Invasion of Ukraine ‘strengthens’ army work on secure networks and communications

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A forward observer from the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division uses components of the Integrated Tactical Network during a live-fire exercise at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, in January 2019. (U.S. Army photo by Kathryn Bailey, PM Tactical Radios, PEO C3T Public Affairs )

PHILADELPHIA: The Russian invasion of Ukraine underscored the importance of communications, logistics and “integrated” cybersecurity, reinforcing concepts the military is pushing with the development of its network capability set, according to service managers.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an Army technical exchange meeting, Maj. Gen. Rob Collins, the service’s program director general for command, control and tactical communications (PEO C3T), said Tuesday that the invasion had brought the army “back to basics”. transmission security blocking and combating [and] communications security.

“And also when you have a living, breathing threat, you have to think about things like a contested and cluttered environment,” Collins said. “And it’s just not a small-scale thing… It reinforces some of the concepts that we’re pushing forward as part of the capability set strategy.”

The Army develops and deploys capability sets — toolkits of applications and technologies designed to modernize network capabilities across the service — every two years. The first set, Ability Set 21is approximately 70% deployed and units deployed to Europe in support of NATO are currently using elements of the set.

CS21 aims to make networking more intuitive and includes single channel commercial radios with advanced network waveforms, small aperture satellite terminals, high capacity line-of-sight radios, among other components, all designed to enable resilient communication.

The next step is to carry out a two-phase operational assessment with CS23both with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Europe from June to get real-time operational feedback to help the Army decide what to deploy

The service will also begin experimenting with the US Army Pacific for cloud, data and mission command applications starting this summer and fall. At the same time, the service is also working on the development ability sets 25 and 27.

Russian troops have so far reportedly encountered critical communication problems during their ill-fated invasion of Ukraine, sometimes relying on unencrypted radios or even Ukrainian cell phone service to coordinate operations.

RELATED: CYBERCOM Increases Intelligence Gathering in Light of Russian-Ukrainian Conflict

Collins also emphasized, like army officials before him, the importance of logistics in the Ukrainian conflict. Early in the invasion, Russia struggled to maintain a logistical line with its front-line forces, leading soldiers to abandon broken-down or out-of-gas vehicles on the side of the road.

Collins didn’t go into detail on the logistics side, but meanwhile on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, another Army officer was making a similar point.

Lt. Gen. James Richardson of the Army Futures Command told the Senate Armed Services Committee that three issues of importance to him all relate to logistics: the need for reliable weapons and systems, the ability to having predictive logistics to know in advance when something is about to fail. or exhausted, and the importance of a common “operating picture” from battalion level to the front lines so that logistics operations can be executed effectively.

Collins and Richardson’s remarks follow comments made by Undersecretary for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu in March.

“Looking at the logistical problems the Russians are having. It’s a contested logistical environment. It’s not even that contested – it could be a lot more contested, a lot harder,” shyu said so. “So we really want to focus on that area.”

Shyu partly focuses on contested logistics through the Department of Defense’s Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve, an effort to fill capability gaps and emerging technologies. The Pentagon is planning the second “sprint” of the RDER, she said.

During the army technical exchange meeting, Brig. Gen. Jeth Rey, director of the service’s cross-functional network team, said the war in Ukraine also showed the service the importance of embedding cybersecurity into systems.

“That’s what we’re learning from that – we’re going to be so distributed in combat and we’ve seen how they’re distributed…these mission command systems have [to have] built in cybersecurity,” he said. “It has to be baked in advance because that’s where we learn a lot of lessons about the systems they currently have in the field.”

In April, officials from the Pentagon’s information security agency also stressed the need to “mainstream” resilient information sharing in light of the conflict in Ukraine.

Caroline Bean, acting director of the Joint Directorate of Enterprise Services at the Defense Information Systems Agency, said the agency starts thinking about challenges early on, like denied and disconnected low-bandwidth situations, instead let it be an afterthought as it aims to provide corporate services. with the “foundation” of the joint initiative of command and control of all areas of the army.

“We’ve been thinking about it from the beginning because we have to do things differently… The situation in Ukraine has made it more obvious that we have to share information and we have to… mobilize our corporate services,” she said. declared.

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