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31 Jul 19. Commission on Artificial Intelligence Releases Initial Report. The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence — which is tasked with researching ways to advance the development of AI for national security and defense purposes — released its initial report to Congress July 31. The group was established under the fiscal year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. The legislation required the commission to release an initial report to Congress within 180 days of the NDAA’s enactment. The panel has 15 members, led by Chairman Eric Schmidt, the former head of Google’s parent company Alphabet, and Vice Chairman Robert O. Work, a former deputy secretary of defense who served in the Obama administration. The initial report provided a summary of the group’s activities and its plans for the future but did not offer any recommendations to Congress.
The commission met and began to collaborate in March, with most of its staff appointed by late April, the report said. The panel — along with its professional staff of around 20 members — has so far surveyed the AI landscape and held three plenary meetings, one in Arlington, Virginia, and the remaining two in Cupertino, California, in Silicon Valley.
“At the first meeting, commissioners decided to meet in plenary every other month, and organize themselves into four working groups focused on key areas to examine in detail,” the report said. “Each working group meets monthly, and will enumerate objectives, assess current challenges and develop recommendations for consideration by the entire commission.”
The focus of the working groups will include: maintaining U.S. global leadership in artificial intelligence research; maintaining global leadership in AI national security applications; preparing citizens for an AI future; and international competitiveness and cooperation, according to the report. Their preliminary findings will form the basis of the commission’s interim report to Congress that is slated to be released in the fall, the report said.
The panel is also pursuing what it calls special projects on three topics: harnessing AI through public-private partnerships, pursuing the responsible and ethical use of AI for national security, and managing data to support AI applications.
As of July 11, the commission had held nine working group meetings and received more than 100 briefings — both classified and unclassified — on artificial intelligence, according to the report.
The report said the commission is working closely with Congress, the White House, the National Security Council, the Office of Science ad Technology Policy and a number of executive departments and agencies “to ensure that the many ongoing U.S. government efforts in AI are complementary and reinforcing.”
“Ultimately, these efforts should produce a comprehensive and enduring national approach to maintaining America’s AI advantages in the realm of national security,” it added.
The group also noted that it is working closely with industry and academia.
“The commission has held engagements with a wide range of academic and private sector groups, and we have enlisted leading figures in the AI field to serve as advisors or to offer their perspectives to the commission,” the report said.
After the delivery of the interim report, the panel will shift its focus toward an analysis phase which will take up much of next year.
“The analysis phase will be followed by a final phase of work focused on consolidating the commission’s findings and refining its final recommendations,” said the initial report. (Source: glstrade.com/National Defense)
30 Jul 19. Why did the Pentagon spend $32.8m on risky tech? The Defense Department spent at least $32.8m in fiscal 2018 on technology that could threaten national security, according to an inspector general’s report. The redacted report, titled “Audit of the DoD’s Management of the Cybersecurity Risks for Government Purchase Card Purchases of Commercial Off-the-Shelf Items,” was released July 26 and focuses on commercial off-the-shelf technology acquired by the Army and Air Force.
“As a result, adversaries could exploit known cybersecurity vulnerabilities that exist in COTS items purchased by the DoD,” the report read. “If the DoD continues to purchase and use COTS information technology items without identifying, assessing, and mitigating the known vulnerabilities associated with COTS information technology items, missions critical to national security could be compromised.”
The tech in question had been documented as having vulnerabilities, sometimes as long as a decade ago. However, the report states the Defense Department is increasingly dependent on these types of technology for laptops, security cameras, software and networking equipment.
The technology purchased by the Army and Air Force included:
- More than 8,000 Lexmark printers totaling $30m. Lexmark printers contain supply chain vulnerabilities from China that were identified in a Congressional report. Lexmark has connections to the Chinese military, nuclear, and cyber espionage programs, according to the report. Lexmark has 20 listed cybersecurity vulnerabilities on the National Vulnerabilities Database. These include storing and transmitting sensitive network access credentials in plain text and allowing malicious code on a printer.
