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June 11, 2018 | International, C4ISR

Reports: Google won’t renew Pentagon contract to use AI

By: The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Google won't renew a contract with the Pentagon that provides the company's artificially intelligent algorithms to interpret video images and improve the targeting of drone strikes.

That's according to reports in Gizmodo, Buzzfeed, and The New York Times Friday.

The reports said Google Cloud business head Diane Greene told employees of the decision not to renew the 18-month deal past the end of 2019, when the current contract ends.

Google representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

The so-called Project Maven had riled Google employees, including several who quit and thousands of others who signed a petition asking CEO Sundar Pichai to cancel the project and enact a policy renouncing the use of Google technology in warfare.

On the same subject

  • Future Missile War Needs New Kind Of Command: CSIS

    July 7, 2020 | International, Aerospace

    Future Missile War Needs New Kind Of Command: CSIS

    Integrating missile defense – shooting down incoming missiles – with missile offense – destroying the launchers before they fire again – requires major changes in how the military fights. By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR.on July 07, 2020 at 4:00 AM WASHINGTON: Don't try to shoot down each arrow as it comes; shoot the archer. That's a time-honored military principle that US forces would struggle to implement in an actual war with China, Russia, North Korea, or Iran, warns a new report from thinktank CSIS. New technology, like the Army's IBCS command network – now entering a major field test — can be part of the solution, but it's only part, writes Brian Green, a veteran of 30 years in the Pentagon, Capitol Hill, and the aerospace industry. Equally important and problematic are the command-and-control arrangements that determine who makes the decision to fire what, at what, and when. Today, the military has completely different units, command systems, doctrines, and legal/regulatory authorities for missile defense – which tries to shoot down threats the enemy has already launched – and for long range offensive strikes – which could keep the enemy from launching in the first place, or at least from getting off a second salvo, by destroying launchers, command posts, and targeting systems. While generals and doctrine-writers have talked about “offense-defense integration” for almost two decades, Green says, the concept remains shallow and incomplete. “A thorough implementation of ODI would touch almost every aspect of the US military, including policy, doctrine, organization, training, materiel, and personnel,” Green writes. “It would require a fundamental rethinking of terms such as ‘offense' and ‘defense' and of how the joint force fights.” Indeed, it easily blurs into the even larger problem of coordinating all the services across all five domains of warfare – land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace – in what's known as Joint All-Domain Operations. The bifurcation between offense and defense runs from the loftiest strategic level down to tactical: At the highest level, US Strategic Command commands both the nation's nuclear deterrent and homeland missile defense. But these functions are split between three different subcommands within STRATCOM, one for Air Force ICBMs and bombers (offense), one for Navy ballistic missile submarines (also offense), and one for Integrated Missile Defense. In forward theaters, the Army provides ground-based missile defense, but those units – Patriot batteries, THAAD, Sentinel radars – belong to separate brigades from the Army's own long-range missile artillery, and they're even less connected to offensive airstrikes from the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. The Navy's AEGIS system arguably does the best job of integrating offense and defense in near-real-time, Green says, but even there, “different capabilities onboard a given ship can come under different commanders,” one with the authority to unleash Standard Missile interceptors against incoming threats and the other with the authority to fire Tomahawk missiles at the enemy launchers. This division of labor might have worked when warfare was slower. But China and Russia have invested massively in their arsenals of long-range, precision-guided missiles, along with the sensors and command networks to direct them to their targets. So, on a lesser scale, have North Korea and Iran. The former deputy secretary of defense, Bob Work, warned of future conflicts in which “salvo exchanges” of hundreds of missiles – hopefully not nuclear ones – might rocket across the war zone within hours. It's been obvious for over a decade that current missile defense systems simply can't cope with the sheer number of incoming threats involved, which led the chiefs of the Army and Navy to sign a famous “eight-star memo” in late 2014 that called, among other things, for stopping enemy missiles “left of launch.” But that approach would require real-time coordination between the offensive weapons, responsible for destroying enemy launchers, command posts, and targeting systems, and the defensive ones, responsible for shooting down whatever missiles made it into the air. While Navy Aegis and Army IBCS show some promise, Green writes, neither is yet capable of moving the data required among all the users who would need it: Indeed, IBCS is still years away from connecting all the Army's defensive systems, while Aegis only recently gained an offensive anti-ship option, a modified SM-6, alongside its defensive missiles. As two Army generals cautioned in a recent interview with Breaking Defense, missile defense and offense have distinctly different technical requirements that limit the potential of using a single system to run both. There are different legal restrictions as well: Even self-defense systems operate under strict limits, lest they accidentally shoot down friendly aircraft or civilian airliners, and offensive strikes can easily escalate a conflict. Green's 35-page paper doesn't solve these problems. But it's useful examination of how complex they can become.

