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  • A new cold war: How the Army is preparing for a fight in the Arctic

    31 juillet 2018 | International, Terrestre

    A new cold war: How the Army is preparing for a fight in the Arctic

    By: Todd South As Russia beefs up its Arctic presence with new units, equipment and weaponry for the cold weather fight, the Army has slowly begun to shift some resources to improving its own capabilities — though it lags behind its Arctic allies and lacks large-scale capacity to train or provide high numbers of troops for a potential Arctic battle. Melting polar ice is opening a region once thought nearly impenetrable to competition for shipping traffic, natural resources and potential land grabs some experts think could start a new Cold War. In recent years, Canada, Norway and Russia have realigned their focus to improving and expanding their Arctic capabilities. Along with those neighboring nations, which include Denmark, Finland and Sweden, the United States and United Kingdom all have varying levels of competing claims on Arctic resources. It wasn't always so. As recently as 2012, experts such as Siemon Weizeman with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute were analyzing cooperative efforts between Russia, the United States and other Arctic nations. In the U.S. Department of Defense 2013 Arctic Strategy, Russia is barely mentioned. But following the 2014 war in Ukraine, stoked by Russia, leaders have shifted their view about the nation's role in the Arctic. In that time, Russia has pushed resources in that direction. Its 2014 Russian Military Doctrine paper for the first time included the task of “protecting Russian interests in the Arctic.” So far, that's included building up to 40 heavy icebreaking ships, more than a dozen new airfields, 16 deep-water ports, a broad range of tactical airpower, dedicated training centers, and stationing of paratroopers, counterterrorism, electronic warfare and other forces in the region, said Maj. Gen. Laurie Hummel, adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard, at a June conference on Guard interests in the Arctic. The talk was put on by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Those ground forces include naval infantry and two army brigades on the Kola Peninsula, with aims to guard the Northern Sea route. And all of that is tied together under a recently established Russian Arctic Strategic Command, Hummel said. In addition, although China does not border the Arctic, it has “aspirational” goals for the region and wants to exploit sea lane passages for shipping and fishing waters, she said. In January, China released its first Arctic strategy white paper titled the “Polar Silk Road.” The paper focuses on Arctic shipping routes and states a cooperative goal for infrastructure and other development. China's polar strategy echoes its One Belt One Road policy in Africa, which seeks partnerships to provide natural resources such as oil, gas and minerals. The Chinese government is looking to a liquefied natural gas project in northern Russia called Yamal to supply it with millions of tons of fuel a year upon program fruition. These and other factors are pushing key U.S. military and government leaders to look at how to shore up Arctic capabilities. “It is time for our nation to have a comprehensive and overarching arctic strategy,” Hummel said at the Wilson Center conference. Shifting priorities Right now, the U.S. military's ground forces under U.S. Army Alaska, which falls under Indo-Pacific Command, includes a combined force of only 25,000 active duty, National Guard and Reserve troops. That's about 2.5 percent of the entire force. In recent years, the Army has increased unit training in the Arctic, including airborne operations in 2014, armored vehicle deployment exercises in 2015, and the return of the 75th Ranger Regiment to Alaska for training for the first time since 2001. As of 2016, the Northern Warfare Training Center hosted an estimated 1,400 troops annually for training in an arctic region. The Northern Warfare Training Center in Alaska provided the following numbers of troops trained there over the past decade: Cold Weather Leaders Course — 3,025 Cold Weather Orientation Course — 1,188 Basic Military Mountaineering Course — 1,440 Advanced Military Mountaineering Course — 150 Mountain Warfare Orientation Course — 360 Military Ski Course — 36 Total all events (some not listed) — 7,100 NWTC focuses on small units and training unit leaders in effective cold weather and mountaineering skills. It seldom hosts large units, said John Pennell, spokesman for U.S. Army Pacific Command. Other training areas are available, though they are more accurately classified as subarctic than Arctic, and that has major implications. In 2015, Fort Drum, New York, home of the 10th Mountain Division, was reclassified from Zone 5 to Zone 7, which put it in the ranks of Fort Wainwright, Alaska, and Camp Ethan Allen in Jericho, Vermont. The shift pushed an additional $12.5 million in funding for equipment and infrastructure to the site. Some Army funding has also gone to upgrade individual equipment for soldiers at Fort Drum, Fort Wainwright and in Italy. New items include new gloves, headgear, sleds and skis. In June, the Army posted a Request for Information from industry on building an over-the-snow vehicle capable of operating in 50-below conditions. Dubbed the Joint All Weather All Terrain Support Vehicle, or JAASV, it would replace the decades-old Small Unit Support Vehicle, or SUSV, a tracked vehicle that typically supports an infantry platoon-sized element. How cold is too cold? New equipment, even a new vehicle, doesn't necessarily equal a force ready to perform in truly Arctic conditions. Capt. Nathan Fry, the officer-in-charge of the U.S. Army Mountain Warfare School's training division, told Army Times that people unfamiliar with Arctic environments often confuse “northern training,” which can be cold weather or high-altitude focused, with Arctic training. But the two are not equal. As Fry noted, gear that works well in freezing conditions can fail spectacularly when temperatures drop to minus-50 Fahrenheit. He would know. For the past few years, he's been one of the U.S. representatives on the Guerrier Nordique team that spends weeks in Arctic and sub-Arctic areas of Canada. The exercise began in 2012 and was, in some ways, a small-scale attempt to recapture lost lessons of Arctic warfare that were explored regularly and in depth by the U.S. military throughout the 1940s and 1950s, as the United States prepared for a potential Cold War through operations such as Ice Cap in Greenland, Nanook, Snow Chute, Snow Drop, Snow Fall and Snow Storm. There must be a better understanding of the differences between cold weather and Arctic training, Fry said. Some think that if soldiers can fight in minus-10-degree weather, then they can do it at 60 degrees below zero. “That's just not true,” Fry said. “It's just like the mountain warfare fight, it's really tricky.” Fry left active duty Army service in part to go to his current post at the Guard-run mountain warfare school and push for more work and preparation in the Arctic sphere. Outside of the annual Arctic Eagle Exercise with U.S. Army Alaska and the recent Fort Drum conference, Fry said he's not seen a lot of improved Arctic policy. “From my foxhole, I haven't seen a whole lot of forward progress,” Fry said. But the interest is there. Fry said that his school has seen a drastic increase in demand for mountain and cold weather training, and they began running extra classes to meet the need. And next year's calendar is filling quickly. Though a byproduct of the school's mountain and cold weather training can better inform soldiers on how to plan, survive and fight in some ways in extreme conditions, it is not Arctic focused. Items that are simple in normal weather conditions — how much fuel will people and vehicles need to stay warm and conduct operations? What rate of travel can be expected for either mounted or dismounted soldiers? How much water will soldiers need? — are complicated in extreme cold weather. Soldiers can have a frozen 5-gallon water jug but not be able to use it. “If I can't melt it, then I can't drink it,” Fry said. “Lack of fuel will absolutely shut you down.” While some cold weather training teaches students to use snow, the amount of water yield from snow is far less than ice. And leaders must plan for fuel use to melt the snow or the ice in ways they wouldn't have to in a desert or woodland environment. Fitting it all in And most training, from that being done in Alaska, Vermont or New York, is at the small unit, tactical level. “We are not thinking in terms of a staff exercise,” Fry said. “We're not testing brigade staff on how to conduct resupply missions in cold weather environments.” And that's a problem when soldiers are in extreme, austere environments where the only resources are those that they bring with them. Fry pointed to work that the Marines have long done with the Norwegians as something the Army should consider. Marines rotate a force of 300 to Norway for extended joint training. That number was recently more than doubled to 700. One suggestion the captain has might be to value Arctic training the same way the Army does airborne qualifications, including with a Skill Qualification Identifier. That number makes it easier for leadership to track how many soldiers have the appropriate training. And that mentality, coupled with an integrated Arctic focus similar to that given to airborne training, would help commanders prioritize unit training to emphasize those qualifications and seek more training opportunities. For example, the 10th Mountain Division is designated as a light infantry unit. That means that although its soldiers have access to mountain training and the current commander has emphasized “putting the mountain back into 10th Mountain,” without Army-directed prioritization those skills can fall to the bottom of the checklist. Small changes, such as a Skill Qualification Identifier, can direct the focus of commanders and resources, Fry said. “It's like being in the 82nd Airborne Division,” Fry said. “Do we do range time or refresher jumps? Somehow they fit it all in.”

