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Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances 5 Combatant Identification in Urban Warfare INTRODUCTION This chapter addresses new technology developments that might assist enemy combatants by allowing their identity and that of innocent noncombatants to be intermixed. Appropriate “spoofing” or other types of misidentification could cause the warfighter to engage a group of noncombatants, thus causing political and/or psychological damage to U.S. forces. The type of combat situation—urban warfare—addressed here is a scenario in which the United States is increasingly engaged. This chapter describes potential techniques for sensor spoofing and for hiding RED forces, as well as some enabling technologies. The enemy engaging in this type of warfare is often technologically nimble but unable to afford or even consider large weapons systems. Commercial technology of superior quality and capability that may be readily available from non-U.S. suppliers is a likely source of components for adversary systems. The synergistic trends of globalization and commercialization of science and technology are creating an environment in which U.S. forces may unexpectedly find themselves vulnerable. One example of offshore technology strength is the infrared (IR) laser-diode technology, which is effective in IR-thermal source spoofing. This technology was initially developed in the United States and is now manufactured and sold commercially in Switzerland.1 KEY FEATURES OF FOREIGN URBAN WARFARE Modern urban warfare has been described extensively in connection with many wars over the past 50 to 75 years. Instances of such warfare include German/Soviet combat in Stalingrad, U.S. combat in Somalia and Iraq, and Russian combat in Chechnya (Beevor, 1998; Bowden, 1999). This type of combat has several distinct characteristics, including the following: 1 For more information, see, for example, http://www.alpeslasers.ch/. Last accessed on April 1, 2005.
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Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances Complex “terrain.” Heavy combat in cities and large towns generates a chaotic artificial terrain. The lack of a clear line of combat as well as the presence of dust and smoke can make identification of combatants difficult or impossible. Combatants can easily remain hidden until detailed searches, lasting many days, are completed. Short line of sight. Urban combat occurs in an environment of extremely short lines of sight. Intense firefights between neighboring rooms in a housing unit, for example, are characterized by short range and a common element of surprise. Reaction time is very short, and positive identification may be possible only ex post facto. Intermixing of noncombatants (noncombatants) and combatants. When population densities are high, it is impossible to rule out the presence of significant numbers of noncombatants. In many cases these people are the most vulnerable of the former population, since it is hardest for them to leave the combat zone quickly. This situation makes it difficult for troops to engage enemy troops without fear of incurring casualties among noncombatants. Need for precision delivery of weapons. Because of the short distances, complex terrain, and mixing of targets, urban combat requires the ability to deliver ordnance with precision so that collateral damage is minimized. This capability is compromised if noncombatant or RED team identification is spoofed. COMMITTEE FOCUS: CAPABILITY TO DISCRIMINATE BETWEEN ENEMY COMBATANTS AND NONCOMBATANTS One form of misidentification relates to the issue of fratricide, which in itself is very challenging and has been addressed in other studies. A report from the Office of Technology Assessment entitled Who Goes There: Friend or Foe? discusses the Persian Gulf War and the problem of fratricide. During that conflict, 24 percent of U.S. combat fatalities were due to friendly fire (U.S. Congress, OTA, 1993). There is an optimal level of antifratricide measures beyond which more stringent measures could lead to increased losses from enemy fire owing to slow reaction times. The four pillars of fratricide prevention are doctrine, training, rules of engagement, and technology, as viewed from a BLUE force perspective (Armstrong, 1999). While related to the topic at hand, the avoidance of fratricide is not the central focus of the committee in this chapter; its focus instead is on the capability of discriminating between enemy combatants and noncombatants. Rules of engagement from a RED force perspective include causing confusion, hiding among the noncombatant population in areas not necessarily designated as combat zones, jamming electronic devices, and moving so that prior reconnaissance or mapping by the BLUE force is of limited utility. When cast in the context of urban warfare, the scenarios become even more complex, if only because noncombatants must also be positively identified to avoid harming them. The techniques for the identification of noncombatants in combat areas are stressed to the limit in urban warfare, principally because of the short timescale of combat and the possibility that large numbers of noncombatants might be present. Spoofing of sensors, including both visual and electronic imaging systems, compromises the BLUE force’s ability to carry out precision engagements and may endanger noncombatants. Recent examples of urban combat have included the use of noncombatants as shields by enemy combatants. Finally, ground-to-ground combat even under the best of circumstances is prone to error; the fratricide rate during Desert Storm was 69 percent attributable to ground-to-ground combat (U.S. Congress, OTA, 1993). Urban environments further exacerbate the challenge relating to the discrimination of combatant forces.
