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Book Review Adam Kahane, Collaborating with the Enemy; How to Work with People You Don’t Agree with or Like or Trust. Pages 130. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. Oakland, CA. ISBN: 978-1-62656-822-8

(Published at IndrastraGlobal and Amazon)

Book Review

Adam Kahane, Collaborating with the Enemy; How to Work with People You Don’t Agree with or Like or Trust. Pages 130. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. Oakland, CA. ISBN: 978-1-62656-822-8

I had met Adam during one of his visits to New Delhi. I was impressed by his simple but determined outlook on resolving conflicts. He came across as a sincere advocate of taking All the stake holders on board while resolving a complex conflict irrespective of the time taken in this process. This book is an essence of Adam’s vast personal experience in dealing with conflicts in widely different global regions.

The book is divided in to seven chapters and centres around the fundamental theme of moving ahead positively in an environment which appears to have reached an impasse. His method may enable an alternative future for stake holders even in the absence of major agreements. The stake holders need to commit to only change in prevalent conditions without shedding their stated positions or their own answers to the problem.

His concept of stretch collaboration, as different from normal collaboration, requires that three fundamental shifts be made in one’s working methodology. Firstly, in how one relates with fellow collaborators, one must stretch away from focusing narrowly on the collective goals and harmony of one’s team, and move toward embracing both conflict and connection within and beyond the team. Secondly, in how one advances one’s work, one must stretch away from insisting on clear agreements about the problem, the solution, and the plan, and move toward experimenting systematically with different perspectives and possibilities. And lastly, in how one participates in the current situation—in the role one plays—one must stretch away from trying to change what other people are doing, and move toward entering fully into the action, willing to change him/her self. Stretch collaboration is challenging because all three of these stretches require one to do the opposite of what seems natural.

This book presents a theory and practice of such a stretch collaboration. Chapter 1 explains why collaboration is necessary and why it is intrinsically difficult. Chapter 2 suggests a way to decide when to collaborate and when instead to force, adapt, or exit. Chapter 3 specifies the limitations of conventional collaboration and the narrow conditions under which it is applicable. Chapter 4 outlines stretch collaboration, and chapters 5, 6, and 7 elaborate the three stretches it entails: embracing conflict and connection, experimenting a way forward, and stepping into the game. The conclusion offers a program of exercises to put these ideas into practice.

The author acknowledges that most people find these stretches unfamiliar and uncomfortable because they demand changing ingrained behaviours. The way to learn new behaviours is to practice them over and over. And the way to start practicing is to try out a few simple new actions, pay attention to what works and what doesn’t, adjust and repeat, and build from there. Adam provides a structured program at the end of the book to practice stretch collaboration which could turn out to be a game changer in almost any type of a conflict situation be it at personal, community or national level.

A must read for everybody who wishes to seriously engage in conflict resolution and make this world a better and peaceful place in future.

Military Domain of Cyber warfare

 

(Published in CLAWS Scholar Warrior, Spring 2017, ISSN 2319-7331)

“it would require sustained action for an adversary to take down a network for a period of time which would be really debilitating, but it is possible and something that we need to guard against and be concerned about.”

      Christopher Painter, the first Cyber Coordinator for the US State Department

The extent of cyber reach from dedicated attacks on strategic assets to tactical military operations to criminal activities like ransom to inconveniencing mass populations can be gauged from the following incidents:

-One is the well-known Stuxnet strike, which required tremendous amount of resources, brainpower, and planning time. It falls under the one time gambit with major nations already on guard against similar strikes on their critical strategic facilities.

-In 2009, Conficker worm infected civil and defense establishments of many nations, for example, the UK DOD reported large-scale infection of its major computer systems including ships, submarines, and establishments of Royal Navy. The French Naval computer network ‘Intramar’ was infected, the network had to be quarantined, and air operations suspended. The German Army also reported infection of over a hundred of its computers. Conficker sought out flaws in Windows OS software and propagated by forming a botnet. It became the largest known computer worm infection by afflicting millions of computers in over 190 countries.

-There was a cyber attack in Dec 2015 against energy distribution companies in Ukraine, which led to massive power outages and affected a huge civilian population. This achieved high visibility while using an old Trojan BlackEnergy and other malware to shut down critical systems and wiping out data.

-In February 2016, the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles, California was the victim of a cyber attack that encrypted its electronic data rendering its systems unusable for over a week. The hospital was forced to operate with no access to its computer systems and even had to move some patients to other hospitals. The hospital regained access to its data only after paying a fee of 40 bitcoin (approximately USD 17,000) to the attackers. Since 2014, the CryptoLocker ransom ware alone has allowed cyber criminals to collect over $100 million. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) was hit with a ransom ware attack on 25 Nov 2016[1], causing fare station terminals to carry the message, “You are Hacked. ALL Data Encrypted.” The hacker sought a ransom of 100 Bitcoin (~$76000). Interestingly, the hacker behind this extortion attempt had been hacked himself revealing details about other victims as well as clues about his identity and location.

Lastly, As per a Forbes news report in November 2016, anyone could rent an army of 100,000 bots for $7500/- on the dark net. Its controllers boast that the Mirai-based botnet could unleash attacks of one Terabit per second or more[2]. Mirai malware enables computer systems running Linux into remotely controlled “bots” that can be used as part of a botnet in large-scale network attacks. It targets online consumer devices such as remote cameras and home routers. The Mirai botnet has been used in some of the largest and most disruptive distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks since October 2016.

While illustrating the wide ambit under which the cyber attacks take place and the enormous cyber space that is vulnerable, the above examples also highlight the inevitable ease of threat to military and civilian space.

NATO’s CCD CoE (Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence) defines Cyberspace as:

“Cyberspace is a time-dependent set of interconnected information systems and the human users that interact with these systems”[3]. The tsunami of networked devices is expanding the cyberspace exponentially along with the requirement of data by individuals, corporations, militaries, and governments. Cyber space is becoming increasingly vulnerable to hostile and unscrupulous interjections; unfortunately, the cyber security aspects are lagging far behind the complexities of the emerging cyberspace. Various factors of cyberspace favor the attackers importantly among them are, its nebulous nature and its dynamic, which leads to ease of switching and concealing identities. These imply that it is extremely difficult to impose punitive measures against them and that such attacks would continue despite the advances in firewalls and other cyber protection systems[4].

The cyber attackers make use of the vulnerabilities like, inadequacies in software, use of secretly tampered hardware, interfaces between software and hardware like reprogrammable RAMs, online connectivity, use of user enabled settings, and access to mal-intentioned personnel who can infect directly or enable remote access. The attacker could target specific computers or carry out a general attack by delivering a payload that can activate at a given time.