  • Busting The Green Door: Army SIGINT Refocuses On Russia & China

    31 juillet 2018 | International, Terrestre, C4ISR

    Busting The Green Door: Army SIGINT Refocuses On Russia & China

    Over 17 years of fighting terrorists and insurgents, “our SIGINT forces mastered the art and science of identifying and tracking individual threats with pinpoint precision," Lt. Gen. Berrier said. "We now face a significant challenge on a much larger scale." By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR. CAPITOL HILL: The Army has a new, two-pronged strategy for Signals Intelligence, its top intelligence official said at a recent forum here. First, SIGINT forces must continue their post-9/11 evolution from a secretive, insular priesthood to a hands-on helper for frontline troops. At the same time, SIGINT must scale up the “precision” techniques developed to track insurgents‘ and terrorists‘ transmissions so it can tackle much bigger and more sophisticated adversaries like Russia and China. Instead of pinpointing terrorist leaders for drone strikes or commando raids, SIGINT may be finding electronic weak points in enemy networks that US cyber and electronic warfare teams can then hack or jam. There is a foundation of success to build on, Army leaders told the Capitol Hill forum, which was organized by the Association of Old Crows, the leading professional association for electronic warfare. Intelligence in general and SIGINT in particular, they said, have gotten better integrated with other Army branches since 9/11 — and especially since 2016. “It has been a remarkable two years,” said Brig. Gen. Jennifer Buckner. Formerly deputy commander of Joint Task Force ARES, which led Cyber Command operations against ISIS, she is now cyber director in Section G-3/5/7 of the Army's Pentagon staff. Increasingly close cooperation between intelligence analysts and tactical commanders, she said, has made it possible “to normalize operations like this so we truly are using the intelligence to inform and enable further targeting.” Ultimately, said the Army's deputy chief of staff for intelligence (G-2), Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, the Army and its fellow services need to integrate intelligence, cyber warfare, and electronic warfare to realize their vision of Multi-Domain Operations, in which US forces launch coordinated attacks, both physical and electronic, from land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace. Over 17 years of fighting terrorists and insurgents, “our SIGINT forces mastered the art and science of identifying and tracking individual threats with pinpoint precision,” Berrier told the forum. “We now face a significant challenge on a much larger scale, combat operations with near-peer and peer competitors.” Even if we never fight Russia or China directly, Berrier said — and let's hope we never do — we'll face the technology they sell around the world. In places like Ukraine, US partners are already fighting Russian proxies. So to meet this challenge, Berrier said, he recently approved a Signals Intelligence strategy with four main lines of effort: Build a SIGINT force that's responsive to and closely integrated with tactical units, from corps headquarters on down; Apply what SIGINT has learned in counterinsurgency and counterterrorism over the last 17 years to high-intensity warfare; Buy new equipment, ground-based and airborne, that's up to the challenge of great power adversaries; and Develop new doctrine, field manuals and concepts for large-scale combat. Thanks to enthusiastic support from both Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, and recently departed chief of Pacific Command, Adm. Harry Harris, an experimental unit called the Multi-Domain Task Force is already exercising some of these concepts in PACOM. It's built around an Army artillery brigade — both cannons and long-range missiles — augmented with long-range sensors to find targets and an integrated Intelligence, Cyber, & Electronic Warfare (ICEW) team that can stage non-physical attacks. “If you want to shoot 500 or a thousand miles, you have to see 500 or a thousand miles,” Berrier said. “This is the way of the future.” Getting there, though, requires overcoming the ways of the past. The “Green Door” Problem For generations, Army commanders have complained that Signals Intelligence operated behind a “green door” of security restrictions that kept them from sharing vital intelligence in time to act on it. For its part, Army SIGINT tended to see its primary customer as the National Security Agency, not combat units. In this context, the SIGINT community was leery of anyone actually taking action based on intelligence, lest it give away a source of long-term strategic value for a short-term tactical gain. But in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, the US military was trying to find, target, and capture or kill key insurgents and terrorists, who kept constantly on the move. That meant intelligence on their location had to get to tactical commanders fast, before the target moved again. If you wanted the drone to fire the Hellfire at the right target, or the special operators to kick down the right door, you needed to bust down the green door first. Conversely, once ground troops grabbed a High Value Target, they had to get his cellphone, laptop, and other devices to the intelligence analysts ASAP so his contacts could be tracked down and special operators could go after them before they scattered. The result was a self-reinforcing cycle that generated much more intelligence than you'd get by just passively listening to the enemy. So today, tight integration between signals intelligence and tactical commanders for such “intelligence-driven operations” has become almost routine — on a small scale. But there's a big difference between targeting a Taliban bomb-maker on his cellphone in someone's garage as opposed to a Russian general on a high-security network in the middle of a tank division. For the many scenarios in high-end warfare when a target is too well-protected for other forces to bomb or capture, the Army wants the option to hack the target's network or jam its radio signals — to disrupt what it cannot destroy. That requires SIGINT to hand the target data to so-called “non-kinetic” ways of disrupting the enemy through cyber and electronic warfare. But there's a profound institutional imbalance here. SIGINT is one of the most influential and well established technical branches