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10 Dec 20. Electromagnetic spectrum superiority at risk for DoD, watchdog says. The Department of Defense is in danger of failing to meet its goals to dominate the electromagnetic spectrum battle space due to poor oversight and lack of leaders assigned to implement its recently updated strategy, the government’s watchdog asserts.
Without some changes, the Pentagon’s ability to ensure superiority in the electromagnetic spectrum and fend off adversaries’ capabilities could fall short, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office concluded in a new report, required by lawmakers as part of last year’s defense policy bill.
The EMS has gained significantly more attention and focus in recent years. Sophisticated adversaries have deemed it a critical reliance for U.S. forces and have sought high-tech methods to deny it, meaning they try to jam or spoof communications.
Top nation states, including China and Russia, have demonstrated significant prowess within the electromagnetic spectrum, rivaling the DoD in some respects, while U.S. forces divested much of their related systems and expertise following the conclusion of the Cold War.
The Pentagon issued a much-anticipated strategy in October for ensuring superiority within the spectrum that consolidates and supersedes multiple previous strategies. However, GAO raised questions regarding the report’s impact.
“[T]he department risks not achieving the new strategy’s goals because it has not taken key actions — such as identifying processes and procedures to integrate EMS operations (EMSO) across the department, reforming governance structures and clearly assigning leadership for strategy implementation,” it said. “Also, it has not developed oversight processes, such as an implementation plan, that would help ensure accountability and implementation of the 2020 strategy goals. Doing so would help position the department to achieve its EMSO goals.”
The department is still working on an implementation plan, which officials say should be finalized around March 2021.
The department have five teams working on five goals detailed in the strategy, drawing on expertise around the agency to identify tasks to complete, said Brig. Gen. Darrin Leleux, deputy director of the EMSO cross-functional team, in a November webcast with C4SIRNET.
“We’re trying to connect different activities that are going on around the department,” he said. “One of the big values that is in this effort is identifying gaps, as well as connecting the capabilities that are activities that are happening around the department that can contribute to EMS superiority.”
GAO issued five recommendations for the agency:
- The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as the senior designated official of the EMSO cross-functional team, identifies procedures and processes to provide integrated defensewide strategy, planning and budgeting for joint EMSO.
- The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff proposes spectrum governance, management, organizational and operational reforms to the secretary.
- The secretary of defense assigns clear responsibility to a senior official with authorities and resources to compel action for the long-term implementation of the 2020 Pentagon strategy in time to oversee the implementation plan.
- The official for long-term implementation issues an actionable implementation plan within 180 days of the Pentagon strategy.
- That same official creates oversight processes to facilitate DoD’s strategy implementation.
DoD agreed with two recommendations fully but only partially concurred with the other three, GAO said. The three it partially concurred on were all related to assigning clear responsibility to a senior official. While agreeing with the intent of the recommendations, DoD said it could not provide specifics on implementation until the secretary of defense reviewed potential recommendations for organizational reform under consideration.
Additionally, DoD didn’t identify timeframes for developing organizational reforms.
“Given the department’s challenges in implementing previous EMS-related strategies, we believe that DoD needs to maintain focus on actions necessary to implement the 2020 strategy,” GAO said. “If the department finalizes and carries out organizational reform efforts that they are considering and continues to make progress toward the intent of our recommendations, DoD will be better positioned for success in the long term.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
11 Dec 20. The power of information in the contemporary battlespace. Information is often described as the ‘oil of the 21st century’ and is a key enabler for civilians, businesses, government and militaries. Staying ahead of the curve and guaranteeing information supremacy is critical to the success of the ADF. Across the ADF, transformation, evolution and digitisation are at the centre of the development and modernisation of the Army, Navy and Air Force.
At the core of this process, beyond the next-generation mega platforms like the Army’s new fleet of Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles, man-portable unmanned aerial systems and integrated air defence capabilities, Navy’s Hobart Class air warfare destroyers and future frigates, and Air Force’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, is one key component: information.