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Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances IDENTIFICATION AND ASSESSMENT STEPS OF THE COMMITTEE METHODOLOGY This section considers potential implications of emerging technologies that may be exploited by the enemy to degrade BLUE force capabilities relating to identification of friend or foe (IFF) and, more specifically, to discrimination between enemy combatants and noncombatants. Enemy combatants may leverage technological advances available in the global marketplace to develop methods of causing false identification of noncombatant parties as combatants. This situation could lead to the BLUE force’s inflicting of casualties among the noncombatants and thus cause serious psychological damage to the BLUE forces and/or divert attention from the central BLUE force combat mission. Such events inevitably lead to political damage to the United States as well. Below, the committee describes three techniques that may be employed by RED forces to degrade the ability of BLUE forces to discriminate enemy targets. Misdirected Target Designation BLUE forces wish to engage only RED forces and related enemy targets. Currently, laser-designation technology is used to enable the precision guidance of weapons. RED forces’ acquisition of inexpensive commercial laser systems, misleading designation and hence misleading weapons guidance parameters, could lead to the misdirection of munitions onto politically or psychologically sensitive targets. Such technology is accessible to RED forces in the form of rapidly advancing, low-cost, diode-laser technology. The state-of-the-art small, compact, diode-driven solid-state lasers are currently in the hands of overseas manufacturers that in many cases are the dominant manufacturer of these systems. These systems can be used to misdirect weapons, either by blinding the weapon or by retargeting it, so as to cause substantial noncombatant casualties. An important technology in target designation is the use of wavelength tuning to prevent detection of the designating laser system. This can be an effective technique, since narrowband filters decrease the detection wavelength “bandwidth” and hence prevent out-of-band spoofing. At present there are a number of low-cost IR laser devices, which can be made wavelength agile (tunable). At the other end of the spectrum, an example of high-cost and advanced IR laser technology is the “quantum cascade” laser, which emits throughout the near and medium infrared. Sensor Spoofing Another method of IFF sensor spoofing by RED forces relies on the BLUE forces’ use of sensor technology to identify military targets and to distinguish these from related civilian or noncombatant entities. For example, if an IR sensor has sufficient resolution or can use a feature such as spectral signature to discriminate among targets, it can be used as a reliable method for IFF. One example, which does use spectral-sensitive signatures, is an active forward-looking infrared (FLIR) system. As described below, these same technologies may be used by RED forces to spoof BLUE force sensors. Tunable Lasers The National Research Council report entitled Opportunities in Biotechnology for Future Army Applications further analyzes the possibilities for RED force spoofing of BLUE force identification measures. As stated in that report, “Because humans, tanks, and other military structures have a significantly different reflectivity than plants and trees, the enemy can easily identify military targets with
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Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances inexpensive infrared lasers with wavelength-scanning capability” (NRC, 2001). If, on the other hand, the RED force were to possess such tunable lasers, it could rapidly mimic the key spectral ingredients in various targets and use this knowledge to spoof civilian targets in a way that could cause them to be erroneously identified as bona fide RED targets. For military structures, because a small fraction of the “target would be observable because of its distinctive spectral properties it may be possible to develop paints with terahertz and infrared reflectivity identical to trees or grass, possibly using genetically engineered plant protein as the active medium” (NRC, 2001). See Chart 5-1. False Radio Frequency Identification Signals Radio-frequency (RF) sensors are also vulnerable to spoofing. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is a technology that uses various RF bands to probe a transponder carried by BLUE forces or a friendly noncombatant. The transponder then responds to this probe, using either onboard (battery) energy or power from the interrogating beam to cause a coded reply, which can be read by the interrogator. The market for this technology is expanding rapidly, because RFID is useful for a wide variety of commercial applications such as merchandise identification, automatic toll payment, animal identification and tracking, and so on. Since the heart of the technology is microchips and advanced microwave devices, it can be expected to advance further in sophistication and availability over the next decade. For the same reasons that RFID will continue to develop, “false tag” methods will also grow in capability. These methods could enable RED forces to “masquerade” as friendly forces, thus diminishing BLUE forces’ confidence in RFID. See Chart 5-2. CHART 5-1 Technology Assessment: Tunable Lasers Technology Observables Tunable lasers These lasers were invented and developed in the United States, but they are now manufactured overseas. They are an extremely powerful source for placing an intense infrared signal at the position of the pointed laser beam. This laser is now readily available overseas, and suppliers are accessible via the Internet. Accessibility Maturity Consequence Level 1 Warning Spoofing of BLUE sensors by changing/determining key spectral components in targets. CHART 5-2 Technology Assessment: False Radio-Frequency Identification Signals Technology Observables False radio-frequency identification (RFID) signals There are a number of suppliers of RFID technology. Detailed information is available at a Web site of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest Laboratory. Accessibility Maturity Consequence Level 1 Warning Diminished trust in BLUE RFID.
