2
Current Technology Surprise Problems

The symposium attendees were divided into two parallel panel discussion groups, each of which was presented with the same list of starter questions to motivate discussion. (For a list of these questions, see Appendix E.) An effort was made to balance the distribution of organizational perspectives across the two groups such that a single viewpoint was less likely to dominate the discussion. Both the panelists and the audience were active participants in the discussions. While discussions were not restricted to the questions provided, the moderators used those questions to focus the two independent discussions around common issues and to address the symposium goal of elucidating trends that could be used to improve the DOD’s technology warning capability.

This chapter summarizes discussion topics from the first panel session that emphasized understanding current issues related to technology surprise from the perspective of COCOMs and other key S&TI consumer communities as well as S&TI producers.

DEFINING TECHNOLOGY SURPRISE

From the discussion, it quickly became apparent that there is no standard definition of “technology surprise.” The following four-fold definition was provided by the DIA/DWO sponsor.

  • Type 1: A major technological breakthrough in science or engineering. These are generally rare events, enabled by experts within the field.

  • Type 2: A revelation of secret progress by a second party which may have an unanticipated impact. For example, at the end of the Cold War,



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2 Current Technology Surprise Problems The symposium attendees were divided into two parallel panel discussion groups, each of which was presented with the same list of starter questions to motivate discussion. (For a list of these questions, see Appendix E.) An effort was made to balance the distribution of organizational perspectives across the two groups such that a single viewpoint was less likely to dominate the discussion. Both the panelists and the audience were active participants in the discussions. While discussions were not restricted to the questions provided, the moderators used those questions to focus the two independent discussions around common issues and to address the symposium goal of elucidating trends that could be used to improve the DOD’s technology warning capability. This chapter summarizes discussion topics from the first panel session that emphasized understanding current issues related to technology surprise from the perspective of COCOMs and other key S&TI consumer communities as well as S&TI producers. DEFININg TECHNOLOgy SuRPRISE From the discussion, it quickly became apparent that there is no standard defi - nition of “technology surprise.” The following four-fold definition was provided by the DIA/DWO sponsor. • Type 1: A major technological breakthrough in science or engineering. These are generally rare events, enabled by experts within the field. • Type 2: A revelation of secret progress by a second party which may have an unanticipated impact. For example, at the end of the Cold War, 

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0 AVOIDING TECHNOLOGY SURPRISE FOR TOMORROW’S WARFIGHTER the United States was surprised to learn that the Soviet Union had not stopped its production of biological agents as Moscow had pledged more than 21 years earlier during the Nixon Administration. • Type 3: Temporal surprise, when a party makes more rapid develop- ment or advancement in a particular technology than anticipated, such as recent progress in North korea’s nuclear program. This type of surprise is often facilitated by technology transfer that accelerates progress beyond a traditional linear development cycle. • Type 4: Innovative technology applications, such as using an airplane as a weapon on September 11, 2001, or increasing the lethality of impro- vised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq. Such innovations do not neces- sarily require technical expertise, but rather the creativity to use available resources in a new way. AREAS OF CONCERN Participants acknowledged that technology R&D is a global enterprise. The United States is no longer assured dominance in that enterprise, but still appears to cling to an S&T foreign policy that is U.S.-centric. Panel participants expressed that this policy has been more effective at keeping technology out (i.e., limiting U.S. ability to exploit advances made elsewhere in the world) than at keeping technology in (i.e., limiting the access of others to U.S. advanced technologies). Much of the discussion emphasized the point that the U.S. government is not adequately staffed, networked, or integrated to avert technology surprise. Within the IC specifically, there is a need to integrate S&T and regional analysis, along with socio-cultural input, to better assess potential threats stemming from the widespread availability of technology. In the IC, there is a need for more scien - tists and technologists who understand the intelligence community culture and can help to both craft focused collection requirements and provide scientific data and insight on a continuing basis. It was acknowledged that even individuals with deep technical expertise may be poorly equipped to translate that knowledge into discrete indicators that would focus intelligence collection assets. Furthermore, the need to understand not only the raw technical capability but also how that capability might be used against the United States on the battlefield was high - lighted as an issue of particular importance. Participants felt that the current paucity of scientists and engineers in the S&TI community is sometimes reflected in the quality and content of S&TI cur- rently produced and distributed to consumers. It was specifically mentioned that, in recent decades, the number of S&TI analysts with postgraduate degrees in S&T fields has decreased by a factor of five. The magnitude of this decrease, together with the decline in the number of American students being trained as scientists and engineers, was a common concern. Beyond related topics of general concern regarding U.S. technical dominance,