To achieve clarity in the military domain of cyber space a few more definitions are necessary. Computer Network Operations (CNO) is a broad term that has both military and civilian application. It is considered one of five core capabilities under Information Operations (IO) Information Warfare by the US Military. In the Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms[5], cyber operations are defined as, “the employment of cyberspace capabilities where the primary purpose is to achieve military objectives or effects in or through cyber space”. As per US Joint Doctrine for Information Operations[6], CNO consists of computer network attack (CNA), computer network defense (CND) and computer network exploitation (CNE). Computer Network Attack (CNA) includes actions taken via computer networks to disrupt, deny, degrade, or destroy the information within computers and computer networks and/or the computers/networks themselves. Computer Network Defense (CND) includes actions taken via computer networks to protect, monitor, analyze, detect and respond to network attacks, intrusions, disruptions or other unauthorized actions that would compromise or cripple defense information systems and networks. Computer Network Exploitation (CNE) includes enabling actions and intelligence collection via computer networks that exploit data gathered from target or enemy information systems or networks. Computer Network Operations, in concert with electronic warfare (EW), is used primarily to disrupt, disable, degrade, or deceive an enemy’s command and control, thereby crippling the enemy’s ability to make effective and timely decisions, while simultaneously protecting and preserving friendly command and control.

Offensive cyber operations, from a military point of view, can be inferred as “actions taken in the cyber environment to deny the actual or potential adversary’s use of or access to information or information systems and affect their decision-making process”[7]. Offensive cyber covers the full spectrum of cyber war commencing with the covert to special operations to regular to overt strategic cyber operations. Deploying of offensive cyber capabilities against the attacker would be difficult for a nation state in view of the lack of evidence and/or identity of the aggressor.

As per US DoD, Offensive cyberspace operations (OCO) are “intended to project power by the application of force in and through cyberspace. OCO will be authorized like offensive operations in the physical domains, via an execute order (EXORD).”[8] These offensive cyber operations however, are to be used discriminatingly. “Military attacks will be directed only at military targets. Only a military target is a lawful object of direct attack.” However, military targets are defined broadly as “those objects whose total or partial destruction, capture, or neutralization offers a direct and concrete military advantage”.[9]

Richard Clarke  the former US National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counter-terrorism in his book Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It[10], defines cyber war as “Cyber war are actions by a nation state to penetrate another nation’s computers or networks for the purposes of causing damage or disruption”. There could be various objectives of the cyber attack on military facilities, these could range from, causing damage to the software of the system and/or the network, lie hidden and inject spurious messages, deny or degrade service, disable encryption systems, alter resident data etc. etc. Cyber attacks have also been divided into two categories by some experts as syntactic attacks that act directly, and semantic attacks that aim to modify data. The syntactic attacks are directed onto IT facilities and semantic attacks target users.

A plausible strategic cyber attack scenario: As India, races towards digitization in its infrastructure and related networks, a strategic cyber attack by Pakistan (proxy China) on India, few years hence could unfold by targeting critical infrastructure in the civil and military domain. It could commence with large scale casualties (possibly in thousands) across India resulting from; disruptions, chaos, and accidents in railways and civil air traffic; collapse communications; it could cripple the road/metro traffic in cities; graduate to failures in essential services like the electric, water supply and hospital services; depending upon the level of interconnectivity lead to collapse of goods supply chain and lead to uncontrollable fires. This scenario to large extent is a distinct possibility even today.

Some salient features of strategic cyber attacks are relevant. The strategic cyber attack presents a powerful option of crippling a conventionally superior nation because of its far cheaper costs, remaining obscure thus averting conventional military strike, ability to inflict hard damage & result in long-term loss to man and material, being technologically superior, near instant launch capability at very large distances, and lastly the fact that they lie beyond the realm of any international legal framework.

However, it is also true that putting cyber weapons in the same league as nuclear weapons would not be correct because cyber weapons cannot replicate the damage potential of a nuclear weapon neither do they have the ability to assure destruction to the levels that grants them status of deterrence. As of now strategic cyber weapons have never been used and have not contributed to victory in a military war. They have yet to shift balance of power on the battlefield and accredit themselves with a certified victory.

 

China Factor: China has undertaken modernization of its cyber capabilities under what it calls Informationization. It is an effort by PLA to attain a fully networked force status. The aim of this process is to maintain information superiority and dominance against the adversary. China is developing a comprehensive computer network exploitation capability to gain strategic intelligence about likely aggressors and their allies as a precursor to winning future conflicts. The overall aim is to synergize computer network operation, electronic warfare, and kinetic strikes to cripple enemy’s information infrastructure. They have adopted “Integrated Network Electronic Warfare” (INEW)[11] that consolidates the offensive mission for both computer network attack (CNA) and EW under PLA General Staff Department’s (GSD) 4th Department (Electronic Countermeasures). The computer network defense (CND) and intelligence gathering responsibilities are assigned to the GSD 3rd Department (Signals Intelligence), and a variety of the PLA’s specialized IW militia units. The PLA is choosing its personnel from the Chinese civilian sector to induct qualified work force with specialized skills from commercial industry and academia. There are circumstantial links between China’s exploitation and theft of key intellectual property from technology-based industries via cyberspace and the PRC’s economic development goals. Dmitri Alperovitch of McAfee had compiled a report Operation Shady RAT[12] in 2011 that highlighted hacking of more than seventy-one corporations and government entities around the world by a single entity using remote access tool (RAT) from 2006 to 2011. Mandiant’s 2013 report APT1: Exposing One of China’s Cyber Espionage Units[13], claims that the PLA’s cyber unit 61398 is most likely behind such exploitation on behalf of the PRC’s military and economic goals.

Conclusion

Taking cognizance of enhanced Chinese cyber warfare capabilities US Department of Defense Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace[14], 2011 had outlined five strategic initiatives:

– Treat cyberspace as an operational domain to organize, train, and equip so that DoD can take full advantage of cyberspace’s potential.

– Employ new defense operating concepts to protect DoD networks and systems.

– Partner with other U.S. government departments and agencies and the private sector to enable a whole-of-government cyber security strategy.

– Build robust relationships with U.S. allies and international partners to strengthen collective cyber security.

– Leverage the nation’s ingenuity through an exceptional cyber workforce and rapid technological innovation.

The US DoD in its cyber strategy for 2015[15] has set five strategic goals for its cyberspace missions:

– Build and maintain ready forces and capabilities to conduct cyberspace operations.

– Defend the DoD information network, secure DoD data, and mitigate risks to DoD missions.

– Be prepared to defend the U.S. homeland and U.S. vital interests from disruptive or destructive cyber attacks of significant consequence.

– Build and maintain viable cyber options and plan to use those options to control conflict escalation and to shape the conflict environment at all stages.

– Build and maintain robust international alliances and partnerships to deter shared threats and increase international security and stability.

In June 2016, a likely cyber attack on Indian government and commercial organizations by Chinese military’s western headquarters was carried out[16]. An alert was issued to the Indian Armed forces that a Chinese Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) group called Suckfly, based in Chengdu region, is targeting Indian organizations, with the defence establishments as is its prime targets. Suckfly is involved in carrying out cyber espionage activities by sending out a malware called Nidiran.

One thing is certain that cyber attacks in all its forms and variations are going to increase exponentially in both the military as well as the civil arena. This interim period of development of strategic cyber weapons accords an opportunity to nation like India to put in place its cyber offense & defense policies and enhance its cyber capabilities to meet eventualities in future.

It is understood that India has started thinking of setting up its own cyber-military industrial complex, and a proposal for automated cyber-defence was submitted in early 2016[17] for a productized platform to be developed jointly by public and private bodies. The proposal is supposedly based upon that of the US DoD Cyber Strategy. It caters to the sharing of cyber-attack indicators across the cyberspace domain in India.

The future cyber warrior in military domain may not confirm to rugged and tough image of soldier of today. He/she may be a person with mediocre health but with a cyber aptitude and capability that could collectively outshine India’s enemies.

