Friday, November 21, 2014

Getting Through the Technology

Independence day movieposter.jpg
(Source)

There is a line in the movie Independence Day, where a scientist studying the alien invaders notes that the aliens are as easy to kill as us--you just need to get through their technology. 

The same issues arise as to any modern nation's military and intelligence organizations, especially as to surveillance techniques. So, it was of interest to come across this post discussing ways in which low-tech forces have fooled high tech weapon systems and surveillance. From the article:

The other technique that works to defeat JSTARS is infiltration-the movement and concentration of a large mobile organization by moving it in small packets of vehicles along multiple routes, seemingly without any pattern-concentrating forces over time.
The Serbs used similar techniques to preclude effective air attacks against their ground combat forces and deceive NATO forces of their actual strength, disposition, and location. Even more ingenious, they used the appreciation of this vulnerability to lure NATO attack aircraft, cued by JSTARS, into attacking organized columns of civilian vehicles, then exploiting the scenes of carnage via the international media-information warfare at its best, designed to attack the solidarity of the NATO coalition.
 
In short, against a savvy opponent, JSTARS acquisitions have little intelligence value to tactical and operational commanders unless the data or images are confirmed quickly by another real-time imagery system such as a UAV, AFAC, or a well-trained reconnaissance team that has the capability and optical resolution to discern the exact composition and type of vehicles acquired. 
The same goes for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). In response to the presence of UAVs on the battlefield, we have developed several techniques to deceive and defeat its capabilities. We use a combination of physical and thermal decoys to deceive the UAV pilots and image analysts, and thereby nullify the effects of indirect fires while preserving our actual combat systems and crews. 
For example, we will construct deception fighting positions and in them place tank decoys made of fiberglass turrets, gun tubes made out of steel/PCV pipe, and other materials to create a realistic physical image. Furthermore, we cut 55 gallon barrels in half, and place them where the engine compartment of the tank is located, then we fill them with burning charcoal to create a realistic thermal signature. Flying at an altitude of 2000-5000 feet, and looking through the narrow field of view to achieve resolution, a UAV image analyst, unless very experienced, cannot tell it's a decoy. From these altitudes, they look just like tanks. We also use vehicular decoys made of fabric and wood frames, just like the Serbs employed. They work. 
Finally, we have become adept at conducting air defense ambushes to destroy UAVs. We place actual unmanned, usually inoperable combat equipment, such as an armor or air defense system, into a position where the enemy would expect to find them. We will throw in a blanket of smoke to attract their attention and really draw them in. We ring this equipment with multiple organic air defense radar and missile systems, camouflaged well with engines cold. Basically, we lure UAVs into an area. Once we visually or acoustically acquire the UAVs-which can be easily acquired by their sound-and determine they are within range, we unmask and fire. Using this technique, we routinely destroy 50%-75% of UAVs employed against us during the course of an NTC training exercise. In case you're wondering, we employ systems that accurately replicate ZSU-23-4s, SA-18s, SA-8s, and SA-9s. By the way, the hand-held, shoulder-fired S-18 air defense missile is our most effective ADA system against both rotary wing and UAV capabilities.
Since JSTARS cannot reliably acquire and define the composition and types of vehicles in a column of vehicles, the OPFOR routinely organizes battalion-size truck columns, perhaps led by 2-3 armored vehicles, all dragging 20-30 ft. lengths of concertina wire. This column, easily acquired by JSTARS, is then employed along an expected route of march towards the enemy. This imaginative technique is aimed at deceiving the enemy commander as to our intended point of attack or main effort. Being told that this is an armored column by his JSTAR data analyst, the enemy commander will typically react and shift targeting assets, or his mobile reserves to interdict the advance. This technique in offensive operations can be used to create a weakness in the enemy's defense permitting rapid penetration and exploitation. Employment of this technique has set conditions for OPFOR tactical success several times in the past.
And the author recommends detecting and attacking communications systems:
Another important lesson we've learned is this.the key to defeating forces equipped with sophisticated collection, targeting, and situational awareness technologies is to quickly gain information dominance in the initial phase of the operation. We have learned that if we focus reconnaissance assets and lethal/non-lethal fires to acquire and destroy or disrupt the enemy's ability to move information across the battlefield, then we can quickly level the playing field, negate this asymmetric advantage, and thereby set conditions for success. Against the Army's current situational awareness, information, and communications systems, fielded or in development, it is not a difficult task given the capabilities we possess. 
Take the Army Tactical Command and Control System (ATCCS), a suite of 5 different software systems (MCS, ASAS, AFATADS, FAADC3, and CSSCS), designed to provide critical combat information to commanders and staffs at brigade, division, and corps level. 
These information systems, in various stages of development, employ a line-of-sight communications system called the Mobile Subscriber Equipment (MSE) system, as the means to move information across the battlefield between commanders and staffs from battalion to corps level. 
Based upon mission requirements, the MSE system operates at multiple frequency ranges from tactical VHF to SHF ranges above 15 GHz using a digital communications signal. We have learned that the electronic signature is a relatively easy target to acquire and jam, using a technique we call dual harmonic jamming. Basically, the MSE signal frequencies lie above our ability to jam with the systems we have, but we have learned that by taking 2 jammers and jamming 1/3 of the primary carrier wave and 1/2 of the primary carrier wave frequency simultaneously, the combination of these attacks affects 5/6 of the carrier wave therefore most of the transmission is not received. No MSE transmission, then no ATTCS-no ATTCS, then no situational awareness from brigade to corps level. 
Furthermore, because it is a stationary, line-of-sight system, the MSE system is limited in its positioning to easily predictable terrain locations and the node centers present a large physical signature. They can be easily acquired by aerial and ground reconnaissance teams and have very little security, if any, surrounding these sites. They will be one of the first set of targets we attack. 
In short, destroy the brigade MSE node complex with indirect fires or direct attack, and you stop the flow of information and sustainment of both friendly and enemy situational awareness. In other words, by attacking this vulnerability, the OPFOR has learned how to level the playing field very quickly and eliminate its opponent's asymmetric information advantage.
 I'm sure that the techniques would be applicable against other OPFORs. Anyway, read the whole thing.

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