  • General Dynamics Mission Systems to Build Containers for LCS - Seapower

    June 9, 2021 | International, Naval

    General Dynamics Mission Systems to Build Containers for LCS - Seapower

    Marion, Va. – General Dynamics Mission Systems was awarded a multi-million-dollar firm fixed-price contract from Northrop Grumman to provide Reduced Weight Basic Operating Assembly (RWBOA) containers for U.S. Navy littoral combat ships (LCS), the company said in a release. The containers, developed specifically for...

  • To keep up with rivals, DoD nominee will weigh consolidation vs. innovation

    February 4, 2021 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

    To keep up with rivals, DoD nominee will weigh consolidation vs. innovation

    By: Joe Gould WASHINGTON ― President Joe Biden's nominee for deputy defense secretary, Kathleen Hicks, said she is “concerned” about consolidation in the defense industrial base, and that competition is needed to maintain an edge over China and Russia. Hicks, whose office would review deals that involve national security issues if she is confirmed by the Senate, told lawmakers Tuesday that she would work with them to ensure a healthy defense industrial base. The comments came amid market expectations that defense deal-making could take off in 2021. “Extreme consolidation does create challenges for innovation,” Hicks told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “We need to have a lot of different good ideas out there. That's our competitive advantage over authoritarian states like China, and Russia. And so if we move all competition out, obviously, that's a challenge for the taxpayer. But it's also a challenge in terms of the innovation piece.” As the space sector and technological developments drive growth in the aerospace and defense sector and the pandemic weakens commercial aviation firms, companies are “likely to pursue opportunities for consolidation,” the consulting firm Deloitte said in a recent report. Firms could seek new merger and acquisition opportunities, the report said, to “capture more value, drive cost-competitiveness, or acquire targeted niche capabilities and emerging technologies” such as “advanced air mobility, hypersonics, electric propulsion, and hydrogen-powered aircraft.” Recent years have seen a number of major deals, including the combination of Harris and L3 Technologies, United Technologies Corp. and Raytheon; BAE Systems and Collins Aerospace, and General Dynamics and CSRA. Lockheed Martin's $4.4 billion acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne, announced in December, has yet to clear regulators. The Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department also review mergers and acquisition activity in the defense sector. At Tuesday's hearing, Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, whose state hosts General Dynamics Electric Boat, told Hicks a drop in the number of submarine suppliers from 17,000 to 5,000 over recent decades suggested broader problems for the defense industrial base, problems that he said were, “extremely alarming to me.” Blumenthal indicated Hicks had committed prior to the hearing to aid small suppliers struggling with the pandemic's economic fallout and to develop new small and medium suppliers. (This was one focus of DoD's acquisition and sustainment office under the previous administration.) “I'm hoping you will focus on the supply chain that is vitally important to suppliers like Electric Boat or Raytheon or any of our major sources of supply,” said Blumenthal, who has served as the top Democrat on SASC's Seapower Subcommittee. A broader theme for the hearing was how Hicks, whose job involves supervising the defense budget, would invest in forward-leaning technologies under a flat budget and divest from existing weapons platforms. Meanwhile, lawmakers grilled Hicks about whether she supported spending on nuclear modernization, shipbuilding and other programs with connections to lawmakers' home states. Acknowledging the political and budget tensions, Hicks said she wants to link future budgetary decisions with concepts for operations, to buy “capabilities that actually line up to theories of victory for how we are trying to pace challenges from China and Russia.” Other lawmakers told Hicks they wanted an easier paths for smaller, cutting edge firms from outside the Beltway to do business with the Pentagon and for them to scale production of their products, beyond the experimentation phase. “We've had testimony before this committee that many smaller companies, particularly in Silicon Valley, and in the technology field generally have given up on the Pentagon, it's too complicated is too lengthy is too expensive, even to fill out the forms,” said Sen. Angus King, I-Maine. For her part, Hicks said Tuesday she would “increase the speed and scale of innovation in our force,” and she would work to understand how alternative acquisitions methods are servings smaller non-traditional suppliers. She affirmed that those firms cannot survive on research and development funding alone. “I do think a sustain level of [research and development] investment is vital, but we actually have to field capabilities, and that's a place where DoD has really struggled,” she said, adding that exercises and experiments help demonstrate the value of new technologies. “When we can demonstrate value, then we're in a much better position to have a dialogue with Congress and with industry about where that where those capabilities can take us.”

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