21 May 2017

*** The Dispensability of Allies

By George Friedman

U.S. President Donald Trump hosted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House on Tuesday. Later this month, Trump will travel to Israel and Saudi Arabia, along with Belgium, Italy and the Vatican. With all respect, Belgium, Italy and the Vatican don’t present the same degree of strategic challenges to the United States that three Middle Eastern countries do, so we should focus on the Middle East.

Normally, summit meetings accomplish little. The important discussions are held at a lower level before the meetings, and the summit primarily blesses what has been agreed to before anyone got on the plane. A communique of warm commitment to work together is released, and then the folks at the lower level get together to repair any misunderstandings that the national leaders might have stirred up.

Trump may change the rules of this well-worn game. Participants in high-level summits tend to work hard to hide substantial issues, which interferes with serious discussions. Trump seems inclined to confront important issues head on and even unexpectedly. At the same time, his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping seemed to end with remarkable amity, given the expectations for confrontation Trump had created. It’s important to see how he handles these meetings.

* WannaCry Ransomware Spreads Across the Globe, Makes Organizations Wanna Cry About Microsoft Vulnerability

By Limor Kessem

Perhaps more than anything else, this ransomware onslaught is a resounding reminder of the importance of security basics, especially when it comes to Microsoft product patching. Those who applied critical Microsoft Windows patches released in March were protected against this attack. Another basic protection is the possession of current, offline backups of data. For ransomware attacks like this one, having a viable backup will enable a successful incident response, leaving attackers high and dry and unable to collect money for their evil doings. 

WannaCry, WanaCrypt or Wcry for short, is ransomware that works like other malware of its type, with a few intricacies that highlight the sophistication of its operators. 

First, the malware uses exploits that were supposedly leaked by a group that calls itself Shadow Brokers. The result of leaking exploits very often gives rise to malicious actors who use them for their nefarious purposes, which is what happened in this case. 

Second, the malware uses strong, asymmetric encryption, employing the RSA 2048-bit cipher to encrypt files. This method is considered relatively slow when compared to symmetric encryption, but it is very strong and virtually impossible to break. 

An Indian Nuclear-Capable Ballistic Missile Test Failed Shortly After Launch. What Happened?

By Ankit Panda

India will be looking to get to the bottom of what caused an Agni-2 MRBM to fail early in flight in user-testing. 

On Thursday, India sought to test one of its Agni-II nuclear-capable medium-range ballistic missiles. The user-trial, which took place on Abdul Kalam Island off India’s eastern coast on Thursday, failed, according to sources who spoke to the Press Trust of India. “The two-stage, solid-fueled missile was just half a kilometer into its initial flight trajectory when things went awry. The mission had to be aborted,” one source noted. The Agni-II, first tested by India’s Defense Research and Development Organisation, has been a cornerstone of India’s strategic nuclear forces since the mid-2000s.

India has seen its fair share of missile tests recently, most notably with the Nirbhay cruise missile program as my colleague Franz-Stefan Gady has explained, but an Agni-II failing a user-trial may be a source of concern. At this point, with neither the Indian Department of Defense or the Defense Research and Development Organisation having made any comment or released any further information, there’s little to go on but the anonymously sourced comment. Still, given what little we know about this test and the Agni-II, there are a few possible explanations for what went wrong.

Too many spies spoil the intelligence broth

Vinay Kaura

Following the deadly Maoist attack in Sukma last month, India’s various intelligence agencies have come under scathing criticism. The parliamentary standing committee on home affairs, in its report submitted in April, noted the increasing incidence of terror attacks which “exposed the deficiencies of our intelligence agencies” and lamented the lack of analysis of the “failure of the intelligence agencies to provide credible and actionable inputs regarding the attacks at Pathankot, Uri, Pampore, Baramulla and Nagrota”. Clearly, intelligence strategy continues to be India’s Achilles’ heel and there is an urgent need for its re-articulation.

Deficiencies in the intelligence framework have often led to the growth of India’s intelligence ‘community’.

The Kargil intrusion in 1999 convinced the government that India’s national security mechanism stood in need of comprehensive overhaul. Subsequently, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) was designated as the premier counter-terrorism agency and authorized to create a multi-agency centre (MAC) which was to be an intelligence-sharing ‘fusion centre’ in New Delhi.