of the Army, in large part due to its intimate relationship with the NSA. But cyber is the newest branch, albeit benefiting from rapid growth and high-level attention, with its offensive capabilities highly secret and tightly restricted. And Army electronic warfare was largely disbanded after the Cold War and remains a small, underfunded force with very little actual hardware beyond short-range jammers to keep roadside bombs from detonating. So while the “green door” between intelligence and operations may have been kicked down, very real barriers remain between intelligence, cyber, and electronic warfare. The CENTCOM Model Central Command — which oversees Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria — has forced intelligence officers and combat commanders to work together in new ways, said Lt. Gen. Stephen Fogarty. This is possible, in part, because intelligence has gotten better at “sanitizing” information so tactical operators can use it without inadvertently revealing intelligence sources and methods, he said. But intel has also grown more willing to take the “tremendous risk” that something might slip out anyway, because the greater risk was that not acting on the intelligence would cost lives. Fogarty lived all this first-hand. Now head of Army Cyber Command, he was previously head of the Army cyber school at Fort Gordon and the top intelligence officer (J-2) for Afghanistan and, later, CENTCOM as a whole. But Fogarty's far from alone: Not only his fellow high-level panelists, but two veterans in the audience members on Capitol Hill — a young officer and a retired general — took the microphone to agree with him. “What I saw in theater, [in] my time in CENTCOM and multiple trips to Afghanistan, is that SIGINT drove operations...down to the most tactical level,” Fogarty said. National Security Agency SIGINTers — “both civilian and military” — were actually sitting side-by-side with combat officers in Army brigade headquarters and, in some cases, even on company-sized Combat Outposts (COPs), he said. (This is very similar to how the National Reconnaissance Office has operated over the last decade on the battlefield with its Field Representative program.) Now many of the company, battalion, and brigade commanders who grew accustomed to this close support are leading the Army. “The guys who were lieutenants, captains, majors, lieutenant colonels that are now two, three, and four stars today, that's what they expect,” Fogarty said. Of course, what broke down the traditional barriers between intelligence and operations was “the tremendous pressure” of wartime, when US and allied lives were in danger every day. “What we've got to make sure,” Fogarty said, “is we maintain that pressure and that we don't regress to where we were potentially back in the Cold War.” What's New? So what is Army intelligence actually doing to build on the counterterrorist successes of the past and prepare for a great power conflict in the future? Most immediately, the Army is changing how it trains, everything from new schoolhouse courses for officers to new field exercises for entire brigades. When an infantryman or tanker gets promoted to a leadership role, Berrier noted, they attend specialized courses to help them develop a bigger-picture perspective on the battlefield. For their part, intelligence leaders need to go beyond technical training in purely intelligence tasks — as complex and challenging as that is — and learn how to “integrate our highly technical skills into tactical formations” alongside infantry, armor, artillery, aviation, cyber/electronic warfare, and the rest. Intelligence soldiers and officers also need to practice their technical and tactical skills in real-world conditions. That's not easy to arrange. First, the law is far more restrictive of training in the US than operations overseas, especially when it comes to intelligence collection in the vicinity of US citizens. Second, the electromagnetic transmissions SIGINTers need to practice detecting can interfere with civilian electronics, and the Army doesn't want to fight the FCC. Training for electronic warfare, which involves deliberately disrupting signals, is even trickier. The best site for such training in the US, not coincidentally, is the Army Electronic Proving Ground at Fort Huachuca, home of the intelligence branch. Berrier commanded Fort Huachuca until he handed the job over to Maj. Gen. Robert Walters. Since units testing or training there are isolated from civilian population centers by broad deserts and high mountains, Walters told the Capitol Hill forum, “they can turn their jammers on and we don't have planes crashing in Tucson.” Unfortunately, US electronic warriors don't have many jammers to turn on, not yet. (We'll delve into that tomorrow). But at least Army SIGINT systems like Prophet can train at Huachuca on detecting and analyzing real signals. The Army is also trying to replicate or simulate enemy signals at its Combat Training Centers in California, Louisiana, and Germany. Even so, some aspects of high-tech, high-intensity warfare may only be replicable in simulations, Berrier said. The Army's key tool here is a simulator called IEWTPT, the Intelligence Electronic Warfare Tactical Proficiency Trainer. Training to do better with current technology, however, is not enough. Current systems were designed and fielded at a time when the US could operate freely in the electromagnetic spectrum, Berrier said, where the main problem was not enemy activity but inadvertent interference from other US systems (known as “electronic fratricide” or “blue on blue”). Against Russia, China — or anyone who's bought their latest systems — the spectrum will become a battlefield. So the Army needs to develop new equipment designed to withstand hacking, jamming, and other rigors of high-tech combat, like advanced anti-aircraft systems that can shoot down scout planes, drones, and helicopters. Ultimately, the Army envisions multi-purpose systems that can not only detect and analyze enemy signals — the SIGINT function — but also disrupt or subvert those signals — the cyber/electronic warfare functions. That makes a lot of sense, in theory, since cyber/EW needs SIGINT to find its targets in the first place. But it's much more complicated to implement in practice, less because the technology is tricky than because of the intense tribal rivalries within the Army. We'll delve into those divisions and possible solutions in a second article, due out tomorrow.