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Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances Projection of Realistic-Looking Real-Time Optical or Infrared Images Realistic-looking false-image projection will grow with the increasing availability of low-cost lasers and holographic images. In urban warfare, reaction time is very short, and the sudden appearance of any image may immediately elicit a response—for example, a programmed false image could provoke firing at an inappropriate target. The ingredients for this technology are powerful personal computers, advanced lasers, and real-time holographic media. All of these are advancing rapidly, owing in large part to demands from the commercial marketplace. While the examples provided below may seem farfetched for a warfare environment, the committee believes that there is some value in tracking such emerging technologies, since they may spawn RED force tactics that could be difficult to counter. It should be noted that the committee did not have time to separate “marketing hype” from actual capabilities in the examples below. Figure 5-1 shows the result of a system in which a “microscopic pattern of particles [is] suspended in a transparent medium that simultaneously diffracts, reflects and transmits all wavelengths of light. Through this proprietary process the TransScreen displays a projected image as well as allows you to see beyond the image floating in space.”2 Figure 5-2 illustrates HoloMirror technology that: generate[s] the illusion of a hologram by projecting specially created video images that are projected and focused to a point in space in front of the kiosk. Even though the projection source is within the kiosk housing, the image appears out in front of the display. In pictures below you will see hands pointing at or near the projected image. To the person viewing the HoloMirror they are really seeing their hand passing through the object or they are seeing the 3D image hovering above or below their hand. It is impossible to show the true 3D effect here in photographs. But these pictures will give you a bit of an idea of what happens when you experience a HoloMirror in person. Laser Magic offers two types of HoloMirror 3D Volumetric Projectors.3 Figure 5-3 illustrates a life-size hologram. According to the manufacturer’s Web site: There is nothing like the magic of a real hologram. It’s like a window into another world. View it from one angle and a crystal clear 3D image is clearly visible. Step to the side and the image disappears without a trace. As you walk back and forth in front of a hologram, the image moves and you can see around it as if it were really there.4 Projection of a programmed false image could provoke BLUE forces to fire on an inappropriate target. The committee has considered scenarios in which such capabilities may become more accessible to RED forces as materials suitable for projecting and showing the images are commercialized and adapted in consumer and fashion marketing. See Chart 5-3. Hiding of Targets Another potential method of inducing erroneous noncombatant targeting stems from the following fact, as discussed in the National Research Council (NRC) report Opportunities in Biotechnology for Future Army Applications: 2 See http://www.laser-magic.com/transscreen.html. Last accessed on April 25, 2005. 3 See http://www.laser-magic.com/HoloMirror_Pictures.html. Last accessed on April 25, 2005. 4 See http://www.laser-magic.com/holograms.html. Last accessed on April 25, 2005.
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Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances FIGURE 5-1 TransScreen, power holographic projection creates the illusion of life-size, holographic images. SOURCE: Reprinted with permission. © by Laser Magic Productions. FIGURE 5-2 Example of a projected three-dimensional image that appears to be floating above the hand. SOURCE: Reprinted with permission. © by Laser Magic Productions.
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Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances FIGURE 5-3 Life-size hologram. SOURCE: Reprinted with permission. © by Laser Magic Productions. CHART 5-3 Technology Assessment: Projection of Realistic-Looking, Real-Time Optical or Infrared Images Technology Observables Projection of realistic-looking, real-time optical or infrared images Rock concerts; entertainment industry (markets that may drive technological advances in holographic imagery). Accessibility Maturity Consequence Level 2 Watch Spoofing visual sensors.
