Information operations

HQDA Cyber Directorate Weekly Media Report, 22-30 December 2016

HQDA Cyber Directorate Weekly Media Report

22-30 December 2016

Table of Contents


What is ISR in non-physical domains?

C4ISR & Networks, 29 Dec 16, Mark Pomerleau

Impact of future Army Cyber Command headquarters felt throughout year

The Augusta Chronicle, 26 Dec 16, Staff Reports

Fighting in the cyber domain: US Army Central creates cyberspace strategy, 23 Dec 16, Leticia Hopkins

California Guard May Send More Troops to Ukraine in 2017, 28 Dec 16, Oriana Pawlyk




Grounding of Super Hornets, Growlers Caused by Exploding Jet Canopy

The Virginian-Pilot, 29 Dec 16, Brock Vergakis

New in 2017: Marines likely to expand cyber warfare units

Marine Corps Times, 27 Dec 16, Matthew L. Schehl

New DARPA radio transmitter could revolutionize battlefield communications

Military Times, 29 Dec 16, Shawn Snow



Germans detect hand of Russia as political cyber war escalates

The Financial Times, 29 Dec 16, Stefan Wagstyl

Kingdom of Jordan Purchases Electronic Warfare System

Signal Magazine, 22 Dec 16, Unattributed

India Issues Global EW Suites Tender For Tejas Combat Aircraft

Defense World, 29 Dec 16, Bureau Writers

U.S.-supplied drones disappoint Ukraine at the front lines

Reuters, 22 Dec 16, Phil Stewart

Czech Republic sets up unit to counter fake news threat

CNN, 28 Dec 16, Laura Smith-Spark

How the Kremlin Recruited an Army of Specialists for Cyberwar

The New York Times, 30 Dec 16, Andrew E. Kramer

North Korea hackers could ‘paralyse’ US Pacific Command control centre – report

International Business Times, 29 Dec 16, India Ashok

Lithuanian president: US role remains trans-Atlantic security guarantee

The Baltic Times, 29 Dec 16, Staff

The U.S.-China Stealth Fighter Showdown Is Almost Here

The National Interest, 29 Dec 16, Dave Majumdar



How the U.S. Army Could Become Lethal Again (Thanks to Donald Trump)

The National Interest, 29 Dec 16, Daniel Goure

Buried Inside the 2017 NDAA Is a Little-Known ‘Disinformation’ Provision — and Obama Just Signed It

Independent Journal-Review, 26 Dec 16, Jason Howerton

Obama’s Late Cyber Defense

The Wall Street Journal 29 Dec 16, Editorial

McCain plans Russia cyber hearing for Thursday

Politico, 30 Dec 16, Jeremey Herb and Connor O’Brien

We’re living through the first world cyberwar – but just haven’t called it that

The Guardian, 30 Dec 16, Martin Belam


***Relevant Conferences & Events listed at bottom of report.



What is ISR in non-physical domains?

C4ISR & Networks, 29 Dec 16, Mark Pomerleau

Ask commanders what they want more of, and one of the top responses is more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. ISR has become a critical asset in planning operations and understanding trends within a commander’s battlespace. Non-physical domains and maneuver spaces are becoming more prominent in emerging and future conflicts. But how will commanders be able to “see” in cyberspace or the electromagnetic spectrum?

“I truly believe that our commanders at each echelon need to have the capability to visualize this [cyber] battle space, this domain,” Brig. Gen. Patricia Frost, who leads the Pentagon’s new cyber directorate, said in November at the annual CyberCon conference hosted by C4ISRNET and Federal Times. “We give tremendous intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to commanders at every echelon. They physically can see aspects of their battlespace. This is a battlespace, a domain they need to be able to visualize as well.”

Part of this involves greater insight and electromagnetic battle management, or EMBM.

The Army is developing tools to help commanders gain a greater understanding of the electromagnetic spectrum. The electronic warfare planning and management tool (EWPMT) will provide an initial integrated electronic warfare system (IEWS) capability by coordinating and synchronizing operations across the the command post, from the joint task force level down to the battalion.

The first of four EWPMT capability drops was fielded to Fort Bliss in September. It is “loaded with formulas so [a commander] can say, ‘If I had an adversary system on this hilltop, what would the effective range be based on what we know about the adversary system?’ So he can plot things like that,” Col. Jeffery Church, chief of strategy and policy at the Army’s new cyber directorate, told reporters at the Association of Old Crows annual symposium in Washington on Nov. 29. “Or he can do routes. So if you’re going to go from A to B along that route, he can go in and say, ‘OK, I’ve got this kind of radio, I know this is the elevation and terrain I’m at, will I have comms back with my headquarters?’”

In an exclusive briefing from Raytheon, the industry partner for EWPMT, C4ISRNET was afforded a rare opportunity to see what is possible with current capabilities as well as what is to come with further capability drops.

As part of the demo, C4ISRNET was shown the web browser graphical user interface, or GUI, that electronic warfare officers (EWO) and commanders can visualize the battlespace. This picture — in capability drop 1, which Church told reporters was “a very basic tool, it is not the end-state that capability drop four will bring,” — depicts a variety of items including airborne assets, what they’re jamming (depicted by lines to particular targets or areas on the ground) or areas that might be affected or not from a potential jamming operation. All this is overlaid on real 3-D mapping data of the operating area.

EWPMT allows for frequency deconfliction to avoid instances in Afghanistan where jammers were used to interfere with improvised explosive devices, but prevented friendly forces from communicating with each other.

Capability drop 1, which allows for a shared vision from battalion to division, is where the all the tools are delivered — for jamming, what is being jammed, what is emitting, what the enemy emitter looks like, what it might look like to plan around the enemy’s emitting, and to plan jamming the enemy to allow for physical maneuver in the terrain, said Niraj Srivastava, senior manager for Raytheon’s airborne information operations electronic warfare systems.

Capability drop 2 is more spectrum management — not just terrain maneuver, but maneuver through the spectrum space. Capability drops 3 and 4 will begin to look at some of the cyber situational awareness capabilities. This will involve a follow-on to EWPMT Raytheon is working on called Cyber and Electromagnetic Battle Management, or CEMBM. If there is a sensor in the field, not just emitters but digital footprints, these later capability drops will bring them in and enable commanders to display its capability and how to exploit it. A situation could arise in which it might be necessary to take a cyber technique against a cyberthreat — not just jamming — and Raytheon is currently working this for the future.


An additional capability in capability drop 3 will be the ability to remotely turn on and manage jammers or electronic assets downrange.


Regarding current capabilities, EWPMT provides insight for commanders planning to move their physical force or a convoy through a particular area. If a commander wants to move through a particular path, the tool enables them to see if they are affecting or jamming the bad guys. A green heat map overlaid on the GUI will signify that friendly forces are jamming that particular threat, while a dotted red line means forces are degrading the adversary’s capability, not totally jamming.


This is all based on knowledge of emitters that exist in the field that come from intelligence and data that is loaded into the system. If a commander is not confident in the known or unknown emitters that exist on a planned path, the tool allows for mapping of blanket jamming to see the effective range friendly jammers have along said path.


From a planning perspective, as EWOs might be setting this up for the commander, they can plan how to move the force based on where they might expect to be jammed. Additionally, when doing the modeling and simulation for a potential operation, the EWPMT interface takes physics into account to calculate the lines of jamming, such as the electromagnetic propagation.


EWPMT also provides the commander with a list of options: If they want to jam against a particular threat, it will give them options to protect against the threat. The commander can be given a number of courses of action with options, which tells them what assets are available to for a given action and provides a score of time to mission, the effectiveness of the asset, if there are any conflicts, fratricide — and each individual score item can be ranked depending on the importance level of a given commander.


“What we don’t have today that I feel we need to grow in capability, which we’re working on with our electronic warfare planning management tool, is how do you just visualize that for a commander,” Frost told a small group of reporters at the AOC symposium. “Because it’s not something that’s tangible. So you want that visualization tool to be in the ops center that says this is a type of energy you’re projecting out — how the enemy would view you — and this is maybe how you can see the energy that’s within that battle space.”


The Defense Advanced Projects Agency is also working a similar endeavor. The RadioMap project seeks to provide real-time awareness of spectrum use across frequencies, with a goal of mapping an accurate picture of spectrum use in complex environments. Similar to EWPMT, this information can be used to help commanders plan and understand this complex space.


This program will ultimately be transitioned to the Marine Corps, with the option period taking place in May, said Mark Tracy, senior program manager at Lockheed Martin.


RadioMap uses Raptor-X, which is a software-based geographic information system framework allowing for customizable plugins. While RadioMap used heat maps of the radio frequency (RF) picture and regions where devices might be emitting, similar to EWMPT, Tracy said the feedback from Marines that tested it said it would be more useful to have a waterfall, which was then placed into the system.


The waterfall is a box at the bottom of the GUI that provides in a bar graph form the various frequencies that are broadcasting in the spectrum in a given surveyed environment. Used as a planning tool, a commander could see where there is limited spectrum and available spectrum to place resources. They could also track friendly forces or say they don’t know what or where a particular signal is coming from — it could be adversarial. The waterfall demonstrates to commanders the actual maneuver space in spectrum. By clicking on a particular signal on the waterfall, one can dig deeper into what that signal might be.


Jason Schuette, DARPA program technical assistant, said the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Robert Neller, wanted to have an RF footprint of the Marines to see how much they emit in battle. RadioMap can help manage that, or allow commanders to be able to tell if a unit is not transmitting.


Deputy Secretary Work described at the annual Association of the United States Army conference in October that the “old adage was … if you can be seen you can be hit, and if you can be hit, you can be killed. The new adage is if you emit, you die.”


“We can get all camouflaged up, we can hide in holes, we can put camouflage nets on, wear ghillie suits, camo up our faces, color our teeth green and you can’t see us at all until I push the button on my radio to talk, to tell my boss, ‘Hey I’m here,’” Church said. “Bam. All that physical camouflage from the eyeball just went away because now you’re broadcasting in the spectrum. So we can show that to commanders and they can start getting an appreciation of how the spectrum is a capability for them and a vulnerability.”


Commonality between the services has been a big focus recently. According to Brig. Gen. Edward Sauley, deputy director of operations for joint electromagnetic spectrum operations and the mobilization assistant to the director of operations for U.S. Strategic Command, one of three critical gaps within electromagnetic spectrum operations is the need for greater collaboration within EMBM.


“The gap, as identified by this joint war fighter, is these programs don’t talk to one another. The services do not go to war — we fight as a joint force under a single command,” Sauley said at AOC, listing the various EMS planning tools the individual services have. The joint force must have EMBM capability at the operational level able to pass real-time, joint-restrictive frequency lists, he said, adding that it’s essential for command and control across the service lines.


