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Small Radio Networking and Clouds

Kirkhill

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Small Radios On Armored Vehicles Will Be a Big Step Toward the Army's Networked Future​

The challenges include trying to install them and making sure they don’t run out of range.​


BY LAUREN C. WILLIAMS

SENIOR EDITOR
OCTOBER 11, 2022

Handheld tactical radios are officially entering the chat for this year’s Project Convergence, the Army’s annual large-scale effort to try out new tech.
Putting small radios aboard armored vehicles promises to improve mobile communications and reduce the need for full-blown command posts. Testing them at PC ’22 may illuminate the challenges of realizing that promise—and even accelerate the arrival of the connect-it-all Integrated Tactical Network.
PC ‘22 will be “the first time we're touching an armored platform,” said Shermoan Daiyaan, the program manager for small tactical radios for the Army’s Program Executive Office—Command Control Communications-Tactical. “And that's a big deal.”
Before the PC ‘22 demonstrations kick off in various locations this fall, the radios will be installed aboard various vehicles belonging to an armored brigade combat team based at Fort Hood, Texas. Daiyaan said that’s where the challenge starts: figuring out how to run the cables and installation kits, learning their limitations for each vehicle and its variants. The Stryker, for example, has more than a dozen main variants with sub-variants for each one, which makes every installation different.
“It's the first time the guys are really climbing around in the back of those vehicles. So they're learning how to do those installs, the limitations of those installs. And so when we get to the shift to armored brigades in a year or two, we know more than we would have,” he said Tuesday at the Association of the U.S. Army's annual conference in Washington, D.C.
After installation, the next challenge is configuring the radios for use on moving vehicles. Today, such radios are generally used on the battlefield by dismounted soldiers or at company and battalion command posts. But vehicle-mounted radios can easily get out of range “because they weren't set up correctly. So we're making adjustments,” he said.
“What we're doing with dismounts, it's hard to outrun the network because it's just a couple of guys. But when you're in a vehicle, you can get 10 [kilometers] away from each other really quick. Or in the case of my radios with a mesh network, it's like 3 km, so you can do that really quick by just making the wrong turn.”
After that comes PC ‘22 itself and trying the radios out in combat-like situations. For Daiyaan and his PEO C3T team, the demonstrations will be a “free look” because they weren’t originally scheduled to participate. In any case, this isn’t a formal test, but a chance for the Army to get a sense of what it needs from its tactical radios as it upgrades its armor formations. The service has been experimenting with putting network capabilities onto armor vehicles throughout the year.
Under the Army’s Integrated Tactical Network plan, a new set of capabilities is added every two years. The 2023 set, for example, will network Stryker Brigade Combat Teams on foot and in vehicles. The goal for the 2025 set is to network other types of armored vehicles. PC ‘22 will be the first time the team will get to put that gear in action. Feedback from the demonstrations, which will involve the joint force and coalition partners, will inform what happens in 2025.


Soldiers Can Use Their Phones For Work Under New Army Pilot​

Unlike other Pentagon BYOD efforts, this one taps the cloud for a secure remote work experience.​



