Monday, June 27, 2016

An Army’s Three Cyber Arrogances

Have we learned nothing? Do we remember anything? When it comes to supporting the defense industry to sell multi-billion dollar systems that will be at best no use in war, and more likely a significant risk, I guess not.

How Kris Osborn at TheNationalInterest wrote this without screaming is beyond me.
The Army is upgrading and more widely deploying a cutting-edge battlefield force-tracking technology for dismounted Soldiers, enabling them to know the locations of their fellow Soldiers and more quickly find, identify, target and destroy enemy fighters.

Called Nett Warrior, the technology is a cell-phone-like device showing graphics on a small, digital moving map identifying fast-moving combat information.
Think about all those electrons bleeding out in to the environment? Think about how advanced the offensive EW and EW surveillance capabilities are of our peer and near-peer competitors.

“It provides unprecedented situational awareness at the dismounted level through the map display. The icons show where all the other users are on the battlefield and the device allows for battlefield messaging. Everyone sees the same picture,” Marsh explained. “The battle changes in real time and information can transmit across the force in real time.”

The technology uses a moving digital map display to mark friendly forces, surrounding terrain, enemy forces, targets and other high risk items such as IED locations, Marsh explained.

“As they sweep up into a house, they don’t have to worry about fratricide, because they can see where the other maneuvering forces are. You can track the location of friendly units as you are moving up on a target,” said Jason Regnier, deputy product manager for Nett Warrior.
Do we not know our own history? Units get captured. Items get lost and dropped. This is an order of magnitude worse than broken codes and maps wrapped around cigars. Gobsmacking.
Nett Warrior can even connect with nearby vehicle units who might need to know the location of mobile, ground or infantry units or wish to pass along combat-relevant information, Marsh said.

“Every Nett Warrior display is visible to every other Nett Warrior system. That is the key part. That is the game-changing revolution,” he explained.

While the Nett Warrior device looks like a cell phone or smartphone, it uses what’s called software programmable radio – a technology which sends IP packets of information, such as voice, video and data, across the force using high bandwidth radio frequencies.

The high bandwidth frequencies, such as Soldier Radio Waveform, use computer technology and function quite similar to wireless internet. The cell phone function of the system is turned off. The radio, called the Rifleman Radio or PRC-154, uses NSA encryption to safeguard combat information transmitting across the force.

The technology also uses a technique called a “chem light,” wherein a Soldier can highlight or “light up” a location to pass along key information such as the location of a cleared building or other data relevant to an ongoing fight.

And what about those friendly and allied units that have systems that don’t work, or simply don’t exist? This is even a worse situation than, “Those can’t be friendly units, they aren’t on Blue Force Tracker.”
The platform is now being built with what the Army calls “open architecture,” meaning its software and hardware are engineered to quickly embrace and integrate new technologies or applications as they emerge, Marsh said.
At least our peer and near-peer adversaries don’t have dedicated forces that do nothing but learn to break in to open architecture devices. Good googly moogly.

Meanwhile, important requirements learned in a decade and a half of warfighting remain unfunded and languishing. The only thing this would be of use in, besides micromanaging exercises, is to be used as a textbook example of the Army’s Three Arrogances; access, accuracy, assumption.

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