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07 Sep 18. Don’t @ me, bro: the need for social media on the battlefield. Army engineers want to use Facebook and Twitter on the front lines. Believe it and retweet it. The engineers say commanders could benefit from having a finer understanding of the social media landscape in a conflict zone.
“Social media is a new channel that offers massive amounts of information,” said Reginald Hobbs, branch chief of the multilingual computing and analytics groups at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory. “In the past people would be consumers of information. Social media makes people producers of information, and the Army can leverage that.”
In their search to turn social information into a tactical tool, Army scientists recently wrote a paper on “social sensing” accepted for publication by the IEEE Computer Society. Still in its infancy, the science here faces some challenges: The volume of information is vast, and it’s largely unstructured. But researchers say they are making headway.
Action and reaction
To understand the value of social information, it’s helpful to keep in mind the breadth of the military role these days. In addition to warfighting, troops may find themselves on the ground during civil emergencies or in situations of perilous stability. In such cases, it helps to have the pulse of the population.
“You want understand the people that are being affected, the mood of the civilian population and the impact our operations might have on the mood,” said Lance Kaplan, a team leader in the network sensing and fusion branch at ARL. “Every action that the Army takes can possibly have a collateral effect on the civilian population, and social media gives us the means to understand that effect.”
It isn’t hard to know what people are thinking: Social media produces a veritable firehose of thoughts, ideas and opinions. The challenge here lies in sifting out the content from the noise, understanding what is true, and what is relevant.
“You have a reliability issue,” Kaplan said. “You are dealing with unknown sources, unknown credibility, so you have to find a way to determine the reliability of those sources.”
To that end, researchers are developing automated tools to seek out correlations. If multiple independent, unrelated sources are saying the same thing, there’s a greater likelihood that it is true.
By using such tools, “we come up with an estimate of the social network influence, who is connected to whom and who is influencing whom,” Kaplan said. “That allows you to untangle the thread. It gives you a probability as to the independence of the information, which helps you to estimate the credibility of the information.”
Emerging tools also scan social sentiment for signs of polarization. “A lot of social media data is opinion,” Hobbs said. By paring away the most extreme views, “it helps you to separate out opinion from fact.”
The scientists say that in order to fully exploit the potential of social sentiment, it’s important not just to understand who is speaking, but to dig into the ways in which they convey their messages.
“We can look at the particular word choices to determine whether the message is trying to use persuasion or influence, as opposed just reporting something. That can give you hints as to whether something is a piece of propaganda as opposed to something with real information,” Kaplan said.
This kind of information can have direct battlefield implications.
Hobbs offers an urban analogy. Say you’re in the city and traffic suddenly comes to a halt. There could be any number of reasons for this. “If you had access to local social media you might determine the local sports team had just won a championship. Maybe that changes your plan,” he said.
The same holds true on the battlefield, where a sudden shift of enemy position or behavior can occur for any of a dozen reasons. “If we can identify people talking about specific entities or specific events, it gives us a deeper understanding of that situation,” he said.
The U.S. Army isn’t alone in pursuing such capabilities. The Jerusalem Post reported recently that Israel’s Shin Bet security service had prevented 250 terrorist attacks in 2018 thanks in large measure to its analysis of social media.
Development of these tools is an ongoing process. As they get better at understanding the content of social data, scientists say, they will be looking for improved ways to automate the analysis. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
05 Sep 18. Can the intel and defense community conquer data overload? The Department of Defense and intelligence community is coming to grips with the realization that it might have too much to make sense of after almost two decades of collecting mass quantities of intelligence data. This realization was one of the catalysts for DoD’s flagship machine-learning effort dubbed Project Maven; with the hours of imagery data collected from aerial platforms, maybe algorithms could do the processing and unburden analysts. However, these algorithms rely on data sets that have been prepared to be analyzed, which is called structured or tagged data. Leaders are now asserting that many of these data sets have not yet been tagged, thus potentially rendering the latest technology advancements useless.
“There’s a lot of unexamined data … that you can apply machine learning to identify objects of interest in the seams,” Dawn Meyerriecks, director of Science and Technology at CIA, said Sept. 4 at the Intelligence and National Security Summit hosted by INSA and AFCEA.
“We have a ton of work to do as a community in terms of tagging, which is absolutely essential to actually be able to do anything interesting with the stuff from an analytical perspective.”
For the IC, large data sets that have already been collected yet not analyzed are ripe, low-hanging fruit, a problem Meyerriecks said the community is working on. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
05 Sep 18. Leidos wins $238m contracts to supply CBRN defence capabilities to ADF. The Australian Government has signed new contracts for the supply and support of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) defence capabilities for the Australian Defence Force (ADF). With a total value of $238m, the contracts have been awarded to Leidos Australia under the ADF’s Land 2110 Phase 1B CBRN Defence Capability Facilities project. According to Australian Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne, this year’s global events have demonstrated that CBRN threats are currently the contemporary hazards across the globe.
