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  SoldierMod Volume 15 - May 2015
Volume 15 Articles

Country flagIDF: “Google Glass” and Cyber Warfare

News from Israel Defense Force

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The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) continues to be at the forefront of communications and target acquisition, and informational technologies for the dismounted soldier. The R&D in these modernisation efforts are conducted by the IDF’s Development Branch.

Photo: Courtesy USAF.
Photo: Courtesy USAF.

Recently this branch has been inspired by “Google Glass”-like technologies that can provide real time information on the battlefield for increased situational awareness and protection of IDF soldiers.

“After Operation Protective Edge, there became a greater understanding that mobility is a significant factor in combat,” said Capt. Rotem, Head of Development Branch. “One of the things we’re working on is a change in the perception of mobility within the development branch of the IDF. In the coming year we will learn how to develop and utilize Android apps, and enter the realm of multi-faceted technology”.

A priority among those apps Rotem’s branch is working on, is the development of a wearable Google Glass type of technology that could provide soldiers and commandos in the field with real time data from central command. “Of course the goal is not to confuse, but to add information that can help fighters make correct decisions – to prevent firing at our forces [or non-combatants] for example,” said Capt. Rotem.

The Google Glass application, will be an outgrowth of an already fielded mobile logistics app. That app “…displays a map on the screen, displaying the route they are taking to deliver logistics, trucks with weapons, etc.,” explains Rotem. “This enables the commanders to gather updates on the delivery during the fighting, when it will reach the area – and be able to control the means of transport.”

Taking the lessons learned in the mobile logistics app, into a true wearable screen such as Google Glass, will be a big step forward in soldier safety and improved situational awareness says Rotem.

Incidentally, IDF is not the only military looking into the potential of Google Glass, The U.S. Air Force’s Battlefield Air Targeting Man-Aided (K)knowledge programme (BATMAN) purchased two of the units, and has been experimenting with leveraging similar apps for the USAF.

Cyber Warfare

IDF’s Development Branch is also actively involved in cyber warfare attacks and counter measures. In early April, speaking about the current and future states of cyber warfare and cyber defense the head of the IDF Telecommunications Branch, Maj. Gen. Uzi Moshkovitz, said “[On 7 April] there was a planned attack that we were aware of and the attackers failed in their attempt.”

Moshkovitz says, “Soon everything will be cyber,” and IDF personnel need to be leaders in this area. He likens today’s “cyber warfare” to the early days of air warfare, where since WWII superior air power has made the difference in almost every modern conflict. The same will be said for who leads the way in cyber warfare and cyber defense.

Moshkovitz says especially in terms of terrorist states or organisations, if you want to physically attack an enemy thousands of miles away, you are going to need great logistical resources and powerful weapons systems, but if you want to attack their computers, all you need are some smart hackers. “To attack a computer or a computer network that’s a mile away from you or 15,000 miles away from you – it’s basically the same. In the cyber domain, the physical distance between hostile parties has basically no importance…”

That is why when it comes to cyber defense, Moskovitz believes that the most important aspect is not the latest hardware or software, but personnel. “The most important thing to us is human capital. Everything within the cyber domain relies upon the strength of our personnel. Therefore, we must restructure our education system. The main tools of cyber defense are not the switches, routers, or operating systems, but rather the cyber defenders themselves.”

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