Pietryka, of Raytheon, said the ultimate goal for EWPMT is to be service-agnostic. Raytheon recently announced the successful testing and interoperability of EWPMT with Raptor-X. This now means that the Army can work with or have visibility on Marine Corps jammers given the capability of operating respective management tools on the same baseline.


From a cyber perspective, visualizing planning and understanding the cyber terrain, much like the electromagnetic spectrum, comes down to authorities and echelon, Frost said.


“When you say ‘cyber,’ we say surveillance and reconnaissance,” she said. “So to me — it depends on what echelon you talk about. So if you talk at the tactical edge, you could talk about having a capability that regardless of what type of vehicle or air platform you’re in — how do you map the environment? What types of zeros and ones? What does that environment look like from an IP/RF-based [platform] — who’s operating in that environment?”


Frost added that when she first entered the Army there was a library of signals that were used to identify a certain target, but the environment was significantly less complex and crowded.


“Today, if you look in a battlespace there’s civilian communications because we’re all using this electromagnetic spectrum and everything. Whether it’s a frequency base or an IP base, what is within that environment that a commander needs to be concerned with,” she said. “And that’s where I get in these authorities discussions and I say I would never want to deny a commander the ability to truly see their environment — especially now that we declared it the ‘cyber domain.’ I think they should have some type of capability to see their environment.”


“ Cyber intelligence is not cybersecurity, but cyber intelligence analysts must understand offensive and defensive cyber operations to be a successful cyber intelligence analyst,” Air National Guard Col. Arthur Wunder of the 102nd Intelligence Wing Office of Transformation, wrote in February. “Every action in cyberspace has a human behind it, whether it’s driving a specific switch action or initiating an automated denial of service attack; someone, somewhere is initiating and directing that action. Cyber intelligence involves trying to connect the dots and identify all the different touch points between the various layers in cyberspace. Determining the connections and connection points lets the analyst draw a multidimensional picture of where potential cyber vulnerabilities may exist, or identify the actors behind an action.”


There will continue to be discussions surrounding authorities in cyber and cyber intelligence, as what traditionally existed in the shadows of intelligence agencies is now becoming a war fighting discipline.


“In terms of ISR, we continue to have Title 10 and Title 50 conflicts; is this capability electronic warfare or is it [signals intelligence] under Title 50?” Col. Jeff Aldridge, director of the Joint Electronic Warfare Center at STRATCOM, said at the AOC symposium. “We had similar issues with advanced electronic attack and cyber attack. The key difference is cyber has a persistent effect on software, hardware, etc., while electronic warfare does not have a persistent effect – the effect is done once jamming is terminated.”


“If we say it’s a ‘cyber’ capability, depending, it has to go [the Defense Secretary] or higher,” Frost said. “When we go to the National Training Center, we bring congressional members out, we bring folks from [the Office of the Secretary of Defense] and we say, ‘let’s have this discussion’ … We’re not saying that we’re going to do something that will cause World War III. We’re saying we want to give capabilities that I truly believe a commander needs to have to see their environment.”


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Impact of future Army Cyber Command headquarters felt throughout year

The Augusta Chronicle, 26 Dec 16, Staff Reports


The Army is still several years away from moving its Cyber Command headquarters to Fort Gordon, but its impact has beenfelt throughout Augusta in 2016.


Local institutions such as Augusta University and Aiken Technical College have expanded their curriculum since the Pentagon announced in 2013 plans to move the U.S. Army Cyber Command from Fort Meade, Md., to Fort Gordon. In a related area, AU signed an articulation agreement with NSA’s National Cryptologic School to give a pilot class of 25 military personnel at Augusta’s NSA intelligence-gathering facility the chance to earn bachelor’s degrees in one of four career tracks, such as political science and international relations.


University officials said the agreement strengthens the bond between the institution and the city’s burgeoning cyberdefense industry. But the growing cyber presence has shown itself beyond local educational institutions.


The investment group renovating Augusta’s historic Sibley Mill into a high-tech mixed-use development signed a deal with a Maryland-based institute to train future cybersecurity professionals there as early as next year.


Cape Augusta LLC, the company redeveloping the 136-year-old textile mill into a urban tech hub called Augusta Cyberworks, formed a joint venture with UMBC Training Centers LLC to educate up to 200 cyber professionals a year. Certificate program courses could begin in early 2017 – when Sibley’s phase one renovations are complete, Cape Augusta CEO James Ainslie said.


The phase one project includes building out office space in a 32,500-square-foot structure outside the four-story main mill facility for local information technology firm EDTS, whose current offices are on Broad Street.


Several defense contractors already have established offices in the area, including MacAulay-Brown Inc., Saber Systems Inc., IntelliGenesis LLC and Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., joining longtime contractors such as Raytheon and the city’s single-largest cyber contractor – Unisys Corp., whose downtown offices are gearing up to employ at least 750 workers, about 100 of whom support army email and IT functions worldwide.


The massive expansion of Fort Gordon’s military intelligence and cyberwarfare missions during the next few years will require military contractors and subcontractors to have a steady pipeline of information security specialists from which to draw in the local labor pool.


The Cyber Command complex will be constructed in two phases. The $85.1 million, 179,000-square-foot first phase is slated for completion in May 2018 for Army Cyber Command, which is known numerically as the Second Army and is also responsible for providing information assistance to “boots on the ground” personnel in active war zones.


The second phase, scheduled for completion in early 2019, will house the Army Cyber Protection Brigade, which maintains and defends the nation’s defense networks; and the post’s joint-force operations, which include Navy, Air Force and Marines’ cyber and intelligence personnel.


The combined Army Cyber Command Complex will have space for more than 1,200 soldiers and civilian contractors by late 2020, greatly expanding the small task force of cyber personnel currently on post.


The growth of cybersecurity and the important role Fort Gordon and Augusta plays in it was highlighted by several high-profile visits to the area.


At this year’s Cyber Georgia conference at Augusta University, CIA Director John Brennan said Augusta is doing it right when it comes to supporting cybersecurity.


“I think this community represents the marriage of the private and public sector,” he said. “We have Fort Gordon … and Augusta University, which is really determined to bring together the representatives from the different sectors of society and recognize that cybersecurity affects us all. It’s something that we really need to all work on.”

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Fighting in the cyber domain: US Army Central creates cyberspace strategy, 23 Dec 16, Leticia Hopkins


When the Army released its cyberspace strategy for 2025 in March, it did not clearly identify cyberspace requirements for Army service component commands, creating an opportunity U.S. Army Central Command chose to embrace.

“This is unfamiliar terrain for the Army, so the Army has not identified what the ASCC cyberspace requirements look like,” said Lt. Col. Dwyke Bidjou, USARCENT deputy chief of information operations. “To assist that effort, (USARCENT) has written a (fiscal year) 17/18 cyberspace strategy, which also speaks to the development of a white paper where we capture our challenges.”

Bidjou added, USARCENT is assisting the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command with identifying what those requirements will look like. USARCENT’s strategy is directly nested with the Army’s cyberspace strategy for 2025 to ensure it agrees with Army’s objectives.

In October, Lt. Gen. Michael X. Garrett, USARCENT commanding general, approved the strategy, which conveys his vision, purpose and direction for integrating cyberspace operations at USARCENT. The strategy seeks to deter current and emerging threats by building USARCENT’s cyberspace workforce; conducting cyberspace operations; identifying anddeveloping cyberspace capabilities; investing in facilities, systems, and infrastructure; and developing partnerships.

There has been a push to develop capabilities and processes that create more resilient and secure networks, systems and platforms to conduct cyber operations. This push stems from the continual rise of cyber threats, the threats that they pose and the damage they’ve caused or could potentially cause. That’s why the Department of Defense, not just the Army, has been making it a priority to focus on the misuse of cyberspace and mitigate the risks in cyberspace.

According to the DoD’s April 2015 cyber strategy, “From 2013-2015, the director of National Intelligence named the cyber threat as the number one strategic threat to the United States, placing it ahead of terrorism for the first time since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.”

It also states leaders need to take steps to mitigate risks in cyberspace with the key being a comprehensive strategy that counters and can resist disruptive and destructive attacks.

“Defense of our networks against cyber threats is always an ongoing process,” said Maj. Kelly Sunderland, USARCENT chief of plans, policy, and programs. “Just as technology has advanced to change how we defend our installations from physical threats, our defensive capabilities have also evolved in the cyber realm.”

However the complexity of the cyber realm, along with the innovation and resources of terrorists and those committing cybercrimes, complicates the challenge of combatting and deterring cyberspace threats.

“The problem in cyber is this, the Department of Defense and the Army will never keep pace with the innovation going on right now in the tech industry, not in the (Science and Technology) world, not in the (Research Development Test and Evaluation) world,” said Lt. Gen. Edward Cardon, former U.S. Army Cyber Command commander, during an Association of the United States Army forum addressing private and public partnerships Oct. 5. “Now, that’s a little overstated but not too much.”

Although the challenges highlighted by General Cardon make it harder for those who defend Army networks and mitigate cyberspace risks, USARCENT uses several defensive measures to protect its networks.

“We still rely on a defense in depth strategy to protect our information systems,” said Sunderland. “Access to equipment, the permissions users are allowed to have on the network, and what devices can be plugged in are some of the more visible defensive measures often seen. Continual internal assessments, scheduled inspections from outside agencies, and cooperation with other agencies and companies in the civilian sector are added defensive measures that we often use to help remain agile in the defense of our networks.”

One of the agencies USARCENT has been cooperating with is the Army’s Cyber Center of Excellence, which is located at Fort Gordon, Georgia. Working together allows USARCENT to test its strategy and make recommendations to improve the Army’s cyberspace warfighting capability. In an attempt to help combat potential cyber threats, the CCoE trains, educates and works to develop highly skilled Soldiers in cyberspace operations, signal/communications networks and information services, and electronic warfare professions. The CCoE also houses the U.S. Army Cyber School, which trains the Army’s only career branch dedicated to cyberspace.

USARCENT’s staff visited the CCoE Dec. 9, to become more familiar with what the CCoE does and has to offer, and the impact of cyberspace operations on USARCENT’s mission.

The cooperation provides another way to educate leaders about the significance of this warfighting domain, requirements and implementation of CCoE-trained Soldiers, and importance of developing capabilities and processes to deter cyber threats.

In addition to educating and informing staff, USARCENT leaders believe this new strategy will require divergent thinking and involvement from all of its staff when it comes to integrating cyberspace operations, identifying vulnerabilities and defining ASCC cyberspace requirements.