Meanwhile, net operating concepts like ‘Accelerated Warfare’, Plan Pelorus 2022 and Air Force Strategy 2020, Plan Jericho and the development of a ‘Fifth-Generation Air Force’ all depend on the ADF and an allied capacity to gather, analyse and disseminate information from a range of inputs to inform decision-makers.
The scope of information sources, from traditional human intelligence (HUMINT), electronic and signals intelligence (ELINT and SIGINT, respectively), and increasingly the interconnected, digitised world of cyber space are all critical components of the next-generation ADF.
In this issue of On Point, Defence Connect speaks to the Australian Defence Force’s Head of Information Warfare Division, Major General Marcus Thompson, AM, to discuss the power of information in this new era of conflict.
Defence Connect: For those who don’t know the history of the Information Warfare Division, could you give us a little background about the IWD and how it fits within the ADF?
MAJGEN Thompson: The Information Warfare Division was created in July 2017.
It came about as a result of a key recommendation from the first principles review that your [readers] might recall from 2015. And the observation was that defence hadn’t paid appropriate attention to some of these capabilities that don’t necessarily neatly fit within the Navy, the Army or the Air Force.
A lot of people would know them as glue capabilities, these are the essential combat functions that tie joint combat functions together.
Building on that, the observations related to emerging capabilities, such as cyber and electronic warfare and the proliferation of IP-based technology, the command and control systems, and of course how that all fits into intelligence, information operations, and other capabilities.
Our work is not operational, so to speak. The actual operations piece tends to be the responsibility of the Chief of Joint Operations, and of course the Australian Signals Directorate, including the Australian Cyber Security Centre.
Our role within Information Warfare Division is to develop and manage the capabilities that those people use on a day-to-day basis, on an as-required basis.
Defence Connect: How does Information Warfare support and protect the ‘digitisation’ of the ADF and its next-generation of capabilities and platforms?
MAJGEN Thompson: There’s billions of dollars of taxpayer investment in modernising the Australian Defence Force over the next couple of decades.
All of these new platforms are digital. The Air Warfare Destroyer, the Joint Strike Fighter, and the vehicles that will be acquired under Army’s LAND 400 program will be digital platforms.
They are extensions of the network within the Australian Defence Force. The conversation around cybersecurity very quickly extends beyond a traditional view of computer networks to combat systems.
I am always at great pains to talk about networks and mission systems because, in this digital combat platform, the first thing that’s going to happen when that ship pulls alongside, when that aircraft is towed into a hanger, or that vehicle pulls into a workshop, is that someone is going to plug in an electronic device.
I want to know where that device has been. Who’s responsible for its hygiene. Is it a contractor who’s using it?
Is it a Commonwealth official who’s plugging it in? Was that device used with the free Wi-Fi at a restaurant for breakfast while the person was having breakfast that morning?
These are all the things that the entire Defence Force is now thinking about because those combat platforms, if they’ve got to be used, the operator needs confidence that it will perform to spec.
Defence Connect: How do you balance that strategisation of cyber and digital connectivity within the ADF?
MAJGEN Thompson: We know that there is a new piece of malware on the streets every 12 seconds, which is forecast to drop to every seven seconds over the next couple of years.
It is a real challenge to be casting forward with defence acquisition timelines and saying, “Well, what might the environment look like in three to five years’ time?” Let alone, say, 20 to 30 years’ time for some of the larger programs.
I don’t know what the threat is going to be doing in three months’ time, let alone in three years’ time.
It is a constant challenge and what we’ve done, quite deliberately, is left some of these requirements and some of these descriptions fairly broad.
This means that we’re not tying ourselves to something that might very quickly become irrelevant or be superseded by technology or, indeed, by the emergence of a particular threat.
You can listen to the full Insight podcast with Major General Marcus Thompson here.: https://www.defenceconnect.com.au/key-enablers/5977-insight-cyber-and-information-warfare-majgen-marcus-thompson-am-department-of-defence (Source: Defence Connect)
09 Dec 20. DoD officials: Small changes in thinking about electronic warfare tools could give U.S. upper hand. Simple shifts in how the Pentagon approaches its electromagnetic spectrum tools could offer the U.S. superiority needed to best adversaries that have figured out over the last decade how achieve their own advantages, leaders have said.
