US National Intelligence Strategy, 2019 edition, is out.
The Director of National Intelligence this past month released the 2019 US National Intelligence Strategy, outlining a host of "diverse and interconnected" threats posed by "traditional adversaries" as well as "evolving threats." It warns that emerging technologies will "enable new and improved military and intelligence capabilities for our adversaries," and that, "despite growing awareness of cyber threats and improving cyber defenses, nearly all information, communication networks, and systems will be at risk for years to come."
Space and cyber are called out at the beginning of the document as the areas of greatest concern. "No longer a solely U.S. domain, the democratization of space poses significant challenges for the United States and the IC. Adversaries are increasing their presence in this domain with plans to reach or exceed parity in some areas." In this context "democratization" means not only more capable programs by nation-state rivals, particularly Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea, but also more sophisticated, affordable, and widely available commercial products and services. The strategy sees the US in a similar position with respect to cyber operations: confronting an increasingly complex and effective range of actual and potential threat actors. And space and cyber have this in common: they're both now inextricably intertwined with the way societies now live, and conduct business. The capabilities found in these two domains bring fragility with their benefits.
The strategy lists seven mission objectives—three foundational and four topical. The foundational objectives include strategic intelligence to address issues relevant to "enduring national security interest," anticipatory intelligence to address "new and emerging trends, changing conditions, and underappreciated developments," and current operations intelligence. The topical mission objectives include cyber threat intelligence, counterterrorism, counterproliferation, and counterintelligence and security.
Space competition, again.
The National Intelligence Strategy isn't alone in seeing renewed competition in space. Many observers have been considerably more blunt. Foreign Policy calls it "a new Cold War" (and counsels American patience with its rival). China's successful robotic mission to the far side of the moon isn't exactly a Sputnik moment, but it's widely seen as inaugurating a new space race, one that a Washington Post op-ed sees as a race the US is losing. Beijing's space exploits are, in the short-term, a way of consolidating China's status as a great power: Xinhua says that China plans to deploy more than fifty spacecraft in at least thirty launches during 2019, which is a clear gesture in that direction. In the mid-term it seeks to establish a permanent presence in space. In the long-term some see a competition over off-earth resources (South China Morning Post).
This competition has at least three parties: Russia is also playing. Russia's position as a leading space-faring nation may be fading, especially as the US approaches its return to routine human spaceflight and deprecates its partnership with Moscow (Ars Technica), but Russian leaders, who blame the Americans for the erosion of bilateral cooperation in space, are by no means prepared to go into quiet decline. TASS quoted Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin's brief, direct statement of Russia's strategic goal: "to regain Russia’s leadership in space, pure and simple."
Peer competition elsewhere (both cyber and kinetic).
Much of the direct, physical confrontation among major powers this month has been maritime. The US and the UK have conducted joint exercises in the disputed South China Sea (Navy Times), and the US Navy has returned to the Black Sea, a response to Russian actions against Ukraine in those waters during the last two months of 2018 (Radio Free Europe | Radio Liberty).
In cyberspace China continues its long-standing program of industrial espionage (at which the US and its allies are striking back with sanctions and lawfare). Russian cyber operations continue to concentrate on information operations directed toward disruption and influence (Infosecurity Magazine).
Emerging technological capabilities.
China has begun conducting drills involving anti-satellite weapons, which suggests a growing operational kinetic kill capability (National Air and Space Intelligence Center). Both Chinese and Russian anti-satellite systems and ambitions are among the space threats presently concerning US policymakers (Space Daily).
US missile defense programs appear to be undergoing a revival, as a missile defense review calls for a mix of ground and space-based systems, some of which would employ directed-energy weapons. Foreign Policy calls it the most ambitious missile defense plan since the Cold War. It envisions tighter coupling of offensive, in some cases preemptive, capabilities with such existing systems as THAAD and Aegis cruisers and destroyers. The F-35 is currently being tested to see whether it could be used as a boost-phase interceptor.