Top 7 IT firms including Infosys, Wipro to lay off at least 56,000 employees this year

Varun Sood

Bengaluru: Information technology (IT) companies in India are in the midst of the industry’s largest retrenchment drive, with seven of the biggest IT firms planning to ask at least 56,000 engineers to leave this year.

The number is at least twice the employees laid off by the companies last year, reflecting their under-preparedness in adapting to newer technologies and dealing with the fallout from US President Donald Trump’s protectionist policies.

The companies include both Indian and multinational firms with a large footprint in India.

The seven companies—Infosys Ltd, Wipro Ltd, Tech Mahindra Ltd, HCL Technologies Ltd, US-based Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. and DXC Technology Co., and France-based Cap Gemini SA—and which together employ 1.24 million people, plan to let go of 4.5% of their workforce in 2017.

Most of them will end the year with fewer employees than they started with, despite continuing to hire young engineers, according to the HR heads at two of the seven companies.

The numbers were collated by Mint after extensive interviews with 22 current and former employees across these seven companies.

China To Invest $27 Billion In Construction Of Two Mega Dams In Pakistan-Occupied Gilgit-Baltistan

China and Pakistan have inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the construction of two mega dams in Gilgit-Baltistan, a part of India’s Jammu and Kashmir state that remains under latter’s illegal occupation. The MoU was signed during the visit of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Beijing for participation in the recently concluded Belt and Road Initiative.

The two dams, called Bunji and Diamer-Bhasha hydroelectricity projects, will have the capacity of generating 7,100MW and 4,500MW of electricity respectively. China will fund the construction of the two dams, investing $27 billion in the process, a report authored by Brahma Chellaney in the Times of India has noted.

According to Chellaney, India does not have a single dam measuring even one-third of Bunji in power generation capacity. The total installed hydropower capacity in India’s part of the state does not equal even Diamer-Bhasha, the smaller of the two dams.

The two dams are part of Pakistan’s North Indus River Cascade, which involves construction of five big water reservoirs with an estimated cost of $50 billion. These dams, together, will have the potential of generating approximately 40,000MW of hydroelectricity. Under the MoU, China’s National Energy Administration would oversee the financing and funding of these projects.

Can Pakistan Remain Neutral in the Saudi-Iran Rivalry?

Arif Rafiq

Islamabad has given clearance to recently retired chief of army staff Gen. Raheel Sharif to command what is being described as a “Muslim NATO” based in Saudi Arabia. Sharif’s new position is expected to be announced later this month in Riyadh. Though the mission and activities of the coalition (known as the Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism or IMAFT) are unclear, Sharif’s involvement in the Saudi-led initiative could disrupt Pakistan’s delicate balancing act vis-à-vis- Iran and Saudi Arabia, the two major powerhouses in the Muslim world locked in an ugly cold war. Still, while there are risks associated with the move, they are outweighed by its potential benefits.

Sharif’s acceptance of the Saudi offer was first reported in early January, but he was only given clearance, also known as a “No Objection Certificate,” in late March, after Pakistani civilian and military officials informed their Iranian counterparts of the move. The former army chief reportedly told Saudi leaders that he would accept the position on the condition that the coalition would not be anti-Iran and even requested to play a diplomatic role in easing tensions between Riyadh and Tehran. Nonetheless, this week the Iranian ambassador to Pakistan indicated that his government was not in favor of the move.

South Asia: Rising Extremism Opens Way for ISIS

Across South Asia, complex strains of extremism are opening the way for the Islamic State and destabilizing governments. From elements in the Afghan Taliban to the ascent of Hindu nationalism in India, extremists are drawing the region deeper into volatile internal and external conflicts, according to experts on religion and extremism speaking recently at the U.S. Institute of Peace. There are no quick ways to reverse the trend, they said. But steps that could slow radicalization include bolstering free speech, attacking terrorists’ financial networks and undermining the myth that a long-ago caliphate ruled over a perfect society.

The spread of the Islamic State is triggering particular concern. The extremist group is taking advantage of the “tumultuous mix” across South Asia to put down roots and attract new fighters to inflame the region, said Farid Senzai, the president of the Center for Global Policy (CGP), a research organization focused on issues in Muslim societies. CGP co-hosted the discussion at USIP. 

ISIS militants and commanders are beginning to appear in Afghanistan as it loses territory in Iraq and Syria, said Scott Worden, the director of USIP’s Afghanistan and Central Asia programs. In Bangladesh, extremist ideologies are taking hold among educated youth connecting with ISIS, according to Kamran Bohkari, the director of political affairs at CGP. 