- 117 GoPro cameras costing $98,000. These cameras share video through wireless networks or Bluetooth connection, which could allow hackers to access stored network credentials and live video streams. A hacker could view a video stream, start recording, or take pictures without the user knowing.
- 1,573 Lenovo products totaling over $2m. Congress and the Department of Homeland Security issued multiple warnings against using Lenovo computers, according to the report, following bans by the State Department (2006), DHS (2015), and the Joint Chiefs of Staff Intelligence Directorate (2016). Lenovo is the largest computer company in China. The State Department ordered a risk assessment of Lenovo products on DoD networks in 2018. However, that year the Army purchased 195 Lenovo products for just under $268,000 and the Air Force purchased 1,378 products for $1.9m.
The report finds the Defense Department continues to use these products within its networks because it does not have an organization to deal with cybersecurity risks to commercial off-the-shelf technology or controls to prevent purchase of such technology with known cybersecurity risks. The Pentagon also hasn’t adjusted acquisition policies or established an approved products list to prevent vulnerable products from being purchased. (Source: Fifth Domain)
30 Jul 19. 6th Generation Fighter Death Match: Which Stealth Plane Will Crush the F-35?
Which plane is the future?
The Tempest sixth-generation fighter has moved a step closer to becoming a reality with the confirmation of a partnership deal with Sweden.
The aircraft will replace the Royal Air Force (RAF) Eurofighter Typhoon fleet, and will be deployed in the 2030s. According to Andrew Kennedy, strategic campaigns director at BAE Systems, one of four UK-based companies involved, the Tempest would be a “gamechanger” and “as iconic as the Spitfire”. The Spitfire was the legendary fighter plane which protected Britain from the Luftwaffe during World War II. John Sneller, head of aviation at Jane’s by IHS Markit, – agreed, suggesting the project would be “more than just an aircraft”, adding: “When operational, the hyper-advanced Tempest will boast capabilities far beyond any jet ever built so far.”
Mr Sneller has put together a side by side comparison between the Tempest and the Future Combat Air System (FCAS, the rival aircraft project being designed by Germany, France and Spain) for Express.co.uk, and while he was careful not to draw conclusions about which was superior, he emphasized once again that both will push the boundaries of existing technology. He said: “The Tempest is envisaged as being a manned/optionally-manned fighter that will feature several key technologies, such as a flexible payload; an adaptable airframe; long-range sensing; advanced materials; hypersonic weapons; laser directed-energy weapons; intelligent maintenance; cyber protection, manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T); high-energy weaponry; and a future cockpit.
“Tempest will be part of a wider FCAS, which will include swarming UAVs (perhaps based on the Lightweight Affordable Novel Combat Aircraft [LANCA] project) that according to the MoD will be ‘compatible with the UK’s aircraft carriers’.”
In respect of the FCAS he said: “Next-Generation Fighter (NGF) aircraft to fly in partnership with unmanned ‘wingmen’ – the combination of these two elements is known as Next-Generation Weapon System (NGWS).
“Key technologies for NGF is set to include advanced cyber capabilities, mass data (AI, big data, etc), radar developments in the field of passive and cognitive sensors, hypersonic weapons, high-energy weapons, unmanned and swarming technologies, quantum computing, advanced robotics, access to space, augmented reality, and 3D printing.
“Roles for the NGF will broadly mirror those already conducted by today’s combat aircraft. However, one additional capability is the need to be a ‘control ship’ for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
“Other elements of FCAS: Airbus-led European Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (MALE RPAS), an ultra-low observable (LO) unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV), future cruise missiles, and other legacy airborne platforms operating in the future battlespace.
“FCAS will be networked with all non-airborne assets, such as ground personnel and systems, naval ships and satellites.” (Source: News Now/https://nationalinterest.org)
30 Jul 19. Research and Engineering Launches Two New Public Websites. The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (R&E) launched two new websites to provide information on how two of its directorates support OUSD(R&E)’s mission to foster technological dominance across the Department of Defense and ensure the advantage of the American warfighter.