[1] https://krebsonsecurity.com/2016/11/san-francisco-rail-system-hacker-hacked/

[2] http://www.forbes.com/sites/leemathews/2016/11/29/worlds-biggest-mirai-botnet-is-being-rented-out-for-ddos-attacks/#6040253c3046

[3] Ottis, R., & Lorents, P. (2010). Cyberspace: Definition and Implications. Tallinn: Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, CCD CoE. https://ccdcoe.org/multimedia/cyberspace-definition-and-implications.html

[4] Porche, I. R. I., Sollinger, J. M., & McKay, S. (2011). A Cyberworm that Knows no Boundaries. Santa Monica: RAND National Defense Research Institute. http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/occasional_papers/2011/RAND_OP342.pdf

[5] JP 1-02 Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms. Washington: US DoD https://fas.org/irp/doddir/dod/jp1_02.pdf).

[6] JP 3-13 Joint Doctrine for Information Operations. Washington: US DoD https://fas.org/irp/doddir/dod/jp3_13.pdf

[7] Bernier, M., & Treurniet, J. (2010). Understanding Cyber Operations in a Canadian Strategic context: More than C4ISR, more than CNO (Conference on Cyber Conflict Proceedings 2010). Tallinn: CCD COE. https://ccdcoe.org/publications/2010proceedings/Benier%20-%20Understanding%20Cyber%20Operations%20in%20a%20Canadian%20Strategic%20Context%20More%20than%20C4ISR,%20More%20than%20CNO.pdf

[8] https://fas.org/blogs/secrecy/2014/10/offensive-cyber/

[9] Cyberspace Operations, JP 3-12 (R)http://fas.org/irp/doddir/dod/jp3_12r.pdf

[10] Clarke, R. A., & Knake, R. (2010). Cyber war: the next threat to national security and what todo about it. New York: Ecco.

[11] US-China Economic and Security Review Commission Report on the Capability of the People’s Republic of China to Conduct Cyber Warfare and Computer Network Exploitation,2009.

http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB424/docs/Cyber-030.pdf

[12] http://www.mcafee.com/us/resources/white-papers/wp-operation-shady-rat.pdf

[13] https://chinadailymail.com/2013/02/23/mandiant-executive-summary-exposing-one-of-chinas-cyber-espionage-units/

[14] http://csrc.nist.gov/groups/SMA/ispab/documents/DOD-Strategy-for-Operating-in-Cyberspace.pdf

[15] http://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/features/2015/0415_cyber-strategy/Final_2015_DoD_CYBER_STRATEGY_for_web.pdf

[16] http://www.indiandefensenews.in/2016/06/defence-forces-on-alert-after-chinese.html

[17] http://www.huffingtonpost.in/pukhraj-singh/cyber-the-war-india-never-fought-but-lost/

Hybrid warfare-The Naval Dimension

(Published IndraStra Global 01 Jan 2017, http://www.indrastra.com/2017/01/FEATURED-Hybrid-Warfare-Naval-Dimension-003-01-2017-0002.html)

 It is so damn complex. If you ever think you have the solution to this, you’re wrong, and you’re dangerous. You have to keep listening and thinking and being critical and self-critical.

Colonel H.R. McMaster, 2006

In his monograph, Strategic Implications of Hybrid War: A Theory of Victory[1],Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Lasica posits that hybrid force actors attempt to combine internal tactical success and information effects regarding enemy mistakes through the deliberate exploitation of the cognitive and moral domains. In this manner, he describes hybrid warfare simultaneously as a strategy and a tactic because of the blending of conventional, unconventional, criminal, cyber and terrorist means & methods. A hybrid force is thus able to compress the levels of war and thereby accelerate tempo at both the strategic and tactical levels in a method faster than a more conventional actor is able to do. In this theoretical model, the hybrid actor will always gain a perceived strategic advantage over the conventional actor regardless of tactical results. David Sadowski and Jeff Becker, in their article “Beyond the “Hybrid Threat: Asserting the Essential Unity of Warfare,[2]” assert, that the idea of simply seeing hybrid warfare as a combination of threat categories or capabilities fails to appreciate the complexity of the hybrid approach to warfare. Rather, they argue that the essential aspect of hybrid warfare is the underlying unity of cognitive and material approaches in generating effects. Such a unity of cognitive and material domains allows for flexibility in a strategic context in which social “rules” can be redefined in an iterative process to the hybrid’s advantage in terms of legality and military norms.

Majors Mculloh and  Johnson in their monograph ‘Hybrid warfare’[3] have said that hybrid war may be best summarized as a form of warfare in which one of the combatants bases its optimized force structure on the combination of all available resources—both conventional and unconventional—in a unique cultural context to produce specific, synergistic effects against a conventionally-based opponent.

 Don’t ever forget what you’re built to do. We are built to solve military problems with violence.

– A Former Brigade Commander in Op Iraqi Freedom

Therefore, it will not be wrong to say that Hybrid warfare in naval context is a violent conflict utilizing a complex and adaptive organization of regular and irregular forces, means, and behavior across a predominantly maritime domain among others to achieve a synergistic effect, which seeks to exhaust a superior military force.

Alternatively, put simply, it is naval irregular warfare plus cyber war and any other component that emerges in future. CIA has succinctly brought out the contrasting dimensions of Modern versus Irregular warfare in the following table:

Contrasting Dimensions of War[4]
Modern Irregular
Organized Informal
Advanced technology At-hand technology
Logistics-dependent Logistics-independent
National direction Local direction
Coherent doctrine Ad hoc doctrine
Decisive battle Raids and skirmishes
Soldier Warrior
Allies Accomplices
Segregation Integration

Littoral areas and cities in vicinity of the coast could be important sites of future conflict, and both have characteristics that make them more complex than the high seas, and hinterland. Adversaries will increasingly exploit these complex environments to degrade technological advantages of regular forces. Given the close proximity of many cities to the coast as well as abundance of unmanned coastal areas, maritime hybrid is a distinct possibility requiring active involvement of the Navy and the Coast guard. In case of a maritime hybrid war the normal components of the Navy would continue to play an important part in the littorals and in open seas for interdiction of adversary’s irregular assets like floating armories and mercenary flotillas.

Maritime forces are often utilized primarily in support of ground operations, but it is seen that; in environments with a maritime component; maritime operations tend to have a noticeable comparative advantage over land-based operations in terms of mobility, freedom of maneuver, and the ability to impose a smaller or less visible footprint on land. The maritime forces could easily choke supplies through the sea route to reach adversary, protect own maritime trade and fishing in the area, provide logistic and fire support to forces on land from the sea, close escape routes and so on. One important point is that vital external maritime support can be conveniently obtained from friendly nations at sea for ISR, communications and fighting cyber war. The supporting ships could be operating as close as just 12 miles off the coast or hundreds of mile in open seas without violating any regulations.

