US Army is using IoT tech and data to transform warfare
US Army is using IoT tech and data to transform warfare
US Army is using IoT tech and data to transform warfare

US Army is using IoT tech and data to transform warfare

Connected technology may be disrupting our daily domestic and working lives, but it’s also having a big impact on the way that military forces conduct the act of warfare.

The US military, which is the biggest in the world by defense budget, has begun using the latest connected technology to assist soldiers and other military professionals in warfare.

In particular, it’s placing a big emphasis on the data. The armed forces are collecting it from a range of different platforms, including including aircraft, weapon systems, ground vehicles and troops in the field.

Data warfare

Once this information has been created, it’s sent to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems. The latter are capable of pinpointing the most critical data for missions.

The army is working with a few companies to help it integrate and use IoT solutions in daily operations. Lockheed Martin, for instance, is providing assistance on using machine learning to automate decision-making.

This approach, the company has said, can help the armed forces collect intelligence and identify key threats quicker and with more accuracy.

IoT networks

There are many people who believe that armed forces around the world are heading towards more integrated warfare approaches, and this is certainly the case for the US army.

While collecting data from individual sources introduces new possibilities, the army is realizing that more can be achieved by combining its IoT might. Networks are a key example of how this can be done.

It’s already implemented a classified communication network line spanning 48,000 miles, which is being used in missile defense and battle coordination scenarios.

This war fighting network merges elements of the army’s ballistic missile defense system into one central hub, which can be used to counteract threats all over the world.

JD Hammond, director of Operational Command & Control, explained how this technology works: “C2BMC is the translator for ballistic missile defense systems.

“It takes data from hundreds of sensors, radars and satellites and translates that data into a common language for the missile defense systems to interact and engage the threat.

Related: US Air Force mulls IoT deployment


Of course, although there may be benefits when it comes to using IoT technology in military environments, there are also immense dangers. Hacking is one of the greatest.

If compromised, cyber criminals working on behalf of state enemies can get access to strategic information such as the position of soldiers and supplies. The army is responding by conducting routine controlled hacks.

Hammond added: “The benefits of IoT that make it attractive to the military also make the framework vulnerable to malicious cyber attacks.

“Our challenge is ensuring that the adoption of IoT does not create an opportunity to manipulate a device or network, steal secure information or disrupt the flow of data.”

Hack threats

Pascal Geenens, EMEA security evangelist at Radware, believes there’s a real risk that hackers could begin compromising the systems of armed forces for the purpose of ransom.

“One of our predictions for the year ahead is that cyber-ransomers will extend their reach beyond companies, and the armed forces could well find themselves the target of of a ransom attack,” he told Internet of Business.

“Military branches have long been heavy technology users. They have also had a technology procurement model based on an outdated approach and xenophobic buying behavior. In a world of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) products, goods are procured fairly at will.  

“Will these COTS packages – frequently made with large amounts of foreign components – be the small pebbles that undermine the operational capabilities of the world’s largest military forces?

“Seemingly innocuous cameras, sensors and other IoT devices pervade the military, but are just as rife with security issues as any on the planet. Once demonstrable vulnerabilities are validated, how much would a government pay to regain control of weapons or other crucial resources?”

Related: DARPA wants to militarize the IoT