenders return kits to an Armory location, his team knows the tools that soldiers used, how much they used them, what worked and what didn’t work, and then use that information for future software development cycles.
“By virtue of that contact with the cyber defenders, the Armory plays a critical role as that customer feedback interface for the Applied Cyber Technologies office. Really integrating the Forge with the Armory, the Forge has been able to respond rapidly to the needs of cyber defenders. As those kits are looked at, information that is generated from that process is then sent back to the Forge, [so] if there’s something that we need to develop quicker to make sure that the latest version of the software is enhanced on the kits for the next mission,” Amara said.
Industry and COVID-19
Since its establishment, the Forge has relied on vendors coming to Fort Belvoir, Virginia, to demonstrate products. But the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a process that leadership at the program office already wanted to implement: virtualizing the demonstration process to protect soldiers, acquisition officials and industry from illness.
But a lot of that meant vendors physically coming to Fort Belvoir to showcase their products. Still, the pandemic has driven more vendors pitch their solutions.
“Now we’re setting up a way to virtually meet with these stakeholders,” Taylor said. “That has really opened up the aperture and reduced the barriers to entry on innovation and collaboration, where a lot of vendors that wouldn’t normally have the money and the time to pay somebody to come meet face-to-face, now they can meet virtually to show us the capabilities they have to meet whatever requirements that we need to fill.”
During the pandemic, vendors are using an outward-facing platform hosted by the Forge where they can input their code for evaluation.
“They can actually input it into our pipeline, and it will go through our DevSecOps process,” Amara said. “And then we can see if the tool works, first of all, with any of our systems and where it’s broke. If it doesn’t make it to the end state, we can then, you know, send it back to the vendor.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
15 Oct 20. 66 Ways to Beat China in AI: Report. The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence suggests a CTO for the intelligence community; a White House AI council, like the National Space Council; and more. The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence submitted its interim report and third-quarter recommendations to the president and Congress Tuesday.
The commission, composed largely of private-sector tech experts from companies such as Google and Oracle, submitted 66 recommendations across six lines of effort, including workforce, education and research and development. Commissioners voted on recommendations last week during a virtual public plenary meeting.
The far-reaching recommendations pointed to a theme that has increasingly gripped the minds of policymakers: the return of great power competition. Commission co-chairs Robert Work, former deputy secretary of Defense, and Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, told reporters during a press call Tuesday that artificial intelligence is an essential component of competition with nations like China.
“It’s become very clear that we are in an innovation competition unlike anything we’ve ever faced before,” Work said.
One of the most significant recommendations targeted at this competition calls for the creation of a technology council chaired by the vice president and tasked with the development of a national technology strategy.
This council could live within existing White House entities such as the National Security Council or the Office of Science and Technology Policy, according to the report. The report also recommends the council include an assistant to the president to run day-to-day activities. NSCAI specifically states this assistant should be someone who not only understands the workings of government, but who also has “strong ties to the private sector technology community.”
Both the Trump and Obama administrations have received criticism regarding revolving-door relationships with Silicon Valley, though. Lately, President Trump’s relationship with Oracle’s Larry Ellison has raised eyebrows, particularly after Trump approved a deal that anointed Oracle as TikTok’s “trusted tech partner” in the U.S. Similarly, the Obama administration was criticized for its close ties to Google.
Schmidt said the commission had in a mind a model for the technology council similar to the National Space Council, which is currently headed by Vice President Mike Pence.
“What I’ve learned as an amateur in government bureaucracy is that it really matters how high you are in the organization and so we think, collectively, that this set of issues around competitiveness are so defining that it needs to be at the vice president or presidential level, and not as part of some bureaucratic process,” Schmidt said.
NSCAI in quarter three is recommending other administrative changes to orient the bureaucracy toward emerging technologies as well. The report calls for the creation of a chief technology officer for the intelligence community along with greater empowerment of the Defense Department’s CTO.
One recommendation meant to help elevate the DOD CTO, also known as the undersecretary of Defense for research and engineering, calls for a dedicated fund for the CTO to use to integrate promising artificial intelligence technologies. The goal of the fund would be to support emerging AI technologies beyond initial research and development so that these technologies can become operational faster even when planned program funds aren’t yet available.
The new intelligence community CTO position should be an evolution of the director of science and technology role within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, according to the report. NSCAI also wants the new CTO to have a dedicated fund for AI investments.
“With this type of high-level oversight, we think we can really start to organize ourselves for the competition,” Work said.
A significant portion of the recommendations are dedicated to workforce and talent initiatives. Work said the commission feels the only way to win the AI competition is by developing the best talent. Some of NSCAI’s workforce and talent measures, especially from previous NSCAI reports, have made their way into versions of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. Schmidt said the commission has made a targeted effort in 2020 to work with Congress on implementing its recommendations in the NDAA.
Now that the quarter three report and recommendations are out, NSCAI will turn its attention to the development of its final report, which is due in March. Schmidt said the commission has released its work to “both political camps” so that it will be ready to collaborate with either a second-term Trump administration or a new Biden administration depending on the result of the election. (Source: glstrade.com/Defense One)
16 Oct 20. ‘Weaponized truth’: How the US military plans to compete in the crowded information space. Investing in information warfare capabilities is as important as updating military platforms, according to Col. Myles Caggins, the director of public affairs for the U.S. Army’s III Corps.
“Senior leaders need to embrace that public-communication warfare is important, and then have the policies that provide the resources to equip our words warriors and our soldiers with what they need,” he said during a virtual presentation Oct. 15 as part of the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual meeting.