This notion for how to achieve an affordable competitive advantage with non-kinetic capabilities looks beyond platforms, such as planes or ships, and rather at the pieces and specific capabilities within those platforms, Col. William Young, the incoming commander of the Air Force’s forthcoming 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing, said during a virtual event Dec. 9 hosted by the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.
The new wing, expected to be activated in March, will fall under the purview of the Air Force Warfare Center instead of the new information warfare command, 16th Air Force, which has operational control of electronic warfare. The Air Force Warfare Center performs operational test and evaluation, tactics development, and advanced training.
As an example of this different approach, Young described breaking apart a fourth-, fifth- and sixth-generation fighter and a satellite to connect the various capabilities within them, so forces at the edge can solve problems.
This is all done by taking advantage of the software nature of modern systems within the spectrum today and designing systems with open architectures.
“The power of that competitive advantage is not merely in the technology,” Young said. Rather, the forces at the edge innovate by looking at the capabilities available to them and string them all together, he explained.
From the Pentagon level, the office of the undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment is looking at how to create more efficiencies in these capabilities that exist on platforms across the joint force.
The office is shifting its perspective to pay more attention to electronic warfare efficiency, David Tremper, electronic warfare director for A&S, said during the same event.
“If I can make $1 worth of EW investment, and it impacts my four services, I’ve effectively gotten $4 worth of efficiency out of that $1 worth investment,” he said.
The key to this investment is the software-defined nature Young described, which allows greater flexibility.
An electronic warfare system could pursue a submarine operation one day, but in another platform, it’s on a tactical aircraft, Tremper said. Since such an electronic effort is software-based, its function and role are able to change slightly, making fixed platforms much more flexible.
One goal of the new spectrum wing is for the Air Force to tackle the software-defined capabilities of electronic warfare, Young said.
He described a vision in which the wing can provide new capabilities rapidly by composing existing systems without having to alter the underlying forces, battle plans or hardware.
This software approach can solve a problem that is not enduring, meaning a different problem may arise tomorrow that can be addressed through rapid reprogramming.
For the Air Force and the larger joint force, part of this effort is connected to the need to rebuild a skilled workforce within the electromagnetic spectrum.
“Part of that changing paradigm is also recognizing that our EMS-savvy workforce has really atrophied to unacceptable levels,” Brig. Gen. AnnMarie Anthony, deputy director, for Strategic Command’s Joint Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations, said during the event. “We have a loss of EMSO expertise and capabilities over the past 20 to 30 years. In order for us to take a more broader view of the electromagnetic operating environment, we need to smartly rebuild a cadre that can focus on EMS-specific challenges and tasks.”
The services and department as a whole are beginning to undertake efforts to build proficiency back into their ranks. One such example is the joint electromagnetic spectrum operations cells that are being created at each of the combatant commands. They will help commanders better understand the spectrum and plan operations.
Professionals from Strategic Command have been working on manpower studies and resourcing actions to staff the combatant commands with their respective cells, she said. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
09 Dec 20. US Army, Navy name top advisers to guide cyber readiness. The Army and Navy named principal cyber advisers who will help their services become better prepared in the digital domain. The Army appointed Terry Mitchell to the position in September, a spokesperson confirmed recently to C4ISRNET. Mitchell will advise the secretary of the Army and chief of staff on cybersecurity matters to include implementation of various items tasked in the 2018 Department of Defense cyber strategy.
The Department of the Navy has selected Chris Cleary, most recently the Navy’s chief information security officer, to serve in the role effective Nov. 22, according to a spokesperson.
In a release issued Dec. 9, the Navy said Cleary will work with the Department of Navy chief information officer. The DoD principal cyber advisor and the DoD CIO and will advise the secretary of the Navy, the Chief of Naval operations, the assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, the commandant of the Marine Corps and other appropriate senior military officers.
