Author Topic: Warfare in the Digital Age - Not just a deployed problem  (Read 19264 times)

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Online FJAG

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Re: Warfare in the Digital Age - Not just a deployed problem
« Reply #50 on: December 26, 2019, 16:29:26 »
I feel the same way you do but I think the reality is we lose that battle and I think Puckchaser is right.

People are legitimately addicted to electronics, social media and their phones.
Too aggressive of a no cell policy and soldiers will find ways not to deploy on exercise. Not very professional but it's the reality of what we deal with today.

I've had 2 officer cadets quit over having their cell phone temporarily taken away. One recoursed and the other VR.

Had a student on a weapons det course try to quit after I took his cell away (after he pulled it out to watch a video during practice). 

Meeting soldiers half way with this stuff feels alien but it's (now) a balancing act.

I don't doubt what you are saying about the addiction. My family is all around me for XMas and all of them (except Kathy and I) constantly have their cellphones in hand and are surfing or texting in the midst of whatever else we are doing. It's multitasking gone mad. The irony is that I've been on the bleeding edge of technology my entire working life but on the day I retired I uncoupled myself from my watch and my phone. (Still addicted to my computer for writing though.

The trouble with what you say is that it doesn't make me feel any more comfortable with any balancing act. Can you really trust "addicted" people to see it your way when the chips are down? Or will their addiction put them and your unit at risk? Remember that addicts will always put their needs ahead of yours.

That's one of the main reason I would strongly advocate for a zero tolerance policy on exercise so that you can weed out those who will subvert or defy security. I wouldn't be worried about people who would quit over this issue. Anyone who puts their social media addiction ahead of their unit's security you don't want anyway. Best to weed them out before they become a real risk instead of just a theoretical one.

Incidentally. Good luck with that whole marijuana thing.


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Offline Haligonian

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Re: Warfare in the Digital Age - Not just a deployed problem
« Reply #51 on: December 29, 2019, 00:12:37 »
It seems like the general consensus is that cell phones and social media are a threat. I would suggest that we need to see them more as a tool and a reality of our culture and operating environment. We can't just turn back time and make them go away. We need to understand their strengths and weaknesses, operationalize them and ultimately, weaponize them.

1. Most of the discussion here has focused on the threat that phones and social media pose, particularly the ability to target or collect intel on our units through geo location. Totally valid but lets not forget this is a two way street.

a. The enemy uses these things too which makes them vulnerable as well. As an example the US and the UK have targeted and struck, kinetically, ISIS recruiters through their social media accounts.  See the case of Junaid Hussain.

b. It's also, as our enemies have taught us, a weapon of influence. We've had influence activity doctrine for years but we now have a technology infinitely more persuasive than loud speakers and leaflets. We should also be looking at social media ROE for our soldiers and unleashing them. We have soldiers who have more followers than the CDS or the Army Commander. Shouldn't we be using these guys?

c. We've also have some folks on the internet who are using these tools to embarrass our enemies, which is great. Bellingcat is an interesting group that has been keeping tabs on what the Russians are doing in Syria and Ukraine via open source intel, social media, and geo location. They disproved much of the Kremlin's initial claims to be striking ISIS in Syria when they were in fact attacking the opposition. They also managed to identify, the unit, the crew, the specific Buk missile launcher, and it's location inside Ukraine that brought down flight MH17. A great book on this is LikeWar by P.W. Singer.

2. I think we need to be looking more at a combination of flooding the spectrum and conventional EMCON approaches. The likelihood of us being able to shut down a sufficient amount of our emissions to conceal ourselves is low, especially as we bring on technology which the default setting is to transmit.  We need to gain a greater understanding of what our own electronic order of battle looks like to an enemy and then figure out where we want to be noisy and where we want to be quiet to deceive the enemy.

3. As some of you have noted, cell phones are a reality in the CAF. This is partly due to poor discipline but also due to us not having a robust comms suite. When you're rolling out to the training area just what is your contingency comms, hell, what is your alternate? Do you want to be commanding a BG via cell phone? No. But if its your emergency form of communication then that might work. We discussed this in Latvia. The idea that cell phones are going to be immediately shut down upon some kind of conflict in the world is unlikely.  Both sides will be looking to exploit the cell phone towers for their purposes either to influence the population and opposing forces (think Ukrainian forces getting texts from the Russians) or to use them for C2 purposes.  Either way, it seems reasonable that cell phone usage could be possible. The compromised nature of those communications would need to be accounted for.

