The U.S. Army wants to reduce the Electronic signature of its command posts. (Amy Walker/US Army)
HAVRE DE GRACE, MARYLAND: Mobile command posts spread across the battlefield. Units on the move are connected to a new constellation of commercial satellites, but automatically turn to other communication routes if interrupted by an adversary. Soldiers and systems on the ground communicate through waveforms that mask their location while receiving the latest battlefield data to aid in decision-making.
This is what the Army wants its battlefield network to look like by 2025: a network that is more expeditionary and mobile, but can deliver and process massive amounts of data at the speeds the Army will need for decades to come. This is part of building a network that enables joint all-domain command and control, the Pentagon’s future concept of operations, where sensors and shooters are linked.
The U.S. Army hopes to achieve this vision with the third iteration of its tactical cyber tool, known as the Capability Set ’25. The service’s tactical cyber team consists of the Cyber Cross-Functional Team and its acquisition arm — the Command, Control, Communications Tactical Program Executive Office — to roll out new cyber tools every two years.
“We will take…JADC2 from concept to reality by 2025,” Colonel Rob Ryan, acting director of the U.S. Army Cyber Cross-Functional Group, recently said at the U.S. Army Cyber and Industry’s Sixth Technology Exchange Conference.
Automating and being protected is the topic of Capability Set ’25, which is only in the early planning stages. Automated network tools allow for faster data processing and faster decision-making by commanders. The “protected” portion of the new capability set focuses on providing security tools and communications that can resist adversary interference.
To protect command posts and Soldier positions, the U.S. Army needed to provide Capability Set ’25 with advanced network waveforms with low probability interception/low probability detection capabilities to reduce electronic signatures to evade adversaries from brigade level to platoon. “From a commander’s point of view, his command post on the battlefield, now our electronic signature radiates from every system that we have,” said Gen. Charles Masalakia, director of the U.S. Army Mission Command Center of Excellence. express. “There is no ability to cover up or hide right now.”
The need to reduce electromagnetic signals around soldiers and command posts is very high, said Wayne Schoonveld, acting director of the C5ISR Center’s Tactical Communications Division, who said the service is willing to sacrifice a level of bandwidth in order to reduce electromagnetic output.
Other core technologies for the Army’s Future Tactical Network are new constellations of commercial satellites in low and medium Earth orbits. The LEO and MEO satellite constellations will provide soldiers with communication options for higher throughput and lower latency. While Capability Set ’23 has limited LEO and MEO, the US Army Tactical Cyber Team plans to mature these constellations in the Capability Set ’25 timeframe.
According to the CS25 document, the U.S. Army wants LEO and MEO capabilities available to soldiers who are stationed and on the move, which will require ruggedized terminals as the service works to build an increasingly mobile command post that can move across the region. The service is also looking for more satellite communications connections on the battlefield, where virtualized waveforms are a top requirement for security.
However, because of the use of multiple constellations, the U.S. Army needs a next-generation tactical terminal that can manage communications with multiple constellations, according to Schoonveld. “One of the challenges we saw with CS25 was that it was very difficult to have to buy kits to manage each constellation,” he said. “We want to be able to unify the management of these constellations and use that bandwidth together like a pool so that we can provide resiliency through diversity.” The Army also wants to implement PACE (Primary, Primary, Backup, Contingency and Emergency) planning, so if one communication path is disrupted, the system automatically chooses the unblocked path.
“One of the things we’re trying to do in this work is to use machine learning techniques to help the computing devices that have to manage these multiple transmissions do it in an intelligent way,” Schoonveld said. “We’re working on some reinforcement learning algorithms. But we’d be very interested…if you[行业]Algorithms are being researched or studied—especially lightweight ones—that can help provide network situational understanding and help make informed routing decisions. “Capability Set ’25 will also include a hybrid tactical cloud architecture that will provide Soldiers access to battlefield data, as well as a common data management structure available from division to platoon level.
Donald Coulter, senior science and technology advisor to the Cyber Cross-Functional Team, said the tactical cyber team wanted the data structure “as available in every echelon as possible to make decisions at every level.” In addition, Coulter said the U.S. Army wants to automate cyber defenses to counter machine learning-enabled digital attacks. U.S. Army documents show that the tools available in Capability Set ’23, which have just passed an initial design review and are focused on improving cyber resilience, will evolve to be more automated and protected for tactical networks in 2025.