April 22, 2006

Indian Missile boat goes down in collision

OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
http://www.telegraphindia.com/

New Delhi, April 22: A missile boat of the Indian Navy sank in the Arabian Sea last night, two-and-a-half hours after colliding with a merchant vessel off the coast of Goa.

The crew of 71 was rescued and evacuated to Goa.

Naval headquarters sources said the missile corvette INS Prahar ran into the merchant vessel Rajiv Gandhi, a container carrier of the Shipping Corporation of India coming from the opposite direction, around 9.45.

The Prahar was a much smaller ship.

The boat remained on the surface for over 120 minutes, fortunately for the crew who could ensure their SOS had been read, and sank gradually as water flooded it.

There was little damage to the merchant ship, which has anchored off Goa.

Interview with Brigadier General George J. Allen

Director for C4 and Chief Information Officer Marine Corps

Brigadier General George J. Allen is the director for command, control, communications and computers (C4) and chief information officer (CIO) for the Marine Corps. Prior to this assignment, he was the commanding officer, Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Allen’s previous command positions include commanding officer, 8th Communication Battalion, MarForLant; Detachment Bravo Company commander, Marine Wing Communications Squadron-38, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing; communications platoon commander, 31st Marine Amphibious Unit, III MEF; multichannel platoon commander, Communication Company, Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, FMFPac; radio platoon commander, 8th Communication Battalion, FMFLant; wire platoon commander, 8th Communication Battalion, FMFLant.

His previous staff assignments include assistant chief of staff, G-6, First Marine Expeditionary Force during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom; division chief, C4 Directorate, Headquarters Marine Corps; assistant chief of staff, G-6, 2nd Marine Division, Marine Forces Atlantic; G-6 operations officer, 2nd Marine Division, Marine Forces Atlantic; S-6 officer, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, FMFPac; Unified Plans Branch chief, Defense Communications Agency-Pacific; S-3 officer, MWCS-38, 3rd MAW; MAG-50 communications officer, MWCS-38, 3rd MAW; S-4 officer, MWCS-38, 3rd MAW; Marine communications instructor to the Army Field Artillery School, Fort Sill, Okla.; assistant communications-electronics officer, 31st Marine Amphibious Unit, III MEF; communications watch officer, battalion maintenance management officer, 8th Communication Battalion, FMFLant.

Allen earned an M.B.A. from Oklahoma City University and a Master of Science degree in national resource strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, National Defense University.

Allen was interviewed by MIT Editor Harrison Donnelly.

Q: Where is the Marine Corps today in terms of implementation of the Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI), and what lessons have the Marines learned from the process of creating this huge network?

A: The Marine Corps has transitioned over 57,000 unclassified seats of an expected total of 86,000 to NMCI.

There are two items to clarify regarding the question about lessons. First, it is important to note that the Marine Corps is in the process of transitioning our network to NMCI—not of creating a new network. Second, as to the size of the network, the projected end-state of our enterprise network after we complete the NMCI transition will be equivalent to the size of our network before we transitioned.

With respect to lessons learned, NMCI has proven to be a forcing function for application-portfolio management. The deployment of any applications in the NMCI environment that are not on the NMCI Gold Disk requires the functional application manager to follow a detailed process and shoulder the cost of testing, certification and distribution.

We are also discovering new opportunities for gained efficiencies in the storage arena, a competency that was greatly decentralized prior to NMCI. The Marine Corps has also found the transition period to be turbulent due to the network having been effectively “fractured.” This should resolve itself at completion of the transition, but deployed networks and other “outs” will continue to provide integration challenges.

Q: What is the Marine Corps Enterprise Network (MCEN), and what role does your office play in it?

A: The MCEN is best described as all those IT assets controlled and governed by the Marine Corps, either at an enterprise level or locally (such as deployed networks). The expansive reach of the MCEN touches and enables the entire gamut of our business and warfighting functions and, as such, involves NMCI, security, personnel, deployable systems, applications, circuitry and so on. C4 is the focal point for the planning, policy and programming advocacy for all these items, so our role is basically to facilitate the health and welfare of all IT-related arenas in support of making Marines and winning battles.

Q: What is the current status of the Marine Corps Enterprise Information Technology Services (MCEITS) program?

A: MCEITS passed Milestone A recently and is forging on with the CDD completion. As the Marine Corps’ flagship enterprise-services program, we are targeting MCEITS as the delivery mechanism for Net-Centric Enterprise Services [NCES] and expansion of USMC-unique services. MCEITS is factoring significantly in our ongoing regionalization planning and will form the central hub around which the Marine Corps restructures its IT assets. As part of the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System process, the MCEITS Engineering Development Model is now functional and currently being tested via the deployment of SharePoint collaboration services.

Q: What progress has the Corps made towards synchronization of information architectures with the rest of DoD? What are the key obstacles to this goal?

A: The Marine Corps is engaged at multiple levels with other services and DoD agencies in identifying mutual information exchanges leading to better information sharing:
For joint warfighting, we have teams involved in the evolution of joint architectures with Marine contributions to key operational threads.
For operational support and business operations, we contribute to the Department of the Navy’s enterprise architecture efforts and are working to conform to the Department of Defense Business Enterprise Architecture (BEA).
From a service strategic perspective, the Marine Corps is working to codify its information-architecture expectations through an enterprise data strategy that aligns our information-sharing priorities, processes and technologies with those of DoD.

This strategy reflects Marine Corps engagements in areas of global force management, blue-force situational awareness and network operations, and it complements the activities from our integrated logistics, manpower management and financial management domains. We are also investing in enterprise infrastructure systems that will contain the features and establish conditions to promote better information sharing. Marine Corps operations in the global war on terrorism [GWOT] have stressed the need to resolve information silos and have resulted in a close working relationship with the Army for strategies leading to improved shared situational awareness.

The scale of defense transformation and its introduction of new ideas and architectures have profound implications on policy, procedures and technology and will require time to institutionalize. For example, the concept of community of interest [COI] needs time to mature before a common understanding of a COI and its role and influence are fully realized in our internal pursuits. Today, the Marine Corps is engaged with several joint COIs—global force management, blue-force tracking and network operations—and the demand grows for our participation in developing other shared vocabularies.

Because transformation is approached simultaneously in all domains and across technologies, we see different groups operating on or near the same space. This is a reflection of the enterprise scope and a natural consequence of a desire to achieve success. Finally, each service or agency is at a different stage in its pursuits. We have our established technology footprints, and we operate with constraints on the resources we can commit.

As such, the Marine Corps cannot operate on a broad frontage. We have to target areas that will provide us the best return. We must also be pragmatic and ensure that our pursuits build on past successes. This will not make all stakeholders happy, so we are working hard to partner with other services and agencies to minimize solutions in isolation. This is the best strategy we can hope to use in mitigating these challenges.

Q: The Marines are unique among the services in terms of size, tactics and other factors. How has this unique character influenced the Marine approach to C4?

A: The expeditionary mindset of Marines requires our combined arms force to successfully operate from the sea, in the desert and in urban and rural environments while effectively conducting combat, peacekeeping and humanitarian operations. This requirement drives our approach, in that we must provide C4 capabilities that are reliable, flexible and scalable to meet the needs of our expeditionary force. In addition, our approach seeks to leverage those technologies and concepts that will enable us to maximize the full benefits of a net-centric environment.

Q: The Marine Corps recently made a major purchase under the Multi-band, Multi-mission Radio Standardization program. Why did you make this investment?

A: This investment was made in order to provide both sustainment and modernization of our legacy radio systems and to meet the increased demands for radio equipment in support of GWOT operations. The ability to have a multi-band capability in one radio provides greater flexibility while reducing the combat load at the small unit level.

Q: What implications does the multi-band, multi-mission purchase have for future Marine participation in the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS)?

A: The Marine Corps remains fully committed to the JTRS program. The ability to have a software-programmable radio to deliver high-speed voice, data and video capabilities that JTRS will provide is critical as we migrate to net-centric operations. The multi-band, multi-mission purchase is part of our “bridge” strategy to meet USMC operational requirements until JTRS can be fully fielded.

Q: The Marine Corps also recently ordered additional versions of the Unit Operations Center (UOC) mobile command posts. How have these facilities performed in the field?

A: There have been positive results. Many units deployed in support of OIF have requested UOCs because of the improvements to command and control processes the equipment and facilities provide. Currently, we have been funded for an additional 32 capability sets for GWOT operations.

Q: The Marines have also been leaders in making use of Voice over Internet Protocol. What are the benefits of this technology for your service?

A: Benefits of this technology are twofold. The technology maximizes our limited resources by integrating our networks and our transmission paths for an enhanced digital capability while also enhancing the Marine Corps’ interoperability in a joint arena.

Q: Are you currently working on any other major C4I procurements?

A: Based on lessons learned from OIF, we are currently working on procuring very small aperture satellite terminals [VSAT], which will augment our organic tactical SATCOM assets. These VSAT systems provide over-the-horizon connectivity to smaller Marine air ground task force [MAGTF] units operating in remote forward operating bases. Current efforts also include logistics satellite wideband area network [SWAN] and video SWAN providing connectivity for MAGTF logistics elements and video dissemination respectively.

Q: What computer and communications technologies have been most important for Marines in operations in Iraq?

