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Conference Report 2013
Seminar on Digitisation of Battlefield
By Sucheta Das Mohapatra
For the second consecutive year, SP Guide Publications in collaboration with Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS) organised a seminar on ‘Digitisation of Battlefield’ which saw the user (Indian Army), CLAWS and the manufacturer (industry) deliberating on requirements of the modern digitised battlefield and the developments of core technologies to support it.
The inaugural session was opened by Major General (Retd) Dhruv C. Katoch, Director, CLAWS and was followed by key note address by Lt General Anil Bhalla, Director General, Perspective Planning and President Executive Council, CLAWS. “Indian battle space is highly complex,” said Lt General Anil Bhalla and added that on one hand we have high-end technology and on the other there are obsolete technologies. He opined that it is wrong to say that only the Mechanised Forces are suited for high-end technology. “A simple thing like the direction finder will help the soldier in the battlefield. We need a modern framework to provide high-end technology to the soldier on the ground, but to absorb the technology for the soldier at the grassroots level is a difficult task. Mindset is the biggest challenge and add to it is the issue of constant need for upgradation.” He said that the defence industry and public-private partnership (PPP) model should be progressed rapidly and India is definitely, though slowly and steadily growing into a networked 21st century force. Giving the vote of thanks, Jayant Baranwal, Chairman and Managing Director, SP Guide Publications thanked CLAWS, Honeywell, DRS and Cisco for their support in organising the seminar, as the organisation gears up to celebrate its 50-year journey in 2014.
The first session began with the release of the book “Pakistan’s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: Conflict Redux” written by Brigadier (Retd) Gurmeet Kanwal and Dr Monika Chansoria by the Chairperson Lt General (Retd) Davinder Kumar followed by a discussion on “Technology-Imperative for National Capability”. The discussions began with the view that India has missed the industrial revolution, especially based on homegrown solutions and needs to catch up to achieve 70 per cent indigenisation by 2020. The Chair began by saying that technology changes warfare but does not determine warfare. Technology shapes warfare and not war which is timeless. Technology and warfare have never been far afar. Possession of necessary technology is a national imperative and no nation will part with its critical technology and hence nations have to develop technological absorption capability and the enabling policy. He said that technology becomes outdated with the development of warfare, asymmetric warfare and cyber warfare and in Indian context, all systems will be fielded and integrated bringing in necessary synergy.
Major General P.K. Srivasatava, Additional Director General, Artillery gave a presentation on “Sensors: Utilisation and Trends.” He highlighted on the realities and problems faced at the ground level and said that “every soldier is a sensor”. The ground-based human intelligence resources include reconnaissance warriors, ghataks, commando operations, intelligence sources, reconnaissance troops of mechanised armoured regiments, Special Forces and unmanned ground systems. Like wise the ground-based electronic sensors include, unattended ground sensors, battlefield surveillance radar-short-range, sound ranging, etc. The aerial sensors include unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), aerostats, Army Aviation helicopters, satellites/military and civil. The sensors are utilised at all levels in the Army he said and added that what we need is a fully automated system. “What is required is a common operational picture (COP) which can be generated and flashed to all commanders simultaneously, so that all at all levels know all. There is the need for proper visualisation software. This is the requirement of digitisation in sensors and we are grossly lacking here.” He concluded by stating that we can within our country develop a system which is very strong.
Lt General K. Surendranath, Chief of Staff, Headquarters Southern Command spoke on “Platforms: Make Technology the Driver”. He said technology is the new game changer and all elements of warfighting system can be controlled remotely with net-centricity at its best. Space-based surveillance, advanced cruise missiles, precision guided weapons, UAVs, new technology weapons are changing ground realities of conventional wars. While thanking Steve Jobs for inventing Apple and making hardware an enabler of the software, he said in India it is the other way round as we procure hardware first and then the software. On the procurement and acquisition process, he said that technology comes with a price and is like ‘I scratch your back and you scratch my back’ policy. This is with all transfer of technology (ToT) cases with other countries.
Lt General Anil Bhalla gave a presentation on the “Core Technologies Impacting Modern Warfare” and opined technology today is driven primarily by the demands of the commercial sector. While science will drive technology, technology will drive warfare. He spoke on application of material science, combat vehicle engineering, battlefield surveillance (satellites, aerostats, airborne sensors, strategic UAVs, air defence radar); future combat systems (DEW, UGV, CBRN), information warfare, electronic warfare and cyber warfare. On the information communication technology, he said that the biggest challenge is in interfacing this technology and where the field commanders lack. “We need a strong industrial base, identify technical gaps, collaborate, adopt technology and shorten the technological development cycle.”
Lt General (Retd) Davinder Kumar spoke on “Anti-technology: Shaping the Battlefield” and gave details of the anti-tank technologies ranging from night vision devices to anti-tank munitions, e-bombs, anti-satellite weapons (ASAT), directed energy weapons. The utility of a tank today would diminish in the warfare of tomorrow, he said and also added that cyber warfare is nothing but anti-technology and at the heart of asymmetric warfare is cyber warfare. He gave the examples of Israeli products like Iron Fist and Trophy as anti-technology munitions. On the anti-satellite weapons, he said, China is investing a lot.