Lauren C. Williams
BY LAUREN C. WILLIAMS

SENIOR EDITOR
OCTOBER 5, 2022

The Army’s bring-your-own-device pilot is live, and waiting for 20,000 users to jump on board.
“Army BYOD is here! I made my first [Microsoft] Teams call using my personal phone today with the wonderful Lily Zeleke, deputy DOD CIO,” Army CIO Raj Iyer exclaimed in a LinkedIn post on Sept. 30.
The Defense Department has several bring-your-own-device efforts that let people use approved devices for work. Despite its security challenges, the concept has gained traction in recent years as defense and intelligence communities were encouraged to use maximum telework policies and technologies early in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unlike the department’s other BYOD efforts, the Army’s process ”provides secure access without actual data being processed on the device”, an Army spokesperson told Defense One via email.
In the Army's version of bring-your-own-device, data isn’t stored on the device itself, but rather pixels are streamed in, with the data remaining in the cloud. That means users won't have to surrender their personal devices to be managed by the Army, or risk confiscation if there’s a security breach.
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“The call was flawless with no degradation in video quality even though the Hypori Halo app is streaming pixels from the cARMY cloud to the mobile device,” Iyer wrote.
The pilot, which has been in the works for more than a year, will accept 20,000 users across the Army, including 5,000 in the National Guard, 5,000 in the Army Reserves, and 10,000 active-duty and civilian workers. The first users joined the Army BYOD environment on Sept. 30, after the service conducted “additional cybersecurity testing” and assessments of the process before the launch.
The BYOD pilot is one of several Army IT modernization efforts, which also include moves to cloud-based email and Google Workspace.
Moreover, Iyer envisions the Army completely switching to a virtual desktop infrastructure for unclassified and classified work in the next two to three years.
The Army plans to add those initial 20,000 users over the next year and gather feedback on how effective it is. Senior leaders are expected to analyze the pilot program’s results early next year and plan an Army-wide deployment in fiscal year 2023.

I can only imagine that the Ukrainian experience, co-opting civilian capabilities and managing associated risk, is having an accelerating effect on these efforts.
 

rmc_wannabe

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I can only imagine that the Ukrainian experience, co-opting civilian capabilities and managing associated risk, is having an accelerating effect on these efforts.
Without getting too far in the weeds, we are trialing this and have been seeing very good success with it.

The problem that for a MANETs mesh system to work effectively, you need a large amount of nodes to increase your coverage. The CAF writ large does not carry the amount of kit just yet to make this effective. Unless you kick these kinds of capabilities down to the det/fireteam level, you won't have the kind of area saturation needed to have the throughput and capacity you desire.

Also, the neutering of O365 to suit our antiquated NDSODs in the realm of cloud storage and remote access gives me little faith we will see folks accessing DRMIS or Guardian from an Azure architecture that has far more security oversight than the 8 PS administration monitoring the basement in Tunney's.

It's coming down the pipe, but like most things, until we change how we operate to suit new capabilities, we're not going to see this system of systems perform optimally.
 

Colin Parkinson

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How about smaller portable camouflaged Cell/radio relay towers that are self contained and not manned?
 

PuckChaser

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How about smaller portable camouflaged Cell/radio relay towers that are self contained and not manned?
How are they powered? Who's changing the batteries if you go that route, or fuelling the genny? You can camouflage anything you want, but it's still a bright beacon on an enemy's EW system that's a nice simple target for a PGM.

Unless you kick these kinds of capabilities down to the det/fireteam level, you won't have the kind of area saturation needed to have the throughput and capacity you desire.
In classic CAF fashion someone took a radio designed for team/det/platoon level use and used it out of range of those users. The full capabilities of TSM-X will rarely be used on the CAF PRC 163s because they'll be held at such a high level that the radio won't have the range to mesh to another node. We also don't have the cash to buy Trellisware non-type 1 WB radios to give to everyone else in the section to use as black RRBs.
 

Kirkhill

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Hows about this?

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are becoming increasingly useful for tasks which require the acquisition of data over large areas. The coverage problem, i.e., the problem of periodically visiting all subregions of an area at a desired frequency, is especially interesting because of its practical applications, both in industry and long-term monitoring of areas hit by a natural disaster. We focus here on the latter scenario, and take into consideration its peculiar characteristic, i.e. the a coverage system should be resilient to a changing environment and not be dependent on pre-existing infrastructures for communication. To this purpose, we designed a novel algorithm for online area coverage and simultaneous signal relay that allows a UAV to cover an area freely, while a variable number of other UAVs provide a stable communication with the base and support in the coverage process at the same time. Finally, a test architecture based on the algorithm has been developed and tests have been performed. By comparison with a simple relay chain system, our approach employs up to 64% less time to reach a certain goal of coverage iterations over the map with only 17% worse average communication cost and no impact on the worst case communication cost.


Line of sight comms mixing aerial nodes, fixed and mobile surface node with redundancy and parallel lines.