  • Boeing’s new F-15X may replace an aging fleet of F-15C/D Eagles

    31 juillet 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    Boeing’s new F-15X may replace an aging fleet of F-15C/D Eagles

    By: Kyle Rempfer The Air Force's fleet of F-15 C and D Eagle fighters are aging faster than F-35 joint strike fighters are being fielded, a gap in the transition that some think needs to be filled. And even when more F-35s have been fielded, F-15s could still fill a tactical role to help the Air Force carry out its mission. Boeing's new, single-seat F-15X design may be the Air Force's answer to that issue. Very little has been made known about the F-15X initiative, which was first reported by Defense One, and the Air Force's Pentagon officials could not provide comment on it, only telling Air Force Times that “there is no acquisition program” with respect to the new platform. But multiple media outlets still reported this week that the F-15X was being pitched to the Air Force by Boeing. Alternatively, some reports state that the Air Force first solicited Boeing for the new fighter. Regardless, the possibility of a new platform to replace aging the fourth-generation F-15 fighters could alleviate the strain put on F-22 Raptors and make up for the F-35s slow roll-out. Created during the Cold War, the more than 40-year-old F-15 has been the U.S. Air Force's primary air-to-air fighter jet for decades. The aircraft has been known for its range of operational roles, however, to include close-air support in the Global War on Terrorism. Dan Grazier, the Jack Shanahan Military Fellow at the Project On Government Oversight, writes extensively on military procurement, to include the F-35 acquisition. He said that while he can't comment on the specific designs of the F-15X, it is generally better to develop weapon systems from “an evolutionary approach.” “Whenever the military possesses a proven basic design like the F-15, the Pentagon should focus its efforts on maintaining and improving it until the state of technology changes to the point where the basic design is no longer viable,” Grazier told Air Force Times. “Until that happens, there is no reason to continually reinvent the wheel. If it is possible to incorporate improved technology into a design that has already been bought and paid for, then it only makes financial and common sense to do so.” “There will doubtless be arguments made that the unit flyaway costs of the F-15X and F-35 will be roughly comparable," he said. "When you factor in the development costs of both into the program unit average cost, I bet the F-15X will be much less expensive.” While the F-35 is a supposed to be a multi-role aircraft — capable of a stealth mode, as well as an air-to-ground combat mode once air dominance is achieved — it has been questioned whether the F-35 can outperform an F-15 in an air-to-air dogfight, or an A-10 Warthog in close-air support missions. As to what the F-15X includes that separates it from older F-15s, not too much is definitively known. Citing sources close to the initiative, The War Zone reported the most extensive breakdown so far. The F-15X reportedly came out of an Air Force inquiry to Boeing and Lockheed Martin about fielding an aircraft that could easily transition into the service's existing air combat infrastructure, specifically to help counter the Air Force's shrinking force. There were some caveats to the solicitation: it needs to be cost-effective, low-risk and not considered an alternative to the larger F-35 procurement program, The War Zone reported. It seems those requirements were met, based on the reported features. The F-15X armament would be designed for a mixed air-to-air and air-ground-role, including “eight air-to-air missiles and 28 Small Diameter Bombs (SDBs), or up to seven 2,000-pound bombs and eight air-to-air missiles," according to The War Zone. The F-15X would allegedly be very affordable, as well. The aircraft reportedly costs roughly $27,000 per hour to fly. Meanwhile, the F-35A costs more than $40,000 an hour to fly, according to The War Zone. Finally, The War Zone said the F-15X will have a 20,000-hour service life, meaning it could be flying for several more decades. Still, Boeing officials have not outright confirmed they were pitching the F-15X. “We see the marketplace expanding internationally and it's creating opportunities then to go back and talk to the U.S. Air Force about what might be future upgrades or even potentially future acquisitions of the F-15 aircraft,” Gene Cunningham, vice president of global sales of Defense, Space & Security, told DefenseOne. The Air Force has been considering retiring its F-15 Eagles for some time. In March 2016, service officials said they were considering a retirement for the more than 230 F-15 C and D fighters, and replacing them with F-16 Fighting Falcons. Speaking before the Senate Armed Services air land forces subcommittee in April, Lt. Gen. Jerry Harris, the Air Force's deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements, said the service was still looking at options for the F-15 fleet. “There's nothing off the table,” Harris said. “We're looking at, as we bring F-35s in, can we grow our capacity rather than just replace one-for-one? If we can't do that, what's our least-capable asset to retire, based on the value that it would provide for us?”