“The strategy really says that (USARCENT) planners need to be thinking outside of the box,” said Bidjou. “There is no doctrine which is written at this time which is going to say, ‘Hey, go to page eight and tell me what your specific requirements are.’ I think here is an opportunity for (USARCENT) staff to define for the Army what their peers would need to do at an ASCC level in (order to conduct) cyberspace operations.”

Bidjou added everyone should look at it from a different perspective, point out potential mission-related vulnerabilities and communicate what needs to be done to fix those issues. It is important to ensure staff members have a better understanding of their specific warfighting requirements so that issues can be communicated and addressed.

While beneficial, exposing future potential challenges will entail USARCENT to overcome some of its own hurdles in the process. USARCENT leaders chose to accept the challenge despite the decline in manpower and limitation of funds. Mainly, due to the impact it would have on their Soldiers, facilities and resources in the long run.

“You really have to say: What makes sure our Soldiers are protected, our facilities are safe and resilient, and our war plans are protected against exfiltration or adjustment,” said Bidjou. “If we’re not doing it, who is?”

Bidjou said leadership’s decision and interest in shaping the cyberspace doctrine speak volumes about their willingness to help improve not only USARCENT but also the Army. By passing on this opportunity, USARCENT would be placed at an operational disadvantage.

All in all, USARCENT officials believed the opportunity, despite the challenges, was worth embracing. They are hoping to move from the training and conceptual phase to the sustainment phase and begin executing the strategy prior to the end of next fiscal year.

“At the end of (fiscal year) 17/18, (we) should be resourced, educated, informed, and (have) already executed several exercises where degraded cyberspace environments have played a major role,” said Bidjou. “And that financing, manpower and operational challenges have been addressed and trending from yellow to green — actually executing the USARCENT cyberspace strategy.”

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California Guard May Send More Troops to Ukraine in 2017, 28 Dec 16, Oriana Pawlyk


The California Guard recently welcomed a contingent of Ukrainian troops as part of a bilateral advise-and-assist rotation — and may send more of its own soldiers to Europe next year, an official said.


Members of Ukraine’s armed forces recently visited California National Guard facilities to learn more about Western ways of war amid the ongoing battle in the eastern part of the country between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian soldiers.


Lt. Gen. Yuriy Allerov, commander of the National Guard of Ukraine, and his staff members in November toured Camp Roberts, a major training base in central California that simulates just the kind of urban training environment the Ukrainian forces are accustomed to fighting in.


Army Lt. Col. Jon Siepmann, director of strategic plans and policy for the California Military Department, said members of his counterpart service in Ukraine visit the state about five times a year, while California Guardsmen make eight times as many trips to Ukraine each year — a level that may increase in 2017.


“Maybe more,” Siepmann said of the level of planned rotations during a recent telephone interview with


Similar Responsibilities


Ukraine’s force is “a lot like our Guard in which it has both military responsibilities and emergency response,” he said.


How a Trump administration may steer the dialogue on Ukraine — and thus the U.S. military partnership — remains uncertain.


U.S. and Ukrainian officials — from Sens. Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, and Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio, to Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, a vice prime minister of Ukraine — have raised concerns the ongoing war for Ukraine’s eastern front could be neglected under a Trump administration.


Furthermore, Trump has criticized the U.S. for acting as the backbone to the NATO alliance — in part by supporting Ukraine’s push to withstand Russian aggression — and left the door open on whether he would defend countries he deemed as not properly contributing to the bloc’s collective defense. Last summer, Trump questioned the automatic defense of NATO states and suggested the U.S. would provide aid only if they “have fulfilled their obligations to us.”


So far, the U.S.-Ukraine dialogue remains ongoing, military officials said.


In addition to discussing situational awareness and command and control aspects of operations, the recent visit by the Ukrainian delegation also included casualty evacuation and airlift, according to Siepmann.


“Their goal is to be NATO-interoperable by 2020,” he said.


The crux to achieving that goal will be to establish a non-commissioned officer-like corps, similar to that of the U.S., Siepmann said. U.S. leadership is assisting Ukrainian forces in developing an NCO academy and basic leader course, he said.


“It’s, of course, the backbone of our own military,” he said, “and it’s something that they just don’t have, so we stress how important the NCO corps is.”


Future Airpower Needs

Long-term assessments still need to be made, Siepmann said, such as revitalizing Ukraine’s air forces, specifically the country’s fighter program.


The Ukrainian air force has roughly 200 aircraft, according to a 2015 Flightglobal study cited by military blog War is Boring. The fleet, mostly comprised of MiG-29 and Su-27 fighter jets, Su-25 Frogfoot twin-engine jet aircraft and Su-24 all-weather attack aircraft, has suffered losses from shootdowns, crashes or just sitting in mothballs for years to the point of corrosive immobility.


But now, “we talk about training systems, and how we train, so it’s more of a train-the-trainer type of discussion, a systems-based discussion, like, ‘How are you going about training your pilots?’ But really our focus is on their military as a whole, and looking at things from a systems approach,” Siepmann said.


The California Air National Guard has sent some of its pilots to speak with Ukraine’s fighter contingent on lesson-learned best practices, “to the extent that’s appropriate, but we do have direct engagement,” Siepmann said.


A handful of Guard pilots have been to Ukraine “multiple times,” he said, since the U.S. stepped up to advise the country’s military units after Ukraine’s annexation of Crimea and after fighting between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces began in 2014.


In 2015, Maj. Gen. David Baldwin, California National Guard adjutant general, and some of his guardsmen traveled to Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, to donate helmets, masks and other gear to Ukraine’s forces.


Roughly a dozen airmen with the 144th Fighter Wing out of Fresno also had a scheduled visit to the capital this past spring, at the same time hundreds of airmen from the 144th, an F-15 Eagle unit, deployed to Europe under Operation Atlantic Resolve to demonstrate the U.S.’s commitment to NATO allies.


Whether fighter jets will touch down on Ukrainian soil for exercises remains to be seen. While ground troops train and advise Ukrainian soldiers in the country’s west-side training center in Yavoriv, they do so on a rotational basis.


NATO’s founding agreement with Russia prevents member states from permanently stationing troops or equipment, including aircraft, in former Warsaw Pact countries or Soviet republics. However, experts such Daniel Kochis, an analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation, argue the 1997 agreement has been misconstrued and that NATO forces are justified in pursuing additional defense postures based on Russia’s aggressive military activity in the region.


Regardless, “we’re not currently bringing [U.S] fighter aircraft over there, but joint engagement and exercises is something that we’re looking at with Ukraine, whether it be over Ukrainian airspace or in joint exercises with other countries,” Siepmann said. “There’s significant interest in joint-aerial operations.


“We did quite a bit [in 2016] on the air side with both fighter aircraft and also some cyber and C-130 engagement,” he said.


Drones, Electronic Warfare

In addition to showing off the combined arms simulator at Camp Roberts, which trains forces by electronically simulating a humvee environment, members of the Guard “also took them to our unmanned aerial systems training facility to learn a little bit about how we deploy … drones.”


In the midst of accusations of drone hacking, Ukrainian forces are looking for ways to protect their drones and other equipment from Russian military hacks.


Siepmann said they discussed capabilities, normally based on platforms such as the RQ-11B Raven and RQ-7B Shadow unmanned aerial aircraft, which Ukrainian forces are using or learning from in the battlespace. “They’re buying some of these systems … and they’re also interested in purchasing some of the equipment that we use,” he said.


Since the interview with Siepmann, about 72 of the U.S.-supplied Raven mini-drones have proven to be inert against Russia’s advanced electronic jamming signals, rendering them useless in the sky, according to a report from Reuters. The shipment was part of the larger European Reassurance Initiative, a program designed to deliver aid and non-lethal weapons to Ukraine and whose budget is slated to surge from $789 million this year to $3.4 billion next year.


Data from analog drones can easily be intercepted by Russia’s electronic warfare tactics, the report said.


It is unclear if Allerov’s visit to the California Guard facilities last month addressed the concern.


Meantime, Ukrainian forces are still experimenting with devices, such as repurposed commercial drones or privately manufactured ones, in hopes some of the newer technologies may withstand jamming signals from Russian-backed separatists.


The continuous dialogue with the Eastern European counterparts has given the U.S. military a new perspective on these matters, learning “quite a bit” from the urban-warfare dynamic, Siepmann said.


“The use of drones … in the conflict as well as electronic warfare, use of mortars and other artillery systems in conjunction with drones and electronic warfare has been an area they have gained a lot of experience in,” he said.


The California Guard’s partnership with Ukraine through the State Partnership Program, or SPP, is just a sliver of operations ongoing with U.S. and Ukrainian forces. Training in Yavoriv, led by U.S. Army-Europe and rotational U.S. Guard forces, also incorporates British, Canadian and Lithuanian trainers as part of the ongoing Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine.


Members of the Oklahoma Army National Guard will spearhead efforts in two six-month rotations to Ukraine in January.


This partnership really means “utilizing those relationships and those contacts that we’ve built,” Siepmann said, “to help us do additional work in support of Ukraine.”


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Grounding of Super Hornets, Growlers Caused by Exploding Jet Canopy

The Virginian-Pilot, 29 Dec 16, Brock Vergakis


A Growler’s canopy exploded off the jet earlier this month, which led the Navy to temporarily ground Super Hornet and Growler squadrons, according to a Naval Safety Center summary of the incident.


The Growler’s pilot and electronic warfare officer were injured Dec. 16 at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station in Washington state as it prepared for a training flight. The Navy said at the time it was an “on-deck emergency” that involved the aircraft’s canopy but did not elaborate.


The Navy suspended flight operations for Growlers and Super Hornets throughout the fleet for several days while they conducted an initial investigation. Super Hornets were included in the stand-down because they share common aircraft systems with the Growler, the Navy said in a statement. Several Super Hornet squadrons are based at Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach.


The Naval Safety Center classified the incident as a “Class A” mishap, its most serious type. It means there was at least $2 million in damage to the Growler or a “permanent total disability” to a crew member.


The pilot and electronic warfare officer were taken to a hospital to be treated for their injuries. The Norfolk-based Naval Safety Center described the officers’ injuries as “severe.” The center did not provide any more details.


The Growler is a variant of the F/A-18F Super Hornet and is capable of offensive electronic jamming, electronic emissions detection and electronic suppression of enemy air defenses.


The Navy said Naval Air Systems Command and Boeing engineers identified several factors that likely contributed to the incident. Naval Air Forces ordered changes to be implemented throughout the F-18 fleet because there are similarities in the component designs for the affected systems in the Growler incident, the Navy said in a statement.


