By James Jay Carafano Left, right. When it comes to the military, those labels aren’t supposed to mean much. But they do because, simply, those who believe in their parties define themselves in opposition to each other. While it rarely provides Americans with the rich debate and soaring rhetoric one sees in a parliamentary… Keep reading →
BY Rachel Kleinfeld Left, right. When it comes to the military, those labels aren’t supposed to mean much. But they do because, simply, those who believe in their parties define themselves in opposition to each other. While it rarely provides Americans with the rich debate and soaring rhetoric one sees in a parliamentary system,… Keep reading →
An aircraft carrier is nothing without aircraft, and a Navy aircraft is worth little without a carrier. It’s ships and planes in synergy that revolutionized war at sea in the 1930s and with new systems now entering service – the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter and the Ford-class carrier – they can do it again. On… Keep reading →
By Robbin Laird and Ed Timperlake The Chinese, who have been shoving their neighbors around with considerable panache over the last year, upped the ante yesterday with a claim in the official People’s Daily — not yet disavowed by the government — that the PRC may have a claim to Okinawa and others of the… Keep reading →
In a town full of hot air, speeches are a dime a dozen. But money still talks. So let’s compare the new Secretary of Defense’s policy agenda to his first proposed budget.
While Leon Panetta, his predecessor, mostly built this budget, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel owns it now and has already spent a considerable amount of time defending it. The results leave interested observers wanting more. Much more. After listening to Hagel’s first policy speech and comparing it to the President’s 2014 defense budget, it begs the question “Where’s the beef?” Keep reading →
I had the privilege to study and work with Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski as a student and for my first research job. With Brzezinski, one is always pushed towards the “Zbig” picture.
It was no different when I recently visited Brzezinski in his office and we settled down to discuss the current Korean crisis and the way ahead to deal with the crisis. One concern which I have had in watching both the discussions about and the policy reactions to the crisis is the implicit assumption that what is occurring now is simply a replay of what has happened earlier. Keep reading →
Way back in World War II, when my father was in the Army, everybody knew somebody in the military. More than half of eligible males were in uniform. During the Vietnam War, despite the exemptions to the draft, more than three million young men served in Southeast Asia. Today, however, after eleven years of war and with the end only sort of in sight, less than one percent of Americans are in the service, largely because we keep sending the same men and women back “over there” again and again and again. Our veterans have gotten very, very good at what they do, but they and their hard-stressed families are increasingly separated from mainstream America. So how do we bridge the gap?
One man, Paul Gleason, has an answer: one handwritten letter at a time. The retired history teacher, not a veteran himself, started writing soldiers in 1965 when one of his students joined the Army and has kept at it ever since: more than 10,000 letters over almost 50 years. Some go to friends he’s made — though sometimes never met — and corresponds with weekly. Since his retirement, he’s camped out at a side table in a local Burger King and cranked out about three letters a day, totaling about 15 handwritten pages. He’s currently corresponding with 10 people, from a young Marine to the widow of a decorated Green Beret who fought in Vietnam. (Click here to watch an NBC video interview with Gleasonand his young Marine Corps pen pal; click here to read a Springfield State Journal-Register profile with more details). Keep reading →
The public experienced a moment of angst in 1997 when it looked like Asteroid XF11 might threaten the Earth in 2028. It didn’t. But that doesn’t mean the threat doesn’t exist or that we should do nothing about it.
Asteroids and comets that come close to Earth are collectively known as Near Earth Objects (NEOs). In 1998, Hollywood released two movies dealing with NEOs, Deep Impact and Armageddon. The first movie, Deep Impact, focused on the human emotions related to impending doom, while Armageddon was an action-hero film. In it, Bruce Willis and his rag-tag band of oil drillers save humanity from an approaching killer asteroid, taking off in the Shuttle and within just 18 days of the asteroid being sited, deflect it away from Earth. Keep reading →
For a host of security and economic reasons, American foreign and defense policy will increasingly focus on the Asia-Pacific region in the decades ahead. With over 60% of all U.S. exports going to Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries and 40% of total global trade emanating from Asia-Pacific, the United States cannot be an impartial observer of events in the region.
That interest should be heightened by the accelerating military and particularly naval buildup that is playing out across East Asia and the Western Pacific in response to China’s rapid and opaque military modernization efforts. Countries from Vietnam to the Philippines to Japan are responding to Beijing’s recent assertiveness and growing military capabilities by investing in advanced systems of their own, fostering a potentially volatile climate in the economically-essential waters of East Asia. Keep reading →
Adm. Jonathan Greenert is Chief of Naval Operations, the Navy’s most senior officer. Greenert has emphasized the convergence between traditional electronic warfare — long a strong suit of the Navy — and the new arena of cyberspace. In this op-ed written for Breaking Defense, the admiral argues that “cyberspace and the electromagnetic spectrum” must be viewed as a single domain of warfare on par with land, sea, air, and space. Click here to read more from Greenert’s chief cyber aide, Rear Adm. William Leigher. — The Editors.