The annual defense policy bill for fiscal 2020 directed each service department to create a lead cyber adviser to provide insights on recruitment, training and readiness of cyber forces, acquisition of offensive and defensive cyber capabilities, and cybersecurity supply chain risks, among other responsibilities. The position must be at least the civilian equivalent of a three-star general.
The law required the services to create the position 270 days after it was signed, which was mid-September this year.
Such a position already exists at the Pentagon to advise the secretary of defense on cyber matters.
The Air Force has not named officials yet, though spokespeople told C4ISRNET that they are working toward it.
“The COVID-19 pandemic delayed our ability to meet the deadline. We are working through the required Department of Defense hiring process and plan to have an adviser hired in the next several months,” an Air Force spokesperson said. (Source: Defense News)
09 Dec 20. DISA releases final solicitation for $11bn IT contract. The U.S Defense Information Systems Agency released its final solicitation for a highly anticipated IT consolidation contract that is potentially worth billions of dollars.
The Defense Enclave Services contract, potentially worth up to about $11.7bn over a decade, will consolidate the IT systems of Pentagon’s Fourth Estate agencies, which handle business tasks and don’t sit under a military department. The award will go to a single provider and is an indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract.
The contract, released Tuesday, stems from a 2019 policy that established DISA as the single IT service provider for fourth estate agencies. The company that wins the contract will unify the common-use IT systems and provide “integrated, standardized and cost-effective IT services, while improving security, network availability and reliability for 22 DAFAs within the Fourth Estate,” the RFP description states.
“The DES effort will establish the modern infrastructure foundation and united frame of thought needed to deliver cohesive combat support capabilities to the war fighter,” it says.
DISA expects to award the contract in the first quarter of fiscal 2022. RFP responses are due Feb. 8.
The agency originally slated the RFP for release at the end of September, but it was delayed several months due a final review by DoD CIO Dana Deasy. At a media roundtable last week, Danielle Metz, acting deputy CIO for information enterprise, said the review was normal procedure.
“This is an incredibly important endeavor that we are embarking on,” Metz said. “It is one of the crown jewels that we have as part of our IT reform initiative under the [National Defense Strategy], and so we thought that a little bit more due diligence was important to make sure that we were doing what was right for the department.” (Source: Defense News)
08 Dec 20. Congress wants to boost the prominence of Pentagon’s AI center. Congress signaled its confidence in the Pentagon’s young artificial intelligence office through a series of measures to increases its standing in the agency, including giving its director acquisition authority.
The annual defense policy bill, called the fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, would alter the reporting structure of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, raising the office to report directly to the deputy secretary of defense, instead of the department’s chief information officer. The bill, which still needs President Donald Trump’s approval, establishes a board of advisers to give the center strategic advice and technical expertise on AI matters.
The measures to bolster the importance of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center come as the organization pivots from focusing on artificial intelligence projects to identifying and solving problems within the services using AI. The JAIC was established in 2018 to increase the adoption of AI across the Pentagon.
Until now, the office hasn’t had acquisition authority. The NDAA would authorize a maximum of $75m for the JAIC director for the “development, acquisition and sustainment of artificial intelligence technologies, services and capabilities through fiscal year 2025.” This year the JAIC has repeatedly mentioned the challenges that the current acquisition process causes. Its contract awards usually relied on the General Services Administration or Defense Innovation Unit, an entity also meant to speed up the acquisition process.
More autonomy over acquisitions could streamline the process to get the services AI technology faster, said Lindsey Sheppard, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“Finding available contracting vehicles can be a big challenge for technology development efforts,” she said in an email. “You may have identified a mission need and have a great solution, but no available contract vehicle. And it can take years to get something in place. This NDAA would clear that roadblock by giving the JAIC its own acquisition authorities to get technology in the door.”
Air Force Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, former director of the JAIC until he retired in June, called for the authority back in May. At the time, he said the lack of acquisition authorities was slowing the agency down when it needed to go faster.
Martijn Rasser, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, told C4ISRNET that the new authority would help bring nontraditional contractors into the fold.