    30 juillet 2018 | International, Terrestre


    DALLAS, July 30, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) was selected by the U.S. Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) as the Integrated Systems Developer for its Expedient Leader Follower (ExLF) program. In this role, Lockheed Martin will lead a three-year effort to develop, integrate and test unmanned prototype systems for supporting leader/follower convoy activities within an asymmetric threat environment. Soldiers will conduct operational technology demonstrations using the prototypes developed in the ExLF program to establish operating procedures and shape future programs of record. "We are leveraging 15 years of experience in developing autonomous capabilities for our customers," said Gaylia Campbell, vice president of Precision Fires & Combat Maneuver Systems at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. "Our goal as the Integrated Systems Developer is to help coordinate a number of systems and vendors in achieving mature, reliable autonomous convoys to support our warfighters in complex environments." Soldiers conduct resupply convoys within an asymmetric threat environment compounded by long sustainment missions, adverse weather/environment and night operations. These conditions adversely impact operator safety, degrade driver/operator situational awareness and reduce resupply efficiency. "The Expedient Leader Follower effort will equip a number of existing military ground vehicles with scalable robotic technology through the integration of modular kits, common interfaces and an open architecture to increase operator safety, improve situational awareness and increase resupply efficiency," Campbell said. About Lockheed Martin Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 100,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. This year the company received three Edison Awards for ground-breaking innovations in autonomy, satellite technology and directed energy.

  • IARPA selects Raytheon for predictive analytics competition

    30 juillet 2018 | International, C4ISR

    IARPA selects Raytheon for predictive analytics competition

    CAMBRIDGE, Mass., July 30, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity awarded Raytheon BBN Technologies (NYSE: RTN) a $14.5 million contract to develop a system that improves the accuracy of predicting a range of geopolitical events – including elections, conflict, and disease outbreak. The contract was awarded last year under IARPA's Hybrid Forecasting Competition. "Event forecasters have struggled with the best way to combine the capabilities of human and machine analysts," said Lance Ramshaw, principal investigator and lead scientist at Raytheon BBN Technologies. "We're identifying the optimal combination to develop the best forecasting system possible." While human analysts are flexible and can apply context to their event forecasting models, machines can more quickly process massive amounts of data to make unbiased forecasts. Together, Raytheon BBN's hybrid forecasting system uses the benefits of both by providing: Automated aids that increase human forecasters' efficiency, including intelligent search, automatically computed indicators and alerts about changes or new information. Tools for sharing machine reasoning and results with human forecasters. Automatic combination of varied human forecasts, with more weight assigned to predictions from historically accurate forecasters. As prime contractor, Raytheon BBN leads a team that includes Lumenogic and Wright State Research Institute, who contribute to the technology research. Subject matter expertise related to elections and opinion, military events, science, disease outbreak, conflict and leadership and macro-economics are provided by the American Center for Democracy, Ipsos Public Affairs, Systems and Technology Research and Tufts University. About Raytheon Raytheon Company, with 2017 sales of $25 billion and 64,000 employees, is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, civil government and cybersecurity solutions. With a history of innovation spanning 96 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration, C5ITM products and services, sensing, effects, and mission support for customers in more than 80 countries. Raytheon is headquartered in Waltham, Mass.Follow us on Twitter.

  • A Five Eyes ship on the horizon?

    30 juillet 2018 | Local, Naval

    A Five Eyes ship on the horizon?

    by Beth Maundrill in London With final proposals submitted for the Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) project, the Lockheed Martin-led Combat Ship Team is bullish about the prospects of another Type 26 win. Specifically the company has highlighted that with three Commonwealth and Five Eye member nations potentially operating the same vessel could bring great benefits ...