A: There are a host of communications technologies that have been vital in supporting MAGTF operations. They include blue-force situational awareness devices for enhancing situational awareness at all levels of the force, multi-band radios that provide flexibility for small unit leaders, commercial and tactical satellite systems that allow us to leverage military and commercial satellites, and IP performance-enhancement proxy devices that enhance our efficiency in the use of critical SATCOM resources.

Q: What are some of the other innovative IT-related projects involving the Marines?

A: We are repackaging our current Tactical Data Network equipment suite into a smaller transit modular suite of equipment. This will provide a more flexible package for satisfying our deploying units’ data-networking needs.

Q: How would you rate the current degree of information assurance within the Marine Corps?

A: As with the rest of the Department of Defense, the Marine Corps continues to expand capabilities to protect systems and information placed in our trust. While no organization is perfect, we maintain our Marine Corps tradition of an expectation of excellence and high standards in our information-assurance program and remain confident in our ability to assure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of our IT systems and information.

Q: What is your strategy for increasing security?

A: All tools are only as good as the personnel who use them. While we are working to standardize our security settings on our systems and servers and expand the use of encryption in our communications, it is the Marine running and using the system that is the linchpin of our information-assurance program. From a policy perspective, we are tracking to public key infrastructure-enable all unclassified e-mail, as have the Army and others in DoD.

The Marine Corps is solidly behind the DoD program to certify information-assurance professionals and is looking at our current personnel infrastructure to identify appropriate training and education. We are also expanding the use of distance learning for all levels—whether leader, technician or end-user—to emphasize awareness and present a myriad of opportunities for learning. We will continue to espouse our tradition of “training the way we fight, and fighting the way we train” as we support the DoD’s goal of information dominance.

Q: What is your role as director for command, control, communications, and computers and chief information officer for the Marine Corps, and what do you see as the chief accomplishments of your command so far?

A: I oversee, plan, direct and coordinate delivery of IT capabilities that support both the warfighting and business domains of the Marine Corps. The C4 staff influences the combat-development process by establishing policies and standards for the Marine Corps enterprise architecture, and we foster joint and combined interoperability. Some of my major CIO pursuits are IT governance, data strategy, NMCI and information assurance.

Though my tenure has been short, we’ve managed to upgrade some radio systems and networks dedicated to GWOT. We’ve also increased our standards for network security.

Q: What are your most important goals for the future?

A: I have a few:
Revamp our military occupational specialty [MOS] training. I want to transform our Marines from the traditional communications MOS into “network Marines.” The end-state is a well-trained individual Marine who is technically proficient and intellectually agile enough to exploit new technologies needed in the battlespace.
Pursue “leap ahead” technologies.
Harmonize Marine air-ground task force C2.
NMCI-complete NIPRnet transition and make logical choices about SIPRnet.
Improve C4 capabilities on current and future amphibious shipping platforms.
Align our C4 efforts with current base/post/station regionalization initiatives.
Improve our information-assurance posture.

Surveillance From the Stratosphere

Surveillance From the Stratosphere


Advertise Your Products or Services
High-altitude airships could provide a host of surveillance and intelligence advantages. But policy makers have yet to put serious resources behind the concept. Still, some companies have jumped into the market on their own with early research and development.

By Peter A. Buxbaum




Lighter-than-air vehicles are perhaps best known for their presence at major U.S. sporting events, where they play a primarily advertising role. But they also provide a bird’s-eye view of the playing field to television audiences.

The same attributes could make airships, also known as blimps, useful for military operations in Iraq, or in other similar theaters, for a number of reasons. With U.S. forces battling insurgents in urban areas, airships could arguably provide persistent surveillance more efficiently and effectively than unmanned air vehicles, such as the Global Hawk, or even satellites. And because the insurgents pose no challenge to U.S. air supremacy, airships, particularly if they are maintained at high altitudes, would be impervious to the small-arms fire that the insurgents could offer. Airships could also serve as surrogates for satellites to provide enhanced in-theater bandwidth until the Transformation Satellite Communications (TSAT) constellation is deployed.

Although the use of airships has captured the imagination of some military thinkers, their extensive use is still some years away. Technical challenges must still be overcome, and Congress has a spotty record when it comes to funding airship programs. Still, some companies have jumped into the market on their own with early research and development efforts.

The basic proposition for the use of airships revolves around their cost-effectiveness and flexibility. “The use of fixed and rotary wing platforms to provide 24/7 surveillance is not cost-effective in terms of equipment and manpower,” said Stephen Makrinos, chief scientist at CACI Technologies Inc. in Eatontown, N.J. “Satellites also cannot fulfill the complete requirement due to limitations on payload, coverage [and] the ability to make rapid changes based on a constantly evolving threat.”

“Introduction of airships in a theater battlespace could considerably improve force performance with enhanced communication and surveillance capabilities,” said Isaac Porche, an information scientist at RAND Corp. “Airships can function as surrogate satellites but offer the advantages over satellites of shorter transmission distances for relaying ground-based communications and shorter ranges for sensor surveillance of the battlefield and acquisition of ground targets.”

Airships could potentially provide communications capabilities for the Warfighter Information Network–Tactical (WIN-T) network at less expense than satellites, according to Porche. “A high-altitude airship communications platform could be a strong addition to the Multi-Sensor Command and Control Constellation,” he said. “Persistent surveillance from a fixed position is an important need that airships can meet. Over time, they can facilitate continuous collection and comparison analysis of terrain covered by different sensors, such as infrared, electro-optical and hyper-spectral imagery. Comparisons can highlight changes, such as freshly turned dirt along a roadway where bombs have been emplaced, and the fusion of data from multiple sensors may furnish tracking data on targets under foliage.”

Furthermore, Porche noted, the TSAT satellite constellation, designed to provide the military with its enhanced theater bandwidth requirements, will not be available for some time. “The first TSAT bird will not be launched until 2014, and the constellation will not in place until well after that,” he said. “The question is, ‘What do you do in the meantime?’ High-altitude airships are being considered as an optional surrogate, which could be even more cost-effective if proved technically feasible.”

MDA’s high-altitude airship

The Missile Defense Agency is sponsoring an Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration to investigate the feasibility of a high-altitude airship, or HAA. The vehicle would provide over-the-horizon surveillance from altitudes of up to 70,000 feet and could stay aloft for a month at a time. After funding the HAA for three years, Congress zeroed the program out in the fiscal year 2005 budget, only to reinstate some funding for 2006. MDA’s current HAA is a scaled-down version of the original.

One of the technical challenges posed by HAA revolves around the infrastructure and crews required to operate them. “They are somewhat restricted as to utility because these big pressurized bags take eight people to take off and land,” noted Fred Edworthy, vice president and general manager of Worldwide Aeros Corp. in Tarzana, Cal. “Also, you need a base designed to handle these craft, and there are none in Iraq right now.”

“Getting up and getting down are two challenging issues,” Porche agreed. “You need a base for takeoffs and landings where the weather is not too bad.”

High-altitude airships could be deployed from the continental United States, but that won’t help combatant commanders who may wish to deploy HAAs as soon as possible in a crisis situation. “It’s going to take eight to ten days to get to the theater,“ said Porche. “But once it’s there, it can stay for months.” By contrast, he noted, UAVs are most vulnerable during take off and landing and they can’t loiter over a specific area for any length of time.

In addition, not enough is known about how the vehicles would fare at very high altitudes of fifty-thousand feet or better. “There are some real technical issues involving this,“ Porche said. “There could be problems with the airship’s skin, and there could be operational problems. I’m not saying it’s infeasible, but if the military is serious about the HAA, it had better put some manpower and some money on it now.”

Tackling the infrastructure problem

“Our technology roadmap shows that it is feasible,” Edworthy said. Worldwide Aeros worked on the first two phases of MDA’s HAA program before the program was rescinded. (A third-phase contract was later awarded to Lockheed Martin.)

Edworthy noted that MDA’s current HAA concept is a scaled-down version of the original vision. “The original concept of HAA could have been oversold on simplicity,“ he said. “Once we went through the first two phases, a lot of technical issues were presented. The original RFP called for an airship that could carry a 40,000 pound payload and stay aloft for a year. Now they’re looking at a 5,000 pound payload and one month of deployment time.“

Despite the fact that Worldwide Aeros has no government contract, it has continued to work on its own version of a high-altitude airship, known as the GR-2, although with an important modifications that address infrastructure issues. “The project grew out of the need for a smaller HAA that could be deployed from anywhere in the world,“ Edworthy said. “The Lockheed version is a large craft that is predicated on using the air dock in Akron, Ohio.“ The Akron air dock is a huge hangar built for rigid dirigibles in the 1930s. There are only three such facilities in the United States and only five or six around the world, according to Edworthy.

“Our GR-2 concept has been looked at by several military agencies and is predicated on being able to be deployed anywhere globally by getting around the ground handling problems of the larger airships,” Edworthy said. “It could be assembled and flown out of anywhere that surveillance is required.” The GR-2 is designed to remain on station for 30 to 40 days.

Lower altitude alternatives

Another company, Moyock, N.C.-based Blackwater USA, which provides security services to the U.S. military and government, is also working on an airship on spec. The company’s initial focus will be the development and deployment of small remotely piloted airship vehicles that can operate from 5,000 to 15,000 feet, move, hover and stay aloft for up to four days, according to Chris Taylor, the company’s vice president for strategic initiatives.