The measures include changes to “aircraft water-wash procedures” and updates to the Navy’s procedures for ground emergencies. Flight operations resumed on Dec. 19.


The Growler mishap remains under investigation.


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New in 2017: Marines likely to expand cyber warfare units

Marine Corps Times, 27 Dec 16, Matthew L. Schehl


The size of the Marine Corps may grow in the coming years by as much as 12,000 Marines, as President-elect Donald Trump has called for, but that won’t necessarily translate to more grunts.


Instead, the Corps’ cyber warrior force and other high-tech fields may expand rapidly as the force prepares for future battlefields where information dominance will be as critical – if not more so – than spent rounds.


“We believe – not just me – but I think all the leadership believes that the capabilities that we’re trying to build into the force are the things that we’re really going to need for the future,” Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said in early December.


“If you don’t have those things, whatever formation you put on the battlefield is not going to be as survivable or combat effective without them,” Neller said while speaking at a U.S. Naval Institute event in Washington, D.C.


Neller emphasized the need to build such capabilities into an expanded future force, specifically cyber, information operations, electronic warfare, intelligence analysis, air defense and communications.


“Before we start growing more infantry or armor and things like that, the battlefield has changed,” he said.


Last March, the Corps’ new Cyberspace Warfare Group was stood up at Fort Meade, Maryland, to train and equip Marines to take the fight to cyberspace.


Yet there’s a shortage of qualified cyber warriors. Only a few mission teams are up and running, officials said. The unit is expected to be fully operational by the end of fiscal year 2017.


They’re not just protecting communications networks from hackers and disruptive attacks.


“It’s also trying to get inside the enemy’s cognitive space in a way to have him make choices that you want him to make, when you want him to make it,” Maj. Gen. Lori Reynolds, commander of Marine Forces Cyber Command, told a panel discussion last May at the Sea-Air-Space expo outside Washington, D.C.


“What we’re talking about is bringing it all together in a way that provides the commander options to dominate the information environment and to get after the enemy’s thought processes.”


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New DARPA radio transmitter could revolutionize battlefield communications

Military Times, 29 Dec 16, Shawn Snow


Military engineers are looking to revolutionize battlefield communications by introducing a new project that seeks to bridge gaps in current military communications capabilities.


The program, by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is called A Mechanically Based Antenna, or AMEBA for short. It is headed by Troy Olsson, DARPA’s program manager in the Microsystems Technology Office.


Olsson’s program seeks to leverage the benefits of ultra low frequency (ULF) and very low frequency (VLF), which operate in the electromagnetic spectrum band between hundreds of hertz and three kilohertz (KHz), and three to 30 KHz, respectively.


The benefit of the ULF and VLF bands is their ability to penetrate water, soil, rock, metal and building materials, and their potential for long distance communication — as the atmosphere acts as a waveguide to propagate ULF and VLF due to their extremely long wavelengths, according to Olsson.


“If we are successful, scuba divers would be able to use a ULF channel for low bit-rate communications, like text messages, to communicate with each other or with nearby submarines, ships, relay buoys, UAVs, and ground-based assets, through-ground communication with people in deep bunkers, mines, or caves could also become possible,” he said.


Frequency and wavelength are inversely proportional, which means that as frequency lowers the wavelength becomes much longer. This fundamental concept of radio frequency theory has been a bane for military communications for ages.


The problem arises out of antenna construction for ULF and VLF frequencies. Because an antenna must be resonant with the selected frequency, that means antenna size is directly related to frequency, Olsson explained to Military Times. To put that into perspective, a 10 Hz transmitter would require a 1,500-kilometer — or a more than 930-mile — antenna at half wavelength.


Antenna construction of that magnitude makes operating in the ULF and VLF bands impractical for the average war fighter and highly inefficient for submarine and navy vessels. On top of the gargantuan size of the antenna, the power needed to transmit a signal would be in the megawatt range. The standard military man-packable PRC-117 Harris SATCOM radio consumes less than 60 watts of power.


AMEBA is designed to develop new transmitters that will allow for handheld or man-packable devices, while exploiting the benefits of ULF and VLF frequency band.


“Rather than relying on electronic circuits and power amplifiers to create oscillating electric currents that, when driven into antennas, initiate radio signals, the new low-frequency VLF and ULF antennas sought in the AMEBA program would generate the signals by mechanically moving materials harboring strong electric or magnetic fields,” Olsson explained.


ULF and VLF communications have great potential for military applications. ULF communications would allow for direct communications between manned or unmanned submarines operating underwater and the ability to transmit data and text. That translates into longer underwater operations and less of a need for submarines to surface, where they are most vulnerable, because traditional communications bands don’t travel well in salt water.


Also, because GPS doesn’t work underwater, ULF can be utilized for triangulation and locating other submarines. This application will be especially helpful as the Navy continues to develop its unmanned submarine program, expected to be operational by 2020.


For the Army and Marine Corps, ULF and VLF communications allow for over-the-horizon long distance communications.


Currently in the U.S. arsenal, ground forces employ PRC 117 SATCOM and PRC-150 high frequency radios. These systems provide over-the-horizon communications but with substantial drawbacks, according to Olsson. High frequency radios require the transmitter to know the precise location of the receiver, and the operator must change antenna construction for night and day operations to match the lowered ionosphere.


SATCOM radios are vulnerable to attacks by sophisticated state agents such as China and Russia, who both employ satellite-killing missile systems. In a satellite or GPS constrained environment, ULF and VLF transmitters could provide war fighters with handheld devices capable of data and voice communications, Olsson explained.


ULF and VLF can also be utilized as a search and rescue tool for buried miners or victims trapped in earthquake rubble because of its ability to penetrate rocks and building materials.


The AMEBA program was announced this December and currently is in the early stages of discussion with no researchers under contract. DARPA has scheduled a Proposers Day on Jan. 6 at the Booz Allen Hamilton Conference Center in northern Virginia to further describe the project in detail.


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Germans detect hand of Russia as political cyber war escalates

Bundestag hack heightens fears Moscow is seeking to influence next year’s elections

The Financial Times, 29 Dec 16, Stefan Wagstyl


The moment German MP Hans-Christian Ströbele discovered his electronic data might have been raided in a 2015 cyber attack on the Bundestag is seared on his memory.


“I knew this could be possible,” says the longest-serving member of the parliament’s intelligence control committee. “But that it hit the Bundestag was a surprise. I looked again at my communications. I became even more careful with my mobile phone.”


If the initial attack on parliament’s lower house sent shockwaves through the German political and intelligence establishment, it has since become apparent that its implications could be far worse.


Claims from the CIA, the US intelligence agency, that it has “high confidence” Russian hackers tried to influence the US election in favour of Donald Trump have boosted fears that Moscow is targeting next year’s German polls, when Chancellor Angela Merkel is standing for re-election.


German security officials have said last year’s assault on the Bundestag’s computer network was also carried out by Russia-backed hackers seeking ammunition for electoral meddling. Earlier this month, Ms Merkel warned that there were signs of internet-based attacks and misinformation campaigns coming from Russia that could “play a role in the election campaign”.


The government has reacted to the Bundestag attack with a complete overhaul of the parliament’s computer systems. But it is also throwing its weight into increasing defences against cyber warfare more broadly, in response to a rising numbers of attacks and the threat of escalation — such as the possible sabotage of government institutions and utilities such as power plants. The defence ministry has stepped up its electronic warfare capabilities with the creation of a new 13,500-strong cyber unit, due to be fully operational by mid-2017.


Berlin’s concerns are shared with other EU states, notably France, which holds a presidential election next year. EU officials fear Europe could be more vulnerable to interference than the US because of its wider political and economic connections to Russia, significant Russian-speaking minorities in some countries including Germany and President Vladimir Putin’s support for rightwing populist parties across Europe.


Stefan Meister, a Russia expert at the German Council for Foreign Relations, says that as in the US, cyber attacks could be combined with social media manipulation and political support for the Russia-friendly populist and Eurosceptic Alternative for Germany party.


“Russian interference in German politics has already started,” says Mr Meister. “Every country has the right to promote its interests in another country. But Russia has a programme that includes grey tactics and illegal tactics.”


The federal Verfassungsschutz, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, has accused Russian secret services of backing the hackers responsible for the Bundestag attack. The agency blames the breach on a group of hackers known as APT 28, which European and US intelligence officials regard as Moscow-backed. US officials have said the same group, and a related one called APT 29, hacked the Democratic campaign offices ahead of the US presidential election and copied thousands of files. These included emails from Hillary Clinton, the defeated Democratic candidate, which were later also published on WikiLeaks.


WikiLeaks also recently published sensitive German government documents on US-German intelligence co-operation, which officials fear may have come from the Bundestag hack.


The interior ministry says Germany needs resilient computer systems to withstand attacks, effective intelligence work and citizens that are aware of the potential dangers, including the risk that stolen information could be used to influence opinion. But there is wide concern that the population remains insufficiently prepared.


Mr Ströbele, an opposition Green MP, says he has increased his own security, including using encrypted links for sensitive phone calls. The precaution only works if the person on the other side of the call does the same however. “Colleagues have also taken precautions. But not enough in my view,” he says.


Thomas de Maizière, interior minister, has warned Germany must be ready for attacks from all sources, including private organisations and criminal groups as well as states such as Russia and China.


Last month, for example, an assault on Deutsche Telekom caused network problems for 900,000 customers, with officials citing criminals among potential suspects. ThyssenKrupp, the steelmaker, which disclosed this month that hackers who stole sensitive data were likely to have been based in Southeast Asia, said bluntly: “It is currently virtually impossible to provide viable protection against organised, highly professional, hacking attacks.”


Mr Ströbele, who takes a critical view of western as well as non-western intelligence activities, argues that US as well as Chinese and Russian hackers pose a risk to Germany. But government officials say the threat from Russia is of a different order because of its suspected state backing, sophisticated interaction with the media and social media and apparent clear political purpose.


Stephan Mayer, the parliamentary interior affairs spokesman for Ms Merkel’s ruling CDU/CSU bloc, sums up the fears, warning: “It is Russia’s intention to destabilise the German government and so weaken our democracy.”


Cyber attacks, including “the kind that in Russian doctrine” are called hybrid warfare, now “belong to normal daily life”, warns Ms Merkel herself, adding: “We must learn to manage this.”


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Kingdom of Jordan Purchases Electronic Warfare System

Signal Magazine, 22 Dec 16, Unattributed


DRS Advanced ISR LLC, Beavercreek, Ohio, was awarded a $41,344,242 firm fixed-price foreign military sales contract (Jordan) with options for the Military Electronic Warfare System, Electronic Warfare Phase 2. One bid was solicited with one received.