The first web site, https://rt.cto.mil, for the Directorate of Defense Research and Engineering for Research and Technology (DDR&E (R&T)), includes the latest research and technology through science and technology research programs needed to ensure U.S. technological superiority, the DOD laboratories infrastructure, federally funded research institutions, and programs that help cultivate the next generation of science and technology professionals for the department, among others significant areas. The website also spotlights DDR&E (R&T)’s offices and programs: Research Technology and Laboratories, Strategic Technology Protection and Exploitation, Defense Technical Information Center, Reliance 21, DOD STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and its outreach efforts.
DDR&E (R&T) leads the DOD’s science and technology (S&T) enterprise effort to rapidly develop and mature key technologies to ensure warfighter dominance. DDR&E(R&T) is responsible for the department’s research and technology investments, and the science and technology portfolio. It ensures that DOD (S&T) is postured to develop the next generation of game-changing technologies and enable rapid delivery of superior capabilities to the warfighter.
The second new website, https://ac.cto.mil/,highlights the work of the Directorate of Defense Research and Engineering for Advanced Capabilities (DDR&E (AC)), the primary technology transition enabler within the DOD that bridges the divide between technology discovery and capability fielding for the warfighter. DDR&E (AC) recognizes, identifies, explores and ensures the development, integration and funding of new technology and capabilities to maintain U.S. technological superiority. The directorate maintains a focus on the innovative application of technology and works with a robust network of transition partners within and external to the DOD to mitigate gaps through accelerated prototyping, demonstration, and fielding – with the ultimate goal of operational sustainment. The website also features its primary offices, including: Developmental Test, Evaluation and Prototyping, Chief Engineer for Advanced Capabilities and Test Resource Management Center. (Source: US DoD)
29 Jul 19. Durabook, the global rugged mobile solutions brand owned by Twinhead International Corporation, today announced the European launch of its ultra rugged laptop, the Z14I. The device has been designed specifically to meet the needs of military, critical national infrastructure and public safety personnel. It offers unmatched durability and comes with an unprecedented range of built-in features that allow the laptop’s use to be expanded on the fly. Z14I will be shown for the first time at DSEI, 10-13 September, ExCel, London at the Durabook stand N8-210.
“The Durabook team has worked closely with its military customers around the world to understand their evolving needs as part of the design process,” said Twinhead CEO Fred Kao. “As a result, we included boundless customisation – that means users can transform the laptop into any number of different solutions, quickly and easily while on the move – far beyond any products offered on the market today. We increased the level of ruggedness to serve the most difficult environments, so users can trust the device to operate seamlessly however and wherever it is needed.”
The Z14I’s expansion box is one of the most powerful enhancement tools, especially for field based missions. By simply connecting via either of two PCIe slots, it enables the laptop to transform quickly into an ultra-portable workstation, a remote control/radio system for robots or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for example. The latest dual band wireless AC 9260 and Bluetooth® V5.0 ensure that all data can be instantly synchronised and fed back to the command centre without interruption. A comprehensive selection of input and output options (including video ports, card readers, USBs and PCMCIA Type II slots) enables additional connectivity with a broad range of both legacy and cutting edge systems, as well as secondary battery option and hot-swappable battery technology, allowing for non-stop power.
With the latest 8th Generation Intel® Core™ processor and graphics capabilities, the Z14I can effortlessly handle data intensive tasks, such as mapping and geotagging, which public safety agencies and military groups rely on during combats and emergency situations. The Z14I includes Durabook’s proprietary DynaVue® technology and full high-definition multi-touch display, offering the highest contrast ratio, which helps to eliminate internal reflections that enhance viewing clarity even from different angles, and in bright sunshine or low light conditions. Its 14” Full HD widescreen display with optimised touch technology allows screen operation with a stylus, finger or glove, and even can be used in the rain.
The Z14I has been built to withstand even the harshest of environments. Its IP65 rating, protecting against dust and water ingress, MIL-STD 810G certification and resistance up to six feet drop make the Z14I more rugged than other comparable devices on the market. The device has also been tested for explosive atmospheres, solar radiation, salt fog, and fungus resistance, which goes beyond testing standards compared to other rugged devices in its class.