Now it would be appropriate to look at a few of the salient features of 26 Nov 2008 Mumbai attack as relevant to subject at hand. The Mumbai attack has been analyzed in great depth by various agencies (for e.g. Rand’s ‘Characterizing and Exploring the Implications of Maritime Irregular Warfare’[5] and ‘The Lessons of Mumbai[6]’) and individuals, therefore an attempt is being made here to highlight the main findings of some of these studies. In addition to the meticulous planning, reconnaissance, likely pre-positioning of weapons & ammunition, the major innovation on the part of the terrorists was the real-time exploitation of the international media. Each of the terrorists carried a BlackBerry smart phone to monitor CNN and BBC Internet coverage of the attack in real time. They then immediately adjusted their tactics to increase the amount of media coverage that the attacks would receive. It is believed that the major efforts made by the terrorists to kill U.S. and British civilians were part of the plan to garner more international press coverage.

The case of the LeT attacks in Mumbai illustrates the advantages that could accrue to an adversary from a maritime approach to a target. A maritime approach allows operatives to avoid border crossings and airport security, it offers opportunities to hijack a local vessel so that attackers can blend in with the normal local coastal traffic, and offers terrorist teams extra time for pre-attack planning as well as extra time for rest just before the attack commences. Finally, a maritime insertion allows terrorists to select very precise landing sites and infiltration routes.

The case of the LeT attacks in Mumbai also illustrates the disadvantages that can accrue to a terrorist enemy from a maritime approach to a target. First, once a full blown, large-scale assault has started, it can be very difficult to extricate the operatives. Second, the transport of large explosives aboard fishing vessels and trawlers is risky; thus, maritime terrorist strikes might be limited to relying on small arms to do their damage. Third, some kind of reconnaissance cell would have to be sent to the target city well in advance of the attack, providing an opportunity for a skilled intelligence agency to mount surveillance on the reconnaissance cell and break up the plot before the assault team could embark. Moreover, a maritime approach does not allow the terrorist team to disperse until it lands ashore. Even if the operatives approach in two or three different small boats, the interception of just one of the boats could drastically reduce the team’s numbers and effectiveness.

The fact remains that despite low technological instrumentation, a non state/state sponsored actor coming from open sea, could carry out effective surveillance & reconnaissance regarding the characteristics of targets at land/sea that could be attacked in future. Maritime Hybrid War may graduate to pose bigger economic threat than a military one. Furthermore, these economic costs could be imposed with relatively minor investments from the adversary.

What is worrisome is that now the Hybrid threat can emerge from anywhere in the vast oceans; be it floating armories, mercenary flotillas, or innocuous vessels carrying legitimate cargo with an embedded cyber war-waging cell. The maritime hybrid threat has to be interdicted using Naval and marine assets preferably before it reaches the shores and synergizes with other elements into a full-scale hybrid war. Even though the Indian Government has strived to put in place a very robust MDA there are intelligence gaps, which remain among the various agencies involved which could lead to slipping in of threatening elements physically or otherwise.

“The categories of warfare are blurring and do not fit into neat, tidy boxes. We can expect to see more tools and tactics of destruction — from the sophisticated to the simple — being employed simultaneously in hybrid and more complex forms of warfare.”

Professor Colin Gray

Cyber War

A word about the maritime dimension of cyber war would be proper at this stage. In recent years, there has been considerable discussion of the phenomenon of cyber warfare, its methods, and its ramifications. In essence there are three objectives that can be achieved by cyber-offensive activities: espionage (infiltrating the target’s information storage systems and stealing information), denial of service attacks (preventing Internet usage), and sabotage (infiltrating systems reliant on Internet connections and causing functional damage via malevolent programs). The media largely focuses on the use of computer programs as weapons in the cyber domain, but an attack on Internet infrastructure especially the submarine optical fiber cables is no less an option for terrorists, and often more devastating and effective. In fact, thousands of miles of more than 200 international submarine cable systems carry an estimated 99% of all the world’s trans-oceanic internet and data traffic. Widespread disruption to undersea communications networks could sabotage in excess of $10 trillion in daily international financial transactions, as stated by Michael Sechrist in a 2012 paper ‘New Threats, Old Technology Vulnerabilities in Undersea Communications Cable Network Management Systems[7]’ published by the Harvard Kennedy School. It is pertinent to note that satellites carry just about 5% of global communication traffic.

Even partial damage has extensive consequences because of the resultant jamming of traffic on the limited remaining connection. It is true that the diplomatic and military effects of having Internet communication with world at-large cut off would not be significant, but the direct and indirect economic consequences could be extremely expensive to our economy, especially with the transfer of much data to online cloud services that are actually placed abroad.

What bigger Hybrid threat can be posed at sea than the cutting off the subsea internet cables at time, place, and depths of one’s choosing or cutting off undersea facilities like VLF communication nodes and hydrophones? Would it not be an example of extreme denial of service weapon? Incidentally, such capabilities do exist with some nations today.

Two other aspects of hybrid war, which merit immediate attention of the maritime forces, are onslaught of sensors and swarm warfare.

Sensors

One very important aspect of the Hybrid warfare is transparency in every field because f utilization of various types of sensors. This ubiquitous sensing revolution promises enhanced awareness of physical, social, and cyber environments by combining three technological trends: the proliferation of ever cheaper and more capable sensors into virtually every device and context; large data aggregation and ready access to it using vast cloud-based archives; and cross-spectral data fusion & sense-making algorithms running on increasingly powerful processors. All of these trends are accelerating, at exponential rates. For instance, as brought by Capt John Litherland, USN (ret), in his paper ‘Fighting in the Open: The Impact of Ubiquitous Sensors on the Future Maritime Battle space’[8]:

-The worldwide total number of sensors has increased tremendously and will pass the one trillion mark, or more than 100 sensors for every person on earth.

– Mass production of electronics has led to significant enhancements in Sensing capabilities. Every smart phone today has a complete inertial, electronic and satellite navigation system comprising just a minor component of its price. Incidentally, a smart phone today hosts of many  of the sensors such as, accelerometer, temperature, gravity, gyroscope, light, linear acceleration, magnetic field, orientation, pressure, proximity, relative humidity, rotation vector and temperature[9].

-The worldwide digital data generation rate now exceeds one ZB (1021 bytes) per year and global storage exceeds 10 ZB.

-The ability to fuse and make sense of unstructured data from disparate sensors and incommensurable formats is being addressed by use of advances in processing capability and data handling algorithms.

-The advent of sensors has however, made the battle space transparent. Today, the warfare has to adapt to this transparency and let go traditional concepts of concealment and camouflage. Stealth technologies are unable to cope up with concealing signatures of the multitude of sensors being used across various domains, be it in the air, on the surface or under water. Navies today can no longer spring a surprise on the adversary because it is not feasible to operate blind in a battlefield littered with multi-spectral sensors, dispersed spatially, and operating in broadband.

The Indian Navy (IN) has to prepare for this aspect of hybrid warfare. The Indian Navy could utilize some of the concepts out lined by Litherland in his paper quoted above[10] :

– Dispersal – IN forces must disperse over as much of the maritime battle space as possible.

– Deception – IN must strategize on targeting the adversary’s sensor complex across multiple spectra with noise, false targets, and cyber attacks.

– Range – IN must gainfully implement Net Work Centric warfare to bestow ‘crippling effects’ at large distances when dispersed.

– Speed – together with range, the speed at which kinetic and non-kinetic effects can be imposed on the adversary will also be a critical factor in Naval war.

Unless the Indian Navy starts preparing now to fight in the Age of Sensors, it risks becoming vulnerable in the event of a hybrid war.