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 CURRENT TECHNOLOGY SURPRISE PROBLEMS other discussion topics emphasized the S&TI creation and dissemination process, a new paradigm for the use of information, and additional specialized technical areas of concern. Process-Specific Concerns About Technology Surprise Many participants’ concerns focused on the end-to-end S&TI process, from data collection to analysis to dissemination to the end user. Below are some key observations of panel participants. • A disconnect exists between the requirements, collection, and analysis communities. Participants articulated sometimes divergent understand- ings of the responsibilities and missions of the component communities. Specifically, participants observed a “lack of shared meaning” across the community, and some expressed frustration with what was seen as exces- sive bureaucratic finger pointing in place of a discussion of how to fix problems. • Participants’ views regarding the relevance and potential impact of emerg- ing social networking technologies revealed significant disagreement. In discussion of specific tools (such as FaceBook, Twitter, and other social networking platforms), disparate views surfaced about both the importance and the relevant time frame of emerging social networking technologies in the context of potential security threats. • Participants expressed concerns about “mirror imaging” U.S. assumptions, meaning that the intentions of an adversary are too often evaluated using U.S. cultural biases rather than the opponents’ culture, beliefs, and value systems. Western bias also tends toward the formal (and somewhat rigid) development of technology-based solutions versus organic or improvised solutions that allow for agility. To prevent surprise, symposium participants emphasized that assumptions must be examined through the lens of the appropriate operational context and culture, with a particular focus on inno- vative and ad hoc applications of technology. This point is further addressed in the section “Making S&TI Actionable for COCOMs” in Chapter 3. • There was a general view that S&TI producers need to focus products and more directly target the needs of specific consumer communities. For example, products should be tailored to address issues specific to operational communities, whose needs differ from those of the community working long-term acquisition programs. As an example, a description of raw technical capabilities is not particularly useful to consumers out- side the defense R&D community. S&TI information must be provided together with sufficient operational context to help consumers understand the potential impact if the capability is used against the United States on the battlefield.

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 AVOIDING TECHNOLOGY SURPRISE FOR TOMORROW’S WARFIGHTER • Several panel participants complained that it is difficult to direct questions to the right place within the S&TI community; similarly, when consumers of S&TI possess information that might be of value to producers of S&TI, they do not have clear mechanisms to get that information into the community. • Information about potentially threatening technological developments is not, in general, shared with the S&TI community by corporate, academic, and U.S. government agencies outside the IC. Participants again identified the need for the S&TI community to develop a stronger understanding of S&T advances in the United States, as well as worldwide, and to build networks with these communities. use of Information in New Ways In a world of collaborative systems, what is the proper balance between information sharing and information protection? How might adversaries use infor- mation to their advantage? Panel participants emphasized that it is imperative to consider these questions in the context of an open and global information world. Several points of discussion are listed below. • Given new means of communication and information dissemination, individuals and groups are able to influence masses of people nearly instantaneously. • The projection of power has become possible with the use of information as opposed to only the movement of troops. This change has obvious implications for governments as well as businesses. Previously, informa - tion campaigns always accompanied the “war plan”; now, the information campaign sometimes is the war plan. For example, during the incursion of Russia into Georgia in 2008, national security decisions were affected by implied threats even without a large-scale movement of troops. • Systems integration has devolved to the level of an individual in some important areas. The major barrier to technology combination and utili - zation is no longer technical competence. Even without specific systems engineering experience, it is now possible to innovate and create novel capabilities via plug-and-play of available technologies as dictated by the situation at hand (leading to Type 4 surprises as characterized in the “Defining Technology Surprise” section above). • Many participants identified concerns stemming from vulnerability in cyberspace—broadly defined. Information is increasingly available via open sources, as is demonstrated, for example, by the proliferation of biometric information. Similarly, software is increasingly obtained from open sources or developed commercially by teams distributed globally. At the same time, vulnerabilities are pervasive in battlefield infrastructures as well as in civil systems infrastructures. Participants noted that many