India’s claim to Pakistan-controlled Kashmir a problem for CPEC: Chinese scholar

India’s claim to Pakistan-controlled Kashmir has created problems for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a top Chinese scholar has said.

In an interview to IANS, Wang Yiwei, Dean, the Centre for European Studies at Renmin University, said: “Pakistani-dominated Kashmir was not India’s.”

The author of “China Connects the World, What Behind the Belt and Road Initiative” urged India to join the Belt and Road project, whose artery CPEC is opposed by New Delhi. Read More…

Navigating the new silk road

Mukul Sanwal

China’s Belt and Road Initiative reflects global trends and a new paradigm which India can support and shape

Will Prime Minister Narendra Modi surprise everyone and participate in China’s ‘Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation’ which begins on May 14?

That would be the kind of bold initiative he took in inviting leaders of our neighbouring countries to his swearing-in in 2014, but with far greater significance.

It would also be an appropriate response to China’s recent four-point initiative and test its intent. China has suggested starting negotiations on a ‘China India Treaty of Good Neighbours and Friendly Cooperation’, restarting negotiations on the China-India Free Trade Agreement, striving for an early harvest on the border issue and actively exploring the feasibility of aligning China’s ‘One Belt One Road Initiative’ (OBOR) and India’s ‘Act East Policy’. To repeat Nehru’s outright rejection in 1960 of Zhou Enlai’s proposal to settle the border dispute would be a historic mistake.

With the long term in mind 

India’s response should be based on its long-term interest and not short-term concerns. First, treat the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) — which already has contracts of over $1 trillion covering over 60 countries — as enlarging areas of cooperation; and push for India as the southern node and a ‘Digital Asia’. India cannot be a $10 trillion economy by 2032 without integrating itself with the growing Asian market and its supply, manufacturing and market networks.

Return of Somali Pirates Alerts Pentagon and Ships

Pirate attacks have returned to the Gulf of Aden, disturbing Somali waters once a hotbed for piracy but which in recent years achieved a remarkable reversal. At least six commercial vessels have been hijacked or attacked in northern Somali waters since March. U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned of the new threat during a press conference last week in neighboring Djibouti, where the United States maintains its only semi-permanent military base on the continent.

With relatively minor exceptions, the attacks are the region’s first in five years, a lull reached by a combination of international and private security efforts. But that lull eventually became a victim of its own success, with prevention fatiguing after attacks abated. Governments rolled back robust defense operations, eventually relegating them to monitoring and surveillance. Shipping companies followed suit, cutting costs on expensive security guards once hired to arm and defend their vessels.

Secretary Mattis’s warning, however, wasn’t aimed at the navies or military policy which once protected Gulf of Aden shipping lanes. Instead, his remarks were in reference to private shipping companies who should pick up the tab, strengthen security, and reconsider arming their vessels. “We want to make sure the industry continues not to be lax,” said General Thomas Waldhauser (head of U.S. Africa Command), as he re-enforced Secretary Mattis’s position.

Ukraine in Conflict: An Analytical Chronicle

This text features the forty-one articles and blogs David Marples wrote on Ukraine’s political troubles between 2013 and 20017. More precisely, the text ranges from the Euromaidan protests and eventual uprising to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of war in Ukraine’s two eastern provinces, Donetsk and Luhansk. The topics covered include 1) Ukraine’s attempts at ‘de-communization’; 2) the imposition of the so-called Memory Laws in 2015; and 3) whether the socio-political road Kiev has taken is likely to yield success or failure.

The 5 Biggest U.S. Special Operations Disasters

Robert Farley

Since World War II, the U.S. military has experimented with special-operations forces, small groups of warriors with the equipment and training to undertake extremely difficult missions. In effect, special forces exist to leverage human capital in unusual tactical situations. Soldiers selected for high physical and mental capabilities, then intensively trained, can theoretically achieve objectives that normal soldiers cannot.

The successes of special operators are well known; they include, most notably, the assassination of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. But special operations have always faced criticism from more conventionally oriented parts of the military. The basic tradeoff involves the loss of human capital that regular line units suffer when their best soldiers and officers join special-forces formations. Training resources dedicated to special operators may also, in some cases, shortchange conventional forces.

