U.S. ARMY LOOKS TO BLEND CYBER, EW CAPABILITIES ON BATTLEFIELD
By Kristen Kushiyama
31 Oct 13. As new technologies emerge and new cyber and electronic warfare threats plague Soldiers in the field, U.S. Army scientists and engineers continue to define next-generation protocols and system architectures to help develop technology capabilities to combat these threats in an integrated and expedited fashion.
As part of the Integrated Cyber and Electronic Warfare, or ICE, program, the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s
Communications-Electronics Center, known as CERDEC, researches the technologies, standards and architectures to support the use of common mechanisms used for the rapid development and integration of third-party cyber and electronic warfare, or EW, capabilities.
“Currently, within cyber and EW disciplines there are different supporting force structures and users equipped with disparate tools, capabilities and frameworks,” said Paul Robb Jr., chief of CERDEC Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate’s Cyber Technology Branch.
“Under the ICE program, we look to define common data contexts and software control mechanisms to allow these existing frameworks to communicate in a manner that would support the concurrent leveraging of available tactical capabilities based on which asset on the battlefield provides the best projected military outcome at a particular point in time,” said Robb.
The boundaries between traditional cyber threats, such as someone hacking a laptop through the Internet, and traditional EW threats, such as radio-controlled improvised explosive devices that use the electromagnetic spectrum, have blurred, allowing EW systems to access the data stream to combat EW threats, according to Giorgio Bertoli, senior engineer of CERDEC I2WD’s Cyber/Offensive Operations Division.
Additionally, significant technological advancements including a trend towards wireless in commercial applications and military systems have occurred over the last decade, said Bertoli.
“This blending of networks and systems, known as convergence, will continue and with it come significant implications as to how the Army must fight in the cyber environment of today and tomorrow,” said Bertoli.
“The concept of technology convergence originated as a means to describe the amalgamation of traditional wired versus wireless commercial services and applications, but has recently evolved to also include global technology trends and U.S. Army operational connotations — specifically in the context of converging cyber and EW operations,” said Bertoli.
The Army finds itself in a unique position to help mitigate adverse outcomes due to this convergence trend.
“Post-force deployment, the Army has the vast majority of sensors and EW assets on the tactical battlefield compared to any other service or organization, posing both risks and opportunities. Our military’s reliance on COTS [commercial-of-the-shelf] systems and wireless communications presents a venue for our adversaries to attack. Conversely, the proximity and high density of receivers and transmitters that we deploy can be leveraged to enable both EW and cyber operations,” said Bertoli.
“The ability to leverage both cyber and EW capabilities as an integrated system, acting as a force multiplier increasing the commander’s situational awareness of the cyber electromagnetic environment, will improve the commander’s ability to achieve desired operational effects,” said Robb.
A paradigm shift in how the Army views system and technology development will further enhance CERDEC’s ability to rapidly adapt to new cyber and EW threats.
“The biggest hindrance we have right now is not a technological one, it’s an operational and policy one,” said Bertoli. “The Army traditionally likes to build systems for a specific purpose – build a radio to be a radio, build an EW system to be an EW system, but these hardware systems today have signific