Pyne said: “Leidos Australia will be a key capability partner of the ADF for the delivery and support of cutting-edge technology to protect our soldiers on the battlefield as they encounter these evolving threats.
“The contracts will supply approximately 70,000 equipment items to support Defence’s capability to detect and protect itself from toxic industrial chemicals and weaponised chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear agents.
“The capability will also include systems to manage contaminated personnel and equipment.”
The contracts will be able to generate 50 new local jobs in Victoria and New South Wales (NSW) that would directly support the Australian Government’s Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities.
Under the Land 2110 project, Australia is expected to invest significant funds in the sustainment of the CBRN capability over a period of 15 years, while providing new opportunities for the Australian industry throughout the country.
Pyne added: “This investment will provide an integrated and layered CBRN defence capability which replaces ageing equipment reaching the end of its service life.”
The Land 2110 Phase 1B ADF CBRN Defence Capability Facilities project has been designed to offer both new and upgraded facilities at 14 sites across Australia. This would help support the training of army personnel against exposure to toxic industrial materials and CBRN weapons.
05 Sep 18. German MoD calls for new Bundeswehr capability profile. Key Points:
- The German MoD plans to create an integrated network of modular military capabilities from which to choose depending on the mission being undertaken
- These networks include land, air, sea, cyber, space, special operations, logistics, and territorial defence, among other capabilities
German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen presented ambitious plans to modernise the Bundeswehr to selected members of the Bundestag from the ruling coalition on 5 September.
A core aspect of the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) plan is the creation of an integrated network of modular military capabilities from which to choose depending on the mission being undertaken. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
05 Sep 18. Cohort plc company, MASS, unveiled its new software-based training solution, NEWTS (Networked Electronic Warfare Training Simulator), with a presentation followed by a ‘hands-on’ demonstration to the Royal Corps of Signals Commanding Officers’ Enterprise Forum during a visit to 11th (Royal School of Signals) Signal Regiment. The classroom-based simulator will enable 11th (Royal School of Signals) Signal Regiment to deliver training to support the UK MOD’s Electronic Warfare (EW) capability. NEWTS comprises three main elements, an EW Mission Support Tool (EWMST) designed specifically to aid in the planning of EW, COMINT and ELINT asset deployments, a communications Exploitation Training Tool (COMETT) component that provides a software-based RF environment and a Signals of Interest (SOI) repository database designed to enable users to carry out detailed analysis of signals traffic.
The new EW simulator is an integral part of the EW training process at 11th (Royal School of Signals) Signal Regiment. The software will enable instructional staff to deliver EW training under realistic physical, functional and environmental conditions with true-to-life scenarios. This capability will ensure students are able to plan the deployment of EW sensors with a more sophisticated set of tools as well as analyse signals generated by the target emitters and identify threats and targets for attack or exploitation.
Colonel Jason Gunning ADC Late R SIGNALS (Royal Corps of Signals, Corps Colonel), commented, “In a time where the information battlespace is becoming contested and congested we must provide our soldiers with the best possible training opportunities to understand the environment they may find themselves employed within. The new Electronic Warfare Simulator will do just that, allowing 11th (Royal School of Signals) Signal Regiment to provide a relevant and realistic training environment that is flexible and meets the evolving demands of the field army. We now look forward to enhancing the military’s relationship with industry over the next 5 years through our partnership with MASS”.
Lieutenant Colonel Catherine Jardine R SIGNALS (Commanding Officer, 11th (Royal School of Signals) Signal Regiment, added, “Electronic Warfare continues to be a major asset available to the Commander and 11th (Royal School of Signals) Signal Regiment ensures that our Service Personnel are trained to the highest standard to meet the ever increasing demand for this capability. The new Electronic Warfare Simulator will provide individuals, irrespective of Service, cap badge or trade, an excellent training opportunity through an enhanced and contextualised training environment, and as such making all who train on it suitably prepared for their future careers within the MOD. We are grateful for the support to date provided by MASS and we look forward to continuing our relationship over the next five years”.
MASS has been working in close partnership with 11th Signal Regiment since contract award providing several product enhancements and will continue to do so in line with the 5-year support contract. The event not only showcased the NEWTS software but also the new MASS sponsored EW training classroom suites in Scotton Hall, Blandford.
“MASS has a 35-year heritage in EW, we are delighted to impart this practical knowledge in creating the new software solution for the next generation of soldiers to utilise. Key to the success of this programme with be the collaborative relationship between MASS and 11th Signal Regiment to ensure future software developments can be made in line with a rapidly changing and challenging environment,” said Rob Jones, MASS Business Development Director.