The US Missile Defense Review added cruise missiles and hypersonic glide weapons to the threats the program would address. These additions are seen as a direct response to recent Russian and Chinese developments. The plan's most significant feature, however, may be its advocacy of a new sensor layer: space-based sensors in low earth orbit deployed to detect and track missile launches. As the Center for Strategic and International Studies notes, with approval, the Review shows good continuity with earlier missile defense planning, but makes significant departures in its urgent appraisal of technological superiority as fragile, and its commitment to positioning missile defense as a contributor to international stability. How the plans may be realized in actual appropriations, of course, remains to be seen.
One interesting sidelight on missile defense: the US Navy appears to see an opportunity to shed this particular mission, and may regard the Review as affording an opportunity to get out of the missile defense business (Breaking Defense).
Space Force begins to take shape.
Space Force is moving closer to becoming a reality. Space Command, the combatant command reestablished at the end of 2018, already is a reality, and is widely seen as a harbinger of the separate military service that Space Force is expected to become. Organizational details about Space Force are expected to become clear in 2020 appropriations, that is, in the next budget. Acting Defense Secretary Shanahan says he already has a candidate for the Force's first commander in mind, but he intends to keep that selection to himself (Defense News). One of the effects of planning for the new Space Force is expected to be high demand for, and spending on, new satellites (Defense News). The Defense space budget in general is trending upward (Space News).
Space Force may not yet have Federal money appropriated for it, but a television show about it, called, obviously, "Space Force," has Netflix money and is under preparation. Steve Carrell will star in a reunion with the creator of "The Office," which suggests popular culture will encounter the new sixth service in a workplace comedy as opposed to Roddenberrian space opera (Mashable).
Army Cyber Command, looking almost a decade out, thinks it will become Information Warfare Operations Command by 2028 (Defense Daily).
The Air Force is pursuing its plans to merge IT and intelligence functions at the Air Force Staff level (Federal News Network).
The US Army has now clearly pushed electronic warfare and cyber capabilities down to brigade level. It's establishing two organizations built around the 17th and 41st Field Artillery Brigades to, as Breaking Defense puts it, "hack, jam, sense, and shoot." Hacking and jamming increasingly go together, as cyber operations and electronic warfare continue to converge. Sensing is a natural, and necessary for both electronic and kinetic attack. The shooting would be done, for the most part, by rockets, specifically HIMARS High Mobility Artillery Rocket System. The hacking and jamming would be the work of battalion-strength Intelligence, Information, Cyber, Electronic Warfare, & Space Detachments, one per brigade, inevitably to be known by their acronym I2CEWS. The organizations are a serious sign that the US at least is prepared to delegate significant cyber capability down to surprisingly low tactical levels. One of the new detachments is now operational with the 17th Field Artillery Brigade at Joint Base Lewis-McCord in Washington State. The other is destined for the 41st Field Artillery Brigade, now reestablished at Grafenwoehr, Germany.
Notes on procurement and prototyping.
There appear to be two distinct but, one hopes, complementary paths to overcoming slow Defense procurement. One, represented prominently by big cloud contracts like JEDI, aims to find and transition leading-edge but well-established civilian technologies to military use. The other looks for the breakthrough, unexpected innovation that offers the promise of operational transformation. Here are some examples of programs designed to take the Pentagon down those two paths.
US Army Futures Command, now almost half a year old, represents that service's attempt to break out of an acquisition system that has long seemed too sclerotic, too preoccupied with the niceties of contracting and the avoidance of the appearance of fraud or favoritism, to keep pace with technological change and operational needs. Futures Command intends to foster rapid prototyping to get articles into the hands of operators who can give them a swift, realistic assessment before the Service commits to large-scale production and fielding (Breaking Defense).
DISA has also established an office designed to get new technologies fielded more quickly. Its new Emerging Technologies Directorate will seek, as so many other Defense organizations do, to bridge the gap between discovery and invention on the one side and operational capability on the other (SIGNAL).
The Air Force is taking a venture capitalist's approach to finding innovative start-ups and securing the use of their technologies. It's going to hold a live-pitch day in March, where the best ideas will compete for $40 million in funding (Nextgov).