Work will be performed in Beavercreek, Ohio, with an estimated completion date of December 20, 2019. Fiscal 2016 other procurement funds in the amount of $41,344,242 were obligated at the time of the award. The Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen, Maryland, is the contracting activity (W91CRB-17-C-5004).


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India Issues Global EW Suites Tender For Tejas Combat Aircraft

Defense World, 29 Dec 16, Bureau Writers


India has sent requests for quotations from seven global manufacturers for electronic warfare (EW) self-protection suites to accelerate the upgrading of its self-developed light combat aircraft Tejas Mark-1A.

Surprisingly, India did not send request to the Russian manufacturer Rosoboronexport though it was selected to compete in the tender to provide AESA radars for the same aircraft, Sputnik News reported Wednesday.

EW systems worth $200 million will be selected by April next year, Indian officials said. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the local assembler of Tejas, will purchase a total of 83 EW suites for series production that is expected to commence from 2019.

The tender has strict conditions for transfer of technology and local manufacturing. India has also sought exclusive worldwide sales and product support rights for the LCA MK1A aircraft or its variants fitted with the EW suite. I

The tender would also have the right to use the suite or its adapted versions on any other airborne platform designed or produced by HAL for use by Indian defense customers.

Bids have been invited from Elbit Systems and Elta Systems (both Israel), Saab (Sweden), Thales (France), Elettronica s.p.a (Italy), Raytheon (US) and Indra Systems (Spain).

HAL will make outright purchase of 24 sets of formed EW suites and locally manufacture another 48 based on a combination of kits supplied by the vendor. “The Vendor shall ensure that HAL work content shall be more than or equal to 40 per cent by value of the unit price of each EW Suite,” reads the tender issued by HAL.

LCA TEJAS is a light weight, single engine combat jet optimized for air superiority and ground attack roles. This 4.5+ generation combat aircraft has a carbon composite frame, digital flight control system; glass cockpit and digital avionics.

Last month, the Indian Defense Ministry had cleared the “acceptance of necessity” (AoN) for the procurement of 83 upgraded versions of Tejas for $7.7 billion.

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U.S.-supplied drones disappoint Ukraine at the front lines

Reuters, 22 Dec 16, Phil Stewart


Millions of dollars’ worth of U.S.-supplied drones that Kiev had hoped would help in its war against Russian-backed separatists have proven ineffective against jamming and hacking, Ukrainian officials say.


The 72 Raven RQ-11B Analog mini-drones were so disappointing following their arrival this summer that Natan Chazin, an advisor to Ukraine’s military with deep knowledge of the country’s drone program, said if it were up to him, he would return them.


“From the beginning, it was the wrong decision to use these drones in our (conflict),” Chazin, an advisor to the chief of the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces, told Reuters.


The hand-launched Ravens were one of the recent highlights of U.S. security assistance to Ukraine, aiming to give Kiev’s military portable, light-weight, unarmed surveillance drones that were small enough to be used widely in the field. They are made by AeroVironment.


But they appear to have fallen short in a battle against the separatists, who benefit from far more sophisticated military technology than insurgencies the West has contended with in Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria.


Whether President-elect Donald Trump’s administration might seek to provide Kiev anything more robust, however, is unclear, given his stated desire to improve ties with Russia and prioritize the fight against Islamic militants. U.S. restrictions on technology exports could also limit new aid.


The Air Force command of Ukraine’s armed forces acknowledged to Reuters that the Ravens supplied by the United States had a fundamental drawback: Russia and the separatist forces it supports can intercept and jam their video feeds and data.


“The complex is analog, therefore command channels and data are not protected from interception and suppression by modern means of electronic warfare,” it said.


U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged that Russia’s electronic warfare capabilities were far more sophisticated than thought when the conflict began and that both the U.S. and Ukrainian militaries were adapting.


Asked about Ukraine’s reaction to the Ravens, one official said it took a considerable amount of time for the drones to reach Ukraine and that by then “they were much less effective than they would have liked, than we would have liked.”


AeroVironment referred questions from Reuters about the Raven contract to the U.S. Army.


The U.S. Army told Reuters it still uses Ravens but has upgraded to digital versions.


Some 38 Ukrainian students were trained at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama on how to operate the drones between March and July this year, a U.S. Army spokesman said.


Ukraine said it distributed the Ravens across the services and gave one batch to the Zhytomry Military Institute for training purposes.


There were mixed accounts on how much the Ravens were being used in Ukraine, which saw Crimea annexed by Russia in 2014 and which has been fighting Russian-backed separatist forces in the east. Nearly 10,000 people have died in the conflict.


The Air Force command of Ukraine’s armed forces said they were being used in the “Anti-Terrorist Operation” zone, including in combat situations.


One Ukrainian official, however, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said that although drones were being used in the zone, they were not employed on the front lines.


Chazin said they were largely in storage and called them a vulnerability, allowing the enemy to see Ukrainian military positions and, when it wanted, easily take them down. They had short battery life and were unable to reliably fulfill the key mission of gaining intelligence on artillery positions, he said.


“(Analog) basically puts you back in the stone age of the UAVs,” said James Lewis, director of the strategic technologies program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, using an acronym for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or drones.


“I’m not being critical of the Raven. I love the Raven … But it’s a cheap, disposable UAV. And for more intense conflict, that may not cut the ice anymore.”


The drones, along with other U.S.-supplied items like radar, first-aid kits, night vision and communications gear, fit into President Barack Obama’s strategy of providing non-lethal military assistance while focusing on sanctions and diplomacy to end the war.


Within that context, the miniature drones, even though small, were a noteworthy element of the more than $600 million in training and equipment that the United States has provided Ukraine so far. Ukraine pegged the Raven program’s value at over $12 million.


How Trump might alter U.S. support remains unclear, particularly given cabinet picks that include retired Marine General James Mattis, who has been vocal about his concerns about Russia and was nominated to become U.S. defense secretary.


Some of the most prominent Republican lawmakers in Congress have called for Ukraine to receive lethal arms.


“If anything, it creates a new opportunity,” said Luke Coffey at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think-tank.


Ukrainian officials have sought to put a brave face on Trump’s election, downplaying comments on the campaign trail that included appearing to recognize Crimea as part of Russia and contemplating an end to U.S. sanctions on Russia.


Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko is expected to visit Washington next year, and U.S. assistance is sure to be high on his agenda.


Topping Ukraine’s wish list are Javelin anti-tank missiles made by made by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. The top U.S. military officer in Europe, General Curtis Scaparrotti, told a Senate hearing this year “there’s a requirement for an anti-tank weapon, like Javelin.”


One of the U.S. officials cautioned about limitations on America’s ability to export drones that can evade Russia’s electronic warfare capabilities.


That could leave Ukraine’s military to continue building drones from commercially available technology. It now assembles them from components supplied by firms in countries such as Australia, China and the Czech Republic for only $20,000 to $25,000 apiece, Chazin said, and they are more advanced than the more pricey Ravens, which are often funded from private donations.


(Reporting by Phil Stewart Additional reporting by Catherine Koppel in New York; Editing by James Dalgleish)


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Czech Republic sets up unit to counter fake news threat

CNN, 28 Dec 16, Laura Smith-Spark


The Center Against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats starts operations on January 1

Czech intelligence service identified Russian propaganda and disinformation as a threat


The Czech Republic is setting up a new counter-terrorism unit aimed at the threat posed by “foreign disinformation campaigns” — or fake news.


The Center Against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats is due to start operating on Sunday, according to an interior ministry statement.


The new center is intended to monitor internal security threats, including attacks on soft targets and extremism, as well as “disinformation campaigns related to internal security.”


Its establishment follows the publication in September of a Czech intelligence service report that identified Russian disinformation and cyber-espionage activities as a potential threat to the Czech Republic, European Union and NATO.


Washington accused Russia of interfering with November’s US presidential election by hacking into Democratic National Committee emails and leaking details to the public.

Obama: I told Putin to cut it out on hacking


Germany, where key elections are also due next year, has also voiced concern over the growing cyber threat posed by Russia.


The Czech Republic is due to hold a general election next year.


Putin brushed off the accusations Friday, saying it did not matter who was behind the apparent hacking in the US. He said the hacks were important because they had revealed truthful information, such as the alleged favoritism showed by the DNC to Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.


According to the Czech Security Information Service (BIS) annual report, Russia in 2015 used “influence and information operations” to try to manipulate public opinion in the Czech Republic in relation to Syria and Ukraine. Russia is involved in conflicts in both these countries.


Russia’s hybrid warfare operations included “weakening the strength of Czech media” through “covert infiltration of Czech media and the Internet, massive production of Russian propaganda and disinformation controlled by the state,” the report said.


Other Russian operations included founding puppet organizations, the “covert and open support of populist or extremist subjects,” and “disrupting the coherence and readiness of NATO and the EU,” the report claimed.


“The above-mentioned activities pose a threat to the Czech Republic, EU and NATO not only in relation to the Ukrainian and Syrian conflicts.


“The infrastructure created for achieving these goals will not disappear with the end of the two conflicts. It can be used to destabilize or manipulate Czech society or political environment at any time, if Russia wishes to do so.”


According to the Czech interior ministry, its new unit won’t be interrogating anyone, censoring online content or bringing legal proceedings, nor will it “have a button for ‘switching off the internet.’ ”

But it will monitor threats, inform the public about “serious cases of disinformation” and promote internal security expertise.


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How the Kremlin Recruited an Army of Specialists for Cyberwar

The New York Times, 30 Dec 16, Andrew E. Kramer


Aleksandr B. Vyarya thought his job was to defend people from cyberattacks until, he says, his government approached him with a request to do the opposite.

Mr. Vyarya, 33, a bearded, bespectacled computer programmer who thwarted hackers, said he was suddenly being asked to join a sweeping overhaul of the Russian military last year. Under a new doctrine, the nation’s generals were redefining war as more than a contest of steel and gunpowder, making cyberwarfare a central tenet in expanding the Kremlin’s interests.

”Sorry, I can’t,” Mr. Vyarya said he told an executive at a Russian military contracting firm who had offered him the hacking job. But Mr. Vyarya was worried about the consequences of his refusal, so he abruptly fled to Finland last year, he and his former employer said. It was a rare example of a Russian who sought asylum in the face of the country’s push to recruit hackers.

”This is against my principles — and illegal,” he said of the Russian military’s hacking effort.