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 CURRENT TECHNOLOGY SURPRISE PROBLEMS university researchers are not adequately protecting data beyond backups, leaving their research findings potentially accessible to adversaries. In addition, the anonymity of the cyber actor remains a significant issue. • International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) was originally developed to keep technology within U.S. borders. ITAR-imposed constraints restrict the ability of some U.S. companies to export their technology overseas. As a result, companies have relocated both manufacturing and research facilities to overseas locations to avoid these restrictions, defeating the pur- pose of ITAR. The U.S. export control regime was viewed by symposium participants as symptomatic of U.S.-centric policy that is not aligned with today’s world.1 Specific Areas of Concern for Technology Surprise The immediate concerns of COCOMs center on the threat from weapons of mass destruction. Additional concerns stem from a lack of understanding of how adversaries might employ rapidly evolving and often commercially available tech- nologies. When considering potential threats in the longer term, panel participants specifically mentioned the following areas: • Information technology; • Biotechnology, nanotechnology, and neuroscience; • Cyber security; • Material sciences; • Directed energy; and • Preserving current U.S. technology advantages, such as those in space, aviation, and maritime domains. An imperative for the S&TI community is not only to share information and collaborate on technological advances but also to help protect U.S. dominance in critical areas. These goals must be reconciled within the reality of an increasingly global R&D enterprise. SOuRCES OF FuTuRE TECHNOLOgy SuRPRISE Threats span a spectrum from individuals to small groups to nation-states. Rapid advancement of technologies and increasingly easy access to these tech - nologies provides sophisticated capabilities to nation-states, non-state actors, and 1 For additional information on ITAR and how it affects the exchange of unclassified, scien- tific information, please see the NRC report Beyond Fortress America: National Security Controls on Science and Technology in a Globalized World. Available from http://www.nap.edu/catalog. php?record_id=12567.

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 AVOIDING TECHNOLOGY SURPRISE FOR TOMORROW’S WARFIGHTER combinations thereof. Some symposium participants felt that a growing source of technology surprise, especially in the realm of cyber security, may stem from young, smart, and motivated but disenfranchised youth. Given the information revolution, this group could pose a significant threat, using peer-to-peer informa - tion sharing and social networking in ways not currently addressed or even fully understood by the S&TI community. Parts of the private sector are now eclipsing nation-states in the accumulation of information about individuals, their actions, and their transactions. For exam - ple, the data accumulated by companies purposefully collecting large quantities of information might represent a significant threat if used maliciously or acquired by an adversary with intent to harm U.S. interests. There is a growing challenge relating to exploitation of personal information and identity theft. Exploitation of this type of data represents an opportunity for surprise not yet fully appreciated. The challenge of technology warning is further complicated by differing approaches stemming from strategic versus tactical actors. While nation-states generally implement longer-term strategies that leverage technological advances, individual adversaries (and insurgents) tend to emphasize short-term tactical actions, often exploiting existing technologies in novel ways. The blurring of the boundary between technological advancement and innovative application of existing technologies further complicates this challenge. These points came out in the symposium during discussion of specific state actors of concern, including China (described in further detail in Box 2-1). BOX 2-1 China The symposium participants discussed China as an example of a potential source of technology surprise. It was agreed that the relation- ship between China and the United States is multifaceted and shaped by the U.S. view of China as a competitor and pursuer of U.S. technology, a collaborative partner, an economic rival, and a potential adversary. The relationship is further complicated by the fact that China is a major investor in the U.S. economy. Participants expressed the view that asymmetry in the transpar - ency between U.S. and other S&T enterprises is sometimes quite stark, depending on the domain (e.g., academic versus official), and cited past interactions with China in both academic and military-to-military settings to illustrate this point.