The Z14I will be shown for the first time at DSEI, 10-13 September. Please visit Durabook stand N8-210, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a meeting at the show.
The Z14I starts at £2,899/€3,276 and is available from August 2019 from authorised resellers.
23 Jul 19. Thales launches its new Gemalto Digital ID Wallet – an identity revolution in your smartphone.
- Citizens can now enjoy effortless proof of identity, attributes and rights, by accessing their official documents on a single and highly secure platform on their smartphones, the Gemalto Digital ID Wallet.
- Going forward, Governments will be able to better foster links with their citizens with several identity services available on Gemalto Digital ID Wallet, whilst benefitting from a new tool to fight ID fraud.
- With high-level security solutions and encryption layers, citizens’ personal data are fully secured to guarantee privacy.
With Thales’s new Gemalto Digital ID Wallet, governments will issue a secure digital version of official documents including identity cards, health cards and drivers licenses, available to all citizens on their smartphones. Citizens will therefore be able to prove who they are, both online and in the ‘real world’, and access their rights and services at the touch of a button. The solution uses multi-layered security techniques and sophisticated encryption to achieve robust protection of personal data, whilst offering users complete control over what information they choose to share, with whom, and when.
27 Jul 19. How NATO’s special operations can take advantage of the tech boom. U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order in May restricting the access of foreign telecommunications suppliers to U.S. markets, signaling an escalation of the dispute between the United States and the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei.
Less than a week later, Google decided to debar Huawei, a market leader in fifth-generation (5G) telecommunications technology, from some Android updates. The move meant that future Huawei smartphones could lose access to apps on the Google Play platform, as well as some security updates, when a new version of Android is launched later in 2019.
The White House views Huawei’s participation in the construction of its 5G network as a security risk, and this year the Trump administration has led a campaign to encourage allies around the world to impose similar restrictions. The case highlights the potentially transformative implications next-generation technologies, including 5G, could have on military conflict. But given its role at the leading edge of military and intelligence deployments, one organization is paying special attention to these trends: the NATO special forces community.
“The 5G debate is so important in helping us to understand why the president of [the] U.S. makes such a big deal out of it,” Rob de Wijk, director at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, told C4ISRNET. State actors who “win” the race to understand and embrace these technologies will control critical infrastructure and accessibility to it throughout the world, he said.
Special operations concerns
The NATO special operations community is considering the implications of the what the World Economic Forum and others have described as Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies. This includes an emphasis on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; artificial intelligence and machine learning; 5G/6G wireless connectivity; and the internet of things.
The NATO Special Operations Headquarters, located inside Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe at Mons, Belgium, is focused on these evolving threat dynamics, specifically in the wider context of the competition between Alliance member forces and near-peer/high-capability adversaries such as China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia.
Speaking to C4ISRNET, officials at NATO’s special operations’ headquarters explained how the organization accepts the presence of an “increasingly unstable strategic environment”, adding: “There is growing recognition that certain state and non-state actors seek to undermine the rules based international order by encouraging and enabling disorder and destabilization.
“The challenges faced by NATO today are multi-domain, trans-regional and span the spectrum of conflict, increasing uncertainty and making anticipation and attribution of threats more difficult.”
De Wijk, who is a member of the headquarters’ special operations steering group, explained to C4ISRNET how the advent of these technologies was creating a multi-faceted counter strategy.
He referenced a series of operational requirements for the NATO special operations community. These included the creation of superior situational awareness and situational understanding (generated by using sensors and data from diverse suppliers and from all military domains, including cyber and space); the application of anti-access/area-denial bubbles around friendly force assets to bolster defense; the employment of agile and autonomous defense systems for self-protection; extensive use of unmanned systems with low observability qualities; covert tactics to optimize the use of submersibles and SOF; attacking enemy A2AD capabilities through a concerted multi-domain, multi-level strategy; and coalition efforts to ensure Freedom of Navigation/Movement in order to challenge territorial claims which attempt to channel sea traffic or deny access.