There are also organizational problems; while some commanders have proven overly conservative regarding the use of special operators (keeping them out of the fight in anticipation of some unknown job on the horizon), others have expended special forces in conventional operations, where the high human capital of the units has limited effect. And politicians, with a limited sense of military utility, tend to find special operations attractive without fully evaluating their costs.

At Tribeca, VR is something you have to feel to believe

by Joan E. Solsman

A Tribeca Film Fest attendee and an actor in a motion-capture suit embrace in the experience "Draw Me Close."Ron Antonelli for NFB and National Theatre

This year, the Tribeca Film Festival collected virtual reality that could reach out and hug you.

Every year, the festival gathers a slate of interactive storytelling into a darkly lit, packed room, called Tribeca Immersive. In recent years, this program has featured an increasing amount of virtual reality -- experiences that use a headset like Oculus Rift or HTC Vive to put viewers in the middle of another world.

But at this year's Immersive program, many VR experiences didn't just use headsets -- they used landscapes. A giant foam tree. A bed. A recreation of a New York subway. A mirrored box. In one experience, an actor playing the playwright-director's mother wears a motion-capture suit, so she holds the viewer by the hand in both the virtual world and the real one.

Titled "Draw Me Close," the project does just that: The actor pulls you in for a real hug.

The Center of Gravity Still Relevant After All These Years?

Col. Dale C. Eikmeier, U.S. Army, Retired

Is the center of gravity (COG) concept still relevant in today’s operational environments (OEs)? All military professionals should answer this question in the affirmative, but, sadly, this is not the case. Military academics, planners, and leaders are still debating this question thirty years after the concept’s introduction into Army doctrine.1 Even though COG identification is considered the centerpiece of military planning, military students still struggle with it, planners still misuse it, and leaders still search in vain for it.2 At best, this suggests the COG concept is still unsettled theory; at worst, it is not only irrelevant, it is a detrimental distraction.3

Another way to ask if the COG is relevant to military planning is asking if it passes the “Cancian Test,” or does it work in the real world?4 The short answer is yes; COG is relevant because it has utility. Utility is the only criterion necessary for relevancy. Utility is defined here as an ability to contribute to planning by improving understanding, focusing planning, and improving efficiency.

Challenging a two-hundred-year-old concept’s relevancy in current OEs is a fair question and worth exploring in detail. The fact that criticism exists indicates the existing doctrine has some rough edges and needs revision. The following are two examples that fuel the criticism and illustrate the importance of settling the COG concept so that its utility is realized rather than obfuscated.

Slow, Inflexible, and Micromanaged

By Ben Summers

A few weeks ago in my corporate finance class at West Point, I hosted a guest speaker from a Cambodian private equity firm. The lesson focused on valuations and risk. Riskiness in finance relates to the uncertainty of a prediction, and it’s measured with a discount rate. The higher the rate, the riskier the estimate and the less value it would have relative to one with less risk. We analyzed an opportunity to invest in a Cambodian mango plantation. We were shocked when the guest shared that the standard discount rate used for these types of “frontier” investments in Cambodia was 35 percent. To put this into context, analysts predict that Tesla’s discount rate should be about 12 percent. The guest’s comments got us thinking. What are the implications when we have really high discount rates?

When you assume a high level of risk for a project, early cash flows are especially important. You’ll lean towards projects that generate cash quickly. The short term really matters.

But consequently, if you overstate risk, you’ll overstate the importance of short-term profits. Many companies experience short-term losses before realizing long-term gains. Amazon’s recent streak of profitable quarters followed years of losses and slim margins. Only three years ago, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was dubbed as the “prophet of no profit.” If you overstate risk when valuing companies that take a little longer to gain profitability, you understate their potential.

11 Military Drone Names, Ranked


The U.S. military has a lot of unmanned aerial vehicles in its arsenal. How do you tell them apart? By numbers, who manufactured them, or what they do? Please. Be exciting. The Pentagon picks names — and while some are awesome, others leave something to be desired. But at least they aren’t as stupid as that time England tried to crowdsource a name for a new research vessel and wound up with a vehicle called “Boaty McBoatface.”

So here are 11 military UAV names, ranked from most excellent to least threatening.

1. Reaper

The U.S. Air Force has employed the MQ-9 Reaper since 2007. It was first designed by General Atomics to serve as a long-distance hunter-killer UAV. And in 2015, one was used to take out ISIS operative “Jihadi John,” who killed a number of prisoners on camera. So, even though Blue Oyster cult says you shouldn’t, you should definitely fear the reaper. It will find you.