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 CURRENT TECHNOLOGY SURPRISE PROBLEMS TIMINg Panel participants discussed the role of timing in anticipating surprise. The priorities for S&TI producers are impacted by COCOM timing requirements, the length of the acquisition cycle, and government research agendas. Many participants agreed that surprise will increasingly occur sooner rather than later. Nevertheless, there was significant disagreement as to the time horizon to which most S&TI resources should be committed. The symposium discussions reflected disagreements between the commands and the S&TI community on this question. While the COCOMS are necessarily concerned with the near term, S&TI producers tend to be more focused on the long term (i.e., 10-15 years) due to the pull of the defense acquisition community. Several topics of discussion related to the issue of timing are included below. • Military commands tend to see S&TI within the narrow context of their explicit mission directives. They want to improve capabilities to do what they currently do, but better. However, they do not actively look over the horizon at potential technological developments that might defeat current capabilities. The focus of commands is on training to use currently avail - able technologies, not on planning for future capabilities. • S&TI producers present at the symposium felt that most S&TI resources are currently applied to relatively near term issues (the next 5 years). Because the procurement cycle for major new systems tends to be on the order of 20 years, the gap between these two time frames, and therefore the current value of S&TI to the acquisition community, is considerable. — Demand for S&TI focused on the 0- to 5-year period is high because the acquisition community needs it to provide countermeasures that protect currently fielded capabilities. This demand, however, takes resources away from longer-term research. There was a general view that the 5- to 10-year time frame is very important, and that ignoring it leaves the United States very vulnerable to technology surprise. — Longer-term forecasts are also important when considering initiation of major procurement efforts. There is a counterproductive lack of align - ment between the rapidly changing environment and the lengthy and rigid military acquisition cycle. Technology is moving much faster than the acquisition cycle. • COCOMs claimed that assessments far into the future (e.g., 20 years) seem to be of little value because of the uncertainty associated with the forecast, particularly in terms of the ability to anticipate operational impact. The counterpoint was voiced that while the technology procure - ment cycle may not lend itself to quick responses to changes in technology assessments, forecasts do inform the evolution of tactics and strategies

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 AVOIDING TECHNOLOGY SURPRISE FOR TOMORROW’S WARFIGHTER for using inventory when available and for innovating to develop novel solutions when not. Technology Commoditization How will adversaries make use of what is increasingly available to create new ways to surprise the United States? Wide availability of increasing computational capabilities will continue and will enable more surprises. Participants described this phenomenon in terms of “lego blocks”: today the United States invests great resources in creating technology that very soon will be packaged into plug-and- play components for use by the general public, including future adversaries. The Stages of Surprise Panel participants questioned what the trigger is for the recognition of a sur- prise. For example, a bomb explosion immediately indicates that a surprise has occurred, while the realization that identity theft has occurred may come days, months, or years after the event itself. Panel participants identified four stages at which the potential for surprise might be recognized: 1. Technology is developed; 2. An adversary decides to commit a hostile act; 3. Technology is used by an adversary; and 4. Technology use is discovered by the target. The time lag between the third and fourth events is what determines a viable response; participants observed an increase in this interval—particularly in the cyber domain. In addition, the stages suggest that both technology and policy eval- uations are necessary components of an effective technology warning system. CONCLuDINg THOugHTS The first panel session of the symposium centered on defining and identifying areas of concern for technology surprise. Secondary discussions emphasized time lines for prioritization by COCOMs of information needs and the impact of devel- opment and acquisition cycles on adequately preparing to react to unexpected adversarial challenges.