Multi-UAV deployments create new opportunities for wireless communications. By coordinating the UAVs, they can act as a virtual-antenna-array and use multiantenna communication schemes like distributed MIMO and distributed beamforming (BF).

Distributed MIMO enables a swarm of UAVs to transmit multiple data streams simultaneously to a multiantenna ground station (GS), thus improving the spectral efficiency. Due to the line-of-sight propagation between the swarm and the GS, the MIMO channel is highly correlated, leading to limited multiplexing gains. By optimizing the UAV positions, the swarm can attain the maximum capacity given by the single-user-bound. To achieve this capacity, we propose a centralized approach using block coordinate descent and distributed iterative approach using linear controllers.

Distributed BF can extend the communication range of a remotely deployed swarm, avoiding energy waste in travel towards the destination radio. In order to beamform, the UAVs typically rely on the destination feedback, however, noisy feedback degrades the BF gains. To limit the degradation, we developed an analytical framework to predict the BF gains at a given SNR and used it to optimize the signaling with the destination. The proposed framework was verified experimentally in the lab and using UAV-mounted software-defined-radios (SDR). We also developed a feedback-free BF approach that eliminates the need for destination feedback entirely in a LOS channel. In this approach, one BF radio acts as a guide and moves to point the beam of the remaining radios towards the destination. This approach tolerates localization error and was demonstrated using SDRs.

As for the security considerations, they apply beyond UAVs to any wireless device. Security considerations include radio authentication and interpreting unauthorized signals. For device authentication, we leveraged the radios' RF fingerprint extracted using deep learning and formulated an open set classification problem to reject signals from unauthorized transmitters. We compared several approaches and studied the training dataset impact on performance. To blindly decode unauthorized signals, we proposed the dual path network (DPN) combining digital signal processing and deep learning for modulation classification and blind symbol decoding. DPN design yields interpretable outputs and by jointly estimating the unknown parameters, it improves the modulation classification accuracy.


Not broadcast but simultaneous single channel relays.
 

Kirkhill

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Or this (or in combination)


Autonomous fireflies receiving and transmitting via light (LEDs or Lasers and EO/IR sensors)
 

Colin Parkinson

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How are they powered? Who's changing the batteries if you go that route, or fuelling the genny? You can camouflage anything you want, but it's still a bright beacon on an enemy's EW system that's a nice simple target for a PGM.
They will still have to be maintained, but not manned and you expect to lose a bunch of them. You can set up decoys as well in the hopes they absorb some of the PGM stock. If you want camouflaged, then you have to forgo the solar cells or generators and run on batteries and hop the enemy does not hit you while changing them. The camouflaging will just make it harder to find, even though they know it's there. Throw in a decoy...

How-Fake-Cell-Tower-Trees-Took-Over-America-.png
 

KevinB

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The G-8 down here LtGen Morrison’s paper delves into a lot of this.
I’m trying to find an OS copy as the one I have isn’t OS. I suspect that since the Army MDO Strategy is out now with unlimited release this will be shortly as well.
 

materialpigeonfibre

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If you made an RRB with two PRC-163's, a tactical voice bridge, slapped it on a drone and sent it up 1000meters I bet you would get a coverage pattern like this:
1673045339500-png.75769

Civilians are doing it:
I like the idea of using drones for communications because it moves the missile magnet (RRB) away from the users. Not a fan of how much we are pushing for mesh networking. It might work domestically and at peace time, but in a contested area it will make you a trackable target.
 
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materialpigeonfibre

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1674196294206.png
This is with equipment the CAF already has (except the drone). And the troops would have to carry much smaller radios with much smaller antennas (think walkie talkie sized) like the prc163.
Edit: And it would be just as easy to cover entire provinces with such a set up. Honestly that fairly cheap TVB (tactical voice bridge) is an amazing tiny piece of kit. It lets us interface VHF radio to HF radio, from HF radio to sat comm, from satcomm to a certain telephony solution, from a certain telephony solution to Italian radios, from Italian radios to Australian radios, from Australian radios to American satcomms, From American satcomms to an IP based meshed network, from an IP based meshnetwork back to Ottawa via GBX. Runs with two double AA's or can be powered off USB. It makes an RRB out of almost any military radio in the world.