31 Aug 18. Croatia kicks off new tactical communications modernisation programme. The Croatian Armed Forces (CAF) have initiated a programme to upgrade existing inventories of tactical communications systems with software defined radios (SDRs), service officials told Jane’s. According to Colonel Ivica Celik, head of department for the CAF’s Deployable Communication Information System, a study phase regarding the modernisation effort is now complete and there is a set of “desired technical requirements” in place to initiate the programme. The CAF is seeking to procure 6,000 handheld and 700 vehicular SDRs by 2031. A definitive programme cost is unlikely to be confirmed by the MoD until the end of fiscal year 2018, but defence sources told Jane’s the programme was likely to be worth about EUR100m. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
04 Sep 18. 5 ways the US Army will keep pace in cyber and electronic warfare. The US Army is making several changes to be in a better position to compete with adversaries in cyber, the electromagnetic spectrum and space. Russia and China have begun to organize all information-related capability — to include cyber, electronic warfare, information operations and space — under singular entities. Now, Army leaders, say the service must do the same.
“Integrated formations will be innovative because they’ll help us create novel approaches to problem solving by leveraging multiple skillsets,” David May, senior intelligence adviser at the Army Cyber Center of Excellence, said during a presentation at TechNet Augusta in August.
May outlined five force design updates the Army is implementing. Four of those five updates will begin immediately to provide competitive edge in multidomain operations.
- The widespread introduction of cyber and electromagnetic activities
May said the Army will introduce cyber and electromagnetic activities, or CEMA sections, at every echelon from the brigade to service component commands. These sections will plan, synchronize and integrate cyber and EW operations as well as conduct spectrum management.
At the Army’s cyber school, effective Oct. 1, all previous electronic warfare personnel in the functional area 29 will transition into the cyber branch to serve as these CEMA planners. That’s important because it moves those staffers out from working as a functional area specialist and into an operational branch, Maj. Gen. John Morrison, commander of the Cyber Center of Excellence, the home of the cyber school, told C4ISRNET during an interview at TechNet.
May said Army leaders are expected to approve this plan in the next six weeks. Moreover, the update will not require any additional growth to the Army as it will reorganize existing workforce.
- New electronic warfare platoons
Electronic warfare platoons will be stood up within brigades residing inside military intelligence companies working in tandem with signals intelligence teams and double the Army’s sensing capability in the electromagnetic spectrum, May said.
He added that these teams will also be able to deliver local, as opposed to remote, cyber effects and military information support operations.
A pilot effort is expected to begin in the fall with a tentative test unit identified pending final approval from Forces Command. This will allow the Army to conduct rapid prototyping on kits and organizational structures for these new forces, Morrison said.
“I always emphasize the fact that the path we’re on will double our sensing capabilities inside a brigade combat team. We’ll restore electronic attack and that includes the ability to deliver cyber effects that will deny, degrade or destroy enemy capabilities in and through the [electromagnetic spectrum],” Morrison said.
- EW companies at corps
Similar to the electronic warfare platoons within the military intelligence companies, new electronic warfare companies will be in the expeditionary military intelligence brigades and will have a counter reconnaissance mission to support long range precision fires and start in 2021.
- A new multidomain detachment at Fort Lewis
May described a new detachment within the multidomain task force located at Fort Lewis in Washington, which is where the Army is working to figure out the way ahead for multidomain operations through experimentation and participation in exercises.
This involves standing up an intelligence, cyber, electronic warfare, space detachment within the multidomain task force.
The ICEWS (pronounced I-CUES) will integrate all those capabilities plus signal, information operations and targeting, May said. This group will support the multidomain task force counter-anti-access/area denial mission, which will be piloted in the fall.
Morrison said it’s important to not just focus on building capability in tactical formations and the CEMA sections, but across the breadth of the battlefield.
- A new cyber warfare support battalion
May said this battalion will fall under Army Cyber Command and serve Army-specific missions, not U.S. Cyber Command joint missions. It will be used to integrate intelligence, cyber, electronic warfare, signals, information operations and fires all into one formation. It will also be able to deliver effects remotely and through local expeditionary cyber teams that will plug into the CEMA sections.
04 Sep 18. Elbit Systems of Australia has been selected by the Australian Defence Force to boost Australia’s Cyber Security capability. Speaking at Land Forces 2018 in Adelaide, Commonwealth Minister for Defence, the Honourable Christopher Pyne, announced that Elbit Systems of Australia will deliver a Cyber Range training platform including infrastructure, network design and build, train the trainer, training and teaching materials and support.
Managing Director of Elbit Systems of Australia, Dan Webster said, “The Company is delighted to be providing cyber expertise to the ADF. We will be supporting Defence in training their ‘Cyber Warriors’ who will defend against the real cyber threats we are faced with every day. Trainees will learn to identify, track, investigate, respond to and remediate a cyber-attack.”