While much about Russia’s cyberwarfare program is shrouded in secrecy, details of the government’s effort to recruit programmers in recent years — whether professionals like Mr. Vyarya, college students, or even criminals — are shedding some light on the Kremlin’s plan to create elite teams of computer hackers.

American intelligence agencies say that a team of Russian hackers stole data from the Democratic National Committee during the presidential campaign. On Thursday, the Obama administration imposed sanctions against Russia for interfering in the election, the bedrock of the American political system.

The sanctions take aim at Russia’s main intelligence agencies and specific individuals, striking at one part of a sprawling cyberespionage operation that also includes the military, military contractors and teams of civilian recruits.

For more than three years, rather than rely on military officers working out of isolated bunkers, Russian government recruiters have scouted a wide range of programmers, placing prominent ads on social media sites, offering jobs to college students and professional coders, and even speaking openly about looking in Russia’s criminal underworld for potential talent.

Those recruits were intended to cycle through military contracting companies and newly formed units called science squadrons established on military bases around the country.

As early as 2013, Sergei K. Shoigu, the Russian defense minister, told university rectors at a meeting in Moscow that he was on a ”head hunt in the positive meaning of the word” for coders.

The Defense Ministry bought advertising on Vkontakte, Russia’s most popular social network. One video shows a man clanging a military rifle on a table beside a laptop computer, then starting to type.

”If you graduated from college, if you are a technical specialist, if you are ready to use your knowledge, we give you an opportunity,” the ad intoned. Members of the science squadrons, the video said, live in ”comfortable accommodation,” shown as an apartment furnished with a washing machine.

University students subject to mandatory conscription in the nation’s armed forces, but who wanted to avoid brutal stints as enlistees, could opt instead to join a science squadron. A government questionnaire asks draftees about their knowledge of programming languages.

The ministry posted openings on job forums, according to an investigation by Meduza, a Russian news site based in Riga, Latvia, that first disclosed the recruitment effort. One post from 2014 advertised for a computer scientist with knowledge of ”patches, vulnerabilities and exploits,” which refers to sabotage used to alter a computer.

Given the size of Russia’s cybercrime underworld, it was not long before the military considered recruiting those it described as ”hackers who have problems with the law.”

In an article titled ”Enlisted Hacker” in Rossiiskaya Gazeta, the government newspaper, a deputy minister of defense, Gen. Oleg Ostapenko, said the science squadrons might include hackers with criminal histories. ”From the point of view of using scientific potential, this is a matter for discussion,” he was quoted as saying in 2013.

Experts say the strategy was more than just talk.

”There have been cases where cybercriminals are arrested but never ended up in prison,” said Dmitri Alperovitch, the co-founder and chief technology officer of CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity company that first identified the group known as Fancy Bear as the perpetrator of the Democratic National Committee hacking.

Mr. Vyarya, the programmer who turned down the government’s job offer, was an attractive recruit from the opposite end of the spectrum: someone with a career protecting people against hackers.

Specifically, he had experience shielding websites from a maneuver called a distributed denial of service, or DDoS attack, in which the sites are overwhelmed and disabled by a torrent of fake traffic. Among his clients were Vedomosti, an independent newspaper; TV Rain, an opposition-leaning television station; and the website of Aleksei A. Navalny, the opposition leader.

Mr. Vyarya said that in 2015 he was invited to accompany Vasily Brovko, an executive at the military contracting company Rostec, on a trip to Sofia, Bulgaria. But he said it turned out to be a demonstration of a new software suite capable of staging DDoS attacks.

The Bulgarian firm demonstrating the software briefly crashed the website of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry and, a Russian news website, Mr. Vyarya said. has confirmed its site went down inexplicably for about two minutes that day, Feb. 5, 2015.

After the demonstration, Mr. Vyarya said Mr. Brovko asked him how the program might be improved. Then, according to Mr. Vyarya, Mr. Brovko offered him a job running the DDoS software, which he said the Russians planned to buy from the Bulgarians for about $1 million.

Mr. Vyarya said his problems began when he turned down the offer: He was surveilled, and an acquaintance in law enforcement advised him to flee the country. He left in August 2015 for Finland to seek asylum, he and his former employer said. The Finnish government, citing safety and privacy concerns, would not comment on the asylum application.

”As soon as we saw what was on the table, Sasha was given direct instructions to return to his hotel and stop all contacts,” said his former boss, Aleksandr V. Lyamin of Qrator, a cyberdefense company in Moscow, using Mr. Vyarya’s Russian nickname. But the overtures from the military contractor persisted, Mr. Lyamin said, and Mr. Vyarya fled.

Rostec strongly denied Mr. Vyarya’s account. Mr. Brovko did travel to Bulgaria with Mr. Vyarya, the company said, but to evaluate software for defensive, not offensive, cybersystems. A spokeswoman for Mr. Brovko called the account of crashing sites in a product demonstration the imagination of a ”mentally unstable” man.

The military’s push into cyberwarfare had intensified in 2012, with the appointment of a new minister of defense, Mr. Shoigu. The next year, a senior defense official, Gen. Valery V. Gerasimov published what became known as the Gerasimov Doctrine. It posited that in the world today, the lines between war and peace had blurred and that covert tactics, such as working through proxies or otherwise in the shadows, would rise in importance.

He called it ”nonlinear war.” His critics called it ”guerrilla geopolitics.”

But Russia is certainly not alone.

”Almost all developed countries in the world, unfortunately, are creating offensive capabilities, and many have confirmed this,” said Anton M. Shingarev, a vice president at Kaspersky, a Russian antivirus company.

Recruitment by Russia’s military should be expected, he said. ”You or I might be angry about it, but, unfortunately, it’s just reality. Many countries are doing it. This is the reality.”

American intelligence agencies, including the National Security Agency, have for decades recruited on college campuses. In 2015, the N.S.A. offered a free summer camp to 1,400 high school and middle school students, where they were taught the basics of hacking, cracking and cyberdefense.

In Russia, recruiters have looked well beyond the nation’s school system.

In 2013, as Russia’s recruitment drive was picking up, Dmitry A. Artimovich, a soft-spoken physicist, was awaiting trial in a Moscow jail for designing a computer program that spammed email users with advertisements for male sexual enhancement products.

One day a cellmate, who had been convicted of selling narcotics online, sidled up to him with some news. The cellmate said that people incarcerated for cybercrimes could get out before trial, in exchange for working for the government. Another inmate had already taken a deal, he said.

”It was an offer to cooperate,” Mr. Artimovich said.

”Why else would you work for the government?” he added. ”The salaries are tiny. But if you do something illegal, and go to prison for eight or nine years, the F.S.B. can help you,” he said, using a Russian abbreviation for the Federal Security Service.

Mr. Artimovich said he decided to take his chances at trial, and served a year in a penal colony.

As Russia ramped up its abilities, government agencies were also in the market for surveillance and hacking software, including some from legal suppliers in the West.

In 2014, a Russian company called Advanced Monitoring that has a license to work with the F.S.B., the agency that succeeded the K.G.B. after the fall of the Soviet Union, bought iPhone hacking software from an Italian company called Hacking Team, according to invoices published by WikiLeaks. Hacking Team has since lost its export license.

Western cybersecurity analysts believe they have identified the one responsible for the breaching the Democratic National Committee: a group nicknamed Fancy Bear.

First known as Advanced Persistent Threat 28, the group has been active since 2007 but its abilities evolved to emphasize attacks, rather than gather intelligence, after the military placed a priority on cyberwarfare.

It stepped up ”faketivist” actions that released stolen data through contrived online personalities like Guccifer 2 and websites like DCLeaks, according to Kyle Ehmke, a senior intelligence researcher at ThreatConnect, a cybersecurity company. The group had been called Pawn Storm, named for a chess maneuver. It was nicknamed Fancy Bear in 2014.

This year, the group appropriated the nickname for its own use, setting up the website and publishing hacked data from the World Anti-Doping Agency, which showed that many American athletes, including the American tennis star Serena Williams, had medical exemptions to take banned substances. The hacking was apparently in retaliation for revelations of Russian doping in sports.

President Vladimir V. Putin has said repeatedly, most recently at his annual year-end news conference, that the information released in the recent hacking of the Democratic National Committee was more important than who was behind them.

”The main thing, to my mind, is the information the hackers provided,” Mr. Putin said of this summer’s cyberattack.

Democratic Party members and the Obama administration should not look abroad for someone to blame for losing the election, Mr. Putin said. ”You need to learn how to lose gracefully,” he said.

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North Korea hackers could ‘paralyse’ US Pacific Command control centre – report

International Business Times, 29 Dec 16, India Ashok

A full-scale targeted cyberattack launched by North Korea hackers could potentially “paralyse” the US Pacific Command (US PACOM) control centre, warned a report issued out by a South Korean state-run agency. South Korea defence experts reportedly believe that rival North’s alleged growing cyber capabilities could potentially cause widespread damage to the US military and key critical infrastructure.

According to a report by the South Korean Defence Agency for Technology and Quality (DATQ), a recent simulation conducted by the Pentagon revealed that a targeted and large-scale cyberattack by North Korea state-sponsored hackers had the ability to cripple the US PACOM, while simultaneously causing extensive damage to the American power grid.

The South Korean defence ministry estimated that Pyongyang has an around 6,800-strong unit consisting of cyber warriors, with extensive expertise in conducting attacks. However, some experts have also speculated that the actual numbers making up North Korea’s alleged elite hacker unit may also be as high as 30,000.

“The enemy (North Korea) will seek to disable our cyber capacity at a critical point via an all-out cyberattack. … It is crucial (for South Korea) to establish an asymmetrical cyber warfare capacity to overwhelm that of the North,” the report said. (via Korea Herald ).

The DATQ report also highlighted that the reclusive nation’s hacking abilities have gained a reputation among cybersecurity experts, especially after the 2013 mass hacking, which hit 3 major banks and TV broadcasters in South Korea and resulted in successfully infecting nearly 48,000 computers with malware.

South Korean cyber specialist, Prof Lim Jong-in, who works at the graduate school of information security at Korea Universtiy claimed that cyber terrorism holds an appeal to economically impoverished nations like North Korea, as it allows for attacks which have a large impact and can be accomplished with a relatively small budget.

Cyber tension between North and South have recently escalated, amid a wave of allegations and cyberattacks. South Korea recently accused its rival of attacking its military cyber command. The allegations were later slammed by North Korean state media, which deemed the accusations as a “childish plot” designed to distract interest from the country’s current political woes.

Earlier in the year, reports indicated that South Korea was working on building its own cyber army to combat increasing cyber threats from rival North. Both combative nations are believed to have dedicated cyber units designed to counter threats and launch offensive attacks.