K.P.M. Das, Vice President, Global Defence and National Security Solutions, CISCO, gave a presentation on “Unified Battlespace”. He said battlespace includes all operational aspects of air, land, sea and the electro-magnetic spectrum that encompass the area of influence and area of interest.” He defined a deployed environment as communication on the halt and mobile environment as communication on the move. He described what are the challenges faced and gave several examples of successful implementation in deployed environment. In NATO: DCIS – (fully converged mobile brigade) by Cassidian; Netherlands: TITAAN (fully converged mobile brigade) – RNLA; in USA: WINT – (fully converged mobile brigade) – General Dynamics; Germany: MOBKOMSYS – MPLS deployed satellite system – Cassidian; UK: Falcon – deployed IP wide area system – BAE; Austria: field communications refresh – TBD; in India TCS is yet to be fielded; Korea is TICN – under fielding by Samsung Thales.
The mobile environment include Sweden - KOMNOD – Thales; Sweden Maritime – Experimental Project – FMV; USA – WINT – General Dynamics; USA – Special Ops – US Army; KSA – Royal Guard Mobile Brigade – GD/Thales; Norway – in Progress and Austria – Field Communications Refresh. Jasmine – Teldat (Poland, Other); Dine/SOTAS - Thales (UAE, Malaysia, Other); MUP – STEEP (Germany, Other); TX4 - D-Tech Labs – USA and future infantry combat vehicle (FICV) , India. He spoke of unifying the battlespace and challenges he said include connecting the front with the rear. Procurement cycle around the world he said, is the same, it takes 10-20 years.
The question and answer session which witnesses several queries from Jayant Baranwal. To his question on why does India get hardware and then software, Lt General K. Surendranath said it is because of the acquisition process. “Software is a different ballgame and hence its acquisition takes time.” Major General Srivastava fielded questions on the status of Artillery network Shakti. He said that Project Shakti,which is an Artillery Combat Command and Control System (ACCCS), is a fully digitised, integrated and networked system jointly developed by Bharat Electronics limited (BEL), Bangalore, Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR), Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) and Project Management Organisation (PMO) ACCCS of Directorate General of Information Systems (DGIS) which has high level of expectations at the ground level. He said that the project has certain software glitches which will soon be sorted out. Lt General (Retd) Davinder Singh concluded by saying that the basic thing is we need to think and plan as a system. The software system is more than hardware and that is the approach normally being followed. “Our old platforms need upgradation,” said he. On the research and development aspects, he said there is the need for integration of basic science and applied science.
The post lunch session began with a session on “Cyber and Space” chaired by Lt General (Retd) S.P. Kochhar, Former Signal Officer-in-Chief (SO-in-C), Indian Army. He spoke on “Cyber Warfare: Offensive and Defensive Aspects”. Cyber security according to him is security of everything that a man posses today. It is end-to-end defence of everything connected to an electronic device, which includes software, engulfs entire cycle of cyber all connected with a network. He said while the users point is to get security, the vendors aim at selling. Our endeavour should be indigenisation of components first and cyber tools to be effective, must be home grown as all systems and tool imported would have malware and no country will give everything. Hence policy changes are required and not only in audit but in ownership too. He also spoke on analytics and said that if you have analytical tools, your predictability becomes easy and anything which comes for free is susceptible. He lamented that the private industry is looking at profit, government at funding and nobody is looking at best efforts.
Major General A.B. Shivane, Additional Director General (ADG), Perspective Planning, gave a presentation on “Space: Force Multiplier for Digital Battlefield” and said that the line dividing war and peace is blurred today and hence the requirement for war prevention strategies. Space, he said, is not a new domain in India and gave examples of the historical Pushpak and the Mysorean rocket used during Tipu Sultan rule. However, space capabilities have escalated and their utilisation has grown manifold. From a force enhancer it has become a force enabler, a medium from where you support the terrestrial warfare and the ultimate high ground in a digitised battlefield. “What is important for a nation is to ensure that the country enjoys space security in all its varied domains which acts as a force enhancer.” Major General Shivane informed that the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has already launched 71 satellites and whole lot of exciting ventures is coming up not only to harness civil capability for military use but also defensive space controlled capability. He said while space is essentially joined, it is also a different domain with different technologies and different ultilisation for a nation and hence it is important to have a Joint Space Command to optimise these capabilities which will translate into ground capability. “The fundamental security determinant for the country is the need to hone on deterrence and response capability to meet the national security objective.”