“The airships will be equipped with state-of-the-art surveillance and detection equipment that can detect, record and communicate in real time to friendly forces the movement and activities of terrorists,” Taylor said. “We envision the airship being deployed in trouble spots like Route Irish in Baghdad between the airport and the international zone. It can pass real-time data to a regional operations center to detect and pinpoint incursions and [allow] resources to be deployed against it more efficiently and effectively.” Taylor also sees the Blackwater airship being deployed in homeland-security applications such as border patrolling.

Blackwater’s impetus to get involved in the airship business came from the security services it provides the U.S. military in Baghdad. “We make runs from Baghdad airport to the international zone constantly. It’s the most dangerous road in the world,” Taylor said. “We need some way to ensure that we can preempt any sort of attack.

“Our business lines are all cross platform,” he continued. “We like to go to other business lines that support our other business units.”

Blackwater plans to have an operational version of its airship up and running by September 2006, after which it plans on inviting policymakers for a look see . “We’ll demonstrate scenarios under which we believe airships would provide the perfect solution,” Taylor said.

Providing intelligence services

CACI Technologies Inc. has entered into a strategic alliance with HAA developer Auxilia Inc. of Albany, N.Y., to integrate sensors into the airship platform. CACI’s concept emphasizes developing the capability to provide surveillance intelligence services to government agencies.

“In my opinion, intelligence will be provided as a commodity 10 or 15 years from now,” said CACI’s Stephen Makrinos. “Many military and civil homeland security agencies have requirements for intelligence gathering, and it makes sense for someone to provide that service.”

CACI’s ultimate quest is to discover the intelligence needs of multiple agencies and to deploy HAAs to gather and disseminate the required information to subscribing agencies. “Right now you have 32 homeland security agencies, many with their own sources, methods and radar platforms,“ Makrinos explained. “They spend a great deal of money operating and upgrading that equipment, but they have problems sharing information because of interoperability and jurisdictional issues.”

Under CACI’s concept a single platform could gather intelligence for both the Coast Guard and the Federal Aviation Administration. “The Coast Guard has a requirement for tracking ocean vessels three days out and the FAA tracks aircraft within 300 miles of U.S. borders,” Makrinos explained. “If we can design a system that can do both, we could provide the same service to two different agencies at reduced costs.”

An integrated HAA platform

The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency is also working on an integration concept, one which seeks to reduce airship power and mass by tightly integrating the airship with its transmission antenna. The project, known as ISIS, “is investigating integrating very large antennas into airships,” Edworthy said. Worldwide Aeros is working on ISIS as a Northrop Grumman subcontractor.

Like the MDA’s HAA, ISIS seeks to develop an airship that can hover at a 70,000-foot altitude and that can persistently track targets at long ranges for an entire year. “A single ISIS system will be both sensor and airship,” noted a DARPA document.

The system’s antenna will be nearly as large as the airship itself, allowing for reduced transmit power and simplification of onboard power and cooling systems. This feature presents integration challenges because the platform and the payload cannot be developed separately, but the same integration would also dramatically reduce the total mass of the vehicle. Whereas MDA’s HAA payload would constitute 1.7 percent of total system mass, the ISIS payload will equal 30 percent to 40 percent of the total.

As things stand now, however, ISIS will not be ready for flight until 2011. That timeline could also be jeopardized unless policymakers and Congressional appropriators make the strategic decision to deploy airships and put the necessary resources behind that decision.

“The bottom line is that a decision has to be made about whether they are going to have them or not,” said RAND‘s Isaac Porche. “Then it’s time to tackle the engineering challenges.”

Airships could potentially provide communications capabilities for the Warfighter Information Network–Tactical (WIN-T) network at less expense than satellites, according to Porche. “A high-altitude airship communications platform could be a strong addition to the Multi-Sensor Command and Control Constellation,” he said. “Persistent surveillance from a fixed position is an important need that airships can meet. Over time, they can facilitate continuous collection and comparison analysis of terrain covered by different sensors, such as infrared, electro-optical and hyper-spectral imagery. Comparisons can highlight changes, such as freshly turned dirt along a roadway where bombs have been emplaced, and the fusion of data from multiple sensors may furnish tracking data on targets under foliage.”

Furthermore, Porche noted, the TSAT satellite constellation, designed to provide the military with its enhanced theater bandwidth requirements, will not be available for some time. “The first TSAT bird will not be launched until 2014, and the constellation will not in place until well after that,” he said. “The question is, ‘What do you do in the meantime?’ High-altitude airships are being considered as an optional surrogate, which could be even more cost-effective if proved technically feasible.”

MDA’s high-altitude airship

The Missile Defense Agency is sponsoring an Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration to investigate the feasibility of a high-altitude airship, or HAA. The vehicle would provide over-the-horizon surveillance from altitudes of up to 70,000 feet and could stay aloft for a month at a time. After funding the HAA for three years, Congress zeroed the program out in the fiscal year 2005 budget, only to reinstate some funding for 2006. MDA’s current HAA is a scaled-down version of the original.

One of the technical challenges posed by HAA revolves around the infrastructure and crews required to operate them. “They are somewhat restricted as to utility because these big pressurized bags take eight people to take off and land,” noted Fred Edworthy, vice president and general manager of Worldwide Aeros Corp. in Tarzana, Cal. “Also, you need a base designed to handle these craft, and there are none in Iraq right now.”

“Getting up and getting down are two challenging issues,” Porche agreed. “You need a base for takeoffs and landings where the weather is not too bad.”

High-altitude airships could be deployed from the continental United States, but that won’t help combatant commanders who may wish to deploy HAAs as soon as possible in a crisis situation. “It’s going to take eight to ten days to get to the theater,“ said Porche. “But once it’s there, it can stay for months.” By contrast, he noted, UAVs are most vulnerable during take off and landing and they can’t loiter over a specific area for any length of time.

In addition, not enough is known about how the vehicles would fare at very high altitudes of fifty-thousand feet or better. “There are some real technical issues involving this,“ Porche said. “There could be problems with the airship’s skin, and there could be operational problems. I’m not saying it’s infeasible, but if the military is serious about the HAA, it had better put some manpower and some money on it now.”

Tackling the infrastructure problem

“Our technology roadmap shows that it is feasible,” Edworthy said. Worldwide Aeros worked on the first two phases of MDA’s HAA program before the program was rescinded. (A third-phase contract was later awarded to Lockheed Martin.)

Edworthy noted that MDA’s current HAA concept is a scaled-down version of the original vision. “The original concept of HAA could have been oversold on simplicity,“ he said. “Once we went through the first two phases, a lot of technical issues were presented. The original RFP called for an airship that could carry a 40,000 pound payload and stay aloft for a year. Now they’re looking at a 5,000 pound payload and one month of deployment time.“

Despite the fact that Worldwide Aeros has no government contract, it has continued to work on its own version of a high-altitude airship, known as the GR-2, although with an important modifications that address infrastructure issues. “The project grew out of the need for a smaller HAA that could be deployed from anywhere in the world,“ Edworthy said. “The Lockheed version is a large craft that is predicated on using the air dock in Akron, Ohio.“ The Akron air dock is a huge hangar built for rigid dirigibles in the 1930s. There are only three such facilities in the United States and only five or six around the world, according to Edworthy.

“Our GR-2 concept has been looked at by several military agencies and is predicated on being able to be deployed anywhere globally by getting around the ground handling problems of the larger airships,” Edworthy said. “It could be assembled and flown out of anywhere that surveillance is required.” The GR-2 is designed to remain on station for 30 to 40 days.

Lower altitude alternatives

Another company, Moyock, N.C.-based Blackwater USA, which provides security services to the U.S. military and government, is also working on an airship on spec. The company’s initial focus will be the development and deployment of small remotely piloted airship vehicles that can operate from 5,000 to 15,000 feet, move, hover and stay aloft for up to four days, according to Chris Taylor, the company’s vice president for strategic initiatives.

“The airships will be equipped with state-of-the-art surveillance and detection equipment that can detect, record and communicate in real time to friendly forces the movement and activities of terrorists,” Taylor said. “We envision the airship being deployed in trouble spots like Route Irish in Baghdad between the airport and the international zone. It can pass real-time data to a regional operations center to detect and pinpoint incursions and [allow] resources to be deployed against it more efficiently and effectively.” Taylor also sees the Blackwater airship being deployed in homeland-security applications such as border patrolling.

Blackwater’s impetus to get involved in the airship business came from the security services it provides the U.S. military in Baghdad. “We make runs from Baghdad airport to the international zone constantly. It’s the most dangerous road in the world,” Taylor said. “We need some way to ensure that we can preempt any sort of attack.

“Our business lines are all cross platform,” he continued. “We like to go to other business lines that support our other business units.”

Blackwater plans to have an operational version of its airship up and running by September 2006, after which it plans on inviting policymakers for a look see . “We’ll demonstrate scenarios under which we believe airships would provide the perfect solution,” Taylor said.

Providing intelligence services

CACI Technologies Inc. has entered into a strategic alliance with HAA developer Auxilia Inc. of Albany, N.Y., to integrate sensors into the airship platform. CACI’s concept emphasizes developing the capability to provide surveillance intelligence services to government agencies.