“This will enable JAIC to speed up the process and gives them the opportunity to level the playing field for small and nontraditional tech companies, which is key to ensuring DoD has access to the broadest array of AI solutions as possible,” Rasser said.
Elevating the JAIC to a direct report of the deputy secretary is an important step in recognizing the office’s importance, experts said, especially as tech priorities could change under a new presidential administration.
“The JAIC reporting directly to the deputy secretary of defense says that regardless of how that shuffling comes out in the next few months, AI will still be a significant priority and its place on the org chart reflects that,” Sheppard said.
The NDAA also would direct the defense secretary to establish a board of advisers for the JAIC on technical issues, ethical challenges and workforce issues related to AI use. The board, appointed by the secretary and made up of industry and academic experts, also would guide long-term AI studies and strategies. It would meet at least once a quarter and submit a report annually summarizing its work.
This has been an important year for the JAIC as it started its first warfighting initiative and pivoted to play a role in the DoD’s COVID-19 response. The center also had a change in leadership this year after Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Michael Groen took over from Shanahan.
Meanwhile, the JAIC also rolled out “JAIC 2.0,″ a realignment of its AI programs, called national mission initiatives, to better match warfighting needs and identify challenges in the services where AI can help.
“What we want to do is seek out problems,” Groen said last month. “If in JAIC 1.0, we built technologies and then tried to find a market for them, [then] in JAIC 2.0, we’re going to be problem-pull. We’re going to build the relationships across the department to help us understand where the most compelling problems are so then we can pull our technology development and enablement in that direction.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
07 Dec 20. Defense Department Looking Beyond 5G. The Pentagon continues to pump additional funding into 5G technologies that have military and commercial applications. But it is also eyeing 6G and other next-generation communications capabilities.
The term 5G refers to the oncoming fifth generation of wireless networks that will yield a major improvement in data speed, volume and latency over today’s fourth-gen networks, known as 4G.
In October, the Defense Department announced $600m in awards for 5G test bed and experimentation activities at five U.S. military test sites. The work will be expanded to seven additional sites next year.
“These activities represent the largest full scale 5G tests for dual-use applications anywhere in the world,” Acting Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael Kratsios told reporters.
Commercial partners on the sites will include AT&T, Ericsson, Federated Research, Nokia and the Scientific Research Corporation.
“This testing experimentation will not only dramatically improve our warfighting capabilities, it will also bring new uses and opportunities for this technology to the private sector,” Kratsios said. “These sandboxing activities at military bases harness the department’s unique authorities to pursue bold innovations and game changing technologies.”
Nations that master advanced communication technologies will enjoy long-term economic and military advantages, he added.
Initial use cases for 5G envisioned by the Pentagon include integrating augmented reality and virtual reality into mission planning and training; developing “smart” warehouses to enhance logistics operations; and dynamic electromagnetic spectrum sharing in congested and contested environments.
Starting in 2021, there will be an emphasis on the security aspects of 5G as well as innovations in next-gen capabilities such as 6G and 7G, Joseph Evans, the Defense Department’s principal director for 5G, told reporters.
Broad agency announcements on those topics are slated to be released in the January 2021 timeframe, Evans said.
Elsa Kania, an adjunct senior fellow with the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, suggested the Pentagon might be getting ahead of itself.
“I will be a little bit skeptical of talk of 6G when 5G is still at a nascent stage in so many fronts and we have yet to explore or exploit the full potential of 5G,” she said during a panel discussion. “I’m sure we will hear much more about 6G in the years to come, but I think for the time being, keeping the focus on how to ensure that 5G itself is secure and reliable” is a better approach. (Source: glstrade.com/NDIA)
05 Dec 20. Congress wants to know more about the Pentagon’s new joint warfighting concept. Congress wants the Pentagon to clarify which office is responsible for each aspect of the department’s new joint warfighting concept as the idea of connecting any sensor to any shooter gains traction throughout the military.
Under the fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, released Dec. 3, top Pentagon leaders would be required to provide quarterly briefings to congressional defense committees on the progress the department is making on Joint All-Domain Command and Control. The DoD chief information officer, vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and a senior military service representative for each military service would have to brief Congress.