Whatever disruptive innovations the Air Force finds among its start-ups, we hope they're compatible with a military version of a civilian cloud.
The small satellite market is in a minor (at least) boom phase, with demand driven by both commercial (satellite internet, maritime applications) and government (missile defense, surveillance) needs. Some companies, General Atomics among them, are seeing earlier acquisitions of small satellite firms paying off.
One start-up, Swarm, has raised $25 million in a Series A round to fund its projected deployment of a smallsat constellation (Space News).
Today's edition of the CyberWire reports events affecting Afghanistan, China, the Congo, Ethiopia, Iran, Gabon, the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, Russia, Somalia, Syria, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Yemen.
US intelligence warns of ‘ever more diverse’ threats(Military Times) Russia’s efforts to expand its influence and China’s modernizing military are among the “ever more diverse” threats facing the U.S., according to a major intelligence report released Tuesday.
China’s first steps before going to battle(C4ISRNET) A new report released by the Defense Intelligence Agency explains why the Chinese military could target command and control systems before any conflict begins.
Withdrawing From Syria Leaves a Vacuum That Iran Will Fill(Foreign Affairs) An American withdrawal from Syria would provide Iran with the operational space to expand its growing network of Shiite foreign fighters, who can be mobilized and moved throughout the Middle East. If Iran’s leaders see this as a worthwhile strategy whose benefits outweigh its costs, the network could grow from a regional threat to a global one, ultimately creating more problems in the long term for the United States and its allies.
On the Cyber Edge of History(SIGNAL Magazine) Legislation, strategies, policies, authorities and a spirit of cooperation across government and the international community align to meet the cyber threat.
Don't Worry, Defense Industry: Boeing Has Not Taken Over The Pentagon(Forbes) Acting Defense Secretary Shanahan's Boeing background will not give Boeing the inside track in the Pentagon. Instead of worrying about rogue officials and his reported blue comments on the F-35, industry should worry about defense budget cuts and strategic changes that would undercut their programs.
DISA Targets Emerging Technologies(SIGNAL Magazine) DISA has reorganized its technology innovation efforts into a single organization known as the Emerging Technologies (EM) Directorate.
Air Force wants startups to answer the call for $40M(FedScoop) The Air Force will hold its first Air Force Pitch Day on Mar. 6 in New York City, offering startups the chance to win small awards for their innovative ideas that same day. The service has allocated up to $40 million for the event. Startup companies and small businesses will have the chance to win up to $158,000 …
Army posts DCGS-A sources sought notice(Intelligence Community News) On January 15, the U.S. Army posted a sources sought notice for Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS-A) Enabled Tactical Ground Station. Responses are due by January 21 at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. Thi…
Space business buoys Harris, troubles L3 as merger progresses(SpaceNews.com) Harris Corp. and L3 Technologies reported contrasting financial performances for their space activities Jan. 29, with Harris charting growth in classified smallsat programs and L3 recording losses in satellite communications components.
Loon Takes Its Broadband Tech Up a Notch With Satellite Deal(PCMAG) Telesat wants to apply technology from Alphabet's Loon to its upcoming satellite-based broadband service, which is slated to launch in 2022. If all goes well, the low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites will offer low-latency Gigabit internet to customers anywhere in the world.
Rocket Lab snags DARPA launch contract for first 2019 mission(TechCrunch) Launch startup Rocket Lab is following the success of its first couple commercial launches by adding a prestigious (and deep-pocketed) new client: DARPA. The New Zealand-based company will send an experimental satellite called R3D2 into low Earth orbit sometime in late February if all goes well. DA…
Ethiopian telco mulls acquiring comms satellite(Satellite Pro ME) Following INSA's unsuccessful bid to acquire a satellite, Ethio Telecom has revisited its original plans to acquire a satellite to serve the varied needs of the country.
A Smarter Commercial Cloud(SIGNAL Magazine) Heavy hitters in the commercial cloud industry, such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services, are pushing cloud-computing capabilities to what they refer to as the intelligent edge.