Air Vice Marshal (Retd) Dev Ganesh of Honeywell Aerpospace gave a presentation on “Enablers for Space Sensors in the Digital Battlefield” and spoke on military applications of space. Surveillance by panchromatic, infrared, search and rescue, multi and hyper-spectral imaging sensors; electronic intelligence and analyses of voice and data transmissions; communications: data and voice; controlled transmissions through beam forming networks; air and land vehicle management by sky connect, osprey wings, through satellite networks. He gave out details of Honeywell’s miniature inertial measurement unit (MIMU), the Interferometric Fiber Optic Gyroscopes (IFOG) IMU; STARMU, the integrated stellar-inertial attitude determination system for pointing and stabilisation in space applications; reaction wheel assembly (RWA) for satellite turning/ manoeuvring or stabilising; beam forming networks; SkyConnect aircraft tracking system for tracking of all airborne assets in all types of terrain; SkyConnect as a comprehensive hardware and data solutions and SkyConnect through the Iridium Constellation; and the Osprey Wings as an effective communication tool for worldwide tracking, messaging and alerting, etc. He said the Osprey is being used in naxal affected areas of the country and the Osprey Wings through the Inmarsat satellite network was first used in India by former Chief Minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh N. Chandrababu Naidu in local transport buses.
In the Q&A session that followed, the SP Guide Publications CMD questioned Air Vice Marshal (Retd) Ganesh how would he respond to the concern that the equipment and solution coming to India from abroad is safe and secure. To this, the Honeywell official said that indigenisation is the key but we cannot lie behind. We cannot wait for the light combat aircraft (LCA) to happen. In order to manufacture our self, the safest way is to go through ToT and we must learn how to acquire the technology.
The last session was on “Operations and Training Aspects” and was chaired by Lt General (Retd) Aditya Singh, former GOC-in-C, Southern Command, Indian Army. Michael O’Hara Kelley, Senior Program Manager, DRS Technologies, gave a presentation on the users perspective of the “Battle Command Systems” along with Jayesh Shah, Senior Principal Engineer, DRS Technologies who gave the technology perspective of the system. Kelley said the US Army has selected DRS Technologies as the sole source provider for the mounted family of computing system (MFOCS) to support the next generation joint battle command platform (JBC-P). He said the DRS system enables right information reach the right person at the right time in the right format to make the right decision confidently. “Critical thinking is key to success and it is important to empower critical thinking,” he said and emphasised that “understanding the user is very relevant”. Jayesh Shah gave details of the continuous performance of the DRS Network & Imaging Systems (NIS) and the products and solutions. DRS he said has focused on providing the best integrated C4ISR solutions to the Indian Army which includes rugged computers and display systems; network and communications gateways; EO/IR sensors and thermal imaging systems; dismounted warfighter systems; mission command software suite; platform C4ISR systems integration; environmental testing; exportable hardware and software; full ToT, MToT and IPR options to the Indian Army and best life cycle value in price, performance and support. Explaining MFOCS technology he said it utilises common, modular computing elements based architecture to provide basic, intermediate and advanced computing and networking solutions. It integrates existing Force XXI Battle Command Brigade-and-Below (FBCB2), future joint battle command platform (JBC-P), and warfighter information network-tactical (WIN-T) capabilities onto a transport-agnostic network architecture.
Major General R.P. Bhadran, Additional Director General, Information Systems, Indian Army, gave a presentation on “Expectations from Net-Centricity in the Battlefield”. Networking improves efficiency both in market and management and gave details of how warfighting efficiency will increase with networking. Net-centricity in the battlefield gives real time operational picture which helps in better comprehension of battlefield; real time intelligence picture which lightens the fog of war; faster decision-making which reduces the friction in war. He opined that the power of net-centricity is derived from the application software which includes geographical information systems and geospatial data and cyber security systems and not just from the computers and networks alone. The NCW systems on the anvil he said include command information and decision support system (CIDSS): the army strategic operational information dissemination system (ASTEROIDS), battlefield surveillance system (BSS), artillery command, control communications system (ACCS), electronic warfare system (EWS), air defence command and reporting system (ADC&RS) and battlefield management system (BMS).
The last speaker, Colonel Sameer Chauhan’s , Senior Fellow, CLAWS, presentation was on “Making of a Digital Warfare”. Future conventional conflicts will have hi tech content, combatants will require higher caliber, warfare will be more mental than physical and would require higher educational and technical skills amongst military personnel than what is present now. He highlighted on human resource management, awareness and training. Human resources according to him included the both the generalists and the specialists. “Focus on specialists and bring the generalist up to that level.” He said it is important to identify, nurture, train and finally retain the personnel and gave out details of the ways to do it. E-learning according to him has to be a norm and not an exception and the Indian Army website should have a technology corner which should be updated on a regular basis.
During the Q&A session that followed, Major General Bhadran informed that while the Indian Army has digital maps, it does not have digital data. Michael O’Hary replying to a question asked by Jayant Baranwal said that the systems offered by DRS Technologies can be configured according to user demand. To yet another question by him, the panelists answered as to why the Indian Navy personnel seem more technically sound than Indian Army men. “The Indian Army is huge while Indian Navy is small and was compelled to go indigenous. When in a fighting ship, everyone has a technical space. The Indian Army has also caught up in the last ten years. Awareness is growing but due to sheer size it is slow.”
Major General (Retd) D.C. Katoch in his concluding remarks said that we in India have a long way to go and there is the need for indigenisation of our systems. “There is no free lunch except at the mouth of a mouse trap.” The day ended with vote of thanks by Lt General (Retd) Naresh Chand, Senior Technical Group Editor, SP Guide Publications.