  • Pentagon Creates ‘Do Not Buy’ List of Russian, Chinese Software

    30 juillet 2018 | International, C4ISR

    Pentagon Creates ‘Do Not Buy’ List of Russian, Chinese Software

    Increasingly alarmed at foreign hacking, DOD and intelligence officials are racing to educate the military and defense contractors. The Pentagon is warning the military and its contractors not to use software it deems to have Russian and Chinese connections, according to the U.S. Defense Department's acquisition chief. Officials have begun circulating a “Do Not Buy” list of software that does not meet “national security standards,” Ellen Lord, defense undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment, said Friday. “We had specific issues ... that caused us to focus on this,” Lord told reporters at the Pentagon. “What we are doing is making sure that we do not buy software that's Russian or Chinese provenance,” she said. “Quite often that's difficult to tell at at first glance because of holding companies.” The Pentagon started compiling the list about six months ago. Suspicious companies are put on a list that is circulated to the military's software buyers. Now the Pentagon is working with the three major defense industry trade associations — the Aerospace industries Association, National Defense Industrial Association and Professional Services Council — to alert contractors small and large.

  • Rebuilding it ... Better, stronger, faster.

    30 juillet 2018 | International, C4ISR

    Rebuilding it ... Better, stronger, faster.

    By: Mike Gruss   The long-held thinking in Washington is that if the Department of Defense wants to stay ahead of its adversaries, it will need improved capabilities, many of which are being developed outside of the Beltway. To that end, Pentagon leaders launched the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, commonly referred to in defense circles as DIUx, as a way to attract new companies into the fold and accelerate the pace of acquisition. In fall 2017, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis visited the organization's headquarters and said its influence would grow. A few months later, DIUx's director, Raj Shah, left the organization for the private sector. Capt. Sean Heritage has served as the acting managing partner since then. Heritage spoke recently with C4ISRNET's Mike Gruss. C4ISRNET: What's the status of the DIUx reboot? CAPT. SEAN HERITAGE: The last two years have been largely focused on fielding capability across the department. We like to say we can solve problems faster, better, cheaper using commercial technologies with nontraditional companies that are out there. We've learned that we have some amazing talents on our team and rather than just defaulting to fielding capability, we are creating tailored solutions using organic expertise. We've been able to do this primarily in a suborganization we refer to as the Rogue Squadron — it works in the UAF, counter-unmanned aerial system world. We're sharing our lessons learned across the department. We're coaching people on how we do things so that they can emulate us. So, we'd like to think that if we are the only ones doing CSOs [commercial solutions openings] and OTAs [other transaction authorities], in our image a year or two from now, then we failed. C4ISRNET: How do you know this is working? HERITAGE: We know all our prototypes aren't going to transfer to production. Our target goal is between 40 to 60 percent success rate. The feeling is that if we are more successful than that, then we probably aren't being innovative or creative enough and assuming enough risk on behalf of the department. With regard to our creating line of effort, we're very proud of the [Air Operations Center] Pathfinder project. Kessel Run was a great example of fielding capability and then leveraging organic talent to create tailored solutions and transition to a program of record. Then the coaching effort, we're defining success by creating somebody in other organizations in our image every six months. C4ISRNET: On talent development, is part of that asking leaders to rethink how they're using their people or is it something else? HERITAGE: The best example would go back to Kessel Run. That really started with the Defense Innovation Board. We were able to help the Air Force explore the art of the possible, which made a compelling case for the DIB's original recommendation: you guys need software developers as a core skill at the unit level to solve these problems in real time. They like to use the example that Home Depot has 6,000 software developers to sell you hammers. You can say the same for any service. How many software developers do you have? Well, the answer is we don't know, because we don't have a specialty for software developers, but no doubt once you know people across your team, there are many very capable people who do software development on the side. How do you leverage that? How do you more deliberately recruit to that? And how do you develop them? C4ISRNET: What's one area where you guys have been able to say, “Without us, we're not sure this would've happened as fast?” HERITAGE: We are very proud of the work we are doing in the artificial intelligence world. So, we are doing some projects on predictive maintenance. Again, for the Air Force, focusing on the [E-3 Sentry airborne warning and control system] out of the gate. But it's scaling across other platforms. We're already able to deliver value by solving that problem, reducing unplanned maintenance. Another contract was let out that's scaling to the Army with their Bradley Fighting Vehicles. We are going to be doing predictive maintenance with them. Something that may be lost on many people is our involvement in the formulation of the JAIC, the Joint AI Center. That would not have happened without us, but, more specifically, that would not have happened if we weren't here in the Valley and had access to create relationships with some significant talent in the civilian world. C4ISRNET: I wanted to reframe what you were saying. If DIUx wasn't in existence, do you think that there wouldn't be the same level of talent? HERITAGE: The talent we are able to attract to our team, to work through any problems and inform strategic thinking, wouldn't have happened. What we have is very open-minded senior leaders who are yearning for diverse thinking. And, as a career military guy, it's not all that diverse. What we're able to do is reach into a talent pool that has lots of credibility and expertise that isn't resident in the department. C4ISRNET: What's something DIUx is doing now, that it wouldn't have done three years ago? HERITAGE: The biggest difference is the deliberate embracing of our role in creating solutions and scaling ... coaching. Those were things that DIUx didn't do in the past. We have much more support from across the department. We no longer need that direct cover of the Dep. Sec. Def as a direct report. The percentage of our team that is military is higher than at the beginning. That's not necessarily by design. We are attempting to recruit more individuals, commercial executives, to help coach us. We don't want to be a military organization that happens to be in Silicon Valley, Boston and Austin. We want to truly be representatives of the culture. C4ISRNET: You talked about that 40 to 60 percent goal. What are the other ways you measure success? HERITAGE: The first one is the number of customers within the department that are coming our way to ask us to help them solve problems using our relationships, authorities and methodologies. That's one metric and that number continues to go up. The other is the number of nontraditional companies who want to help solve problems. A commercial solutions opening is a honey-pot for all these creative companies to say, ‘Can I contribute?' The number of companies continues to go up. It was 40-plus on the last CSO. The record to date is over 70. Now we're in a position where we have to say no to projects. We're a little more selective. C4ISRNET: What is DIUx's role with AI? HERITAGE: A lot of folks claim to be able to contribute to the AI mission area. There are 593 initiatives across the department that claim to be AI. It's our ability and our connections with Project Maven that have afforded us the opportunity to influence the way ahead for the department and facilitate some conversions. Some of the work that we're able to do with these nontraditional companies is not only shaping understanding of the power of AI across the department, but it's focusing everybody as well. We're able to help make them a bigger part of the conversation or maybe inspire them to a bigger part of the conversation. C4ISRNET: How do you convince a company that working with the Pentagon is the right path, and it's not a quagmire like it has been at Google? HERITAGE: We don't spend time trying to convince companies to do or think anything. There are plenty of folks out here and elsewhere, who are passionate about contributing to the cause, and appreciate what they are learning just through having access to the data that we're able to provide them. But it's a challenging conversation to be a part of because we don't want to turn people off. We're here to provide people with opportunity. C4ISRNET: Where can you help the most in IT? HERITAGE: [Information technology] is an example of how a DoD organization can leverage technology and access to a network that is still secure, yet different than what the rest of the department is using. It's things that you probably take for granted. We have people come to our team for a short period of time, after a career within the department going, “Wow, look at how my productivity has changed since I've been here.” I have access to Slack and the G Suite and a whole host of other tools that are not allowed, and for good reason, on DoD networks. C4ISRNET: One concern is whether new vendors can provide overmatch. Is that the case? HERITAGE: We look at the companies to make sure they're going to be around long enough to provide this capability. When we talk about our responsibility to help navigate the “Valley of Death,” and make sure that these prototypes don't just die, these companies have to have legs underneath them and investors behind them to be viable down the road so that we don't spend our time developing a prototype that they won't be around to deliver.