TRANSCOM Blazes Cyber Trail to Commercial Cloud(SIGNAL Magazine) The command is making strides in transferring its unclassified systems and is sharing lessons learned that will make the path to cloud usage smoother for others to follow.
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency awards BAE Systems five-year contract of $250 million(Geospatial World) US: The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) has awarded BAE Systems a five-year, $250 million contract to continue providing Full-Motion Video (FMV) advanced analytic services, training, and intelligence production support. “Our experts play a critical role in analyzing multiple FMV feeds to produce actionable intelligence in support of a 24/7 national security mission,” said Peder Jungck, …
Mercury Systems Receives $7M Order for Rugged Servers(GlobeNewswire News Room) Mercury Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: MRCY, www.mrcy.com) announced it received a $7 million order from a leading defense prime contractor for rugged servers to be used in an on-the-move tactical communications application. The order was booked in the Company's fiscal 2019 second quarter.
Mercury Systems Secures $40M Flight Controller Design Win(Nasdaq) Mercury Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: MRCY, www.mrcy.com) announced it secured a design win for advanced, safety certifiable flight controllers from an international aerospace company with an anticipated lifetime value of $40 million over the ten-year period of the contract.
WORK Microwave Introduces World's First Commercial V-Band Frequency Converters(Multichannel) WORK Microwave, a worldwide leading manufacturer of advanced satellite communications equipment, today announced the availability of the industry's first V-Band frequency converters as a qualified product. The converters are available in various dimensions of outdoor housings and cover the full ITU uplink bandwidth range from 47.20 to 51.40 GHz, providing a full 4 GHz of bandwidth. As global consumption of bandwidth-intensive data and broadcast services increases, higher throughput satellites will be a requirement in the future. By offering V-Band-ready equipment, WORK Microwave is helping the satellite industry tackle this important challenge.
Axiz partners on high throughput satellite(IT-Online) In what it believes is an African channel first, Axiz has announced the signing of Innova HTS, a new partner that enables cost-effective broadband satellite solutions into Africa. Jacques Malherbe, Axiz chief technology officer and managing executive of Advanced Technologies, says that Axiz is pleased to introduce this leading technology into its product and services …
To rebuild satellite communications, Ubiquitilink starts at ground level(TechCrunch) Communications satellites are multiplying year by year as more companies vie to create an orbital network that brings high-speed internet to the globe. Ubiquitilink, a new company headed by Nanoracks co-founder Charles Miller, is taking a different tack: reinventing the Earthbound side of the techn…
Here’s how SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule will look motoring in from sea(TechCrunch) If you're coming back from space at high speeds, it's generally safer to descend over water than land, for a number of reasons. Certainly SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule will do so, and this is how it'll look when it comes back to land aboard the Go Searcher retrieval ship. Expect a bit more of a hero…
Lockheed Martin halts work on GOES-T to wait for instrument fix(SpaceNews.com) Lockheed Martin, prime contractor for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) R Series, has halted work on GOES-T, the next spacecraft scheduled to launch, and turned its attention to its successor, GOES-U, as it waits for Harris Corp. to complete modification of the Advanced Baseline Imager.
Naval Dome Introduces New Dashboard for Optimum Cyber Monitoring(Maritime Executive) Maritime security specialist Naval Dome has come up with an innovative approach to managing the cyber security status of all protected systems onboard ships, allowing shipboard and shoreside staff to monitor and evaluate fleet-wide system data, even when they are offline. Until now, only crew members have been able to access a ship’s offline data sets.
The Pentagon’s Cybersecurity Is Falling Behind(Bloomberg) The U.S. military’s cybersecurity capabilities aren’t advancing fast enough to stay ahead of the “onslaught of multipronged” attacks envisioned by adversaries, the Pentagon’s combat testing office is warning.
The New Iron Curtain: Russian Missile Defense Challenges U.S. Air Power(Wall Street Journal) Russia’s tactics against the West, including election meddling and online disinformation, have drawn the most attention from lawmakers and the U.S. government. Proliferation of the S-400 system demonstrates how Russia is also investing heavily in traditional military firepower.