4. I know not all of this is relevant to a rifle coy dug in in Eastern Europe.  When I was a rifle coy comd, dug in in Eastern Europe 2 years ago I ordered my guys not to bring their phones to the field. Having said that my point is that conflict is on going with the Russians, Chinese, and other groups in the information domain which is probably more relevant currently than an envisioned RAND scenario where the Russians go full Eastern Front on the Baltics and seize them in 96 hours.  Even in the event of open hostilities in the Baltics it is likely well short of that scenario and you can bet that social media will play an important role. Telling our soldiers to leave there phones in the shacks for full on tactical exercises is probably the right move, but we also need to be thinking how we can use their social media presence to collect intelligence and to influence.

Offline Dimsum

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82nd Airborne paratroopers just deployed without their phones
« Reply #52 on: January 12, 2020, 22:29:36 »
Bets on how many people get charged for taking their phone/tablet/laptop?

As America's adversaries become more sophisticated, U.S. combat troops heading to the war zone may have to get used to leaving behind their phones, laptops and even personal gaming devices, military experts say.

The Pentagon doesn't have a blanket policy barring service members from taking electronic devices on deployment, but combat commanders are beginning to prohibit them when going into the unknown.

Last week, Maj. Gen. James Mingus, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, ordered his paratroopers with the 1st Brigade Combat Team to leave personal phones, computers and all electronic devices at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, when they were alerted for a short-notice deployment to the Middle East amid escalating tensions with Iran.

"My commander wanted to own the decision to avoid putting soldiers at risk," said Lt. Col. Mike Burns, spokesman for the 82nd Airborne. "It's an [operational security] issue."

All the services have shifted from a counterinsurgency strategy to one of high-intensity combat across all domains, including cyber and electronic warfare, to face more sophisticated adversaries such as Russia, China and Iran.

Carrying phones and other devices didn't pose too much risk in Iraq or Afghanistan, because the Taliban and other insurgents weren't sophisticated enough to mine the signals and data, said Dakota Wood, a retired Marine officer with the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington. That's no longer the case, he added.

"I think there's a renewed awareness on signature management, which was very, very important in the Cold War," Wood said. "The Soviets and NATO forces were very aware of radio direction, finding signals, intelligence and keeping your signature low."

Peter Whitehead, a senior engineer and cyber security expert at Rand Corporation, agreed.

"If you don't want your lock picked, don't put in a door," Whitehead said, describing how the enemy can easily locate soldiers when their smart phones connect to the internet or send texts and other data.

"Any time you are carrying around any kind of a transmitter there are obvious ... geolocation issues that can be used for targeting; I think that is obvious to anyone who understands radio frequency," he said.

This became a reality for a Marine during a recent large force-on-force training exercise at Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms in California's Mojave Desert.

The artillery Marine took a selfie that gave away his location -- a decision that resulted in his unit becoming casualties in the exercise, Lt. Gen. Lori Reynolds, the Marine Corps' deputy commandant of information, told reporters last week.

Troops' photos can present the enemy with a source of intelligence, Whitehead said.

"When you have soldiers in the field, even when they are sharing things that they don't think are necessarily classified, it can still be leveraged in terms of intel and counterintelligence," he said.

The decision to have paratroopers leave devices behind did not come from an Army-wide policy, according to Maj. Allie Payne, spokeswoman for the XVIII Airborne Corps.

Marine Corps Forces Central Command currently bars portable electronic devices with geolocation capabilities from being used in combat zones in the Middle East. That requires disabling WiFi or Bluetooth capabilities, said Maj. Joe Reney, a spokesman for the command.

"Operational security representatives and intelligence officers conduct risk analysis on [personal devices] due to the risk posed with these devices being effectively controlled," he said. "Hence, commanders of deploying units can make decisions within their own units to mandate that they are not brought forward."

The Navy did not respond to questions about whether that service is reviewing its policies on personal devices. One naval officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said it's common for sailors to bring phones, laptops and other devices onto ships.

One of the obvious vulnerabilities of smart phones is the vast number of apps that are available to users and the potential cyber threats they may pose, Whitehead said.

"A commander has no idea what is on all the cell phones of all the people that are serving in that battalion, so how could you map all the vulnerabilities of all the apps and all the various functions and try to optimize that?" he said. "I'm not saying that couldn't be done, but it's clearly something that would need to be done if that is going to be the paradigm that you are going to allow privately owned devices in the forward areas."

Wood said troops are likely to be much more restricted when it comes to electronic devices in the future. But those policies are best left up to the individual services or commanders, he added.

"I think when you get a one-size-fits-all top-down thing, it's cumbersome, it's too vague or it's overly prescriptive," Wood said. "Different services are operating in different worlds and [we emphasize] small-unit leadership, personal responsibility and discipline."

This article originally appeared on
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Re: 82nd Airborne paratroopers just deployed without their phones
« Reply #53 on: January 12, 2020, 22:32:23 »
This is the military sound thing to do.  The electronic signature from these organizations will likely plummet.
"Overall it appears that much of the apparent complexity of modern war stems in practice from the self-imposed complexity of modern HQs" LCol J.P. Storr