“In my opinion, intelligence will be provided as a commodity 10 or 15 years from now,” said CACI’s Stephen Makrinos. “Many military and civil homeland security agencies have requirements for intelligence gathering, and it makes sense for someone to provide that service.”

CACI’s ultimate quest is to discover the intelligence needs of multiple agencies and to deploy HAAs to gather and disseminate the required information to subscribing agencies. “Right now you have 32 homeland security agencies, many with their own sources, methods and radar platforms,“ Makrinos explained. “They spend a great deal of money operating and upgrading that equipment, but they have problems sharing information because of interoperability and jurisdictional issues.”

Under CACI’s concept a single platform could gather intelligence for both the Coast Guard and the Federal Aviation Administration. “The Coast Guard has a requirement for tracking ocean vessels three days out and the FAA tracks aircraft within 300 miles of U.S. borders,” Makrinos explained. “If we can design a system that can do both, we could provide the same service to two different agencies at reduced costs.”

An integrated HAA platform

The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency is also working on an integration concept, one which seeks to reduce airship power and mass by tightly integrating the airship with its transmission antenna. The project, known as ISIS, “is investigating integrating very large antennas into airships,” Edworthy said. Worldwide Aeros is working on ISIS as a Northrop Grumman subcontractor.

Like the MDA’s HAA, ISIS seeks to develop an airship that can hover at a 70,000-foot altitude and that can persistently track targets at long ranges for an entire year. “A single ISIS system will be both sensor and airship,” noted a DARPA document.

The system’s antenna will be nearly as large as the airship itself, allowing for reduced transmit power and simplification of onboard power and cooling systems. This feature presents integration challenges because the platform and the payload cannot be developed separately, but the same integration would also dramatically reduce the total mass of the vehicle. Whereas MDA’s HAA payload would constitute 1.7 percent of total system mass, the ISIS payload will equal 30 percent to 40 percent of the total.

As things stand now, however, ISIS will not be ready for flight until 2011. That timeline could also be jeopardized unless policymakers and Congressional appropriators make the strategic decision to deploy airships and put the necessary resources behind that decision.

“The bottom line is that a decision has to be made about whether they are going to have them or not,” said RAND‘s Isaac Porche. “Then it’s time to tackle the engineering challenges.

U.S.-U.K. JSF Fighter Hit by Budget

Interview with

Could defense budget cuts weaken the special relationship between Britain and the United States? They could if they involve the cancellation of the second engine for the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft, according to a member of the British House of Commons. By Dr. Liam Fox


By Dr. Liam Fox

Shadow British secretary of state for defense

Could defense budget cuts weaken the special relationship between Britain and the United States?

As shadow secretary of defense, I am an opponent of the current Labor government in Britain. But this week I came to Washington to submit testimony about an issue on which both our political parties see eye-to-eye: the need for technology transfer, STOVL and the second engine for the Joint Strike Fighter. It is not only vital to Britain’s future defense; it is essential to our continued ability to be an effective strategic military partner to the United States.

The Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is a new multi-role fighter designed by the United States and Britain to replace the current generation of fighters, including a short take off and vertical landing version that will succeed the Harrier “jump jet” used by Britain and the U.S. Marine Corps.

While many other friendly nations are participating in the JSF program, the United Kingdom is the only Level 1 partner in the System Development and Demonstration phase, contributing our unique STOVL technology to the effort. We have invested $2.25 billion and plan to buy some 150 aircraft.

However, there are now proposals for the U.S. to discontinue this part of the JSF program. The Air Force and Navy versions, designed to take off from runways and large U.S. carriers, would go forward. But the STOVL version, planned for the Marine Corps and British aircraft carriers, would be cancelled.

Some see eliminating the STOVL or the second engine as a mere cost-cutting measure. Others do not want to share U.S. technology with Britain to the degree necessary if we are to maintain our fleet over its projected 30-year lifespan.

There are, however, broader and more profound issues. Cancelling the program would seriously disrupt our national defense planning. Britain is relying on this JSF variant for two new super-carriers that will be central to our ability to project power around the globe. We have made huge sacrifices elsewhere in our nation’s defense budget because we see this capability as fundamental to a continued active U.K. role in the strategic defense of the Free World.

Cancellation would also invariably effect future defense procurement decisions, with seriously negative consequences that may not be fully appreciated on this side of the Atlantic.

There is already growing concern across the British political spectrum that even after our substantial support in Afghanistan, Iraq and the war on terror, the U.S. has not been more forthcoming in allowing us access to vital technology for a project in which we are a major investor and partner.

Without doubt, cancellation of the program would play into the hands of those in Europe who are even now all too willing to suggest the U.S. cannot be relied on and that Britain should look instead to France and European institutions on defense.

One goal of the Europe-firsters is to use defense procurement to lock Britain into an exclusively European defense force, one in which the U.S. has no role. It’s no secret there are many in Europe who see this as an effective way to slowly but surely sunder the special relationship between America and Britain.

The same concerns apply to the possible termination of the development of a second engine variant for the conventional JSF, a project in which Rolls Royce has a major interest.

These projects are cutting-edge technology, and in similar cases the United States has traditionally developed two engines to offset risk and safeguard supply. It’s smart procurement policy to go forward with both.

But again, dropping the program would send very negative signals to British companies considering future collaborations with American industry and generate considerable economic pressure—on top of political pressure—to partner instead with European counterparts. In this way, “buy American” becomes, for Britain, an injunction to “buy European.”

In the war against terror, in the cities of Iraq and in the mountains of Afghanistan, the United Kingdom has stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States. We have been there, first, because we share the same values of freedom and democracy as America, but also because our close military collaboration—which extends from technology to intelligence—has given us the ability to “hit above our weight.” Now is not the time to break up that partnership.

Dr. Liam Fox is a Conservative member of the House of Commons and shadow British secretary of state for defense. This article was published in the Washington Times March 18, 2006.

INTERVIEW : Brigadier General John F. Mulholland Jr. Commander U.S. Army Special Forces Command

Interview with Brigadier General John F. Mulholland Jr.
Commander U.S. Army Special Forces Command



Brigadier General John F. Mulholland Jr., assumed command of the U.S. Army Special Forces Command on September 30, 2005. Prior to commanding USASFC, Mulholland was chief of the Office of Military Cooperation in Kuwait.

Born in Clovis, N.M., Mulholland graduated from Furman University in 1978 with a bachelor’s degree in history and was commissioned there as a second lieutenant in the infantry. His first assignment was in Fort Clayton, Panama, from 1979 to 1980, where he served as a rifle platoon leader in Company C, 4th Battalion (Mechanized), 20th Infantry, 193rd Infantry Brigade. From 1980 to 1982, Mulholland was rifle platoon leader, weapons platoon leader and company executive officer in Company A (Airborne), 3rd Battalion, 5th Infantry in Fort Kobbe, Panama. He then graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course in 1983 and was assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, N.C. He served with the 5th SFG (A) as an Operational Detachment-A commander and a company commander from 1983 to 1986. Mulholland returned to Panama from 1987 to 1989, where he was appointed current operations officer and later exercises and ground operations officer in J-3 (operations), U.S. Southern Command.

He attended the Defense Language Institute in 1990 and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College from August 1990 to 1991.

From June 1991 to 1993, he served with 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg as operations officer and later as an executive officer.

Following his tour with the 7th SFG (A), he was transferred to the headquarters company U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg as an assistant operations officer, deputy operations officer, and operations officer until 1996.

Mulholland commanded 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), U.S. Army Pacific Command in Tori Station, Japan until 1998; he then assumed command of the U.S. Army Office of Military Support in Washington, D.C., until 2000. He attended the National War College in Washington, D.C., in mid-2001. He assumed command of 5th SFG (A) at Fort Campbell, Ky., in September 2001. In August 2003, he was assigned to the position of chief of the Office of Military Cooperation in Kuwait.

Mulholland’s military awards and decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, the Valorous Unit Award, the Special Forces and Ranger tabs, the Pathfinder Badge, the Master Parachutist Badge, the Military Freefall Badge and the Expert Infantryman Badge.

Interviewed by SOTECH Editor Jeff McKaughan

Q: Is the USASFC warrior of today different from his counterpart from five years ago? 15 years ago?

A: Certainly today’s Special Forces soldier has an operational appreciation and consciousness of his profession that one would have to reach back to the height of the Vietnam War, or the WWII-Korea continuum to compare with. Nonetheless, I see an incredible thread of continuity between today’s Special Forces warrior and his forefathers reaching back formally to the operators of the Office of Strategic Services and the First Special Service Force of WWII. Informally, that thread connects today’s unconventional warriors directly back to the Minutemen of our own fight for independence, and men such as Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, who forged paths and relationships with indigenous peoples across unknown and dangerous terrain, both human and geographic. That continuity is found in such enduring characteristics as courage, bold and creative imagination, initiative, selfless service and absolute commitment to mission success.

What is specifically different today results from the convergence of several powerful vectors that demonstrably influence today’s Special Forces soldier and our collective capabilities. Those melded vectors include the uniformly exceptional quality of men that continue to enter and serve in Special Forces combined with the incredible training that our training base in the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School delivers to produce the world’s premier unconventional warrior. Additionally, we are experiencing a level of resourcing that Special Forces had not previously enjoyed. Finally, the force possesses an immense amount of combat and operational experience today. In combination, today’s Special Forces soldier, either alone or in conjunction with his teammates, brings unparalleled capabilities to the battlefield.