Services Wargaming Multi-Domain Consensus: Army 3-Star Futurist(Breaking Defense) “All the services understand the need to move to Multi-Domain Operations,” Lt. Gen. Wesley said. “Second, we all agree that MDC2 [Multi-Domain Command & Control] is the most important joint problem that we have to solve. After that, the specifics of how you conduct MDO – that’s where the variance is that we’ve got to converge on.”
Design and Innovation
High Throughput Satellites Spur Innovation on the Ground(Via Satellite) High Throughout Satellite (HTS) systems have brought unprecedented flexibility and bandwidth to the marketplace, but the new capability comes at a price: increased network complexity that will require innovation on the ground to manage effectively without breaking the bank. HTS satellites, which have been deployed in
Navy Builds Hypersonic Test Ground in California(Breaking Defense) The Navy is refitting its decades-old China Lake weapons testing and research site in the Mojave Desert to begin hosting hypersonic weapons testing from a variety of platforms, including undersea launchers.
US considers new ways to detect and track enemy missiles(Military Times) The Trump administration is considering ways to expand U.S. homeland and overseas defenses against a potential missile attack, possibly adding a layer of satellites in space to detect and track hostile targets.
‘Be Ready To Fight Now’: Top Admiral On Russia & China(Breaking Defense) "The Battle of Guadalcanal was a brutal campaign, but shows us what the next fight could be like," Vice Adm. Brown said. "Usually, the CO (skipper), XO (executive officer) and senior officers – even admirals – were killed immediately – but what happened?"
A New Cold War Has Begun(Foreign Policy) The United States and China will be locked in a contest for decades. But Washington can win if it stays more patient than Beijing.
The United States and China – A Different Kind of Cyberwar(OODA Loop) China is waging a long-term cyberwar against the U.S. and other western countries that is very different in nature than the type of conflict Western powers generally conceive of as "war". The Chinese cyberwarfare efforts are
Bolton Says U.S. Withdrawal From Syria Is Conditional (Wall Street Journal) The Trump administration won’t withdraw U.S. forces from northern Syria unless Turkey offers a firm commitment not to target America’s Kurdish allies, national security adviser John Bolton said.
Pompeo: Trump threat to Turkey shows US commitment to Kurds(Military Times) U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that President Donald Trump’s threat to devastate NATO ally Turkey’s economy if it attacks U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria underscores America’s commitment to its partners.
Why Iran Waits(Foreign Affairs) Staying in the nuclear deal is Tehran's worst option, except for all the others.
United States Determined to Drive Iran’s Oil Exports Down to Zero(Atlantic Council) State Department official says strategy aimed at forcing Tehran to the negotiating table The United States is determined to drive Iran’s oil exports down to zero in its effort to maximize economic pressure and force Tehran back to the negotiating...
Only the US can rein in ambitions of Iran(Times) Farewell, Bashar al-Assad the butcher. Welcome Bashar the builder. Syria’s murderous dictator is undergoing an extraordinary rebrand. Arab embassies are reopening in Damascus, the Arab League is...
A U.S. Space Force: Will It Ever Be Launched?(The National Interest) The new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives is unconvinced such a force is necessary. Perhaps a quick review of what led to this force being proposed, what has been done to date, and what this force would mean for our capabilities in space will give lawmakers some much-needed perspective.
The Navy Has Had Enough of Missile Defense And Sees Its Chance(Breaking Defense) The Navy is looking to get out of the missile defense business, the service’s top admiral said today, and the Pentagon’s new missile defense review might give the service the off-ramp it has been looking for to stop sailing in circles waiting for ground-based missile launches.
U.S. Probes Boeing Satellite Deal Backed By China(Wall Street Journal) The SEC and the Commerce Department are investigating Boeing’s relationship with a satellite startup backed by a Chinese government-owned firm, following a WSJ article last month.
Compiled and published by the CyberWire editorial staff. Views and assertions in source articles are those of the authors, not CyberWire, Inc. or Cosmic AES