According to de Wijk, big data and AI will play an increasingly critical role in processing information into actionable intelligence. “In war-fighting scenarios, resilient defense concepts should consider ever tightening Observe-Orient-Decide-Act loops that are highly automated, particularly given the development of smart, supersonic, and hypersonic weapons, and of swarm tactics. Those developments could radically change the face of war with important consequences for navies around the world,” he suggested.
This form of ‘hyper war’ would allow artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to optimize decision-making processes, and potentially to take the human “out of the loop” in targeting cycles. Combined it would “drastically shorten [the time taken to move around] the OODA loop”. De Wijk said that, “governments willing to take humans out of the loop will have a decisive advantage. When you take humans out of the loop, it shortens the OODA loop dramatically. China and Russia are willing to do this… as opposed to Western countries.”
His message is similar to the future military leaders at the Pentagon have been describing in recent years.
As in the United States, any discussion of competition starts with China and Russia.
“China will not create a traditional bloc but will use its Belt and Road Initiative to create spheres of influence,” de Wijk said. “It will use debt trap policies for increasing its military footprint. Russia will try to establish a bloc made up by the former Soviet republics and will create new buffer zones including Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova.” He told C4ISRNET that the NATO’s special operations headquarters had only recently started discussions regarding the threat of Chinese and Russian interference to national sovereignty in eastern Europe and the Indo-Pacific.
The NATO SOF Commander’s Conference, held in Dublin in March, represented the first time that the international special forces community had met to openly discuss Chinese and Russian threats in these specific areas.
Special operations are likely to center around the execution of strategic reconnaissance missions in the future to ensure ‘free and open’ access to areas such as the Indo-Pacific.
“NATO must do it differently and in a clever way and we need SOF for that”, de Wijk said. “A new global power struggle is emerging. The [new technologies] will facilitate China’s rise and military dominance. Asymmetric response is only part of the solution. Traditional SOF missions will remain important but more emphasis should be placed upon inter-state conflict and peer competition.”
As a result, special forces must be prepared to identify and employ new tactics to maintain their operational relevance.
“New [tactics, techniques and procedures] could see SOF stealing drones from adversaries in order to detect their own systems. We have to think about it and be very creative to encounter new threats.”
Now, the NATO special forces community is considering its response to these requirements.
Meanwhile, Belgium’s Special Operations Regiment (which is represented at NSHQ) is weighing how it will operate across this rapidly evolving operating environment. Speaking to C4ISRNET, Capt. Jan Weuts, who works on capability development at the Dutch Army Special Forces Centre of Expertise for Special Operations, emphasized a shift towards more operations enabled by “human-machine” teams in order to support more “strategic cognition, decision-making and actions”.
Weuts said that next-generation technology types “could take SOF operators out of the [OODA] loop.” He noted that autonomous solutions including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), unmanned ground vehicles, and unattended ground sensors could soon be relied upon to execute special reconnaissance mission sets.
“Military assistance and special warfare operations are only going to gain in importance,” Weuts said. He highlighted emerging potential in command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities as well as AI. This includes accessibility to “tailored” social media analysis tools; collaborative mixed reality tool sets to support decision-making; and augmented reality systems capable of being integrated into head- or helmet-mounted displays.
Weuts also described how AI could assist in enabling the tactical use of swarms of drones to support urban warfare requirements and precision targeting. Such a solution, he added, could ensure redundancy with multiple air frames tasked with the same mission.
“AI-enabled UAVs and unmanned ground vehicles will become increasingly… important and fast. Moreover, this level of technology is also quite achievable by irregular opponents, so we have to start developing this capability now,” Weuts explained. However, with the risk of information overload, Weuts asked whether information would “distract or assist operators”.
Western states are likely to consider the consequences of power shifts associated with these new technologies.
As a result, the international special operations community must remain focused on exploiting next-generation technology such as big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning. However, how these teams can harness and understand these capabilities while mitigating the cognitive burden on operators already conducting highly stressful and complex tasks in austere conditions will be critical.