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Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances Biological systems can also be mimicked for the next generation of soldier camouflage uniforms. One [example of this approach] uses mimicking of the mechanical chromatic effects that birds and fruits use. The exquisite color patterns on the feathers of birds are the result of the intricate structural pattern of each feather that enables it to diffract light. This phenomenon, mechanical chromatophores, is also exhibited by some varieties of fruits. Another natural phenomenon that might be valuable for camouflage is the biochromatic behavior of some reptiles. The chameleon, for example, can change color and patterns in accordance with the environment. Camouflage with this property would automatically change to blend with the environment, such as snow-covered terrain, desert sand, dense and light vegetation, daylight and darkness (NRC, 2001). Prominent research centers in the United States and elsewhere are working on adaptive materials—in particular, exploiting polymers, biomimetic structures, and nanotechnology. Both the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the U.S. Army support research in this area, advances in which could eventually lead to capabilities that enable RED force hiding.5,6 Acquisition of such technology by RED forces would enable them to spoof BLUE forces by camouflaging their appearance and making themselves harder to detect. See Chart 5-4. New types of stealth could become available in the form of coatings that consist of microwave-absorbing paint (see Chart 5-5), or interactive displays of the type described above. BLUE force development of an intelligent surface coating that is readily apparent for night vision, or, conversely, that neutralizes night vision in a manner that could redirect ordnance, could become a RED force advantage if the technology is redirected to spoof night vision. Advances in IR-absorbing coatings (proteins), temperature-noncombatant materials, and heat-emitting coatings could enable such capabilities. The availability of IR-absorbing coatings may be a near-term possibility. Commercial development of a coating used to weld textile fabrics is based on this principle. Clearweld®, a process patented by The CHART 5-4 Technology Assessment: Adaptive Materials Technology Observables Adaptive materials Literature reports of wearable displays integrated into common clothing and electronic ink are available on the Internet. At least one Web site reports that a wearable display is under development in Japan and is described as optical camouflage.a Accessibility Maturity Consequence Level 2 Watch Camouflage automatically changes to blend with the environment. aSee for example, http://smh.com.au/cgi-bin/common/popupPrintArticle.pl?path=/articles/2004/08/13/1092340452457.html. Last accessed on April 8, 2005. See also, http://www.star.t.u-tokyo.ac.jp, which presents research by international researchers. Last accessed on April 8, 2005. 5 For additional information see, for example, Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, http://web.mit.edu/isn/. Last accessed on April 25, 2005. 6 For additional information see, for example, http://www.darpa.mil/dso/thrust/matdev/matdev.htm. Last accessed on April 25, 2005.
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Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances CHART 5-5 Technology Assessment: Bacteriorhodopsin Technology Observables Bacteriorhodopsin (and other infrared-absorbing coatings) Biocatalogs and Web sites for textile manufactures. Accessibility Maturity Consequence Level 3 Watch New types of stealth to enable RED forces to hide from BLUE force sensors. Welding Institute, Ltd., is being commercialized by Gentex Corporation.7 Commercially available lasers and a colorless IR-absorbing medium, used in place of a carbon black absorber, enables clear plastics to be welded. The IR-absorbing medium is printed or painted onto one surface of the joint, encompassed into the bulk plastic, or produced in the form of a film that can be inserted into the joint. The medium absorbs IR laser light, allowing an almost invisible weld to be produced between materials that are required to be clear or have a predetermined color. The NRC (2001) report also discusses biological methods that may be employed by RED forces to evade detection: Biological means might also be useful for avoiding radar detection. Some biomolecules have long been known to be strong microwave absorbers. For example, bacteriorhodopsin has strong microwave absorptivity (3 GHz to 40 GHz). Scientists are investigating the use of chemically, and possibly genetically, modified bacteriorhodopsin protein as the active medium in microwave-absorbing paint for both tanks and planes. The absorption mechanism appears to be associated with the motion of monovalent and divalent metal cations within channels, e.g., Mg(II), Ca(II). If this theory is correct, proteins could be engineered to have precise microwave absorption bands and then fine tuned for anticipated threats in a given theater of operation. Microtubules, which are also excellent microwave absorbers, may be even better microwave absorbers and more easily fine tuned. Because much of the research in this area is classified, the committee was not able to make recommendations in this area (NRC, 2001). Is a protein with the appropriate optical and physical properties a possibility in the near future? According to the NRC (2001): From 1975 to 1995, scientists in the former Soviet Union participated in a government-sponsored program to leapfrog the West in computer technology by exploring protein-based bioelectronics. Many of the anticipated applications were military and may therefore be important to the U.S. Army, but details remain classified. One of the best-known accomplishments of the Soviet project was the development of biochrome, a real-time photochromic and holographic film based on chemically modified polymer films containing bacteriorhodopsin (Vsevolodov and Poltoratskii, 1985; Bunkin et al., 1981). The published photochromic and holographic properties of bacteriorhodopsin stimulated the international research that continues today. The protein bacteriorhodopsin is representative of the potential that proteins may have for future Army applications (NRC, 2001). 7 For more information, see, for example, www.twi.co.uk/j32k and www.gentexcorp.com. Last accessed on February 11, 2005.