Q: Are there mission elements that you would like to see SF improve in? Are there any core skills or missions sets that would be better to migrate to another SOF command, or the big Army? Will the standup of MARSOC have any impact on you and your people?

A: Of course, we always strive to improve and increase our capabilities based upon emerging tactics, techniques and procedures, technological advances and evolving mission requirements. Special Forces detachments and individuals are executing all of our core missions in combat daily, as well as many of our associated collateral missions and tasks. If anything, our operational experience over the last several years has validated the Special Forces mission sets, repeatedly demonstrating their specific relevancy and application to the GWOT. We see no need and have no desire to migrate any of our core competencies.

It is vitally important to keep in mind that the context for understanding Special Forces operations is unconventional warfare. Special Forces is DoD’s only force and capability that is specifically trained, equipped and oriented to conduct unconventional warfare. By design, Special Forces groups and their subordinate detachments are prepared to execute the range of special operations in a manner that maximizes our enhanced understanding of the indigenous environment and access to indigenous capabilities to satisfy stated objectives. Special Forces men spend their careers developing not only their superb tactical and technical skills, but a comprehensive appreciation of how to apply those talents appropriately within the indigenous context.

As to the Marine Special Operations Command, we welcome them into the special operations family. There is no doubt that the capabilities that are now developing within the MARSOC will complement the family of capabilities already resident within USSOCOM. For example, we look forward to working closely with our Marine brothers-in-arms, particularly in the foreign internal defense arena, where I fully expect SF and Marine capabilities to both be applied.

Q: Are there any organizational or structural changes that you see impacting the command in the coming year?

A: We are looking forward to the expansion of our Special Forces groups over the next few years and continue to work very hard to transform the future force to meet the needs of our nation. Key approved force design update initiatives include the introduction of the enhanced special forces group—Band I, II and III, redesign of our chemical reconnaissance detachments, and transformation of our combat support and combat service support assets.

The current SF battalions have about 400 personnel. There are plans approved for a phased increase to the overall size of the groups. The transformation initiative for the command is called the enhanced special forces group, otherwise known as ESFG.

Band I and II are currently approved. Band I adds almost 100 spaces per group and focuses on combat support and combat service support specialties. Band II adds over 250 personnel spaces per group; of those, almost 100 are Special Forces qualified positions. Band III is currently in competition in the fiscal years 2008-2013 POM [program objective memorandum]. We expect a resourcing decision to be made later this year. It adds over 500 spaces per group, the most significant element being the addition of an SF battalion per group.

Additional growth, occurring this fiscal year, comes from separate initiatives to expand the group support company to a battalion size and to expand the chemical reconnaissance detachment in each group.

Q: Although the QDR has only been out a short while, any thoughts on what it means for USASFC?

A: We are excited by it. When you read the QDR and associated documents, you cannot help but be impressed with the heightened appreciation for unconventional and irregular warfare operations. This is our bread and butter, and the language alludes to approaches and applications that are second nature to Special Forces. Even though Special Forces has been at the forefront of this war from the very beginning and remains heavily engaged in current operations, we strongly feel there is a great deal of unrealized potential within Special Forces that can and ought to be brought to bear against our adversaries. We are eager for the opportunity.

Q: How important is SOF-specific research and development to creating the tools that your teams need in the field? How is R&D structured and funded within USASFC?

A: Equipment obtained from SOF-specific research and development programs helps enable our ODAs more effectively accomplish the difficult missions we ask them to complete. Although we do not have research, development, testing and evaluation authority, we are leveraging other SOCOM assets and other DoD organizations to accelerate our material development and acquisition timeline. My G7 works with the groups to determine requirements and then coordinates with USASOC and SOCOM to validate, resource, procure and field those systems and capabilities.

Q: Language skills are important to just about every aspect of Special Forces. What has been done recently to meet the need to train and maintain those capabilities? What technologies are best suited for training your people, and do you outsource this skill or do you handle it internally?

A: The most important change to how we are approaching language training has occurred within the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, particularly in the way SF candidates are assessed for language aptitude and subsequently trained while in the qualification course. The language-training program at the special warfare school has really undergone important transformation under the leadership of Major General James Parker. It is now designed to introduce languages into the training program early on and weave them throughout the course of the training rather than teaching them at the end of the program. Soldiers will also be involved in immersion programs to improve their fluency. The ultimate intent is to make sure that SF soldiers are able to communicate in their assigned foreign language within the context of the customs, tradition and mores of a specific culture or mix of cultures indigenous to their areas of responsibility.

Once soldiers finish the Q-course and join their groups, it is unquestionably a challenge to maintain language proficiency. Teams routinely conduct language training at the language-training facilities located at the group level. These facilities attempt to maximize both native speaker cadres and state-of-the-art language software to provide high-quality language training. Additionally, the groups coordinate for selected participation in a variety of language-immersion programs, both within the U.S. and abroad. Finally, our soldiers are routinely using their language skills as a practical matter on their operational deployments around the world. We continue to work to find the best possible mix of technology and training time to improve our collective language capabilities.

Q: Body armor has been in the news lately. SOF necessarily are light and mobile. How do you navigate the thin line between protection warrior and preserving the mobility which is key to the mission? Vehicle protection could be a similar issue.

A: Our task at Special Forces Command is to provide each and every one of our soldiers with the most capable body armor or vehicle protection possible. “Capable” implies the need to both protect the soldier while allowing him the mobility and flexibility to fully execute his combat mission without being meaningfully impeded by that same armor. This is largely a technology challenge, and we do our very best to monitor and acquire new systems as they become available for our Special Forces soldiers.

Currently our soldiers wear either the Army Common Interceptor Body Armor [IBA] or SOF unique Body Armor Load Carriage System [BALCS]. SOCOM is moving to where all soldiers in a group wear BALCS, and the SOCOM program manager is programming money for us to do that. Both IBA and BALCS provide the same level of protection [7.62 mm AP]. We are aggressively pursuing an initiative with the program manager to develop lighter, more comfortable systems that provide our soldiers [with] greater protection. We are actively armoring our GMV-S fleet as well, seeking a similar balance between protection capabilities while preserving the required performance capabilities of the vehicle.

Q: Do you think that special operations missions with coalition partners will become more routine in the near future? What are some of the obstacles to these types of missions and are there easy fixes for them?

A: Absolutely, and this is an area that Special Forces soldiers have long been particularly comfortable working in, as we discussed earlier. We habitually work with coalition partners and foreign personnel, conducting complex combat operations with coalition partners and allies daily in Afghanistan and Iraq. Ultimate success of the GWOT will be largely dependent on our ability to successfully work with our friends and allies collectively to defeat the threat of terrorism facing us all. In some cases, it will undoubtedly mean helping them to develop relevant capabilities so that they, in their homelands, can better protect themselves from the threat. In other cases, it may mean conducting combined operations with U.S. and coalition forces to achieve specific effects on the battlefield.

There are certainly challenges that affect meaningful coalition operations. These challenges run the spectrum from interoperability issues that may manifest themselves in differences in technology and/or training, to differences in national perspectives regarding the specific mission and subsequent authorities relevant to that mission. Not surprisingly, the challenge of tactical interoperability and technology are minimal when operating alongside our SOF comrades-in-arms from long-standing traditional allies. The level of coalition interoperability that is taking place today with our comrades is truly remarkable and, in my opinion, an exemplary model for coalition operations.

Where technological or tactical capability gaps are apparent, we all simply work together to overcome them. As more and more countries come to understand what is truly at stake in this global war, and they commit their forces to the coalition, different challenges emerge that must be overcome to attain the highest degree of integrated capability and competency possible. The more we do it, the better at it we all get.

Fundamentally, I believe success in coalition operations comes down to two essential behaviors: respect and sustained professionalism. Regardless of whether a coalition partner brings the same level of technological or tactical capabilities as we possess to the fight or not, they all bring a commitment to share hardship and danger while working together towards a common objective. Within a positive environment of respect and professionalism, working through even difficult challenges is eminently possible and often surprisingly productive.

Q: What is your take on the transformation of the recruitment and training processes? Have you had much feedback from the more experienced operators and how they view what the new system is sending them?

A: Commanders at all levels have identified for years that while creation of competent, fully mission-capable units takes time, we require more Special Forces soldiers and support personnel in today’s and tomorrow’s complex battlefield environments. To address this need, in 2002 the Special Warfare Center and School began a phased increase in the number of Special Forces graduates to build the operational force. They increased the number of active-duty enlisted graduates from a historical ten-year average of 350 per year to over 750 graduates now. This transformation has proven critical to the needs of the force.

We are experiencing the success of both this phased increase as well as the effects of the 18X program. This program recruits motivated civilians directly from the street into Special Forces upon successful completion of a comprehensive, multi-year training program. New 18Xs are motivated, intelligent, eager to train, eager to deploy and are in excellent physical condition. Their level of maturity is above the norm, they are absolutely committed to mission success, and they’ve done exceptional work upon joining their detachments.

As to the feedback from experienced operators regarding the recruitment and training processes, remember that we train our own force. Combat-seasoned, non-commissioned officers from the operational groups make up the training cadres of the Special Warfare Training Group. They are intimately aware of what is needed on the teams and work diligently to ensure the required standards are met.