To quickly thwart and defeat adversarial messages and campaigns in the information space — which includes social media and, more broadly, the internet — the Defense Department must invest in its information professionals and their tools just as it does in updating its tanks and planes, the officer argued.
Caggins recently concluded a tour in the Middle East serving as the spokesman for the global coalition combating the Islamic Statet group in Iraq and Syria. At the AUSA event, he shared lessons learned about fighting in the information environment, which includes a host of both state and nonstate actors.
A video from his presentation pointed to Russia, which is involved in the Syrian conflict, as an example of a country that conducts maneuvers in the physical space to achieve goals in the information environment. He cited Russia’s seemingly adept assault on a U.S. base in Syria, which was abandoned the day prior. The assault was filmed and broadcast.
On the modern internet, messages — true or false — can rapidly spread across the globe, and once a narrative is established, countering it can be a challenge. U.S. officials have described how American adversaries are winning the propaganda battle for hearts and minds by making false or misleading claims, such as large-scale civilian casualties during U.S. airstrikes. By the time the U.S. military conducts a full-scale assessment of these incidents, the narrative has taken hold.
The video from Caggins’ presentation also said the coalition fighting ISIS competed in this dynamic information environment in several ways: It created a mindset to domination the information environment with weaponized truth; it used an audience-centric approach to reach the people of Iraq and northeastern Syria in their natural language and on regional networks; it built relationships with representatives from partner forces and with regional journalists to fight misinformation; and it talked to the public though the press and embedded media.
While the U.S. military has struggled adapting to this fast-paced, modern information space, one of the tactics that emerged from its efforts involves disclosing adversarial activity.
Caggins said in his experience, social media is the fastest way to distribute messages, but the most effective route to the general public is through the press.
“As the tweeter in chief for the coalition, I had around 100,000 followers who were built up over the years. It would reach regional audiences, but most importantly I was trying to reach the journalists who would follow me so they could share the information, reach their audiences, hundreds of millions, hypothetically, billions of people from those tweets,” he said.
As the U.S. military reorganizes and reorients to fight the information war, top officials have talked at length about the importance public affairs plays in the landscape aside other military capabilities like cyber, electronic warfare and intelligence.
Caggins agrees that public affairs activities should be more encouraged.
The Marine Corps, in its operating concepts for the information space, has purposely eschewed the term “information warfare,” opting for operations in the information environment. This is because the service wants to think more about the strategic communications aspect of it.
Caggins explained that soldiers on a patrol with cameras are essentially sensors, and that they should be allowed to post what they’re seeing — after a quick public affairs sanitation for operational security — because adversaries like Russia film everything they do.
“The Russians and other adversaries are filming everything that they do because they can’t afford some of the big-ticket programs and military items that we have. They know that information is much more influential often than large-scale military operations, kinetic activity, and they frequently don’t even have the capability to match us,” he said.
Caggins, also said the military has to give everyday foot soldiers and especially public affairs personnel the tools to upload content faster to compete in this environment.
“I’d like it if we, as an institution, as the government, formally amplified some of the social media that’s being done by our service members,” he said, adding that there should be more trust so military members can tell their stories.
He contrasted this approach with that of what the military traditionally does: spend billions of dollars on platforms and conduct operations to deter actions. “But how about we do simple things like just taking pictures of what we do and, more importantly, having our own service members and civilians tell their own story,” Caggins said.
Providing soldiers with the right camera gear and amplifying their messages is far less costly, he argued, and that can have a large impact. For example, Caggins said, following the Iranian missile attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq in January, combat camera soldiers took pictures of the damage that made it to Washington, impacting decisions made by top national leadership.
“Having a combat camera soldier there at Al Asad [Air Base] — even in a period where we’re reducing the number of U.S. troops on the ground — was essential,” he said.
The next step, according to Caggins, would be better Wi-Fi capabilities so troops can more quickly upload images, as there are areas where signals are limited or using the internet requires forces to pay out of pocket.
“We need to enable our words warriors to fight and win on the battlefield. No different than every few years the military will relook the rifles that our soldiers have, the optics that they have, will upgrade our tanks and helicopters,” Caggins said. “They need to be able to upload imagery anywhere in the world.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
16 Oct 20. AUSA 2020: Project Convergence capstone pushes network limits. US Army officials stretched the service’s advanced networking communication programme, the Integrated Tactical Network (ITN), to its limits during the Project Convergence capstone exercise in September, allowing senior leaders to observe the ITN’s strengths and weaknesses in a large-scale combat technology exercise.
The capstone exercise, held at Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona, “was tremendously insightful” in terms of showcasing the ITN’s inherent strengths in supporting Project Convergence initiatives, along with the challenges the network faces as those initiatives continue to mature, said Army Brigadier General Robert Collins, program executive officer Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (C3T).
Prior to the capstone exercise, Project Convergence leaders baselined the experiment’s main objective of linking sensor and shooter platforms across multiple domains with the network capabilities outlined in Capability Set 21, particularly those technologies rooted in “ground domain mesh network” capabilities, he said on 14 October.
The ground-based mesh network capabilities seen in Capability Set 21 focus on integrating cellular 4G and other communication networks, coupled with legacy systems upgrades operating on a secure but unclassified architecture, to facilitate dismounted combat manoeuvres. Army officials anticipate Capability Set 23, the next iteration of the ITN, to focus more on mounted operations, specifically Stryker-led operations. (Updates are delivered every two years, which is why there is not a Capability Set 22.) (Source: Jane’s)
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