Swarms

Seminal work has been done on Swarm warfare by Prof. John Arquilla  and David Ronfeldt in their various writings (Swarming and Future of Conflict[11], Countering and exploiting Swarms[12], etc.) the present section derives from their thought processes. Swarm warfare has become the dominant doctrinal concept of certain navies like the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy, which has about fifty missile and torpedo boats, along with other light coastal craft, all of which train to employ ‘ESBA’ i.e. like a swarm of bees tactics. The IRGC Navy also has several bases on small islands in the Persian Gulf, from which they can “swarm by fire” with the Chinese missiles in their inventory. China’s PLA Navy regularly practices swarm tactics with its missile, torpedo, and gunboats.

For the Indian Navy, comprised as it is of a number of high-value vessels, swarms pose a considerable and rising threat. Swarm attacks are likely not only from small boats, but also from aircraft, submarines, and drones. At present, the author is unaware of any fitting response by the Indian Navy focused on the use of counter-swarms of drones, and robots. The Indian Navy should also consider responses; as suggested by Prof  Prof. John Arquilla[13];  by designing swarms of much smaller craft like large numbers of jet-ski-sized drones or autonomous weapons whose goal would be to seek out and destroy incoming swarms with rockets, or by ramming and self-detonating. Small and swift Weapons could pose a far superior swarming threat to hybrid adversaries. IN could also think of small undersea swarming systems which are already on the design board to meet demands of clearing minefields, engaging enemy submarines, and carrying out ISR missions. Similarly, small aerial swarm weapon systems could prove exceptionally useful in dealing with air defense of carrier strike groups.

Conclusion

So ‘ere’s to you fuzzy-wuzzy, at your ‘ome in the Soudan; You’re a pore benighted ‘eathen, but a first class fightin’ man. 

Rudyard Kipling

Starting with the fundamental definition of Hybrid war in maritime context as “Naval irregular warfare plus cyber war and any other component that emerges in future”, the implications of cyber, sensors, and swarm warfare have been discussed in this article. However, new types of hybrid threats would keep surfacing and the IN has to be ready for them when called upon to counter them.

Hybrid war, being inherently nebulous and dynamic in nature, calls for constantly adapting naval doctrines and technologies to meet the emerging maritime hybrid threats.

(Based upon a talk ‘Maritime and Air Dimensions of Hybrid War’ delivered by the author during ‘National Seminar: Hybrid Warfare’ on 02 Nov 2016 under aegis of Centre for Land Warfare Studies, New Delhi)

[1] https://www.scribd.com/document/40211290/Strategic-Implications-of-Hybrid-War-a-Theory-of-Victory

[2] smallwarsjournal.com/blog/journal/docs-temp/344-sadowski-etal.pdf

[3] http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA591803

[4]https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/96unclass/iregular.htm

[5] http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG1127.html

[6] https://www.rand.org/pubs/occasional_papers/2009/RAND_OP249.pdf

[7] http://ecir.mit.edu/images/stories/sechrist-dp-2012-03-march-5-2012-final.pdf

[8] http://www.secnav.navy.mil/innovation/HTML_Pages/2015/07/FightingInTheOpen.htm

[9] https://www.quora.com/how-many-different-sensors-are-available-inside-a-smartphone

[10]http://www.secnav.navy.mil/innovation/HTML_Pages/2015/07/FightingInTheOpen.htm

[11] http://www.rand.org/pubs/documented_briefings/DB311.html

[12]http://www.secnav.navy.mil/innovation/HTML_Pages/2015/04/CounteringAndExploitingSwarms.htm

[13] ibid

Smarter Eyes in the Skies

(Published 10 Sep 2016, CLAWS)

“…[t]he main advantage of using drones is precisely that they are unmanned. With the operators safely tucked in air-conditioned rooms far away, there’s no pilot at risk of being killed or maimed in a crash. No pilot to be taken captive by enemy forces. No pilot to cause a diplomatic crisis if shot down in a “friendly country” while bombing or spying without official permission”  [1]

Medea Benjamin, 2013

The aim of this article is to look at some of the developments and the technological spinoffs that are likely to have a profound impact upon uninterrupted 24/7 gathering of real time strategic intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance data.

Platforms

X-37 B. The X-37 B or the Orbital Test Vehicle[2] mystery aircraft of the US Air Force has nearly completed one year in orbit and it is not known when it will land. The X-37 B program has been shrouded in mystery since its inception some time in 1999 as a NASA program. The X-37 B has a wingspan of 24 m, a length of 2.9 m, a height of 4.6 m, and a launch weight of 4990 kg. It is powered by GaAs solar cells and lithium-ion batteries after it is boosted into space. It can remain in orbit for periods of over one year. As per US Air Force fact sheet the mission of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, or OTV, is “an experimental test program to demonstrate technologies for a reliable, reusable, unmanned space test platform for the U.S. Air Force. The primary objectives of the X-37B are twofold: reusable spacecraft technologies for America’s future in space and operating experiments which can be returned to, and examined, on Earth”[3]. It states further that OTV missions till now have spent a total of 1,367 days in orbit, “successfully checking out the X-37B’s reusable flight, re-entry and landing technologies.” As per US Air Force fact sheet[4] some of the technologies being tested include advanced guidance, navigation and control, thermal protection systems, avionics, high temperature structures and seals, conformal reusable insulation, lightweight electromechanical flight systems, advanced propulsion systems & autonomous orbital flight, reentry and landing. It is said that X-37 B has a XR-5A Hall Thruster made by Aerojet Rocketdyne and that it carries an experimental propulsion system developed by the US Air Force.

VULTURE. VULTURE is an acronym for DARPA’s Very-high altitude, Ultra-endurance, Loitering Theater Unmanned Reconnaissance Element[5] program. The objective of the Vulture program was to enable an uninterrupted ISR and communication missions spanning 5years or more by remaining airborne at very high altitude. The VULTURE was envisaged to operate as a single platform, or as a formation of multiple aircraft, or as a constellation providing infrastructure augmentation/recovery. The project transformed into Boeing/ Phantom Works Solareagle (VULTURE II) project, which aimed to reach that five-year endurance mark with its 120m wingspan but the project was cancelled in 2012. Interestingly, both Facebook and Google have taken the lead from DARPA and have launched programs for ultra long endurance stratospheric drones.

High Altitude Airship. The Lockheed Martin High Altitude Airship[6] (HAA™)  is an un-tethered, unmanned lighter-than-air vehicle that is being designed to operate above the jet stream in a geostationary position to deliver persistent station keeping as a surveillance platform, telecommunications relay, or a weather observer. It will provide the military with, ever-present ISR, and rapid communications connectivity over the entire battle space. The airship is estimated to survey a 600-mile diameter area and millions of cubic miles of airspace.

Global Hawk. Global Hawk is the long-range, high-altitude ISR UAV of the US Air Force. It can fly for up to 32 hours at altitudes as high as 60,000 feet, with a range of 12,300 nautical miles[7], providing imaging and signals intelligence, as well as communications support, to troops around the world. It is battle proven and gives near-real-time, day and night, all weather high-resolution imagery of large geographical areas. The US Air Force plans to spend $4Bn on upgrading Global Hawk drone program[8].