The Cyber Security technology has been developed by global Cyber specialist Cyberbit, a subsidiary of defence and high technology company Elbit Systems Ltd. Cyber Training Ranges will be installed at ADF facilities in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Canberra. The fully self-contained Cyber Security training network will be capable of training 50 students concurrently.
In addition, Elbit Systems of Australia has commenced providing Cyber Security training for Queensland Government departmental IT staff. Training is being conducted at Elbit Systems’ Brisbane facility.
Elbit Systems of Australia introduced the Company’s world-leading Cyber Security capability to Australia in late 2017. In addition to providing bespoke Cyber Security Training Ranges and offering training via a permanent facility in Brisbane, the Company also has a mobile Cyber Range for training of IT professionals around the nation.
31 Aug 18. German Cabinet approves new cybersecurity agency. Germany is one step closer to getting its own version of a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, as officials here seek to bolster the country’s cybersecurity posture. The Cabinet of Chancellor Angela Merkel this week approved the new organization, to be headed jointly by the Defense and Interior ministries. The outfit is slated to get a budget of €200m ($230m) between 2019 and 2022. The new “Agency for Innovation in Cybersecurity” will eventually have 100 employees. The German parliament, the Bundestag, will debate the proposal in the upcoming months. Once the funding is cleared, analysts will begin their work in earnest next year. While the Pentagon’s DARPA served as a model in creating the new organization, the American agency’s funding and personnel commitment dwarfs that of new German effort. But the move is still a major step forward here because it shows a political commitment to cyberspace in the context of defense and security that officials said was previously lacking.
Notably, one of the explicit goals is to speed up the acquisition cycle for cybersecurity technology. That puts Germany in the same boat as many governments around the world, where officials have found themselves perennially lagging behind sophisticated attack schemes employed by hackers.
“The existing government processes pertaining to research are too slow,” said Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen. “We have to be at least as quick and as well equipped as the perpetrators.”
The idea is for the new agency to inject venture capital into promising research ideas in the hope of nurturing those projects that will give the military and security forces a leg up. That approach, said von der Leyen, would require “courage” and a willingness by the public to absorb financial losses in those cases where ideas fail to bear fruit.
Critics here fear that the new agency carries the allure of focusing too much on offensive cyber operations at a time when the country’s defense posture needs patching. (Source: Fifth Domain)
30 Aug 18. Russia’s new Spectrum EW system enters service. The Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on 28 August that a new electronic warfare (EW) system, designated Spectrum, has entered service with an inaugural exercise in the Urals. The complex is based on an AMN-233114 Tigr-M 4×4 vehicle, which has fitted to its roof an array of mission systems, including an optical surveillance suite and a large container. The vehicle is manned by specialists from the brigade-level EW forces that Russia operates. They are typically charged with interrupting or disrupting enemy communications. However, the Spectrum is described as a vehicle for “tracking of the specified territories where potentially dangerous objects can appear”.
It is capable of aeronautical-electronic monitoring, as well as ground-based optical, electronic, radio, and radio-technical (radar) monitoring, which enables EW personnel to conduct surveillance and transmit data on relevant targets to command units. The optical suite fitted to the roof includes a near-infrared thermal camera and what appears to be a daylight camera with zoom, which would enable the crew to survey for electronic devices and enemy units. The vehicle is also thought to be capable of radar surveillance, and carries handheld devices that would be operated by dismounted EW personnel. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
Spectra Group Plc
Spectra has a proven record of accomplishment – with over 15 years of experience in delivering secure communications and cybersecurity solutions for governments around the globe; elite militaries; and private enterprises of all sizes.
As a dynamic, agile, security accredited organisation, Spectra can leverage this experience to deliver Cyber Advisory and secure Hosted and Managed Solutions on time, to spec and on budget, ensuring compliance with industry standards and best practices.
Spectra’s SlingShot® is a unique low SWaP system that enables in-service U/VHF tactical radios to utilise Inmarsat’s commercial satellite network for BLOS COTM. Including omnidirectional antenna for the man, vehicle, maritime and aviation platforms, the tactical net can broadcast over 1000s miles between forward units and a rear HQ, no matter how or where the deployment. Unlike many BLOS options, SlingShot maintains full COTM (Communications On The Move) capability and low size and weight
On 23 November 2017, Spectra Group (UK) Ltd announced that it had recently been listed as a Top 100 Government SME Supplier for 2015-2016 by the UK Crown Commercial Services
Spectra’s CEO, Simon Davies, was awarded 2017 BATTLESPACE Businessman of the Year by BATTLESPACE magazine and is a finalist in the inaugural British Ex-Forces In Business Awards in the Innovator Of The Year category.
Founded in 2002, the Company is based in Hereford, UK and holds ISO 9001:2015, ISO 27001 and Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation.