Home / Security / Growing threat to military bases, require ‘Smart Base’ capabilities, concepts and technologies

Growing threat to military bases, require ‘Smart Base’ capabilities, concepts and technologies

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) maintains installations worldwide; worth over $1.2 trillion and critical to U.S. national security. Physical changes to the environment such as flooding, drought, and extreme storms disrupt U.S. military capabilities and facilities, including training ranges, bases, and housing. A 2019 DoD assessment found that out of 79 mission assurance priority installations, 67% currently face threats from flooding, 54% currently face threats from drought, and 46% currently face threats from wildfires.

 

A fire broke out at a military base of western Iran in Feb 2022, in a stockroom where motor oil and other flammable materials were stored in one of the support bases of the Revolutionary Guards in the Mahidasht region of Kermanshah province, causing damage to an industrial shed,” Nour news reported.

 

The gradual advancement of civilian population and structures to the military bases, coupled with their large perimeters running into 25 to 50 kms has increased the vulnerability of military bases.  The assumption that installations were essentially sanctuaries safe from foreign attack and distant from the battlefield is no longer a safe assumption. The growth of  smart cities  the home of  current and future installations, also add to vulnerability.

 

Military Base Security Challenges

Military Bases are surrounded by and often dependent on the neighboring public communities and infrastructure. Each military installation must maintain and update its own aging infrastructure within its boundaries, yet it is reliant on the ability to consume services for critical resources like energy and water from outside of its boundaries.

 

There is a “tension between openness and security” with the hyper-connectivity that smart cities and installations achieve through connected devices. The connectivity allows adversaries to target installations and “virtually project power.” They are increasingly vulnerable to physical, cyber, electronic or laser attacks and weaponised autonomus ground and air vehicles.

 

Exclusion vs. inclusion: Access to installations balances itself on protecting the people and materiel at a military installation by also keeping a flow of personnel and ideas, such as business and academic partnerships, and moving on and off both the virtual and physical installations.

 

Army modernization challenge: While the Army attempts to modernize its equipment and training, it also has to maintain still-in-use legacy platforms and models. The same is true of installations, many of them decades or even a century old. The TRADOC initiative looks to public-private partnerships to modernize installations.

 

Technology is outpacing regulations and policy: Sensors and analytics can improve security but also raise questions about privacy. Think security cameras and traffic cameras.  More sensors mean more risk for exploitation of the information that sensors collect. Commanders can hold table-top exercises to help build robust infrastructures that both allow for sensors to be used but also protect the networks that connect with sensors.

 

There is also increasing threat from drone carrying explosives or other lethal weapons. On July 27, 2017 Popular Mechanics published an article about a suspected Russian drone carrying a thermite grenade that in March destroyed a huge Ukrainian ammunition depot, killing one, injuring five others, forcing the evacuation of 20,000 and causing over $1 billion in damages.

 

In the information era, cyberweapons, information warfare and unconventional operations can be used by adversaries to disrupt and damage key activities and facilities on our installations. Some examples included personalized warfare, using personal information such as family data online, genome-specific attacks and “deepfake” tactics such as superimposing images or altering words spoken in publicly recorded addresses by leaders.

 

Military bases and installations have become part of the battle space. These locations are the training grounds and logistical service points for operations at home and abroad. As a result, security, resiliency, and protecting the installation from any kind of disruption is primary—and just as critical as optimizing services and improving efficiencies on the installation.

 

Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US Army for Installations Richard Kidd said, “For the very first time our installations are part of the battlespace,” said . “Installations are no longer sanctuaries.” Home base, be it Fort Riley, Kansas or Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, are no longer removed from the war front. Kidd pointed to a recent event in which soldiers based in South Korea received false orders that looked like official documents. Episodes over the past year showed potential access to troops’ fitness tracker devices by outside actors to track individual and unit movements in and around bases.

 

Smart Military Bases

Military Installations are beginning to research and develop ‘Smart Base’ capabilities and concepts following maturing examples of ‘Smart Cities’ evolving all over the world. At a high level, the concept is to combine emerging technology, sensors and modern networks with enterprise systems and data to optimize services, response times, and inform decision-makers in real-time.

 

The Army has been planning for the Installations of the Future since at least 2016, when it released its Army Installations 2025 report that envisioned self-healing buildings, electric and self-guided patrol vehicles, and IT network and cyber defense hub and energy-saving features like wind turbines, carbon-neutral energy production and water purification systems.

 

Infrastructure capabilities feature sensors for monitoring at the network edge and analytics to optimize identification and response to issues. Real-time facility control would leverage internet of things devices, wearable technology and a variety of GIS platforms to inspect on-premises and cloud IT infrastructure and interface with Department of Homeland Security’s Industrial Control System Cyber Emergency Response Team. Barracks analytics would automate and monitor utilities, such as light, HVAC systems and fire alarms.

 

Smart thermostats would provide enterprise-wide analytics for efficient operation of buildings, and automated assessments would use sensors, drones or analytics to evaluate the condition of Army infrastructure, minimizing the use of manpower.

 

Researchers with the TRADOC initiative have studied an ongoing drone support concept being used in Louisville, Kentucky to help detect gunshots as one way sensors and analytics combined can improve safety.

 

To improve the efficiency and resilience of buildings the Army wants to retrofit facilities so they can track energy usage and trends. It also plans to use sensors to better understand occupancy trends so it can reallocate extra space, conserve energy and support infrastructure modernization. A similar use case applies to outdoor spaces, monitoring lands for occupancy, resilience, endangered species and excessive noise. For the community, the Army is looking for analytics to use on video routinely collected at its Child Development Centers to improve training, enhance operations and optimize care of children.

 

At Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, AT&T and the Air Force have installed and integrated a network of connected sensors into the everyday operations around the base. As a proof-of-concept they have demonstrated and piloted smart perimeters, gate monitoring, notifications, fleet management and more to increase security, efficiency, and effectiveness. At Fort Carson, CO, a project is underway to test autonomous vehicles and sensors to reduce transportation costs, deliver faster services on base, and improve public safety.

 

Security

By adding more devices to the network, it creates more opportunities for malicious actors to get into the network. DoD will need to protect its assets from outside attacks like hackers and inside attacks like a faulty supply chain.

 

Security technologies: Tech oriented toward security, from drones to facial recognition and even artificial intelligence, will fuse information and improved Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance capabilities used in the field and overseas. Researchers noted that China leads the world in this arena.

 

Applications for physical security include better tools for first responders, such as smartphone apps, traffic monitoring and computer-aided dispatch, as well as artificial intelligence systems that speed the inspection and vetting of individuals and vehicles coming onto post

 

“Having a coordinated security policy is the right approach  ,” Schromsky said. “We want to make sure we have a valid, secure supply chain and also work with industry standards. Most importantly we want to have outreach in working with public sector agencies, federal, state and local to make sure that we meet their needs and their challenges.”

 

5G

“In essence, a smart base of the future is the integration of connected technologies that will fundamentally improve the performance and efficiency of assets and services across a military installation,” said Cornelius Brown, Verizon’s Department of Defense sales director, during the Federal Insights discussion Smart Base of the Future, sponsored by Verizon. “As we define smart bases, we can essentially view them as mini cities in itself, where infrastructure, building transportation, energy management, are all factors of a city and a base. What drives a smart base is that they’re all hyper connected, it’s an ecosystem where everything becomes connected.”

 

At Tyndall Air Force Base, AT&T and the Air Force have reconstructed and transformed the communications infrastructure with 5G-powered capabilities. 5G will be used to support flight line operations, manage base security and perimeters, and improve training for F-22 and F-35 Aircraft.

 

 

Virtual prototyping: Using virtual systems in a computational test bed to assess new equipment and systems through trials is a way in which the Army’s Engineer Research and Development Center is measuring and planning for future, long-term Army advancements. Some of those items being explored include: force projection, resilient installations working with community partners, warfighter readiness and cost effectiveness.

 

Synthetic training environment: Future installations will see fewer “brick and mortar” buildings and more virtual environments, especially for training. Training areas, confined by cost, and space and time for usage, are increasingly seen as starting first in the virtual world, especially with improving gaming, virtual reality and augmented reality capabilities coming online.

Integrated Perimeter Security System (IPSS) for Indian Bases

Indian military bases are also under increasing attacks by terrorists. On September 18, 2016, the perimeter of the Uri Army Base was breached by terrorists. The terrorists were neutralized, but the price was hefty – 18 Indian soldiers dead and 19 wounded. The event was shockingly similar to another attack that happened on January 2, 2016 at the Pathankot Air Force Base. Seven security personnel died in that encounter. Apart from the death toll, these events leave a bad taste as it seems like the terrorists had to do very little to penetrate these high-security installations, some of which (like Pathankot) house equipment worth hundreds of millions of dollars. In Uri, the terrorists merely had to cut through a wire fence and in Pathankot the attack group only needed to secure a rope to the wall and climb over it.

 

The defence ministry had cleared a proposal for the navy and the air force to immediately provide a three-layer security system around their bases housing high value assets such as fighter and transport aircraft. IAF will carry out a pilot project at one of its bases with state of the art systems that will include a smart fence, surveillance systems, thermal cameras, motion detectors and a central control and command centre.

 

“IAF intends to procure an Integrated Perimeter Security System (IPSS) for one of the IAF base as a pilot project,” an air force document reads, adding that it needs an Indian company to “Supply, Install, Test, Integrate and Commission (SITIC) all the equipment / sub-systems to provide a composite surveillance picture embedded with video analytics to generate decision making solutions”.

 

By air force estimates, it will need to spend over $1 billion on securing its most vital air bases after a security audit post the Pathankot attack pointed to the need for upgraded defences at 54 major bases across the country.

 

Base Security technologies

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have been used to manage installations for decades. At an installation, GIS links to the system of record for real property. It is used to manage sensitive environmental management areas and can even be used for public safety on and off base. Facilities, infrastructure, and utilities on a base are managed using a GIS as well. By integrating GIS, ‘Where’ becomes a key part of the picture for Smart Bases and a core technology component for Smart Base projects.

 

The Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning (AI/ML) and Cloud-Based infrastructures are also playing a role in the architecture behind Smart Bases. Using all that is available today for a Smart Base concept, large volumes of data must be aggregated and integrated quickly and disseminated for use in business and location intelligence tools. The common thread cutting across all these capabilities is location. Nearly everything involved with the concept of a Smart Base includes a “Where” component.

 

Smart Base technology requires business intelligence tools that make sense of the data. The technology must also enable its end users or devices the ability to make decisions and react to the sensor data as it flows in real or near real-time. For example, a user could be viewing the data on a map-based dashboard or an autonomous vehicle reacting to a triggered geo-event.

US Air Force Base Security Technology Requirements

The Pentagon issued a call for innovative technologies to protect fixed sites such permanent Air Force bases, temporary sites that may be only in place for an hour or so, and assets and personnel on the move.

The Air Force wants to quickly gather ideas for devices or systems such as cameras, sensors that detect intruders or changes in the environment, and drones that can deter, delay, deny, or defeat different kinds of attacks. Proposals can be at any stage of development, from start-up to an established business with an existing product. Technologies that may be selected include artificial intelligence and machine learning, the Internet of Things, and networks integrating multiple systems, it said in a statement.

The Air Force will host a “Future Xperience” event in Las Vegas for start-ups, the military, venture capitalists, and defense contractors to evaluate the top 50 ideas submitted. Selected attendees will be invited to continue to work with the Air Force or other branches of the military.

The Air Force require solutions that:

  • Are effective in as many different security contexts and environments as possible, including austere locations and extreme weather;
  • Protect against threats by air, ground, sea, or online;
  • Protect against cyberattacks that target data and may coincide with physical attacks;
  • Incorporate emerging technologies including artificial intelligence or augmented reality;
  • Need little manpower to deploy and maintain; and
  • Require little training.

Silent Sentinel has been chosen as a provider for the US Department of Defense after it reached the finals of the ‘Build the Base of the Future’ challenge of the US Air Force. The focus of the challenge was on how the new installations are used by USAF to analyse and enhance the security and defence systems. The challenge called for solutions to construct an agile airbase of the future, which is protected from threats such as explosives and cyber attacks. Six topics were the centre of the challenge, namely base security, installation resilience, leveraging technology for operational effectiveness, reverse engineering, culture of innovation, and airman and family wellbeing.

The company is a part of the Team Phosonic Perimeter Security Sensors and Analytics Platform (PSSAP), which provides sensor systems, machine learning algorithms and autonomous alert notifications for US Air Force Security Forces. It also provided infrared, electro-optical and tracking systems for the solution. The team participated in the ‘Base Security and Defense’ challenge, to showcase perimeter security and actionable intelligence, which is affordable and comprehensive.

Surveillance Tech That Acts As A Virtual Border Wall

Startup called Anduril is testing out its advanced new virtual border wall technology called Lattice which would be far cheaper for the government than building the physical barricade President Trump has promised. Comprised of sensor towers carrying cameras and sensor lasers powered by an artificial intelligence algorithm, the virtual wall can spot any person or animal moving around near the border within a two-mile radius.