Triton MQ 4C. The US Navy will continue with Triton MQ-4C that can stay aloft for over 24 hours at 17,000 m. It has speeds of up to 610 km/h[9]. Its surveillance sensor is the AN/ZPY-3 Multi-Function Active Sensor (MFAS) X-band AESA radar with a 360-degree field-of-regard, capable of surveying 7,000,000 sq km of sea. It utilizes the radar in inverse synthetic aperture mode[10] to identify a target in any weather condition and take high definition radar pictures, then use the advanced image and radar return recognition software of the onboard automatic identification system (AIS) for classification.

Sensors Packages

Gorgon Stare. In December 2015, the US DOD confirmed[11] that the Gorgon Stare wide-area airborne surveillance (WAAS) system had been incorporated in to the Reaper MQ-9 UAV of the US Air Force missions flying over Afghanistan. The basic configuration of Gorgon Stare consists of five monochrome charge-coupled device (CCD) daylight cameras and four thermal cameras built into a 25-inch EO/IR turret with a separate pod for data links. The advanced version of the above is the Autonomous Real-Time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imaging System, (ARGUS-IS).

ARGUS. The ARGUS-IS, is a  DARPA project contracted to BAE Systems and is a type of  of wide-area persistent surveillance system[12]. It is a camera system that utilizes hundreds of mobile phone cameras in a mosaic to video and auto-track every moving object within a 36 square mile area. ARGUS-IS provides military users an “eyes-on” persistent wide area surveillance capability to support tactical users in a dynamic battle space or urban environment. The sensor uses 4 lenses and 368 cell phone cameras of 5 megapixels each. The major components of the system are a 1.8 Gigapixels video system and its processing subsystems, in the air and on the ground. In early 2014, ARGUS-IS achieved initial operating capability (IOC) with the U.S. Air Force as part of Gorgon Stare Increment 2[13]. The system streams a million terabytes of HD video per day. The enormous amount of data can be stored  indefinitely and subjected to review as and when required[14]. It is understood that ARGUS can be easily deployed on UAVs like Predator and HALE. The software utilized by ARGUS-IS is Persistics.

Software Persistics. The brain for handling of the immense amount of data gathered by the advanced surveillance cameras is a software program called Persistics developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories. Fundamentally, it is a data compression program, which can compress the raw wide area video data from aircraft and UAVs by 1000 times and achieve a reduction of pre-processed images by a factor of ten. Persistics compresses data that is essentially a background data like jitter, static images of the background etc. while retaining the images of military interest. The system functions by; carrying out  video stabilization[15] using ‘pixel-level dense image correspondence’; background image compression; aligning image positions obtained from different cameras, and output images of moving objects with sub-pixel resolution.

Inference

The military is moving rapidly towards gathering of strategic intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance data. The processing of such voluminous data is also being undertaken by advanced techniques utilizing artificial intelligence to a large extent. Nevertheless, the kill loop still takes considerable time from detection by the unmanned vehicles in the sky to activation of the armed response. Time is therefore ripe for the long endurance UAVs to start deploying armament on their pods. However, the automation of the drones to execute the kills on their own, without a human in the loop, is still some years away.

 

[1] Benjamin, Medea. 2013. Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control. New York, NY: Verso.

[2] http://www.space.com/32839-x37b-military-space-plane-one-year-mission-otv4.html

[3] http://www.af.mil/AboutUs/FactSheets/Display/tabid/224/Article/104539/x-37b-orbital-test-vehicle.aspx

[4] Ibid.

[5] http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/systems/vulture.htm

[6] http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/products/lighter-than-air-vehicles/haa.html

[7] http://www.northropgrumman.com/Capabilities/GlobalHawk/Pages/default.aspx

[8] https://defensesystems.com/articles/2015/05/19/air-force-global-hawk-spending-plans.aspx

[9] http://www.northropgrumman.com/Capabilities/Triton/Pages/default.aspx

[10] http://www.northropgrumman.com/Capabilities/Triton/Documents/pageDocuments/Triton_data_sheet.pdf

[11] http://www.janes.com/article/56720/dod-confirms-gorgon-stare-to-be-operational-in-afghanistan

[12] www.baesystems.com/en/download-en/20151124113917/1434554721803.pdf

[13] https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/sierra-nevada-fields-argus-is-upgrade-to-gorgon-stare-400978/

[14] http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/146909-darpa-shows-off-1-8-gigapixel-surveillance-drone-can-spot-a-terrorist-from-20000-feet

[15] http://www.afcea.org/content/?q=coping-%E2%80%A8big-data-quagmire

 

Resurgence of High Power Microwave Weapons

(Published 27 Jul 2016, CLAWS)

 

“It will fully suppress communications, navigation and target location, and the use of high-precision weapons….The system will be used against cruise missiles and will suppress satellite-based radio location systems. It will actually switch off enemy weapons.”

Vladimir Mikheyev, adviser to the Radio-Electronic Technologies Group (KRET), Russia.

Directed energy weapons (DEWs) emit energy in the desired direction and cause damage to the target by transferring energy and generating uneven heat stresses. The DEWs comprise two distinct types of weapons namely, the high-energy lasers (HELs), and the high power microwaves (HPMs). The US Air Force has been funding research and technical programs into development of High Power Microwave Weapons since the 1980’s. The frequencies for this region range from 1 x 106 hertz to 1 x 1011 hertz. It is expected that HPM weapons would; facilitate all-weather attack of enemy electronic systems at lightening speeds; cover multiple targets in a defined area; enable surgical strikes to deny, degrade, damage, and destroy targets; and cause reduced collateral causalities. HPM weapons have the capability to cause large-scale damage to the electronics of the target irrespective of its state of operation. Interestingly the inherent technology of the HPM allows the HPM to defend it obviating the need for a separate defensive system for its protection.

The HPMs could also be used for attacks on strategic assets like, military and defense industrial centers, rail yards, military and civil communications hubs, industrial facilities, logistic nodes, supply depots, equipment stockpiles, ammunition depots, fuel storages, troop carriers, and so on. Despite the inherent advantages the HPM weapons program has had to grapple with difficulties in designing compact high peak power HPM sources; compact high gain, ultra-wideband (UWB) antennas; and efficient, high power/ pulse power drivers.

In 2012, there were indications that the progress in to HPM weapons had not met desired success levels[1]. The Active Denial Weapon proto type of the US Air Force was not successful under all weather conditions. It also suffered from its unwieldy size, heavy energy consumption, and technical complexity therefore; it was not very battlefield friendly. Counter-electronics High Power Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP) is another US Air Force and Boeing technology demonstrator that has not been successfully completed. It was for developing an air-launched directed-energy weapon capable of targeting electronic systems on attacking missiles. Based upon CHAMP technology, Raytheon had demonstrated an anti UAV, ground-based air defense high-powered microwave system in 2013. Other projects like Gypsy and MAXPOWER have also not been productionised until now.

In the field of HPMs Russia made two important announcements during the past year. In Jun 2015, Russia revealed its microwave cannon[2], which is supposed to disable drones and warheads at a distance of up to six miles. It is claimed that weapon is equipped with a high-power generator and reflector antenna, and is mounted on the chassis of BUK surface-to-air missile system. Further, when mounted on a suitable platform, the microwave cannon can also provide credible 360 degrees perimeter defense. It was claimed by Yuri Mayevsky, CEO of the weapon’s developer, Radio-Electronic Technologies Group (KRET) that the system can target the enemy’s deck-based, tactical, long-range, and strategic aircraft, electronics, and suppress foreign military satellite’s radio-electronic equipment[3]. The system could be fitted on multiple platforms. In July this year, the Russia announced that its sixth generation combat drones would be fitted with microwave weapons. It also claimed that microwave weapons are already available with Russia, which can hit targets tens of kilometers away[4] but the energy levels at which such weapons operate are unsafe for manned aircraft and therefore they will be positioned on combat drones likely to be operational by 2025.