An unmanned aircraft is returning to its ship when it suddenly loses control, plummeting 5,000 feet to the water and shattering on contact with the surface. Halfway around the world, the lighting at an airfield in North America flickers several times before finally going dark, forcing airliners to seek out an alternate airport to land. In a windowless control room, system administrators at a large international corporation are alerted to higher than normal internet traffic on their servers: Before they can intervene, files which hold the key to a new cancer-fighting drug are exfiltrated via the company’s wireless network, placing 10 years of research and more than a billion dollars of investment at risk. These kinds of events, although uncommon, do happen – and they arise from our dependence on the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum.
The electromagnetic spectrum is an essential – and invisible – part of modern life. We unlock our car and control our television with remote controls, routinely communicate using smart phones, and avoid automobile or aircraft collisions with any number of electronic sensors. EM transmissions and cyberspace are also essential to modern warfare. Our military forces use wireless computer networks to coordinate operations and order supplies, use radars and sensors to locate each other and the enemy, and use electronic jammers to blind enemy radars or disrupt their communications.
With wireless routers or satellites part of almost every computer network, cyberspace and the EM spectrum now form one continuous environment. This environment is so fundamental to naval operations, and so critical to our national interests, that we must treat it on par with our traditional domains of land, sea, air, and space. In fact, future conflicts will not be won simply by using the EM spectrum and cyberspace, they will be won within the EM spectrum and cyberspace. This will require changes to our operating concepts, military systems and – most importantly – a new way of thinking in our Navy.
From primitive tool to double-edged sword
Our use of the electromagnetic spectrum has changed dramatically since Heinrich Hertz discovered it in 1888. Right away, EM transmissions were used to communicate with ships at sea. But in 1922, Naval Research Laboratory scientists also used radio waves to detect a moving ship, creating radio detection and ranging, or radar. With war raging in Europe and East Asia, in 1939 the new technology was sent to USS New York for testing and experimentation. Based on the successful results, radars were soon installed throughout the fleet and became pivotal to winning the war at sea.
Since World War II, the military pioneered new uses for the EM spectrum, from satellite navigation and radar jammers to short-range wireless networks and infrared missile seekers. Now computer processors and transmitters are inherent in almost all our shipboard equipment, and even mechanical systems such as gas turbine engines and guns are “on the grid.”
The EM spectrum is also an integral part of our military and civilian computer networks. Just like in our homes or in a Starbucks, a wireless network provides mobility. We can keep far-flung forces, aircraft and ships connected with each other and commanders back home, but wireless systems also provide ways to access a network that is otherwise isolated from the wider internet. Navy forces have a unique opportunity to exploit (or be exploited by) this access because of their presence around the world and ability to closely approach opponents via the sea.
Commanding the electromagnetic and cyber environment
America’s key military advantage for the last twenty years has been our ability to sense and create a picture of our surroundings, then use that picture to control the air, sea, and undersea domains. The systems that build our operational picture have performed well in the relatively unchallenged EM environments of Iraq and Afghanistan, but in future conflicts that will not be the case.
Inexpensive jammers, signal detectors, computer processors and radios make it easier for unfriendly states, terrorists, and criminals to manage their efforts while jamming our own ability to sense and communicate. Meanwhile, the number of users in the EM spectrum has grown dramatically over the last two decades. The result is an environment we struggle to sense, understand and use in warfare. We need a concerted effort to harness the EM and cyber environment to give us a warfighting edge.
First, we will improve our awareness of the EM and cyber environments. We will detect and assess in real time what is happening in the EM and cyber environment, predict how the environment will react and use this knowledge to guide our own actions. Building this level of awareness will be challenging. Our tools for collecting and analyzing information in the EM and cyber environment are limited, and we lack the familiarity and understanding to take full advantage of the information we do have. To build better tools for sensing the EM and cyber environment, we will work closely with industry and academic researchers.
Second, we will employ agility in the EM spectrum and cyberspace. This will reduce our vulnerability to detection and maximize our ability to defeat jamming and deception. If our systems can shift frequency over a wide range, use shorter “burst” transmissions, employ small directional beams, or move applications between servers automatically in response to a sensed anomaly, our EM and cyber operations would be less predictable, harder to classify, and more difficult to counter or disrupt. One example of this is our “Integrated Topside” project, which uses modular, reconfigurable antennas in a ship’s superstructure that can be alternatively employed as radars, listening devices, or radios.
Finally, we will change how we view the role of EM and cyber in warfare. EM and cyber systems and operators won’t just support air, land, and space operations as they did in previous conflicts. Aircraft and ships will instead help get our EM and cyber capabilities into the fight. This will require developing the same “real-time” flexibility in planning and executing EM and cyber operations as we have today in the traditional “physical” domains.
Warfare in the EM spectrum and cyberspace is much more challenging than in other domains such as undersea or in the open ocean. The web and spectrum are crowded with civilian and commercial users who are rapidly developing and fielding new technologies. To take the high ground in this new environment, we will have to work with industry and fundamentally change our approach to operations and warfare. Most importantly, we will leverage those strengths that are impossible to reverse-engineer: the expertise and flexibility of our research base, our history of adaptation, and the skill and perseverance of our Sailors.