JADC2, also known as Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control (CJADC2), is an effort to connect the services across battlefield networks to ensure multi-domain communication against a near-peer adversary, such as China. Much of the fiscal 2021 NDAA focuses on countering and deterring the Chinese military threat.
Each service has been developing its own solution to accomplish JADC2, which is officially an Air Force-led concept. The Air Force’s program is called the Advanced Battle Management System, the Army’s is Project Convergence, while the Navy’s is known as Project Overmatch. In an effort to coordinate the JADC2 effort, the Pentagon has a Joint All-Domain Command and Control cross-functional team.
According to the legislation, lawmakers want the services to clarify “distribution of responsibilities and authorities within the Cross Functional Team, the Armed Forces, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense with respect to JADC2, and how the Armed Forces, the Cross Functional Team, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense are synchronizing and aligning with joint and military concepts, solutions, experimentation, and exercises.
The bill said Congress wants Pentagon brass to brief lawmakers starting Oct. 21, 2021 on the status of JADC2, how the effort is “identifying gaps and addressing validated requirements,” and what progress the department has made on plans to “evaluate and implement materiel and non-materiel improvements to command and control capabilities.”
In addition, Congress wants the briefings to include reports on resource allocation to accomplish JADC2, as well as an assessment of planned funding for the development of JADC2 capabilities.
In another section, Congress directs the Pentagon’s Joint Requirements Oversight Council, a Defense Department office that reviews and approve joint programs, to validate JADC2 requirements by April 1, 2021. After the validation, the Air Force chief of staff must submit a certification to defense committees of that programs and architectures under development for joint warfighting will meet JROC requirements. By July 1, all other service chiefs of staff must send similar certifications to defense committees providing assurance that their joint warfighting concepts will be compatible with JADC2.
The bill also directs the defense secretary to incorporate the expected costs for full development and implementation of JADC2 in the fiscal 2022 budget request.
The department also faces challenges with system interoperability. Each of the military services are building out their joint warfighting concepts individually and there are plans to plug these systems together next year. One provision in the NDAA directs the under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, JADC2 cross-functional team and director of command, control, communications, and computers/cyber to issue regulations and guidance to the DoD enterprise for use of modular open systems. This approach could allow for easy interfacing between systems and the rapid deployment of new capabilities.
“Modularity is especially important to enhance interoperability and to support combining and recombining systems in novel and surprising ways to achieve the vision of joint all-domain warfare and the emerging joint warfighting concept,” the NDAA conferees wrote in the accompanying explanatory language.
The Army and Air Force recently decided to tackle interfacing and standards challenges in a recent agreement to collaborate on what they dubbed CJADC2.
Lawmakers expressed concern about previous Pentagon attempts to adopt universal standards and warned that slow adoption could harm operations.
“Even if the new initiatives proposed within the DOD research and engineering community overcome these problems, incompatible interfaces will remain numerous for many years to come, hampering joint, multi-domain operations,” the explanatory language stated.
The conferees pointed to one potential solution in a program from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency that can autogenerate code that can help disparate systems communicate with each other.
DARPA has “repeatedly demonstrated technology to auto-generate code to enable full interoperability across interfaces not built to any standard once they have been appropriately defined and characterized in machine-readable formats,” the explanatory language reads.
The program, called System-of-systems Technology Integration Tool Chain for Heterogeneous Electronic Systems (STITCHES), has had more than dozen successful demonstrations, the conferees noted. Those demonstrations “appear to show that the cost is minimal and that the time required to achieve interoperability between previously incompatible systems is measured in hours and days, not months and years,” the explanatory language read.
“DARPA’s tests and field demonstrations to date indicate that this technology does not introduce latencies or otherwise constrain performance, in contrast to so called ‘translation’ approaches to interface interoperability,” conferees wrote.
