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Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow’s Warfighter: A Symposium Report 3 Solutions Offered by Scientific and Technical Intelligence This chapter summarizes discussion from the second panel session, which emphasized the composition and dissemination of S&TI products from the perspective of COCOMs and other consumers as well as S&TI producers. Additionally, potential solutions to better prevent technology surprise were discussed. Both panelists and the panel audience were active participants in the discussion, which was guided by a set of questions posed by the DIA/DWO. A list of these discussion prompts can be found in Appendix E. TOPICS DISCUSSED S&TI Resources When asked whom S&TI consumers go to for information on technology developments that may lead to surprise, panel participants listed several of the “usual suspects” as their primary resources for S&TI information, including: The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA); The Defense Science Board; Think-tanks (e.g., RAND Corporation and the Brookings Institution); Department of Energy laboratories such as Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, and Sandia National Laboratories; DOD laboratories such as the Office of Naval Research; Federally funded research and development centers; and Private sector institutions via cooperative research and development agreements.
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Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow’s Warfighter: A Symposium Report It was noted, however, that younger generations often seek information less from specific institutions than from knowledgeable individuals within those institutions, and that their searches are often buttressed by peer-to-peer cultural practices. Making S&TI Actionable for COCOMs When evaluating the relevance of S&TI, COCOM panel participants expressed the need for a clear assessment of time (when the threat might be realized), impact (an assessment of the consequences), mitigation actions (ways that the impact might be reduced), and a concept of operations describing how the technology might be used against the United States. Related discussion themes are described below. Sharing of information between S&TI and the warfighter community is important, but it must be in context to be of value. The commands expressed a preference for information sharing through some type of interactive dialogue rather than formal documents that may not sufficiently address the potential operational impact. Limited access to classified networks such as the JWICS (Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communication System) and the SIPRNet (Secret Internet Protocol Router Network) was discussed as a bottleneck restricting the distribution of S&TI products. Additional limiting factors for information sharing include over-classification within the government as well as the lock-down of intellectual property in private and academic entities. While these issues are challenges, they were highlighted in the discussion of S&TI solutions needed—ways to overcome these impediments in order to make S&TI more readily available to COCOMs. Participants acknowledged that sometimes the information needed to answer a query is not available, or is incomplete, when the question is asked. They suggested that information systems be expanded to retain the questions asked together with all subsequent S&TI exchanges to improve the continuity and consistency of S&TI products. Similarly, participants felt that adoption of the research community’s trend toward publishing negative results as well as positive results might also be of value to consumers—as well as to other S&TI producers. The U.S. cultural inclination—particularly in the defense establishment—is to solve problems with technology-based systems. But, as mentioned in the section “Process-Specific Concerns About Technology Surprise” in Chapter 2, too often the U.S. assumption is that others behave similarly. Instead, the S&TI community must consider social systems and decision processes to account for varying adversary thought processes. This issue can be addressed by including cultural and social science factors as part of
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Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow’s Warfighter: A Symposium Report the formal requirements generation process and by ensuring that technology assessments include the cultural and social science context. Some panelists expressed concern that open announcement of acquisition requirements in effect telegraphs strategic capabilities and potentially allows adversaries to develop countermeasures in concert with a U.S. research, development, testing, and evaluation cycle, with the result that advanced procurement offers a U.S. strategic advantage only for a limited time. When prompted to characterize useful S&TI based on the categories of long-term forecasts, technology transfer risk assessments, or current military system capabilities, panel participants from COCOMs generally prioritized S&TI from warning of the most immediate threats (i.e., threats to current capabilities) to longer-term forecasts (e.g., forecasts of the potential for electronic warfare). Some past failures were discussed in reaction to this prioritization. Participants cited instances in which S&TI information was available, but appropriate action was not taken—either because the impact was not fully appreciated or because mitigation options were not apparent (or not feasible). S&TI Production and Delivery It was widely agreed that data and products should be available in a variety of forms. Capturing both the questions and the answers, and then revisiting those to generate updates, are critical to the evolution of S&TI capability. Tools for populating and maintaining information relationships in A-space (an analytical tool on JWICS) are of value, but access to A-space is currently too limited to address the needs of S&TI consumers. Panel participants discussed the potential utility of the ability to infer correlations from R&D activities as well as benefits associated with the mapping and mining of both openly available and protected data (assuming that access can be obtained). Commercial examples of such inferences include companies’ suggested spelling alternatives during Internet searches and automatic recommendations based on previous customer purchases. Panel participants from COCOMs expressed a desire for on-demand, persistent, and real-time S&TI, and in fact some wanted to receive only information with those characteristics. This preference is inconsistent with the general consensus that S&TI should also monitor and warn of technology-based threats that may emerge over the longer term. This stimulated additional discussion regarding the need to tailor S&TI products for diverse consumer communities that have divergent needs, particularly in terms of the time frame of greatest importance. Another point that surfaced during the discussion was that it is important to understand not only what a product does but also the methodology by which it is made. What was the development process? What size group with what composition was required? These and other related attributes suggest indicators that could
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Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow’s Warfighter: A Symposium Report be tracked through collection to monitor emerging threats. Thus, these attributes are relevant to the requirements process. Finally, there was significant discussion regarding how best to assess over time the quality and value of S&TI products from the perspective of the consumers of those products. Participants pointed out that feedback on S&TI quality could be gathered not only through face-to-face interaction between S&TI analysts and end users, but also through indirect means such as automatic tracking and analytics to quantify who is accessing specific information and how often. In general, participants felt that indirect means would be more productive because consumers are too busy to provide feedback on individual products. STEPS TO PREVENT TECHNOLOGY SURPRISE Many participants believed that adversaries evolve both capabilities and tactics inside the U.S. decision loop—that, particularly in current conflicts, they are more agile. Concerns were expressed that adversaries are making use of technology that is increasingly available to create new ways to surprise us. “Red teaming,” or considering an adversarial perspective in a simulated military conflict, is a useful way for operators to anticipate both current and future threats. The need to improve U.S. red teaming capability, particularly to improve the integration of adversarial culture and values, was discussed by several participants. S&TI has a role to play in this regard, but it also was acknowledged that there is a potential advantage in having S&TI analysts without access to classified information since they may be more collaborative and imaginative in their exploration of how technology might be used by adversaries to pose a threat to U.S. warfighters. Box 3-1 describes an ONR-funded project discussed briefly in one of the panel sessions. With a small investment and using only publicly available databases, undergraduate researchers acting as a red cell were able to exploit vulnerabilities in current systems. Other important solutions suggested by participants over the course of the panel discussions include the following. The IC should work with other U.S. government agencies to improve information flow, specifically regarding S&T advances. Information sharing within the IC should be better organized. There was an expressed belief that intelligence functions would benefit from integration. For example, regional and biographical analysts, working together, better understand each other’s priorities and deliver more meaningful products; similarly, integration of regional and S&TI analysts could improve the value of S&TI products by providing greater operational context. Any technological capability described only as an abstraction will not appear relevant or urgent to consumers of S&TI.
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Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow’s Warfighter: A Symposium Report BOX 3-1 Case Study: Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Exercise Groups of college students were tasked to act as red cells. The sponsor prompted the groups with the hypothetical situation of a maritime threat. Teams created threat devices, identified targets, and deduced vulnerabilities to naval assets. Using open-source data (including Twitter and FaceBook), they were able to identify vessel schedules, locations of high-value targets, and sources of maritime components. Through this exercise, the teams identified holes in capabilities and previously unidentified vulnerabilities. This project demonstrated a potential for surprise stemming from a small group with limited resources and only open-source information. It was pointed out that this exercise did not and would not trigger existing warning mechanisms. Similar red team exercises have been proposed for the future, including ones targeted to cyber technology. In general, participants felt that there is a need to better recognize where and how priorities are set for S&TI, particularly with regard to resource allocation. Relevant metrics discussed included available budget, number of assigned analysts, and the scientific reputation of the assigned leadership. A number of participants expressed the view that S&TI needs both more resources and stronger leadership and advocacy across the IC, particularly given the growing potential for technology surprise.