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Lithuanian president: US role remains trans-Atlantic security guarantee

The Baltic Times, 29 Dec 16, Staff


At a meeting with United States senators visiting Vilnius on Thursday, Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaite emphasized the country’s role to trans-Atlantic security.


“Given the changing geopolitical environment, the active role that the United States plays in Europe and the region continues to provide the most reliable security guarantees for the Baltic states and for the whole trans-Atlantic community,” the President’s Office said in a press release after the meeting.

The meeting between Grybauskaite and Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, as well as Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar addressed Lithuanian-US defense cooperation and implementation of the decisions taken at the latest NATO summit in Warsaw.

Beginning early in 2017, multinational NATO battalion troops will start arriving in Lithuania. A rotational presence of a US battalion is also planned.

In the president’s words, Lithuania trusts the US as the leader of the free and democratic world.

“(The country has) repeatedly demonstrated its strong commitment, based on specific capabilities, to NATO’s collective defense,” reads the press release.

With the United States and Europe targeted by coordinated cyber attacks, a strong focus was placed on response to hacking. To ensure cyber security, the Lithuanian president said, it is necessary not only to strengthen data protection, but also to safeguard national computer networks from being attacked and to test regularly their resilience against hacking.

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The U.S.-China Stealth Fighter Showdown Is Almost Here

The National Interest, 29 Dec 16, Dave Majumdar


Earlier this month, just before Christmas, China flew an improved version of its Shenyang FC-31 Gyrfalcon stealth fighter.

Compared to the previous prototype, the new version features a host of refinements and has started to resemble a genuine fifth-generation stealth aircraft in many ways. Clearly, Beijing is making progress in the aerospace arena—helped in this case by technology that was almost certainly stolen from the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.

While it is not clear where or even if the FC-31—previously known as the J-31—fits into the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s (PLAAF) order of battle, one of Beijing’s goals for the new aircraft is to secure a foothold in the export market. Indeed, China hopes to compete directly with the Lockheed Martin F-35 for orders around the world—as stated by both PLAAF and company officials.

“I believe the aircraft will have bright prospects in the market. Based on my experience and knowledge, I presume its price will be around $70 million, about half that of the United States’ Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II,” Fu Qianshao, an aircraft expert with the PLAAF told the China Daily [3]. “Moreover, the fourth-generation Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale fighter jets are priced at about $100 million. All of these mean you can spend a lot less money to get an advanced, fifth-generation stealth combat plane.”


One of the Aviation Industry Corp of China’s (AVIC) stated goals for the FC-31 has been to “put an end to some nations’ monopolies on the fifth-generation fighter jet” according to company officials. However, while breaking Lockheed Martin’s death grip on the fifth-generation stealth fighter market might be the goal, it is easier said than done. Right now, Lockheed Martin is the only fighter manufacturer to have developed and successfully fielded not one, but two, fifth-generation stealth fighters—the powerful F-22 Raptor and the tri-service F-35.

China faces a number of hurdles in accomplishing its goals. While Beijing is rapidly catching up on developing advanced sensors such as active electronically scanned array radars, electronic warfare systems, electro-optical/infrared targeting systems and even sensor fusion, it still severely lags behind in jet engine technology. China seems to have made some progress on that front, but at the end of the day, jet engines are the Achilles’ heel of Beijing’s aerospace industry.

Currently, the FC-31 is believed to be powered by a pair of Russian-made Klimov RD-93 afterburning turbofans each developing roughly 18,000lb of thrust at maximum power. The Chinese hope to replace those engines with a pair of indigenous WS-13E turbofans, which are expected to develop roughly 22,000lbs of thrust. However, those engines are not ready for prime time—and it is unclear when or even if they ever really will be.

The Chinese contend that with indigenous engines, the FC-31 would be more advanced than the F-35. “In many ways, it is not inferior to the US F-35,” Lin Zuoming, chairman of Aviation Industry Corp of China, told China Daily [4] when the original FC-31 prototype flew in 2012. “If fitted with either of the two types of our newly-developed engines, it will be more advanced than the U.S. model.”

While the Chinese contention is marketing hyperbole, without an indigenously developed engine, Beijing will be dependent on Moscow’s largesse for overseas sales of the FC-31. Effectively, Russia—which will also be a competitor—will have a veto on sales in the few markets where Chinese weapons are competitive (i.e. those markets the United States won’t sell to). As such, until China sorts out its issues with developing and producing a reliable jet engine, Beijing’s chances on the international fighter market with the FC-31 are fairly slim.

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How the U.S. Army Could Become Lethal Again (Thanks to Donald Trump)

The National Interest, 29 Dec 16, Daniel Goure


Investing in Army modernization is a good early move for a President who is both a defense and a budget hawk.


Modern presidents tend to be either defense hawks or budget hawks. Some start as one kind and morph into the other, usually in response to a domestic or international crisis.


President-elect Trump may be that rare leader who will try to be both at the same time.


He has already provided strong signs that he intends to try. On the one hand, he has nominated several former senior military officers to major national security posts, individuals who understand not just how to make use of the U.S. Armed Forces in peace and war but what it takes to maintain them. On the other hand, he has proposed as his head of the Office of Management and Budget a Congressman with sterling credentials as a deficit hawk and opponent of waste in the defense budget. In comments over the course of the campaign, the President-elect also has demonstrated that he both favors a strong defense and opposes what he views as excessive spending. In the past few weeks alone, President-elect Trump has commented on what he views as excessively pricey defense programs and threatened to engage in a multi-billion dollar nuclear arms race.


One way that the incoming administration can demonstrate its fidelity to both objectives, a strong defense and making defense spending more efficient, is by making a serious investment in the near-term modernization of the U.S. Army. The Army faces a difficult situation with respect to the challenge posed by increasingly capable competitors. A combination of failed acquisition programs over the past 20 years and the need to focus investments on the fight against Islamic terrorism resulted in a shortchanging of future capabilities for high-end combat. According to one senior U.S. Army general officer [3], “some analysts have said of 10 major capabilities that we use for warfighting that by the year 2030, Russia will have exceeded our capability in six, will have parity in three, and the United States will dominate in one.”


Today, the Army is behind in modernization against current and future threats. Presently, there are no major ground combat vehicles in development. The international security environment is such that the Army cannot continue to forgo near-term modernization and rely on the introduction of transformational systems a decade or two hence. In the face of investments by prospective adversaries, particularly Russia, in advanced conventional capabilities, the U.S. Army needs to bolster its own capabilities for high-end land warfare thereby enhancing deterrence of aggression, particularly in Europe. This includes halting the reductions in end-strength at the level proposed by the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act, which would be 475,000.


On its present course, the U.S. Army will lack the modern equipment and organization necessary to deter or, if necessary, defeat a high-end adversary. The next generation of long-range fire systems, air defenses, rotary wing aircraft and electronic warfare (EW) systems will not begin deployment [4] until the middle of the next decade at the earliest.


Therefore, what the U.S. Army must do is maximize the potential of existing platforms and systems. The Army has a near-term modernization program to substantially enhance the lethality, protection, mobility and logistics sustainment of its current fleets of armored combat vehicles, long-range fires and communications systems. Portions of the Stryker fleet have been upgraded several times, most recently with the addition of a double-V hull to four brigades and a 30mm cannon. The Army is employing engineering change proposals to pursue continuous modernization of both the Bradley fighting vehicle and the Abrams tank. The 50-year-old M-113 personnel carriers are being replaced. The Paladin self-propelled howitzer is in the midst of a modernization effort as is the Multiple Launch Rocket system. Army aviation is pursuing an upgrade program for its Apache helicopters to the new and more capable E model.


An infusion of an additional $15 billion a year for each of the next five years (FY2018-22) would allow the Army to expand investments in critically needed and time sensitive capabilities in lethality, force protection, fires, air and missile defense, aviation, communications/networks and EW. It would also allow critical investments in the munitions industrial base which has shrunk and aged over the past decade. Almost all of these investments are based on accelerating current procurement plans rather than initiating new programs. By the way, this amount is little more than one day of federal spending.


These proposed investments do not constitute an end-state for Army modernization. It will take many years and billions of dollars to complete planned upgrades of combat vehicles, long-range fires, EW and aircraft. For example, the proposed lethality upgrades to the Abrams tank still require several years of R&D before even low rate production can begin. The same is true for EW upgrades, new air defense systems and additional communications security. However, the accelerated upgrade programs proposed above will significantly improve the combat capability of early arriving forces, ensure the availability of sufficient ammunition stores to support high-end combat and begin the process of countering prospective adversaries’ investments in EW, unmanned aerial systems, long-range fires and new combat vehicles.


A robust modernization budget also could help the Army (and the rest of the U.S. military) buy time until it can begin to field the next generation of platforms and systems. In order to deter aggression, near-peer and regional challengers need to see the Army as a formidable opponent. The proposed investments would go a long way to denying prospective adversaries confidence in their ability to deter the United States. Moreover, because increasing the pace and scope of near-term Army modernization is a low risk strategy, it would be a smart way of using additional defense dollars.


Investing in the U.S. Army’s near-term modernization is a way the new administration can demonstrate both its commitment to a strong national defense and its determination to avoid the defense budget excesses of past eras. Like the President-elect’s appreciation of the political and military value of pursuing a strong, credible and secure nuclear deterrent, a decision to strengthen the combat power of the U.S. Army sends a strong message to would-be aggressors. This also would be a way of demonstrating the incoming administration’s commitment to the efficient use of defense budget resources. Investing in Army modernization is a good early move for a President who is both a defense and a budget hawk.


Dr. Dan Goure is a Vice President of the Lexington Institute. He served in the Pentagon during the George H.W. Administration and has taught at Johns Hopkins and Georgetown Universities and the National War College. You can follow him on twitter @dgoure and you can follow the Lexington Institute @LexNextDC


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Buried Inside the 2017 NDAA Is a Little-Known ‘Disinformation’ Provision — and Obama Just Signed It

Independent Journal-Review, 26 Dec 16, Jason Howerton


President Barack Obama on Friday signed the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act into law. But days later, one of the lesser-known provisions included in the bill is gaining attention.


Obama said in a statement on the signing of the 2017 NDAA:


Today, I have signed into law S. 2943, the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017.” This Act authorizes fiscal year 2017 appropriations principally for the Department of Defense and for Department of Energy national security programs, provides vital benefits for military personnel and their families, and includes authorities to facilitate ongoing operations around the globe. It continues many critical authorizations necessary to ensure that we are able to sustain our momentum in countering the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and to reassure our European allies, as well as many new authorizations that, among other things, provide the Departments of Defense and Energy more flexibility in countering cyber-attacks and our adversaries’ use of unmanned aerial vehicles.