The conferees wrote they are “interested in further examination” of the technology and directs the department to continue to test the technology on incompatible systems with U.S European Command or U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
05 Dec 20. Congress could slow funding for cyber battlefield tool. Congress would authorize $12m less than the Army wanted for the service’s Cyber Situational Understanding (Cyber SU) program, under the annual defense policy bill for fiscal 2021, released Dec. 3. The Army initially requested $28.5m. The plan must still be signed into law by President Donald Trump.
The program will allow personnel and commanders to better understand their terrain by ingesting data and information from a variety of systems and sensors. Just as commanders must understand the obstacles and forces — friendly or otherwise — in their battlespace to make informed decisions, so too must they understand their cyber terrain, which they are currently unable to do from the command post. The system will be integrated into the Army’s Command Post Computing Environment, a web-based tool that will consolidate current mission systems and programs into a single user interface at the command post.
This is different than tools for the cyber mission force that feed up to U.S. Cyber Command and conduct remote operations on behalf of combatant commanders or in defense of the nation. This tool is specifically for ground-based brigade commanders to assess their terrain and risk in cyberspace and on the electromagnetic spectrum.
The Senate Armed Services Committee version of the bill released in June, sought to cut funding for the program that some saw as redundant to another program being developed within the Department of Defense.
That program, called Project IKE, is being run by the Strategic Capabilities Office and is being designed for the cyber mission force to help visualize the cyber environment and plan operations.
However, Army officials have said that a visualization tool such as Cyber SU is key for noncyber commanders to visualize and understand their terrain from a cyber perspective, given that is another dimension they must consider when conducting operations. It was not planned solely for conducting operations in cyberspace, they’ve noted.
Paul Mehney, spokesman for the Army Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, said in a statement that the program office for Cyber SU is coordinating with the Strategic Capabilities Office to conduct a lab-based assessment of IKE to determine whether, in its current state, it can enhance the Army’s cyber and electronic warfare picture at the tactical level or whether it can be integrated into the Command Post Computing Environment. Officials expect the assessment to be complete in April.
The Army has conducted several engagements with soldiers and units to date on Cyber SU, to include the 82nd Airborne Division and 915th Cyber Warfare Battalion, the Army’s first tactically focused cyber, electronic warfare and information operations unit that will augment deployed brigades. Feedback on the system so far has been positive, Mehney said, adding the first applications users and commanders an easy-to-understand picture of the cyber-electromagnetic environment under their direct influence.
In early 2021 the program office will begin formal DevSecOps with a brigade combat team to try to improve system and design for future increments. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
03 Dec 20. Congress requires shake-up in electromagnetic spectrum operations. Congress is requiring a consolidation and transfer of all electromagnetic spectrum operations to a yet-to-be-determined entity.
Language about the issue in the defense policy for fiscal 2021 that both congressional defense committees accepted and released Dec. 3 differs from the Senate Armed Services Committee’s version in June. President Donald Trump still has to sign off.
Specifically, the initial bill required the secretary of defense to transfer within a year all the responsibilities and functions of the commander of Strategic Command with regard to electromagnetic spectrum operations to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This would have included advocacy for joint electronic warfare capabilities, contingency electronic warfare support to other combatant commands and supporting combatant command joint training and planning related to electromagnetic spectrum operations.
What’s more, that earlier bill outlined specific roles for the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as the electronic warfare senior designated official. Those duties were to include, among other things, managing the Joint Electronic Warfare Center, overseeing the services’ acquisitions and tactics related to the electromagnetic spectrum, and overseeing the integration of electromagnetic spectrum operations into operation plans and contingency plans.
Under the new plan, the secretary of defense has two years to transfer all responsibilities and functions of the commander of Strategic Command with regard to electromagnetic spectrum operations among the aforementioned topics. It also eschews any mention of roles for the vice chairman.
In developing a plan to transfer roles and responsibilities, the secretary must consider all appropriate entities with the potential for designation as the electromagnetic spectrum operations organization to include elements of the Joint Staff, combatant commands, existing or new agencies, the bill notes. Moreover, the bill requires the secretary to consider whether the electromagnetic spectrum operations organization should be a unitary structure or a hybrid structure.