Military cadets battle the NSA in mock cyberwar games

by Alfred Ng

The US is a prime target for cyberattacks in the new age of digital warfare. Here's how officers-to-be are preparing for the future.

There were empty cans of Mountain Dew and Monster Energy everywhere.

Despite the pile of energy drinks, there was a surprising calm in the room as I stood by two dozen cadets at the US Military Academy at West Point. They were tasked with building a server and protecting it from breaches by the National Security Agency for a full week.

With a lifetime of research -- watching movies about cyberwarfare -- I figured I was all set for this assignment. But there was no dramatic music, no people running around and yelling about "cyber nukes" -- whatever those are. It looked like a normal office, like the one I'm sitting in as I write this. There wasn't even a sweeping camera shot of all the action.

Instead, four groups of cadets sat around rows of laptops at the ready. There was the Web Services team, to make sure their websites were up and running; the Web and Forums team, which moderates what goes on in their servers; the Network Monitoring team, which stands guard; and the Strike Team, which takes action to combat breaches.

Pentagon Unprepared for New Arms Race

By Sandra I. Erwin

The globalization of technology has set off an entirely new arms race for which the Pentagon is not prepared. The question that should haunt U.S. defense officials is how long before China and other rising powers will militarize commercially available off-the-shelf technology (COTS).

Generals and admirals at the Pentagon fret about China’s ambitious military modernization plan. Cringing at the potential of a future war in the Western Pacific might involve Chinese missiles and submarines capable of overpowering America’s military. How the Pentagon moves to respond, however, calls for a fresh discussion on how China is building a technologically superior military.

The Pentagon for years has accused the Chinese government of industrial espionage and of reverse engineering U.S. weapons designs. The problem with this mindset is that it assumes that the crown jewels of defense technology reside in protected silos. That was once the case but no longer. 

The Center of Gravity

Col. Dale C. Eikmeier, 

Col. Ross Coffman, 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division brigade commander (seated, left center), his brigade staff, and battalion commanders listen to an intelligence brief during the Leader Training Program at the National Training Center 22 January 2015. (US. Army photo by Capt. Sean Williams)

Is the center of gravity (COG) concept still relevant in today’s operational environments (OEs)? All military professionals should answer this question in the affirmative, but, sadly, this is not the case. Military academics, planners, and leaders are still debating this question thirty years after the concept’s introduction into Army doctrine.1 Even though COG identification is considered the centerpiece of military planning, military students still struggle with it, planners still misuse it, and leaders still search in vain for it.2 At best, this suggests the COG concept is still unsettled theory; at worst, it is not only irrelevant, it is a detrimental distraction.3

Another way to ask if the COG is relevant to military planning is asking if it passes the “Cancian Test,” or does it work in the real world?4 The short answer is yes; COG is relevant because it has utility. Utility is the only criterion necessary for relevancy. Utility is defined here as an ability to contribute to planning by improving understanding, focusing planning, and improving efficiency.

Challenging a two-hundred-year-old concept’s relevancy in current OEs is a fair question and worth exploring in detail. The fact that criticism exists indicates the existing doctrine has some rough edges and needs revision. The following are two examples that fuel the criticism and illustrate the importance of settling the COG concept so that its utility is realized rather than obfuscated.

Mid-career thoughts: After a decade or so, of war, you begin to wonder if it’s worth it


The wars go on. I increasingly see a weary cynicism in my Air Force peers, and indeed in myself. We lack confidence in the continuing mission and in whether all our efforts over the last decade make any difference.

Here’s an example of the pessimism and doubt I sense. When I recently took a recent distance-learning Professional Military Education (PME) course, there was a competition not to be first in class, but instead to dog it and to mock those who tried to really get into it. I was one of those malefactors, which is embarrassing to admit. Air Force officers just don’t take distance PME seriously. In fact, they compete to keep it at arm’s-length, and those who take it seriously are maligned as try-harders. Distance PME should be a pleasant part of the professional experience, improving one’s knowledge and understanding of what we do. Instead it is a box to check, an ordeal to be endured with as little time and effort as possible.