Q: Can you give us any insight into what the FY07 budget might mean to USASFC? How much input is there at your level into where money would best be allocated to make SF as mobile, lethal and effective as USSOCOM needs it to be?

A: The FY07 budget is extremely important for Special Forces’ long-term goals. Historically, Special Forces has been the most under-funded ARSOF command per capita soldier. We are working toward changing that by getting the right amount of funding in the POM. We do a good job of presenting and justifying our requirements for the programmers who submit the POM to SOCOM.

Additionally, specially allocated GWOT funding has helped the SF soldier by getting him the right equipment and getting the groups healthy in the areas of the right equipment and resources. The challenge now is to find the right baseline budget in the upcoming years to continue properly resourcing the SF soldier.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

A: I welcome the opportunity to tell your readers and all Americans how very proud they should be of their Special Forces warriors. These men are absolutely among America’s very best. From the earliest days of this fight, Special Forces have undertaken some of the most dangerous and critical missions against the enemies of our nation and freedom-loving people everywhere. Whether in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Philippines, Colombia or wherever the call sounds, these small groups of incredibly competent and self-reliant men from both the active and National Guard components of Special Forces, operating alone or with their indigenous counterparts, are aggressively executing their unconventional warfare tasks on behalf of the American people. Their record is one of enduring heroism, valor, honor and success.

This dedication and commitment does not come without cost, obviously. Our families consistently show incredible resolve and resilience in the face of the stresses imposed by multiple deployments of husbands and fathers to combat zones. Of course, this is massively compounded in the face of casualties. As with all of our brothers-in-arms since 9/11, Special Forces soldiers have fallen on the field of battle, or suffered grievous, life-affecting wounds. The phenomenal courage and heart exhibited by our surviving wives and families, parents and siblings, by wounded men waging a new fight towards recovery is both humbling and inspiring beyond the ability of words to convey. I would certainly encourage your readers and all whom they in turn touch to reach out to these heroes in any way possible.

Since 1952, Special Forces soldiers and units have exemplified our motto, De Oppresso Liber—To Liberate the Oppressed. Never has this been more true than today. America’s premier unconventional warriors are out there now, as you read these words, fighting and working to make this a better world. Keep them in your prayers.

De Oppresso Liber

Strength and Honor

A Multimodal Future for Special Operation forces

Biometrically-enabled applications successfully support an expanding list of capabilities, aiding friendly forces to quickly determine whether a suspect is a person of interest, or not.

By Marty Kauchak





Biometric systems have become invaluable tools for law enforcement, corporate security and other communities. Biometrically enabled applications successfully support an expanding list of public- and private-sector activities, some of which are the issuance of identification cards and passports, and processing suspected criminals.

These advancements have not gone unnoticed by the DoD, which is sponsoring programs to place militarized versions of these systems in the hands of its warfighters for use on the battlefield.

Emerging Capability

Biometrics are measurable physiological characteristics or personal behavioral traits used to recognize or verify the claimed identity of an individual. The most common physiological characteristics used in this expanding science are fingerprints, face, hand, iris, voice, retina, DNA and personal scent. As the research and development tempo quickens and the knowledge base expands, there is increasing interest in other characteristics, including the vascular system.

Recognized behavioral traits are signature, gait, voice and keystroke.

A biometric system is an automated tool for measuring and evaluating these characteristics or traits for the purpose of human recognition. DoD is eyeing systems with more than one (multimodal) characteristic to provide the highest levels of accuracy and probability of personal identification.

Portable, lightweight and ruggedized biometric systems—slimmed down versions of those used in police stations and other offices—are envisioned to be deployed and would transmit electronic files with the attributes of a person of interest. The data would be processed and compared with existing databases, with the results returned to the warfighter in minutes or seconds.

The requirement to support the warfighter with biometric matches through DoD biometric systems is an embryonic one. “That activity is about a year-and-a half old,” Dr. Steve Guzman, director, policy, planning and liaison, DoD Biometric Management Office (BMO) told SOTECH.

Dr. Guzman’s office and the Biometrics Fusion Center (BFC) are the focal points for enabling government, industry and academia to field these systems.

The Enablers

The BMO reports to the staff of the Secretary of the Army and the DoD executive agent for biometrics. Four of the BMO’s responsibilities in its ever-expanding portfolio include oversight, planning-budgeting, establishing information-sharing programs and processes across the user community and continuing to make progress on standards and hardware development.

The BFC’s mission includes test and evaluation, repository management and other duties.

Fingerprints Most Popular

While DoD is unable to provide the number of biometric systems deployed on the battlefield, department-wide usage figures are available.

An early 2005 department-wide data call asked the military components to report on biometric systems being used or planning to be used. Eighty-three systems were reported. The physiological characteristics on which the systems were based and their part of that population were: fingerprints (65 percent), hand geometry (12 percent), iris (6 percent), multiple (16 percent), and other/DNA (1 percent).

Three of the applications supported by the systems included identity background check, physical access and detainee processing. The community’s next challenge is tailoring the systems for more battlefield-specific applications.

Battlefield Uses

The potential use of these systems on the battlefield can be gleaned from recent tests, experiments and actual missions.

The BFC has reported that the warfighter support team at the center embarked USS Mustin (DDG-89) to demonstrate the use of a portable biometric collection system in maritime interception operations. During these operations, merchant vessels are monitored, queried and boarded to support the global war on terrorism and U.N. resolutions. Once data was collected about the crew members of interest on a visited merchant ship, it took approximately six minutes to transmit the biometric files to shore and identify the mariner.

While the service is not currently using biometrics to support at-sea operations, it “plans to in the future,” said Lieutenant Trey Brown, spokesman in the office of chief of information. “The Navy has begun to procure biometrics equipment, develop policy to support operations and train shipboard personnel on its use,” he added.

Ground forces during Operation Iraqi Freedom have used biometrics during processing of detainees.

While DoD and industry remain tight-lipped about some aspects of the military’s current and future uses of these systems, it has been noted that other envisioned biometric-supported battlefield missions include identifying latent fingerprints on the remnants of improvised explosive devices and enhancing blue (own) force tracking.

Successes

SOF has been a full partner in placing biometric systems in the hands of warfighters. Indeed, DoD’s first biometric match of fingerprints for a suspect of interest involved Naval Special Warfare Command at a location not specified for operational reasons.

“We provided the ability to send that information directly to us wirelessly, and that was a match off of our search of the Federal Bureau of Investigation database (Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System),” Guzman recalled. “We match the electrons, and we share the matches with all of our intelligence community—and we have quite a few matches to point to,” he added.

BMO: What’s Needed

Standards and protocol compatibility are at the top of the office’s requirements list. This will ensure that current and future deployed biometric systems are compatible with DoD and other government protocols. The office noted two particular specifications.

“We released a DoD-specific protocol called Electronic Biometric Transmission Specification [EBTS] that is fully compatible with the FBI’s Electronic Fingerprint Transmission Specification [EFTS],” Guzman remarked.

In the final stages for a scheduled mid-February 2006 release was the Bio Application Programming Interface conformance test suite. The suite will provide the government-industry team with software designed to give a “go, no-go” assessment of the compatibility between a piece of biometric peripheral equipment and a protocol. As the conformance test suite is being developed in conjunction with National Institute of Standards and Technology, the software can be operated by any party. The BMO is also seeking to bolster two individual characteristic technologies, enabling them to better serve as building blocks for multimodal solutions.

The Enablers

The BMO reports to the staff of the Secretary of the Army and the DoD executive agent for biometrics. Four of the BMO’s responsibilities in its ever-expanding portfolio include oversight, planning-budgeting, establishing information-sharing programs and processes across the user community and continuing to make progress on standards and hardware development.

The BFC’s mission includes test and evaluation, repository management and other duties.

Fingerprints Most Popular

While DoD is unable to provide the number of biometric systems deployed on the battlefield, department-wide usage figures are available.

An early 2005 department-wide data call asked the military components to report on biometric systems being used or planning to be used. Eighty-three systems were reported. The physiological characteristics on which the systems were based and their part of that population were: fingerprints (65 percent), hand geometry (12 percent), iris (6 percent), multiple (16 percent), and other/DNA (1 percent).

Three of the applications supported by the systems included identity background check, physical access and detainee processing. The community’s next challenge is tailoring the systems for more battlefield-specific applications.

Battlefield Uses

The potential use of these systems on the battlefield can be gleaned from recent tests, experiments and actual missions.

The BFC has reported that the warfighter support team at the center embarked USS Mustin (DDG-89) to demonstrate the use of a portable biometric collection system in maritime interception operations. During these operations, merchant vessels are monitored, queried and boarded to support the global war on terrorism and U.N. resolutions. Once data was collected about the crew members of interest on a visited merchant ship, it took approximately six minutes to transmit the biometric files to shore and identify the mariner.

While the service is not currently using biometrics to support at-sea operations, it “plans to in the future,” said Lieutenant Trey Brown, spokesman in the office of chief of information. “The Navy has begun to procure biometrics equipment, develop policy to support operations and train shipboard personnel on its use,” he added.

Ground forces during Operation Iraqi Freedom have used biometrics during processing of detainees.

While DoD and industry remain tight-lipped about some aspects of the military’s current and future uses of these systems, it has been noted that other envisioned biometric-supported battlefield missions include identifying latent fingerprints on the remnants of improvised explosive devices and enhancing blue (own) force tracking.