The above Russian developments and their strategic impact appear to have breathed new life in to HPM weapons program of the US Air Force. Last year US Air Force and Boeing announced developing a High Power Microwave / Electromagnetic Pulse generator that can be fitted to a cruise missile for targeting installations below the missile as it flies[5]. In May this year, the US Air Force has asked the industry to supply the source and antenna for its High Pulse Electro Magnetics program, HPEM, vide notification BAA-RVKD-2014-0003[6]. The task includes the development of broadband high power amplifiers, tunable high power oscillators, and broadband antennas that can be used to develop empirical radio frequency (RF) effects over a broad range of frequencies, pulse lengths, pulse repetition frequencies, and power densities. One of the key areas of the HPEM project pertains to Electromagnetics (EM) Weapons Technology. This looks into developing HPEM technologies into pulsed-power weapons, investigating high-energy particle beams; and creating weak and strongly ionized plasmas using ultra short pulse lasers (USPL).

Counter-Directed Energy Weapons (CDEW). The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is funding basic research in to countering the threats that emanate from directed energy weapons systems, such as high-energy lasers or high-power microwaves. Its CDEW Program is aimed at defending and/or negating the effects of enemy’s high-energy lasers, high-power microwaves, and other directed energy weapons in the maritime domain[7]. Raytheon has been awarded $4.8 million[8] to continue the development of EW payload for CHAMP, as well as the Conventional Air-Launched Cruise Missile.

In India, it is understood that DRDO is collaborating with institutions in Kolkata to develop new age weapons that use microwaves and millimeter waves[9].

 

 

[1] http://www.nature.com/news/microwave-weapons-wasted-energy-1.11396

[2] http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a16044/russian-anti-drone-microwave-gun/

[3] http://www.militaryaerospace.com/articles/2015/07/directed-energy-weapon.html

[4]http://nationalinterest.org/feature/russias-next-military-game-changer-microwave-weapons-16946

[5] http://dutchsinse.com/5162015-usaf-boeing-moves-forward-with-high-power-microwave-weapon-scalable-emp-generator/

[6] https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=0b63699bb7eb9c2c073191934e419352&tab=core&_cview=1

[7] http://www.onr.navy.mil/en/Media-Center/Fact-Sheets/Counter-Directed-Energy-Weapons.aspx

[8] http://investor.raytheon.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=84193&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=2150555

[9] http://www.indiandefensenews.in/2015/07/drdo-keen-to-start-advanced-research-on.html

New Dimensions of Swarm Warfare

 

(Published 15 Jul 2016,CLAWS)

 

“They were coming at us like bees”. “We would kill one lot and then more would appear. It was the most amazing thing.”

Lt Col Twitty, Commander 3rd Battalion 15th Infantry, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Iraq, 2003

 

Swarms in nature have always intrigued humans because individually the animals or the insects do not appear to have intelligence but in a swarm, they are able to move as a cohesive intelligent formation capable of taking actions befitting an intelligent life form. Some of the world’s largest swarms in animal kingdom include mosquitoes, Argentine Ants, Christmas Island Crabs, krill, springbok, and locusts. Peter Miller, in Swarm Theory[1] brings out that swarm intelligence works because of ‘simple creatures following simple rules, each one acting on local information’ and also that, a smart swarm is a group of individuals who respond to one another and to their environment in uncertainty, complexity, and change.

The use of swarms in warfare has been observed for over 2000 years, some examples include:

– Battle of Alexandria Eschate, 329 BC Scythians – mounted Archers,

– Battle of Carrhae, 53 BC Parthians – mounted Archers

– Battle of Khambula, 1879 Zulus – Dismounted light infantry armed with spears

– Battle of Britain, 1940 – Air Battle of Sept 15, 1940 British single-seat Spitfire and Hurricane fighter Aircraft

– Battles for Objectives Moe, Larry, and Curley, Baghdad, Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2003 Iraqi and Syrian light infantry

Swarming has also been looked in to by US Military institutes in academic studies and war games. RAND has studies by John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt, ‘Swarming and the Future of Conflict’, 2000; Sean J.A. Edwards, ‘Swarming on the Battlefield: Past, Present, and Future’, 2000; and Sean J.A. Edwards, ‘Swarming and the Future of Warfare’, 2005. In the last document, the author has opined that:

swarming occurs when several units conduct a convergent attack on a target from multiple axes. It involves pulsing where units rapidly converge on a target, attack it, and then disappear.

– swarming is of  two types, one where units arrive on a battlefield as a single mass, disassemble, and attack the enemy from many directions, and the second, where the dispersed units converge and attack without forming a single mass.

– five variables are essential for a swarm attack to be successful these are, superior situational awareness, elusiveness, standoff capability, encirclement, and simultaneity.

A new approach to achieve coordination amongst a system of large number of simple robots has emerged during biological studies of swarms in nature as well as during applications of Artificial Intelligence in to mechanical swarms it is called ‘Swarm Robotics’. Ant robots are swarm robots that communicate via trail of markings, for example, heat, odor, light, chemical substances,   and transceivers.

Microbots is a generic term applicable to very small robots spanning robots of sizes from, small robots (<100 cm), minirobots (<10 cm), milirobots (< 1 cm), microbots (<1 mm) to nanobots (<one micrometer).

Some important projects in robotic swarms include:

– Symbiotic Evolutionary Robot Organisms, ‘Symbrion’[2]. This project is funded by the European Commission. It is inspired by the biological world. Its aim is to develop a framework in which a homogeneous swarm of miniature interdependent robots can co-assemble into a larger robotic organism for problem solving. It has its roots in previous two projects called I-SWARM and SWARMROBOT.

– 3D printing of microbots[3]. Engineers at Harvard have developed an ingenious layered folding 3D printing process by which it is feasible to mass-produce robotic insects. The size is <2.5 cm in diameter and <0.25 cm in height. Many such pop up microbots can be printed from a single sheet.

– Kilobot[4] (Self-organizing thousand-robot swarm). Another project undertaken by engineers at Harvard aims at providing a simple platform for enactment of complex behaviors using 1024 small robots or Kilobots. It has been heralded as a stepping-stone in development of collective artificial intelligence.

All of the above projects and many more on similar lines have been funded by military R&D agencies including DARPA. All have military applications as is evident from the fact that the U.S. Military is looking at incorporating roles for swarms in its transformation programs[5]. These swarms of intelligent UGVs, UAVs, and UUVs are intended to sense, recognize, and adapt to the changing situation. The sensor networks will be self-aware, self-healing, and self-defending.

In October 2015, US Army tested swarms of commercial off the shelf drones for applications in the military. Barry Hatchett of the Army’s Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation stated, “It has been proved that consumer [drones] can be used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, distraction tactics and, in the future, the ability to drop small munitions.”[6]

In a landmark trial, this year the US Navy’s Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology (LOCUST) program aims to have thirty drones flying together without having to be individually controlled, maintaining separation safely like a bird swarm. The operator would be piloting the whole swarm as a single unit instead of controlling individual UAVs. The trial would have far-reaching impact upon future of swarm warfare in the US armed forces.