Leftwing Extremism 2017: Sparks from a Flailing Revolution

Shrinking presence of the left-wing extremists, their reduced ability to orchestrate attacks and produce dead bodies of civilians and security forces; and the state's ability to find support among the traditional recruitment base of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) - all these are reasons for official optimism regarding the LWE situation in the country. A trend of declining violence that started in 2015 has been used by the state to reaffirm that it is on the threshold of a splendid triumph on what used to be the most serious internal security challenge. These affirmations continue to be repeated by the governments in New Delhi and other states that are affected by the problem. And yet, the extremists do manage to carry out intermittent major as well as small scale attacks. Sizeable territory of the country remains under the control of the extremists and the support for the 'revolution' among the tribals and marginalised population in the affected states remain significant. How is the LWE situation likely to evolve in the Bibhu Prasad Routray Director, Mantraya A trend of declining violence that started in 2015 has been used by the state to reaffirm that it is on the threshold of a splendid triumph on what used to be the most serious internal security challenge. How is the LWE situation likely to evolve in the country in 2017? This has been analysed from the three important perspectives - state attempts to quell the extremist rebellion, the extremists' attempts to revive and reorganise their fight, and the aspirations of the people- providing a c

Experts: US must project its cyber warfare capabilities to deter Russian threat


The United States must demonstrate its cyber warfare capabilities to help deter sophisticated attacks from Russia and other adversaries while building strategies on a battlefield still misunderstood by commanders and senior officials, a panel of defense experts told lawmakers Thursday.

“Cyber operations are a legitimate means of projecting national power, especially when proportionately supplemented by kinetic force, and we should advertise them accordingly,” retired Navy Adm. James Stavridis, the former leader of European Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in prepared remarks.

Russia, North Korea, China and other nations launch sophisticated attacks against the United States, including attempts to destroy infrastructure and undermine credibility of elections in America and France, Stavridis said. And the United States is often sheepish to strike back in shows of force, he added.

“Unwillingness to operate offensively in cyberspace is driven less by a fear of retaliation and more by a fear of compromising our intelligence community’s sensitive tradecraft,” he said.

Being Human: Social media a double-edged sword for cyber warfare

R B Bhattacharjee

In mid-April, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak gave the signal to pro-government social media activists to start the war for voters’ loyalties in order to secure the country’s 14th general election for the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.

“We have long been in defensive mode. Enough. It is now time to attack!” he said in a post on his blog najibrazak.com titled 2017 Social Media Activists Assembly.

In his message, Najib recognised the reality that today’s battlefields are no longer physical but in cyberspace. Indeed, BN had a hard lesson on the influence of the new media in the 12th general election in 2008. As Ditigal News Asia’s A Asohan noted following the last general election in 2013, BN had largely ignored the internet in GE12, while the opposition parties fed on the disgruntlement of voters who had found a new unfettered space to vent their frustrations about deficiencies in the system.

The BN learnt the price of its complacency when it lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament for the first time in the country’s history and an unprecedented five state governments to the opposition parties. Determined not to cede ground on any front in GE13, Asohan writes, the BN spent the intervening years training what it calls “cybertroopers” to take the battle to social networks as well.

From sensor to soldier: CERDEC aims to deliver data efficiently

By: Adam Stone

The Army is looking for light detection and ranging, or LiDAR, solutions that process data more quickly, are easier to use, and meet the complex size, weight and power constraints imposed by a fleet that includes multiple aviation platforms.

In fact, CERDEC, the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, likes to refer to itself as “the Army’s sensor developer.”

To that end, the center put out a call to industry in December seeking improved designs for military LiDAR. Planners have now begun to mull over the feedback in an ongoing search to improve airborne intelligence gathering.

“We keep our pulse on the market as best we can. This is our opportunity go out and make sure we have captured anything new,” said Ryan R. Close, lead for ISR systems in the CERDEC Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate.

The multiplicity of aircraft in use by the Army can make it difficult to find sensor solutions that are sufficiently broad. “With any ISR sensor, one platform may have a power constraint, but the weight is not as critical. Another may have more of a size sensitivity or a weight sensitivity. So when you look across multiple platforms you can have multiple constraints on your system,” Close said. 

Some of the chief constraints surrounding aviation ISR have proven manageable. Factors such as air speed, ground speed, vibration profiles and mission types can be factored into the LiDAR hardware.