Successes

SOF has been a full partner in placing biometric systems in the hands of warfighters. Indeed, DoD’s first biometric match of fingerprints for a suspect of interest involved Naval Special Warfare Command at a location not specified for operational reasons.

“We provided the ability to send that information directly to us wirelessly, and that was a match off of our search of the Federal Bureau of Investigation database (Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System),” Guzman recalled. “We match the electrons, and we share the matches with all of our intelligence community—and we have quite a few matches to point to,” he added.

BMO: What’s Needed

Standards and protocol compatibility are at the top of the office’s requirements list. This will ensure that current and future deployed biometric systems are compatible with DoD and other government protocols. The office noted two particular specifications.

“We released a DoD-specific protocol called Electronic Biometric Transmission Specification [EBTS] that is fully compatible with the FBI’s Electronic Fingerprint Transmission Specification [EFTS],” Guzman remarked.

In the final stages for a scheduled mid-February 2006 release was the Bio Application Programming Interface conformance test suite. The suite will provide the government-industry team with software designed to give a “go, no-go” assessment of the compatibility between a piece of biometric peripheral equipment and a protocol. As the conformance test suite is being developed in conjunction with National Institute of Standards and Technology, the software can be operated by any party. The BMO is also seeking to bolster two individual characteristic technologies, enabling them to better serve as building blocks for multimodal solutions.

To enhance fingerprint-collection capabilities, in particular those of SOF, BMO is collaborating with other U.S. government agencies on developing rapid fingerprint capture devices. “These would shorten the capture time for a 10-print set of fingerprints from minutes down to seconds,” Guzman said. “And we would find tremendous value in more inexpensive means of DNA encoding.”

Other Requirements

USSOCOM, too, established the priority that any of its biometric collection systems will meet current or future biometrics standards, in particular EFTS or EBTS, reported Lieutenant Commander Steve Mavica, a command media relations officer.

This will “allow data to be shared by others engaged in counterterrorism operations or to be shared with international law enforcement authorities,” he explained.

In a complementary effort, the command is working with the U.S. Army Biometrics Management Office to establish standardized architecture for rapid identification of suspected combatants.

Industry was notified of another requirement through a USSOCOM Small Business Innovation Research announcement: the Tactical Biometric Registration and Recognition Suite.

The customer wants to develop a lightweight and portable biometric toolset to allow in-theater registration and near real-time recognition of personnel. In line with DoD’s interest in obtaining multimodal biometric devices, the biometric toolset would provide automated personnel tracking through multiple recognition criteria including fingerprints, iris scan, voice printing and facial recognition.

The Navy is interested in obtaining fingerprint-collection equipment and other technologies as they mature, such as iris scans, facial and voice recognition, Brown said. “Next generation equipment needs to be easy to operate and maintain, ruggedized to help prevent breakage, and light in weight to facilitate carrying. Technologies that enable the secure wireless transmission of biometric data are also of interest,” he remarked.

The Marine Corps is also committed to the research, development and fielding of biometrics technology to better enable the service to identify and track personnel. The Marine Corps Combat Development Command (MCCDC), in cooperation with Headquarters Marine Corps Plans Policy and Operations and the Marine Forces Reserve, is researching the applicability of biometrics technology to increase the capability to positively identify personnel, both friendly and potential adversaries, Lieutenant Colonel Mike Johnson, deputy director, force protection integration division, MCCDC, told SOTECH.

“Currently, we have been using the Biometrics Automated Tool Sets in Operation Iraqi Freedom with great success. The Marine Corps Systems Command has procured 312 biometric automated tool set clients and nine servers for our forces operating in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. This action was in response to two urgent universal needs statements from I and II Marine Expeditionary Forces, approved by the Marine Requirements Oversight Council,” he added.

This procurement has joint context, as it was done in close coordination with and with the assistance of the office of the Chief of Staff, U.S. Army and the U.S. Army Language Technology Office in Fort Huachuca.

“Our intent for the future is to see what improvements can be found to enable us to utilize the family of biometrics technologies and codify them as USMC programs and requirements,” Johnson remarked.

Multimodel Solutions

Identix is working on a special project for a branch of DoD, said Frances Zelazny, director, corporate communications. The project involves the in-field deployment of the Identix Mobile Identification System (IBIS). The system is a dual biometric (fingerprint and facial) mobile identification system that utilizes a patented, hand-held wireless device to provide on-the-spot identification information.

“It is ideal for use in the field where soldiers may come into contact with insurgents and detainees and need to know who they are dealing with on a real-time basis,” said Zelazny. “By being able to capture and search against existing fingerprint and photo databases, soldiers have a reliable means of identifying people they come in contact with in the field,” he added.

IBIS is fully compliant with the FBI’s EFTS specifications and reportedly can:
Collect and verify high-quality identification information in real-time from remote locations;
Search against multiple Automated Fingerprint Identification System databases simultaneously;
Provide single-handed use to enhance operator safety (weighing less than 2.5 pounds); and
Enable accurate identification of potential insurgents.

Law-enforcement officers are using the baseline IBIS in the field in six U.S. localities.

A second effort, being completed under a DoD Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) Phase II contract, has Ultra-Scan designing a tri-modal biometric identification system (hardware and software). The product will be anchored by the company’s proprietary ultrasonic fingerprint-scanning solution (Livescan Ultrasonic Identification System) and will add both facial recognition and iris scanning technology. The envisaged unit will carry the moniker Automatic Multimodal Biometric Identification System and will “provide an almost foolproof method for 100-percent identification of individuals in a harsh field environment,” predicted John Schneider, CEO, Ultra-Scan.

The project is building on Ultra-Scan’s fusion logic developed as part of a STTR I Phase initiative.

Multimodal Advantage

The trend to include more than one biometric system in an end product is well-founded, opined one corporate leader.

“Ultra-Scan has analyzed several databases of what most industry experts would consider poor-quality fingerprint data in which, due to the poor quality of the data, the system was achieving only an 80-percent accuracy rate,” Schneider observed. With the introduction of a secondary biometric measurement, Ultra-Scan was able to drive the system to greater than 99-percent accuracy, he added.

Ultra-Scan’s fusion-logic techniques are said not only to ensure that the optimum system performance is being obtained, but also to guarantee that no combination of biometric measurements will ever perform worse than either of the individual biometrics.

Language skills for US Special Forces

For obvious reasons, the past few years have moved language training to the head of the class. Language skills have always been a part of special operations, but the emphasis recently is dramatic.

By Mickey McCarter


Students at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (SWCS) in Fort Bragg, N.C., are experiencing a different approach to language training as they enter the school’s Special Forces Qualifications Course (SFQC). For example, the school has replaced its stand-alone program with a language-training regimen integrated through the six phases of SFQC.

The staff at SWCS has developed many of these changes in synchronization with the Department of Defense transformation roadmap, which calls for increasing language and cultural expertise throughout the careers of warfighters, according to Lieutenant Colonel David Fitchitt, secretary general of staff at the warfare center.

“Once a soldier is selected at the end of Special Forces Assessment and Selection [SFAS], he is immediately handed some language tools, and he’s told what language he is going to learn, so that he can go back to his unit even before he comes back here for his formal language training and study,” Fitchitt told Special Operations Technology. “He’s got language products such as Rosetta Stone and our Special Operations Language Training [SOLT] program available to him on disc and in hard copies.”

Assigning a Special Forces soldier a region and language once occurred much later in the training process, Fitchitt noted. But now, the soldier has much more time to become comfortable with the region to which he has been assigned and thus has more time to prepare for language training.

As part of this new way of doing business, the warfare center has chosen to concentrate on 10 languages and provide lifelong focus on them, as opposed to chasing after “crisis languages” that could change too often for training purposes as the U.S. military enters into conflicts around the world.

The Special Forces groups therefore focus on varying combinations of the 10 core languages. They are:
1st SFG, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog and Indonesian;
3rd SFG, French and Arabic;
5th SFG, Arabic and Persian;
7th SFG, Spanish;
10th SFG, Russian, French, German and Arabic;
19th SFG, French, Arabic, Korean and Chinese;
20th SFG, French, Russian, Spanish and Arabic.

“The intent there is to improve the instructor base and the student proficiency,” Fitchitt explained. “We have raised the standards for a language for a soldier to graduate.”

The U.S. federal government employs a proficiency scale in which 1 indicates a basic competency in the language while a 4 would indicate the proficiency of a native speaker. Translators and linguists usually seek proficiencies at levels 2 and 3. SFQC students must now achieve a proficiency of 1/1/1 in reading, writing and speaking on the Defense Language Proficiency Test at the end of Special Forces training. Previously, students had to achieve a designation of 0+ in reading and writing alone.

In addition to restructuring the manner in which languages are taught, the school is making more efficient use of technology, Fitchitt added.

“We are employing a lot of technology and a lot of commercial-off-the-shelf stuff,” he said. “We don’t want to be creating something that is already available. We want to make use of industry. We are using Rosetta Stone, for example. The Army has just come online with making that available to everybody Armywide, and we have been doing that for over a year for our soldiers, once they are selected at the end of our SFAS. We hand them their language tools, and they go back and study that stuff on their own.”