By the stroke of Obama’s pen, the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act also became law as it was included in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.


The bill was initially introduced by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) in March and was later inserted into the latest NDAA installment.


The Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act has two main goals, according to a press release on Portman’s Senate website:


  • The first priority is developing a whole-of-government strategy for countering THE foreign propaganda and disinformation being wages [sic] against us and our allies by our enemies. The bill would increase the authority, resources, and mandate of the Global Engagement Center to include state actors like Russia and China as well as non-state actors. The Center will be led by the State Department, but with the active senior level participation of the Department of Defense, USAID, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the Intelligence Community, and other relevant agencies. The Center will develop, integrate, and synchronize whole-of-government initiatives to expose and counter foreign disinformation operations by our enemies and proactively advance fact-based narratives that support U.S. allies and interests.


  • Second, the legislation seeks to leverage expertise from outside government to create more adaptive and responsive U.S. strategy options. The legislation establishes a fund to help train local journalists and provide grants and contracts to NGOs, civil society organizations, think tanks, private sector companies, media organizations, and other experts outside the U.S. government with experience in identifying and analyzing the latest trends in foreign government disinformation techniques. This fund will complement and support the Center’s role by integrating capabilities and expertise available outside the U.S. government into the strategy-making process. It will also empower a decentralized network of private sector experts and integrate their expertise into the strategy-making process.


“Our enemies are using foreign propaganda and disinformation against us and our allies, and so far the U.S. government has been asleep at the wheel,” Portman said in a statement. “But today, the United States has taken a critical step towards confronting the extensive, and destabilizing, foreign propaganda and disinformation operations being waged against us by our enemies overseas.”


Murphy echoed Portman, claiming that the “use of propaganda to undermine democracy has hit a new low.”


“But now we are finally in a position to confront this threat head on and get out the truth. By building up independent, objective journalism in places like eastern Europe, we can start to fight back by exposing these fake narratives and empowering local communities to protect themselves,” he added.


With all the reports of Russia attempting to interfere with the 2016 election, the topic of “fake news” has been a hotly contested subject.


Some critics on social media have made it clear they don’t want the government involved at all in the filtering of information. The government, of course, vows it only seeks to “proactively advance fact-based narratives that support U.S. allies and interests.”


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Obama’s Late Cyber Defense

The Wall Street Journal 29 Dec 16, Editorial


President Obama promised retaliation against Russia’s cyber-meddling in this year’s U.S. elections “at a time and place of our choosing,” and on Thursday he followed through with an order to expel Russian agents and sanction Russian intelligence agencies. That’s a start, but the pity is that it comes at the end of a Presidency that held on to its Kremlin illusions for too long — and on the eve of another Presidency that risks making the same mistake.


The larger flaw is that Mr. Obama’s order amounts to a far too late signalling exercise to underscore U.S. displeasure, rather than a serious retaliatory strike that imposes real costs on responsible Russian officials. House Speaker Paul Ryan was right to support Mr. Obama’s actions, but he was also right to add with no small irony that they are “an appropriate way to end eight years of failed policy with Russia.”


A better response would begin by exposing the embarrassing financial details of senior Russian officials — of which, as April’s Panama Papers’ disclosure suggested, there are plenty. That would get the attention of Vladimir Putin’s political and financial courtiers.


Further up the retaliatory chain, the U.S. and its allies could deploy offensive cyber-capabilities to disrupt or cripple sensitive Russian computer networks, expand the 2012 Magnitsky Act to impose travel bans and asset seizures on Russians involved in hacking, and even cut off Russian banks from the Swift financial network.


The Obama Administration has fretted that the U.S. must maintain “escalation dominance” against Russia, which may explain why even Thursday’s steps were so modest. But Mr. Obama’s timid responses so far to Moscow — and to attacks from China and North Korea — have emboldened its hackers to meddle in the U.S. political process. The Russian regime is nothing if not a respecter of power, and only a U.S. President willing to exercise it will get the Kremlin to stop.


Which brings us to Donald Trump, who told reporters who asked about Kremlin hacking on Wednesday that the U.S. should “get on with our lives” and that “the whole age of the computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what’s going on.” Lord knows what the President-elect means by that, but it seems to extend his strange and dangerous habit of making excuses for Mr. Putin and treating hacking as a nuisance, not a threat to U.S. national and economic security.


On Thursday the transition released a more considered statement from Mr. Trump repeating that it’s time to “move on” but that “in the interest of our country” he’d meet with U.S. intelligence officials next week “in order to be updated on the facts of this situation.” He’s wise to do so lest Mr. Putin treat him as a cyber-patsy the way he has Mr. Obama.

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McCain plans Russia cyber hearing for Thursday

Politico, 30 Dec 16, Jeremey Herb and Connor O’Brien


Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain has scheduled a hearing on cyber threats for Thursday, where Russia’s election-year hacking will take center stage, a source familiar with the committee’s planning told POLITICO.


Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, National Security Agency and Cyber Command chief Adm. Mike Rogers and Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Marcel Lettre are scheduled to testify, according to the source.


The timing of the hearing — just three days into the new Congress — will be in the same week that President-elect Donald Trump says he plans to be briefed by the intelligence community on the Russian hacking.


The Obama administration issued new sanctions against Russia on Thursday in response to the hacking, kicking 35 Russian diplomats and intelligence operatives out of the U.S. and targeting Moscow’s primary security service, the FSB, and its main intelligence directorate, the GRU.


Trump has been dismissive of the administration’s charges that Russia tampered with the presidential campaign. In response to the sanctions, Trump said in a statement Thursday, “It’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things,” but also said that he would meet next week with intelligence leaders — potentially some of the same officials to testify before McCain’s committee.


The Arizona Republican has called for creating a Select Committee in Congress to investigate the Russian hacking allegations. And on Thursday, he and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said they would push for “stronger sanctions on Russia” in the new Congress.


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We’re living through the first world cyberwar – but just haven’t called it that

The Guardian, 30 Dec 16, Martin Belam


As someone who studied history, I’ve had this lingering curiosity about how historians of the future will view our times. It is easy to imagine textbooks in a hundred years with chapters that start with Reagan and Thatcher and end with the global financial crisis and called something like The Western Neoliberal Consensus 1979-2008.


But contemporaries seldom refer to events with these names, or can see the sharp lines that the future will draw. It wouldn’t have seemed obvious with the capture of Calais in 1347 that this decisive siege was just one early development in a dynastic struggle that would come to be known as the hundred years war.


This always makes me wonder what broader patterns we might be missing in our own lives, and I’ve come round to thinking that we might already be living through the first world cyberwar – it’s just that we haven’t acknowledged or named it yet.


What might a timeline of that war look like to a future historian? Well, 2007 seems like a good bet as a starting point – with a concerted series of cyber-attacks on Estonia. These were particularly effective, because the Baltic state has pushed so much of its public life online. The attacks were generally regarded to have come from Russia with state approval. That’s just one reason why I suspect cyberwarfare will provoke endless debates among historians.


Cyberwarfare is clearly a front where nation states will try to gain advantage over each other and make plans for attack and defence. But, like espionage, it is a murky world where it is hard for outsiders to get an exact grasp on what is being done. Nation states seldom openly claim credit for hacking.


In 2008 there were events that a historian might weave into a narrative of a global cyberwar, when several underwater internet cables were cut during the course of the year, interrupting internet communication and particularly affecting the Middle East. Some have argued these were accidents caused by ships dragging their anchors, but they mostly remain unsolved mysteries, with the suspicion that only state actors would have the required equipment and knowledge to target the cables. Of course, it might have just been sharks.


In 2010 the Stuxnet worm was used to attack Iran’s nuclear program. Carried on Microsoft Windows machines, and specifically targeting software from Siemens, Stuxnet was reported to have successfully damaged the fast-spinning centrifuges used to develop nuclear material in Iran. Analysts at the time thought the computer virus so sophisticated that it must have been developed with state support – with fingers frequently pointed at the US and/or the Israelis.


Another event from 2010, the WikiLeaks American embassy cables release, which the Guardian participated in the publication of, would be irresistible for a historian to refer to in this context. It is also one of the things that makes the first world cyberwar different from conventional warfare – the mix of nation states being involved with pressure groups, whistleblowers and hackers. As well as the state apparatus, a history of this period of electronic warfare would have to name Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, Anonymous and the Syrian Electronic Army as key players.


We are definitely living through something global in scope. North Korea has been suspected of hacking as a way to achieve diplomatic goals. The FBI publicly accused it of hacking Sony Pictures in 2014, exposing confidential company information. It was a hack of a Japanese company, targeted by an Asian state, with the aim of pressuring the US arm of the company over a movie.


Along the way there have been other equally odd quirks of war – the infected USB keys distributed at a US military base in 2008, or the curious laptop theft at a facility in Scotland that had recently received an official Chinese delegation.


The one that historians will be unable to ignore though is the 2016 US election campaign being influenced by alleged hacked and leaked emails – and the open speculation there was an attempt to hack into election counting machines by a foreign power. It might be unprecedented, but it isn’t going to go away. Yesterday Obama announced retaliation from the US and Germany is already braced for interference in its 2017 elections.


What reason is there to suppose that these events might eventually be grouped together as a single world cyberwar by historians? Well, for me, it is the idea that hostilities might formally come to an end.


You can envisage a scenario where Russia, China and the US can see a mutual benefit in de-escalating cyber-attacks between the three of them, and also begin to collectively worry about cyberwarfare capabilities being developed in a range of smaller nation states. Cue a UN summit about cyberwarfare, and the development of some code of conduct, or an anti-cyberwarfare treaty that provides historians with a neat endpoint.


It isn’t, of course, that nation states would stop electronic surveillance or building up hacking capabilities, but as with most wars that don’t deliver a decisive victory, eventually they become too expensive and too disruptive to maintain.


It is important to remember that the internet originally came from defence research, designed to provide communications capabilities in the event of a nuclear attack. It wouldn’t surprise me if in a hundred years it is the military purpose that historians mainly remember it for, and that we are living through the first time it is being used in anger.

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Relevant Conferences & Events


16-18 Jan 2017, Electronic Warfare Singapore, Association of Old Crows, Singapore



25-27 April 2017, 46th Annual Collaborative EW Symposium, Association of Old Crows, Pt. Mugu, California



10-11 May 2017, Land Electronic Warfare Technology Conference, SMI Group, Prague, Czech Republic


6-7 June 2017, Electronic Warfare Europe, Association of Old Crows, London, England



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