Every Marine a rifleman no more? Corps reconsidering ‘lateral entry’ for cyber

by Jeff Schogol

Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter shocked the military last summer when he called for boosting the military’s high-tech force by finding civilians who already have those vital skills like cybersecurity and offer them “lateral entry” into the military — a chance to skip boot camp and put on a uniform as a mid-career rank from Day One.

In effect, he suggested having a Marine Corps that included “Marines,” pinned with a staff sergeant’s rocker, who had never been to boot camp and spent no time in the junior tanks. Marines scattered across the force who had little knowledge of Marine culture and whose colleagues quietly questioned their status as a “real Marine.”

Nobody in the military was more skeptical than the Marines.

Yet now as the Corps begins planning to grow the force significantly during the next several years, the controversial idea is back on the table, Marine Corps Times has learned. One way or the other, the Marine Corps needs those high-tech capabilities. Currently there are big shortages in some of those career fields. It’s a top priority for today’s leaders.

Defending Yourself Against A Cyber-Attack - What You Need To Know

John Grimm 

Even as UK businesses have fortified their digital defences, hackers continue to change the game in order to try to stay one-step ahead in the cyber war.

According to a recent report from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), one in five British firms was the victim of a cyber-attack last year. Of the 1,200 firms surveyed, only a quarter said they had implemented the security measures necessary to protect themselves against hacking.

These worrying statistics highlight just how vulnerable the business community remains to data breaches, even after an unprecedented period of public disclosures. Britain’s businesses cannot continue to treat cyber security as a box-ticking exercise and risk falling foul of harmful attacks.

Whether you’re a CEO of a multinational organisation, or the founder of a boutique startup finding your feet, there are a number of basic steps you can take to protect the assets of both yourself, and your company:

First, invest in the necessary technology.

5 Things Commanders Should Know About Communications

by John Geracitano 

Let’s face it, even the most humble and open-minded person hates to be wrong or seem ignorant in public. While it will always be fun for leaders to scream “SIGO!” when anything with electrons running through it fails, a deeper understanding of the S6 shop’s capabilities will improve decision-making and calm tempers. Below are five tips to help frame an improved perspective of the S6 shop.

U.S. Army 2nd Lt. James Cleary, with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, talks on the radio during a combined cordon and search with the Iraqi police in the West Rashid district of Baghdad, Iraq, June 26, 2007. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Tierney Nowland)

DARPA Wants Artificial Intelligence That Doesn’t Forget Everything It Knows


Biological systems don't completely freeze up when they encounter a new situation, but computers often do.

Biological organisms are pretty good at navigating life’s unpredictability, but computers are embarrassingly bad at it.

That’s the crux of a new military research program that aims to model artificially intelligent systems after the brains of living creatures. When an organism encounters a new environment or situation, it relies on past experience to help it make a decision. Current artificial intelligence technology, on the other hand, relies on extensive training on various data sets, and if it hasn’t encountered a specific situation, it can’t select a next step.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Activity is searching for technology that constantly updates its decision-making framework to incorporate past experience and new “lessons learned” to situations it encounters. It is also investigating how living systems learn, according to Project Manager Hava Siegelmann.

WannaCry Attack: Microsoft Questions Role of Intelligence Community


Microsoft, the information technology giant whose popular Windows operating systems harbored the flaw malicious hackers exploited to paralyze at least 200,000 computers and systems in 150 countries, is pointing the finger at Washington.

“Repeatedly, exploits in the hands of governments have leaked into the public domain and caused widespread damage,” Brad Smith, Microsoft president and chief legal officer, charged in a blog on the company website. “An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the U.S. military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen.”

Smith indicated that the National Security Agency knew of the Windows vulnerability but withheld that crucial information from the company so it could spy on hostile actors overseas. The company learned of the flaw and issued a patch March 14.

But last month, cyber thieves posted on the Internet a batch of hacking tools allegedly stolen from the NSA. These tools exposed, among other things, the Windows security gap. At 4:07 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time Friday, BBC News broke into a broadcast about the Pope’s visit to Portugal to report that “hospitals across England appear to have been simultaneously hit by a large scale cyber attack… many of the hospitals having to divert emergency patients.” The bug, identified as malware called WannaCry or WannaCrypt, shut down Britain’s National Health Service data system, which had not been updated with the Microsoft patch, and spread to other unpatched computers across Europe and Asia. The victims received digital ransom notes demanding payment of about $300 in bitcoins, a virtual currency that can preserve the attacker's anonymity.