 

The system employs high-tech, low-cost off-the-shelf devices and sensors networked together and feed into an AI system that sifts through the data to detect a human presence. The system highlights it in a green box and sends push alerts designed to notify Customs and Border Protection agents in real time, reports techcrunch.com.

 

During its tests, Lattice has led to the arrests of 55 people crossing the border into Texas, and another 10 in San Diego, according to WIRED. Sixteen of those people were transporting marijuana. The rest were likely crossing the border to improve their lot in life.

 

Facial, weapon recognition capabilities deployed to USAF base

Trueface, computer vision technology company, announced that AFWERX, in partnership with the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR), has awarded the company its second contract in 2019  for its facial recognition and weapon identification capabilities. With the award of a Phase II contract, Trueface will put that research into practice and deploy the company’s computer vision technologies on a U.S. Air Force military base in 2020.

 

Trueface’s solution will provide facial recognition, license plate recognition, and weapon detection in order to expedite the entrance process into the military base, as well as enhance overall security onsite. Within the base, the Air Force will utilize Trueface weapon detection to enhance general security by monitoring the movement of firearms outside of designated areas and having the ability to respond faster to active shooter incidents.

 

“Trueface was created to provide organizations of all types the opportunity to understand who and what is being brought in and out of their premises. Through the use of our advanced computer vision, we are able to provide critical information that was previously unavailable in real-time for the Air Force,” said Shaun Moore, CEO of Trueface. “The military is the perfect customer for Trueface, as the physical security element is crucial to the protection of the individuals and assets on base.”

 

Tyndall will be able to use 5G for video, surveillance and analytics

The Air Force is working with AT&T to create a “smart base of the future,” including reconstructing and transforming the Tyndall ’s communications infrastructure with 5G-powered capabilities. Although the base buildout is expected to take three to five years, AT&T will light up 5G in mid-2020, enabling Tyndall to start taking advantage of benefits such as support for augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR).

 

The plan is to connect thousands of sensors at Tyndall that collect data and can detect intruders and transmit it by 5G wireless into a digital twin model, or software-defined replica of physical settings, giving security officers greater visibility to potential threats. The sensor networks are still being developed in partnership with private companies, but the goal is to increase the precision and amount of data that can be used. The software model of the base is in the works after several contracts were signed in October through Afwerx, the Air Force emerging technology acquisition arm.

 

“The power of 5G has the potential to revolutionize and transform DOD operations, particularly on military bases, to significantly enhance mission readiness and enabling new mission capabilities like never before,  said Mike Leff, vice president for defense at AT&T Global Public Sector. One potential use case he pointed to is supporting flight-line operations massive amounts of data streaming to warfighters using data platforms, sensors and aircraft’ onboard systems so that crews on the ground and in the sky can more easily communicate. The idea works best with 5G because current wireless networks can’t transmit the amount of data needed to create the fully digitized operating picture. It’s unclear when the security systems will be fully operational, but Brig. Gen. Patrice Melancon, the executive director of the base reconstruction effort  said that modernization on the bases continues to show positive results.

 

 

 

Brazil’s IACIT has developed an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) jammer for military use called DroneBlocker that can block small to medium-sized aircraft in multiple ways, according to a company official. Henrique Nobre, IACIT general manager for sales and marketing, told Jane’s in  April 2019 that DroneBlocker is applicable for militaries looking to secure land such as bases and airports. He said the Brazilian Army currently uses the jammer for various confidential applications, which he believes includes the protection of VIPs and important events. IACIT said the Brazilian Armed Forces used DroneBlocker during the 2016 Olympics held in Rio de Janiero.

 

DroneBlocker has a radar that detects and tracks air and ground targets with low radar cross-section (RCS) to provide detection of miniature aircraft. Whenever the radar detects a target, it also sends a message or trigger to the jammer subsystem to activate. DroneBlocker works with multiple sensors. IACIT developed an image-processing algorithm capable of detecting targets such as UAVs through the videos of surveillance cameras installed along a perimeter. The camera subsystem detects the target and sends a message or trigger to the jammer subsystem to activate it.