  • Targeting the future of the DoD’s controversial Project Maven initiative

    30 juillet 2018 | International, C4ISR

    Targeting the future of the DoD’s controversial Project Maven initiative

    By: Kelsey Atherton Bob Work, in his last months as deputy secretary of defense, wanted everything in place so that the Pentagon could share in the sweeping advances in data processing already enjoyed by the thriving tech sector. A memo dated April 26, 2017, established an “Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Functional Team,” a.k.a. “Project Maven.” Within a year, the details of Google's role in that program, disseminated internally among its employees and then shared with the public, would call into question the specific rationale of the task and the greater question of how the tech community should go about building algorithms for war, if at all. Project Maven, as envisioned, was about building a tool that could process drone footage quickly and in a useful way. Work specifically tied this task to the Defeat-ISIS campaign. Drones are intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms first and foremost. The unblinking eyes of Reapers, Global Hawks and Gray Eagles record hours and hours of footage every mission, imagery that takes a long time for human analysts to scan for salient details. While human analysts process footage, the ground situation is likely changing, so even the most labor-intensive approach to analyzing drone video delivers delayed results. In July 2017, Marine Corps Col. Drew Cukor, the chief of the Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Function Team, presented on artificial intelligence and Project Maven at a defense conference. Cukor noted, “AI will not be selecting a target [in combat] ... any time soon. What AI will do is complement the human operator.” As Cukor outlined, the algorithm would allow human analysts to process two or three times as much data within the same timeframe. To get there, though, the algorithm to detect weapons and other objects has to be built and trained. This training is at the heart of neural networks and deep learning, where the computer program can see an unfamiliar object and classify it based on its resemblance to other, more familiar objects. Cukor said that before deploying to battle “you've got to have your data ready and you've got to prepare and you need the computational infrastructure for training.” At the time, the contractor who would develop the training and image-processing algorithms for Project Maven was unknown, though Cukor did specifically remark on how impressive Google was as an AI company. Google's role in developing Maven would not come to light until March 2018, when Gizmodo reported that Google is helping the Pentagon build AI for drones. Google's role in the project was discussed internally in the company, and elements of that discussion were shared with reporters. “Some Google employees were outraged that the company would offer resources to the military for surveillance technology involved in drone operations,” wrote Kate Conger and Dell Cameron, “while others argued that the project raised important ethical questions about the development and use of machine learning.” A petition by the Tech Workers Coalition that circulated in mid-April called upon not just Google to pull out of Pentagon contracts, but for Amazon, Microsoft and IBM to refuse to pick up the work of Project Maven. (The petition attracted 300 signatures at the time of this story.) Silicon Valley's discord over the project surprised many in positions of leadership within the Pentagon. During the 17th annual C4ISRNET Conference, Justin Poole, the deputy director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, was asked how the intelligence community can respond to skepticism in the tech world. Poole's answer was to highlight the role of intelligence services in reducing risk to war fighters. Disagreement between some of the people working for Google and the desire of the company's leadership to continue pursuing Pentagon contracts exacerbated tension in the company throughout spring. By May, nearly a dozen Google employees had resigned from the company over its involvement with Maven, and an internal petition asking the company to cancel the contract and avoid future military projects garnered thousands of employee signatures. To calm tensions, Google would need to find a way to reconcile the values of its employees with the desire of its leadership to develop further AI projects for a growing range of clients. That list of clients, of course, includes the federal government and the Department of Defense. While efforts to convince the tech community at large to refuse Pentagon work have stalled, the pressure within Google resulted in multiple tangible changes. First, Google leadership announced the company's plan to not renew the Project Maven contract when it expired in 2019. Then, the company's leaders released principles for AI, saying it would not develop intelligence for weapons or surveillance applications. After outlining how Google intends to build AI in the future, with efforts to mitigate bias, aid safety and be accountable, Google CEO Sundar Pichai set out categories of AI work that the company will not pursue. This means refusing to design or deploy “technologies that cause or are likely to cause overall harm,” including an explicit prohibition on weapons principally designed to harm people, as well as surveillance tech that violates international norms. Taken together, these principles amount to a hard-no only on developing AI specifically intended for weapons. The rest are softer no's, objections that can change with interpretations of international law, norms, and even in how a problem set is described. After all, when Poole was asked how to sell collaboration with the intelligence community to technology companies, he framed the task as one about saving the lives of war fighters. The “how” of that lifesaving is ambiguous: It could equally mean better and faster intelligence analysis that gives a unit on patrol the information it needs to avoid an ambush, or it could be the advance info that facilitates an attack on an adversary's encampment when the guard shift is particularly understaffed. Image processing with AI is so ambiguous a technology, so inherently open to dual-use, that the former