The day is not far when the battlefield would graduate from ISR microbot swarms to weaponised microbot swarms carrying new age explosives delivered ingeniously into the enemies heart. The technology would leap frog to provide counter swarms as also counter-counter swarms. The era of the small and many appears to be dawning on the battlefield.

“I need a stealth bomber that’s going to get close, and then it’s going to drop a whole bunch of smalls – some are decoys, some are jammers, some are [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] looking for where the SAMs are. Some of them are kamikaze airplanes that are going to kamikaze into those SAMs, and they’re cheap. You have maybe 100 or 1,000 surface-to-air missiles, but we’re going to hit you with 10,000 smalls, not 10,000 MQ-9s. That’s why we want smalls.”[7]

Colonel Travis Burdine, USAF

 

[1] http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2007/07/swarms/miller-text/1

[2] http://cordis.europa.eu/project/rcn/85478_en.html

[3] https://www.seas.harvard.edu/news/2012/02/new-mass-production-technique-robotic-insects-spring-life

[4] http://www.seas.harvard.edu/news/2014/08/self-organizing-thousand-robot-swarm

[5] US Army’s future unit of action UA, US Navy’s After Next, and US Air force’s Global Strike Force programs.

[6] http://www.computerworld.com/article/2999890/robotics/us-army-tests-swarms-of-drones-in-major-exercise.html

[7]http://www.businessinsider.com/air-force-wants-swarms-of-small-kamikaze-drones-to-defeat-missiles-2016-5?IR=T

 

Weapons and Sensors that Wait to Strike

(Published 24 Jun 2016, CLAWS)

 

Passive sensor triggered weapons have been in use for a considerable time by the military. They have been in form of Bangalore Torpedo, anti tank mines or anti personnel mines on land and as ground or moored mines at sea. Passive sensors have been extensively used on land for electronic support measures and at sea for detection of ships by submarines. One of the largest chains of passive sensors in the WWII era was Sound Surveillance System or SOSUS. It was a chain of hydrophone sensors located at various places in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. The main aim was locating Soviet submarines transiting the Greenland, Iceland, United Kingdom gap (GIUK gap). With developments in stealth technologies, other elements have been added to it such as the Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System (SURTASS), and it has become part of the Integrated Undersea Surveillance System (IUSS)[1].

One of the important weapons of the cold war era, that lay dormant until activated, was the anti submarine encapsulated torpedo MK 60 CAPTOR. It was a deep-water mine which could be laid by aircrafts, ships or submarines. The mine could distinguish between surface ships and submarines as well as between friendly and enemy submarines based on their acoustic signatures. It would thereafter launch the MK 46 torpedo, which would then acquire and attack the enemy submarine. Both Russia and China had also developed similar mines.

With the rapid advances in sensor technologies, it is now feasible to expect robustness, high quality, and reliability in commercially produced sensors. The sensors today are produced using novel signal processing methods, provide very high speeds, and utilize low cost electronic components. Similarly, two main developments in manufacture of chips, which have acted as a catalyst in exponential improvements in computing technologies, include, firstly, coupling of traditional electronics with optical components using Ge Laser to obviate usage of wiring in chips. The ongoing work at MIT’s Microphotonics center utilizes a series of subterranean tunnels instead of buried fiber cables for transmission of the laser[2]. This would achieve at least 100 times faster speeds than current systems. Secondly, the use of Mermisters or resistive random access memory (ReRAM) chips. These are 1000 times faster and can store twice as much data as flash memory chips. The main advantage is that ReRAM does not lose contents once power is switched off. [3] Further, they can be used in logic computations, implying thereby that both memory and computation functions can be carried out on the same chip[4].

Interestingly, Russia, China, and Iran have taken active interest in passive radar technologies. As per reports of a Rossiyskaya Gazeta’s online affiliate, in February 2015, Moskva-1 (developed by KRET) is a passive radar system, which would enable Russian troops to detect and identify airborne targets as far as 240 miles away without disclosing their location. It is understood that this could also be supplied to Iran[5].

The USAF had also released a request for information RFI RFI-PKS-0001-2012 for development of a Phased Array Antenna in respect of its Passive RF Sensing program. This involves development of analog and digital beam forming techniques for wideband phased array radar antennas that can operate over a 10:1 bandwidth[6]. The US Army too has evinced interest in such systems that lie in wait submerged at sea and could be launched at an opportune time[7].

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has undertaken a project titled Upward Falling Payload (UFP) in which it is envisaged that drones would be made to lie in wait at concealed locations on the sea floor, for prolonged periods before being launched to the surface and into the air[8].

As per DARPA, “Nearly 50 percent of the world’s oceans are deeper than 4 km, which provides vast areas for concealment and storage. Concealment provided by the sea also provides the opportunity to engage remote assets that may have been dormant and undetected for long periods, while its vastness allows simultaneous operation across great distances. Getting close to objects without warning, and instantiating distributed systems without delay, are key attributes of UFP capability.”[9] The DARPA UFP program in its study phase, looked at long-range communications, deep-ocean high-pressure containment, and payload launch. It is understood that one of the firms that participated in the first phase was Sparton Electronics of De Leon Springs, Florida; this firm had worked to develop conceptual designs of a system with the potential to launch a plethora of non-lethal weapons like electronic warfare jammers, blinding lasers, and distracting light strobes upon surfacing.

The second phase would be development of proto types. The sub systems of the UFP program include; the pressure tolerant container or riser which would hold the payload for prolonged periods; the communication package, which would trigger the encapsulated payload to be launched to the surface, and the payload, which should be able to execute its function after it, is made to surface. To achieve the above aims the technologies that DARPA is looking at include, long endurance reliable electro-mechanical systems, very small sensors, small-unmanned systems, long-range underwater communications, navigation technologies etc. Phase 3 would be demonstrations of the systems at sea.

Once developed the UFP would provide pre-deployed sensors or non-lethal weapons in open seas. These could be  used by the US Forces for surprise deployment in times of international conflicts across the globe.

The author is not aware of any such futuristic research initiatives in respect of Indian Armed Forces by the Defence Research and Development Organisation in India.

 

 

 

[1] http://fas.org/irp/program/collect/iuss.htm

[2]http://www.computerworld.com/article/2512857/computer-processors/shining-a-light-on-the-chip-interconnect-bottleneck.html

[3] Six minute Memrister guide https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvA5r4LtVnc

[4]  http://www.computerworld.com/article/2516972/computer-hardware/hp-chip-discovery-could-be-a-tech–game-changer-.html

[5]http://www.armyrecognition.com/november_2015_global_defense_security_news_uk/russia_could_deliver_electronic_warfare_systems_moskva-1_and_rtut-bm_to_iran_11511151.html

[6] https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=ce67bff643299c827cb5b3f1d106f37f&tab=core&_cview=0

[7] http://my.nps.edu/web/cruser/blog/-/blogs/105727309

[8]http://gpsworld.com/darpa-ocean-drone-would-lift-upward-falling-payloads/

[9] http://www.darpa.mil/program/upward-falling-payloads