 

Nobre said DroneBlocker can jam a UAV’s Global Positioning System (GPS), which will force the aircraft to land softly. It can also force the UAV to return to its point of origin. DroneBlocker can block imaging streams from returning to the operator. An acoustic sensor detects the target through a high-precision microphone before processing the signal and performing a comparison with the database, looking for a signature equivalent to the noise generated by the UAV.

 

A radio-frequency (RF) sensor detects targets by receiving the RF signals with a database and searching for a signature protocol equal to the signal generated by the aircraft and/or its operator. The RF receiver sensor operates with a 360° aperture angle. Nobre said IACIT prefers to define DroneBlocker’s range as a power ratio of 4:1, meaning the UAV operator must be 4 times closer than the jammer to continue to exchange data with the aircraft.

 

IACIT developed a command-and-control (C2) software application that enables automatic monitoring of the perimeter with a generation of events log for the tracking and storage of occurrences. IACIT presented DroneBlocker at the 2019 LAAD Defence and Security exposition with the aim of securing military customers outside Brazil.

 

Integrating AI-Based Gun Detection with UGV Mobile Cameras for USAF

Air Force is piloting a system that combines artificial intelligence and drone technology to stop active shooters on military installations. The Drone-Robot Enabled Active Shooter Deterrence system, developed by Philadelphia-based ZeroEyes, overlays the company’s existing AI gun-detection software on the security camera system at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota. Then, it uses drones or robots to contain a potential shooter.

 

“The entire idea behind the platform is being able to take a robot and ultimately impede, disorient an active threat on an installation before they can do any more damage,” said JT Wilkins, senior vice president of government solutions at the company.

 

Once deployed in response to a threat, the drone or robotic dog would use sirens, strobes or other non-physical means of disrupting the shooter. In 85 percent of cases, a weapon is exposed and visible for 2 to 30 minutes prior to the first shots being fired, Wilkins said. “So that’s ultimately where we want to be able to get these detections out and be able to send a robot to potentially interdict while we’re getting up a squad car from one side of the base to the other.”

 

While the system uses AI and drone technology, it is not fully autonomous. “You know that every AI is going to throw false positives, and that’s why we put a human reviewer in there to make sure that we can mitigate some of that,” he said.

 

The end-to-end solution is capable of proactively identifying guns before the first shot is fired by integrating its machine learning software with existing IP security cameras. The company’s operations center utilizes 24/7/365 human verification to deliver accurate and actionable intelligence about the brandishing of a gun near an occupied area or building.

 

ZeroEyes, creators of an A.I.-based gun detection video analytics platform has received a Direct-to-Phase II SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) grant from the U.S. Air Force AFWERX, a Technology Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and the innovation arm of the Department Air Force, for the research and development of unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) automated threat detection.

 

“The integration of ZeroEyes technology will enable our UGV cameras to detect a gun threat and trigger an alert to our security personnel within 3-5 seconds,” said Captain Matthew Matuszak, Director of Innovation: Atomic Spark – Minot AFB. “This innovative technology adds an extra layer of protection for our airmen, radically improving our response times and ability to deter a potential attack.”

“25% of active shootings occur on government property, and more than a third of first responders get shot and/or killed when responding to an active shooter situation without intel,” said Mike Lahiff, CEO and co-founder of ZeroEyes. “This project is designed to save lives by empowering unmanned vehicles to both detect and delay active shooters until first responders, armed with crucial situational intel, arrive on the scene.”
Founded by Navy SEALs and Special Operations military veterans, ZeroEyes delivers accurate and real-time actionable intelligence about the brandishing of a gun near or in an occupied area or building, to local staff and law enforcement with an image of the shooter(s) and the location of the threat, within 3 to 5 seconds from the moment the gun is detected.

 

 

References and Resources also include:

https://itcon-inc.com/content/air-force-issues-%E2%80%98challenge%E2%80%99-find-base-security-technology

http://indianexpress.com/article/explained/in-fact-pathankot-attacks-expose-challenges-in-securing-air-force-bases/

http://www.dnaindia.com/bangalore/report-lack-of-security-at-military-bases-alarms-parl-committee-2593639

https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2018/07/16/top-10-takeaways-for-the-future-of-army-installations-2/

https://janes.ihs.com/InternationalDefenceReview/Display/FG_1826778-IDR

https://www.intelligent-aerospace.com/military/article/14075267/air-force-5g-military

https://www.gisinc.com/blog/smart-military-bases-resiliency-with-gis

https://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/articles/2022/7/27/air-force-testing-counter-shooter-tech-on-bases

 

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