almost certainly isn't a violation of Google's second objection to AI use, but the latter example absolutely would be. In other words, the long-term surveillance that goes into targeted killing operations above Afghanistan and elsewhere is likely out of bounds. However, the same technology used over Iraq for the fight against ISIS might be permissible. And software built to process drone footage in the latter context would be identical to the software built to process images for the former. The lines between what this does and doesn't prevent becomes even murkier when one takes into account that Google built its software for Project Maven on top of TensorFlow, an open-source software library. This makes it much harder to build in proprietary constraints on the code, and it means that once the Pentagon has a trainable algorithm on hand, it can continue to develop and refine its object-recognition AI as it chooses. But the window for Google to be involved in such a project, whether to the joy or dismay of its employees and executive leadership, is likely closing. In late June, the Pentagon announced creation of a Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, which among other functions would take over Project Maven from the Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Functional Team. The defense sector is vast, and with Google proving to be a complicated contractor for the Pentagon, new leadership may simply take its AI contracts worth million elsewhere with to see if it can get the programming it needs. And Maven itself still receives accolades within the Pentagon. Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, praised Project Maven at a June 28 defense writers group breakfast, saying that the use of learning machines and algorithms will speed up the process by which humans process information and pass on useful insights to decisions makers. Inasmuch as the Pentagon has a consensus view of explaining tools like Maven, it is about focusing on the role of the human in the process. The software will do the first pass through the imagery collected, and then as designed highlight other details for a human to review and act upon. Holmes was adamant that fears of malicious AIs hunting humans, like Skynet from the “Terminator” movies, are beyond premature. “We're going to have to work through as Americans our comfort level on how technologies are used and how they're applied,” said Holmes. “I'd make the case that our job is to compete with these world-class peer competitors that we have, and by competing and by setting this competition on terms that we can compete without going to conflict, it's better for everybody.” AI of the tiger Project Maven, from the start, is a program specifically sold and built for the work of fighting a violent nonstate actor, identifying the weapons and tools of an insurgency that sometimes holds swaths of territory. “Our responsibility is to help people understand what the intent is with the capability that we are helping to develop. ... Maven is focused on minimizing collateral damage on the battlefield. There's goodness in that,” said Capt. Sean Heritage, acting managing partner of Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx). “There's always risk in how it will be used down the road, and I guess that's where a small pocket of people at Google's heads were. But, as Mr. Work pointed out during his panel at Defense One, they don't seem to have as challenging of a time contributing to AI capability development in China.” Google's fight over Project Maven is partly about the present — the state of AI, the role of the United States in pursuing insurgencies abroad. It is also a fight about how the next AI will be built, and who that AI will be built to be used against. And the Pentagon seems to understand this, too. In the same meeting where Holmes advocated for Maven as a useful tool for now, he argued that it was important for the United States to develop and field tools that can match peer or near-peer rivals in a major conflict. That's a far cry from selling the tool to Silicon Valley as one of immediate concern, to protect the people fighting America's wars presently through providing superior real-time information. “The idea of a technology being built and then used for war, even if that wasn't the original intent,” says author Malka Older, “is what science fiction writers call a ‘classic trope.' ” Older's novels, set two or three generations in the near-future, focus on the ways in which people, governments and corporations handle massive flows of data, and provide one possible vision of a future where the same kinds and volumes of data are collected, but where that data is also held by a government entity and shared transparently. While radical transparency in data is alien to much of the defense establishment, it's an essential part of the open-source technology community for security concerns both genuine and sometimes not-so genuine. Building open source means publishing code and letting outsiders find flaws and vulnerabilities in the algorithm, without looking at any of the sensitive data the algorithm is built to process. And Project Maven is built on top of open-source framework. “One of the dangerous concepts that we have of technology is that progress only goes in one direction,” says Older. “There's constantly choices being made of where technology goes and where concepts go and what we are trying to do.” While it's entirely possible that the Pentagon will be able to continue the work of Project Maven and other AI programs with new contractors, if it wanted to reach out to those skeptical of how the algorithm would interpret images, it could try justifying the mission not just with national security concerns, but with transparency. “Part of being an American is that Americans have expectations about what their government does and whether the government uses tech and tools to infringe upon their rights or not,” said Holmes. “And, so, we have really high standards as a nation that the things that we bring forward as military tools have to live up to.” To work with the coders of the future, it may not be enough to say that the code — open source or not — is going to be used in ways consistent with their values. The Pentagon may have to find ways to transparently prove it.

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