Such considerations were discussed at the U.S. Army Special Operations Command’s inaugural artificial intelligence/machine learning workshop at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in December. The workshop aimed to consider how artificial intelligence and machine learning could support future special operations in the “physical, virtual and cognitive” realms.
A statement from U.S. Special Operations Command described how working groups focused on more than 50 artificial intelligence and machine learning-enabled technologies to support sensitive site exploitation and processing, exploitation and dissemination; rapid target prioritization to enhance android tactical application kit to reduce operator cognitive load; multi-dimensional operational environment visualization for interactive multi-purpose range; multi-modal situational analysis; AI-enabled partner force selection; and secure app store for AI technologies.
“These capabilities could significantly improve overall force effectiveness,” it read. “Technologies that use AI and [machine learning] technologies have the potential to change the way our units operate in the current security environment. These technologies are not for the distant future but are prevalent today. The Department of Defense has the potential to seize opportunities against our would-be adversaries by capitalizing upon these capabilities in artificial intelligence and machine learning.“ (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
28 Jul 19. New Command & Control Solution for SAR Operations. Based on the existing UgCS drone mission-planning software, the new Command & Control solution has been developed for efficient drone integration in search & rescue (SAR), police and security operations.
Urgent missions involving multiple drones demand concerted action masterminded from a single command centre where all video streams, 3D maps, placemarks and other incoming drone data are sent for real-time overviews, analysis and in-depth investigation. UgCS Command & Control (CC) is a scalable solution, offering rich functionality and an intuitive interface, and tailored to manage complex SAR, investigation or surveillance operations from anywhere in the world.
SAR missions are currently the most widespread use for UgCS CC. When someone has gone missing, a mobile operation centre can be conveniently set up in a van parked near the area that is to be surveyed. The mission operator can plan flights and upload routes to the drones, while the drone pilots can set up the drones onsite and monitor the mission via a tablet screen, using the UgCS for DJI mobile app.
No heavy equipment is required when setting up a mobile operation centre — all that is needed to give the operator full control are two laptops and a router enabling the establishment of a wi-fi connection with the drones. The UgCS CC interface allows users to simultaneously view multiple video streams and a 3D map of the mission terrain with the actual coordinates of the drones. Both the operator and the pilots can manually control the drones when needed, as well as adding placemarks for particular areas with attached geolocation and images for more in-depth inspection.
“In situations when every second counts, you need technology you can rely on,” says Jānis Ķuze, Sales Manager at SPH Engineering. “UgCS CC is a powerful and intuitive tool that has transformed SAR routines, enabling users to better plan and run the missions with limited resources.”
In addition to SAR missions, UgCS CC can also be used for police investigations and other law enforcement activities, as well as disaster response operations and various security surveillance scenarios — from dispatching alarm-triggered drones to supervising regular drone patrols over vast areas.
The software comes in two versions: the Team Edition, for quick-to-deploy mobile operation centres fit for any environment; and the Enterprise Solution, for stationery command centres with advanced data security requirements. Both versions support a wide range of popular drone models from diverse producers and can be easily integrated into existing infrastructure. (Source: UAS VISION)
Oxley Group Ltd
Oxley specialises in the design and manufacture of advanced electronic and electro-optic components and systems for air, land and sea applications within the military sector. Established in 1942, Oxley has manufacturing facilities in the UK and USA and enjoys representation worldwide. The company’s products include night vision and LED lighting, data capture systems and electronic components. Oxley has pioneered the development of night vision compatible lighting. It offers a total package incorporating optical filters, equipment modification, cockpit and external lighting along with fleet wide upgrade services including engineering, installation, support, maintenance and training. The company’s long experience of manufacturing night vision lighting and LED indicators, coupled with advances in LED technology, has enabled it to develop LED solutions to replace incandescent and fluorescent lighting in existing applications as well as becoming the lighting option of choice in new applications such as portable military hospitals, UAV control stations and communication shelters.