The bill also requires the services and select combatant commands to annually provide an evaluation of their abilities to perform electromagnetic spectrum operations. The combatant commands include European Command, Indo-Pacific Command and Central Command. The services must include an evaluation of current and future programs of record and training, while the combatant commands must provide information on force posture, readiness, mission rehearsal and details concerning joint electromagnetic spectrum operations cells. The groups are made up of experts to help plan and manage operations in the electromagnetic spectrum for combatant commanders.
Next Gen Jammer
The bill also requires the Navy to submit a report regarding the strategy for its Next Generation Jammer, the service’s premier aerial jamming platform that is meant to play a big role in future conflicts against technologically sophisticated adversaries.
Congress wants the report to outline how the capability will ensure full spectrum electromagnetic superiority. The platform will replace the ALQ-99 jamming pod and has been broken up into three pods covering three portions of the electromagnetic spectrum: mid, low and high. This provision remains unchanged from the Senate’s version in July. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/C4ISR & Networks)
03 Dec 20. DISA starts to monitor quantum-resistant encryption capabilities. The U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency has begun monitoring encryption capabilities that could protect defense communications from powerful quantum computers, a top technology official said Thursday.
At DISA’s annual forecast to industry, Stephen Wallace, systems innovation scientist at the agency’s emerging technology directorate, said that quantum-resistant encryption is a new technological area of focus for the agency in fiscal 2021. Quantum-resistant technology is only in the “monitor” stage, Wallace said, and DISA officials are working to get a better understanding of what the technology will mean in the future.
“We are not looking to stand up quantum computers, but we are looking to understand how quantum computers will impact our ability to defend our networks going forward,” Wallace told reporters on a conference call after the event.
Quantum-resistant encryption is becoming increasingly important as near-peer adversaries, including China, work to develop quantum computing capabilities that will be powerful enough to break current encryption capabilities. Though still years away, quantum computers would make secure communications nearly impossible.
He noted that DISA, the DoD’s combat IT support agency, has no active projects on quantum-resistant technology, but told reporters that the agency would like to move “fairly quickly.” Wallace said he believed that quantum computing will become a real threat in the next few years.
“Frankly, our adversaries likely won’t advertise the fact that they’ve achieved a quantum computer,” Wallace told reporters. “We have to have crypto algorithms in place prior to that to allow us to continue in a safe position.”
DISA is looking to partner with the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Security Agency that have work underway on quantum-resistant computing, he said. In the future, he said DISA could “quite possibly” put out solicitations on quantum-resistant encryption.
DISA, which has an annual budget of about $9.4bn and is responsible for DoD network security, is also looking at new cybersecurity measures in fiscal 2021. Wallace said the emerging technology directorate is monitoring encrypted traffic analysis solutions to better detect anomalies in network activity that could pinpoint malware in communications while files are in motion across the network.
The agency wants to improve email security by expanding a Cloud-Based Internet Isolation award that created a protective buffer between DoD users’ internet traffic and DoD networks.
“Now we’re thinking we can take some of those same technologies and apply them to the problem around email and attachments,” Wallace said on the webinar.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced DISA to rethink the DoD’s network perimeter as employees worked from home and introduced new cybersecurity risks. That discussion includes zero-trust cybersecurity concepts, which inherently distrust users, Wallace said. The agency this week released its revised strategic plan for fiscal 2021-2022, which identified zero-trust as an enabling activity for its revised cyber defense priority area.
“We’re actively planning how we can handle perimeter evolution,” Wallace said.
On the conference call with reporters, Wallace added that the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the new focus areas that the emerging technology directorate chose to focus on in fiscal 2021. Another capability that the directorate plans to learn more about this fiscal year is a concept called telepresence, or technologies that makes someone feel present at a physical meeting location from a remote location. DISA is making a push in remote access to classified information, an effort that was underway but accelerated due to the pandemic. In fiscal 2021, DISA plans to prototype that technology.
“The importance of that [remote classified access] … was substantially more once COVID hit and our environment changed,” Wallace told reporters. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/C4ISR & Networks)
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