I get having intelligence is important and we all love data, but let's make it easy for the lads on the ground to get their message out. And for the commanders to get their message in.
 
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materialpigeonfibre

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Recently, at the 2003 Signal Symposium and prior to that in his testimony to the Congress, LTG William "Scott" Wallace, former commanding general of V Corps during the invasion of Iraq, made the following statement about the command, control and communications situation during the Iraq fight. "Despite the introduction of battle-command-on-the-move capabilities that I enjoyed in my assault command post, the vast majority of tactical leaders and CPs (command posts) enjoyed few on-the-move capabilities. Most were tethered to a CP and largely dependant upon line-of-sight communications.

"Case in point. At the corps level the G2 could see individual fighting positions defending a critical bridge because we had a UAV (unmanned-aerial vehicle) leading the lead formations. But we could not get the data down to the unit who was taking the objective because all the CPs were moving. It was a deliberate attack at the corps level, but a movement to contact at the battalion level," Wallace said.

This statement upsets me greatly both as a student of military art, science and history; and as a Signal professional with over 35 years service in all components of the U.S. Army. Wallace's statement when reasonably analyzed can only lead to the conclusion there was a failure in both communications planning and communications execution. The means to provide what Wallace needed (beyond-line-of-sight-on-the-move communications) certainly exist today in our widely deployed family of high-frequency combat net radios and has for many generations. Why then were we not able to improvise, and adapt our existing resources to overcome Wallace's communications problems?
"HF combat net radio lesson learned again.." 2004 U.S. Army Signal Center
 

Edward Campbell

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Low power nodal networks have been the aim since, goodness, the 1920s, anyway.

When I still gave a damn the most effective solution was some mix of a backbone of fairly powerful switching nodes each connected to two or three or even more others by multi-channel (40 to 60 channels) radio links and to "access nodes" which served HQs, large and small, and to mobile access points - essentially a S+DX (one secure voice plus one duplex data channel - think a STU iPhone sort of thingy.

Turns out that high capacity point-to-piont radio has been pretty simple since the early 1940s. Switching voice channel - including those with sub-multiplexed telegraph (data) channels have been fairly simple since the 1910s. Allowing mobile accessing and switching individual secure voice channels because simple, in the 1970s. Digitizing the whole thing - voice and data packets - became possible in the 1980s but some allied nations didn't want to adopt any "not invented here" solutions and Gulf War experience went on for far too long. All the parts (space and terrestrial, mobile, and transportable, with high grade end-to-end security) are out there; some people are better and merging them into coherent systems than are others.
 

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Kirkhill

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But the alternate method of skinning the cat

"Case in point. At the corps level the G2 could see individual fighting positions defending a critical bridge because we had a UAV (unmanned-aerial vehicle) leading the lead formations. But we could not get the data down to the unit who was taking the objective because all the CPs were moving. It was a deliberate attack at the corps level, but a movement to contact at the battalion level," Wallace said.

That was in 2003

In 2022 the Ukrainians, confronted with the same problem, situational awareness, developed an alternative solution - the lead elements bought their own DJIA UAVs they could access from their smartphones via Starlinx.

Despite their Minister of Defence saying they didn't need them because the Army will provide.





There is your multinodal solution - a swarm of cheap UAVs all netted to each other
 

Kirkhill

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If you made an RRB with two PRC-163's, a tactical voice bridge, slapped it on a drone and sent it up 1000meters I bet you would get a coverage pattern like this:
1673045339500-png.75769

Civilians are doing it:
I like the idea of using drones for communications because it moves the missile magnet (RRB) away from the users. Not a fan of how much we are pushing for mesh networking. It might work domestically and at peace time, but in a contested area it will make you a trackable target.

Great demonstration! Loved the Mancunian encryption system.
 
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