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Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances CHART 5-6 Technology Assessment: Transgenic Crops Technology Observables Transgenic crops Seed companies. Accessibility Maturity Consequence Level 1 Watch Ability to grow materials and/or toxins. INEXPENSIVE SUPPLY OF RAW MATERIALS FOR CAMOUFLAGE An impediment to RED or BLUE forces’ implementation of technology such as that described above is the availability of materials in sufficient quantities to be useful. To overcome this barrier, agricultural biotechnology might be used for the large-scale production of some new materials. For example, “the protein from soybeans can be refined and sold for only pennies per pound of protein, substantially less than the cost of manufacturing equivalent synthetic polymers” (NRC, 2001). In addition, “genetically engineered crops (transgenic crops) could potentially deliver recombinant proteins directly with the food or feed products in which they are found” (NRC, 2001). When it is considered further that such crops could be cultivated in caves (“underground agriculture”), the production, using relatively low technology, of some types of materials that have the capability of obfuscating the identification of noncombatants or a RED force is a remote possibility. See Chart 5-6. SUMMARY The committee notes that U.S. leadership in research or manufacturing can no longer be assumed in a number of the technologies discussed in this chapter. Japan, for example, is extremely strong in many areas of nanotechnology and in optical and electronic devices. China is, in many cases (such as photonics), the country with the best combination of high-technology manufacturing and design, and Chinese capabilities are increasingly employed by many high-technology U.S. firms. Europe has excellent research capabilities in the areas of semiconductor materials and devices; these can be and have been translated into start-up corporations. As a result of this shift to offshore commercial vendors, important indicators are likely to appear in open source literature, including commercial Internet sites, and at industrial fairs particularly in Asia and Europe. The monitoring of key corporations is important. However, in many cases small or obscure start-ups are also of vital importance (suggesting that the tracking of venture capital may offer yet another set of relevant observables). In certain cases, the observation of critical manufacturing items (raw materials and/or equipment) may be useful, since the global marketplace, together with Internet-accessible “directions,” is empowering friend and foe alike. REFERENCES Armstrong, Steven E. 1999. Fratricide: Fact or Fiction? Naval War College, Newport, R.I. Available online at http://handle.dtic.mil/100.2/ADA370683. Last accessed on February 9, 2005. Beevor, Antony. 1998. Stalingrad. Viking, New York, N.Y. Bowden, Mark. 1999. Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War. Atlantic Monthly Press, New York, N.Y.
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Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances Bunkin, F.V., A.B. Druzhko, B.I. Mitsner, A.M. Prokhorov, V.V. Savranskii, T.B. Shevchenko, N.W. Tkachenko, and N.N. Vsevolodov. 1981. Diffraction efficiency of bacteriorhodopsin and its analogs. Soviet Technical Physics Letters 7:630-631. NRC (National Research Council). 2001. Opportunities in Biotechnology for Future Army Applications. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. U.S. Congress, OTA (Office of Technology Assessment). 1993. Who Goes There: Friend or Foe? OTA-ISC-537. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. Available online at http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/ota/Ota_1/DATA/1993/9351.PDF. Last accessed on February 9, 2005. Vsevolodov, N.N., and V.A. Poltoratskii. 1985. Holograms in biochrome, a biological photochromic material. Soviet Physics Technical Letters 30:1235.
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