The language tools can include commercial software applications and specialized programs, such as SOLT I and II (basic and advanced language training programs for special operations) as well as specific devices to help boost language-memorization skills.

For example, SWCS has begun incorporating the use of iPods into its language classes. Students use the iPods to listen to instructional podcasts to maximize exposure to their target language around the clock and make the best use of their after hours and weekend time.

While technology is important in this initial skills-acquisition environment, the Army also has employed it to sustain language learning in the field and to provide contingency learning in the event that a Special Forces soldier must pick up language skills outside of his or her area of expertise.

“The big piece is that language is important, but the broader aspect is culture,” stressed Lieutenant Colonel Paul Rounsaville, who runs the school’s contingency training program. “The societal aspect of the modern-day Special Forces solder, civil affairs or psychological operations soldier, [is that] this individual has to start learning about the region he is going to and really and truly become enamored with it. That’s the goal: for him to really enjoy it. He will want to learn the language.”

Auralog

In addition to the Rosetta Stone software, USSOCOM has purchased specialized language-training software from Auralog Inc., based in Tempe, Ariz. In a purchase order dated September 6, 2005, USSOCOM bought the company’s Tell Me More Software, which Auralog modified for military use.

“We changed the exercises so that they are more conducive to soldiers and their learning environment as opposed to the academic or corporate environment. Any time you deal with the armed forces, you have to be mindful that those people may not be in the most relaxed settings. They may not have the most time available for study either,” Sebastian Louisoder, Auralog marketing manager, told SOTECH. So we wanted to make the software conducive to their needs in terms of the timeframe and the quickness of getting through the exercises and the quality of those exercises,” he said.

U.S. warfighters are most interested in the company’s Arabic language software, Louisoder said, but they also have used modules for Chinese, Japanese, French and German.

Military users can install the Tell Me More software on a laptop or desktop PC from a disc, or they can access it via the Internet.

“We have an online solution where they can have a username and password and log on to our server and use the program from there. It’s pretty convenient for the military,” Louisoder said. “We can also install it on their server so that they can have it on their servers and use it on their LAN network. It’s pretty sophisticated, and it’s very flexible to meet their needs.”

The Puerto Rico Army National Guard (ANG) also has employed the software with great success, Louisoder added. The ANG has used Tell Me More in an English-as-a-second-language program for its soldiers, who have learned English at a very rapid rate with the software, he said.

“Their progress from where they first started to where they are right now is incredible. The results you see in how well they scored on tests or how well they use the program has been very impressive,” he said.

Phraselator

U.S. armed forces also have relied upon a number of devices to provide limited translation capabilities when servicemembers have not had the opportunity to learn the language firsthand. The rapid deployment of forces to Afghanistan and Iraq prompted the need for solutions to enable warfighters to communicate with local populations in the course of operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

Shortly after September 11, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency turned to VoxTec International Inc., based in Annapolis, Md., for a device that had some limited one-way translation capability. The company’s Phraselator, a handheld device much like a personal digital assistant (PDA), had been in research and development under a DARPA-funded small business innovation research program since around 1997, according to VoxTec’s President John T. Hall.

“Other than the DARPA funding, we have also had U.S. Special Operations Command as a big supporter of ours all the way back to 2001, and the U.S. Joint Forces Command has also been a big sponsor,” Hall told SOTECH.

The latest model of the Phraselator, the P2, was launched in 2003 after VoxTec incorporated feedback from troops deployed in the Middle East. Hall, a former U.S. Navy SEAL, came to the Phraselator project with a keen understanding of what U.S. military forces would require from a one-way translation device.

“For both the regular troops and the spec ops guys, it is being used to take control of situations, convey basic information, ask yes/no questions, and give directions and other information,” Hall said. “It’s both voice-activated and can be used as a PDA, so it has a touch screen.”

A variety of specialized software modules support the Phraselator, and warfighters can download modules depending on the situations they face, including force protection, field medic, military police and others. A soldier can say one of the pre-defined phrases into the device, which can then translate the phrase into Arabic, Iraqi, Pashto, Urdu or Dari, as well as languages from Asia, the Pacific Rim, Latin America and Africa.

“Another key thing here for the spec ops guys is that we have a tool kit,” Hall added. “It is a software package that runs on a laptop PC. It gives them the capability to customize the content out in the field. They are able to create their own phrases if they have a trusted linguist and they have a very specific mission or a very specific tasking where they want to do some translation and put them on the devices. It is a force multiplier if linguists are in short supply.”

SpeechGuard

DARPA is not an agency known for putting all of its eggs in one basket, however. It has funded the development of another one-way handheld translator, the SpeechGuard. DARPA contacted Ectaco Inc., based in Long Island City, N.Y., two years ago with the idea of creating another multi-lingual handheld device. The result was the SpeechGuard, which Ectaco has since diversified with specialized devices for law enforcement, medical services providers and transportation security officers.

“There are so many different things that SpeechGuard is capable of doing. The actual content in the Military SpeechGuard has been provided by the military, specifically by DARPA and the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force [REF],” noted Tim Houston, director of business development at Ectaco.

With the SpeechGuard, warfighters can speak into the device and it will translate into Arabic, Dari or Pashto, Houston said.

“One of the nice things about the technology is that the speaker-recognition engine is speaker-independent, which means that anyone can use it. It doesn’t have to be trained to understand anyone’s voice,” Houston explained. “The recognition engine recognizes English phonetics. As long as someone is speaking English into the unit, it will understand what they are saying and find the appropriate command, question or phrase and repeat it appropriately.”

As such, enunciating clearly really isn’t as important as many people think when using the SpeechGuard, Houston added. Whenever Houston takes the device out for a demonstration, a new user often speaks loudly and clearly into the device as if he or she were an English teacher. Houston encourages the speaker to relax and speak naturally.

“The speech-recognition engine has been developed so that it can understand over 300 different speaking patterns of people that speak English,” he said.

Warfighters have used the SpeechGuard widely at detention facilities in Iraq and have found them to be very effective, Houston added.

Voice Response Translator

Both the Phraselator and SpeechGuard were developed as handheld systems, but Integrated Wave Technologies Inc., based in Fremont, Calif., started work on a hands-free device even earlier.

Integrated Wave Technologies began work on its Voice Response Translator (VRT) in 1996 with funding from the U.S. Justice Department, said Tim McCune, the company’s president. Justice hoped to produce a device for use by police officers on patrol, who had to have their hands free to deal with trouble that they might encounter.

“It had to be totally eyes-free and hands-free,” McCune said. “If you are in a dangerous situation like a domestic dispute or at a traffic stop, engaging your hands so that you couldn’t handle a weapon puts the officer at risk.”

In the late 1990s, the military expressed interest in the VRT, McCune added, because warfighters often find themselves in situations where they had to keep their hands free to operate ordnance. “But our big difference isn’t that we have a headset,” McCune revealed. “Our big difference is that we can recognize speech in high noise with high accuracy.”

Indeed, the VRT can operate in environments that have more than 100 decibels of ambient noise, according to Integrated Wave Technologies. In addition, the device has nearly 100 percent speech recognition, reducing any errors that could occur when warfighters shout out at the device under fire.

“No one is going to take into battle a device that you have to hold in your hands so you lose situational awareness and weapons readiness,” McCune said.

Warfighters in Afghanistan and Iraq have used the device very effectively after a few hours of training, McCune added. They have used the VRT to capture weapons and people in situations that could be deadly. For example, search parties have used the VRT when sweeping houses for targets or munitions.

“The soldier could still have his eyes up and his gun up, and he’s able to issue commands,” McCune said.

PockeTerp

Interestingly, not every device created for translation came to fruition under a strictly structured program targeting specific language barriers. Take the case of the PockeTerp Phrase Translation and Reference Device, developed by Exponent Inc. of Menlo Park, Calif.

“The Army didn’t make any requirement for this. In fact, they had requirements out for things that were almost impossible to build and required voice recognition, two-way communication and a bunch of other things for which the technology is only now emerging,” Dr. Rick Kremer, Exponent principal and practice director, told SOTECH.

Exponent had supplied experts to work with REF in Afghanistan and Iraq, Kremer explained, and those scientists and engineers basically work to overcome any problems encountered in the field. If something breaks, they fix it. If something doesn’t work to specifications, they upgrade it.

“We see problems and provide technological solutions,” Kremer said. “We are kind of like technological MacGyvers over there.” For instance, when some Exponent employees on patrol with soldiers in Afghanistan saw that the Army did not have enough interpreters to conduct as many search sweeps to find weapons and materials as they would have liked, the Exponent employees took action.

“[The Army teams] have one guy that can speak the language, but they have a whole company of guys and they want to do parallel searches of places,” Kremer said. “So they needed more ability to tell people what was going on, to tell the villagers what was going on. So my guys sat down that night and wrote up the first version of this software.”

The PockeTerp software is written in XML, which enables it to run on any device that can operate a Web browser. The application has access to phrases gathered over time from operators in the field, enabling one-way communications through a tap of an icon. A soldier selects the phrase in the browser and the device broadcasts a prerecorded message in Arabic or Pashto in response.

“You also can add phrases in any language you want, but it takes the time of finding a translator to read off what you want in the target language and record it,” Kremer added. “We set it up so that soldiers can add their own phrases when they come up to some new situations.” The XML files are available for free from Exponent, which soon hoped to post them on its Web site.