Future OE Mission Command and Future OE Decision Cycles

Contributing USMA Research Unit(s)

Cyber Research Center, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

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Army Futures Command G2 Mad Scientist Blog

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Enormous commercial, academic, and governmental resources are being expended to build machines which can autonomously assist humans in a variety of complex tasks (e.g., drive cars, fly aircraft, engage targets, manage distributed operations). This post asserts that the technologies being developed and deployed by these efforts will eventually force future mission command capabilities to include abilities to detect, analyze, and react to man-machine interface deception / surprise events at all echelons of command. The need for these new / improved decision support capabilities will be driven by the challenges of creating accurate Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) estimates while encountering increased deception / surprise technologies. These deception technologies are appearing at every echelon of mission command and are being driven, in part, by the ongoing commercial integration of the international network of Information Technology (IT) systems and the international network of Operational Technology (OT) systems. A lesson learned from the use of the Stuxnet malware to cause Iranian centrifuges to self-destruct is that malware can be used to achieve tactical surprise of human operators. The centrifuge control man-machine interface was exploited to deceive human operators concerning the true state of the autonomous control system as the machines were being commanded to destroy themselves. The Iranian operators were unaware for a lengthy period that they were being deceived by their monitoring software and they were surprised when they discovered the extent of the damage to the centrifuges. The centrifuge-control, man-machine interface was informing the human operators that everything was proceeding as commanded when in fact the machines were shaking themselves apart. It is apparent from many recent events/results that similar outcomes are now possible at each echelon of command (individual deception outcomes at the “tip of the spear,” as well as tactical surprise outcomes, operational surprise outcomes, and strategic surprise outcomes). This note provides a summary of some results in achieving distributed state estimation and control of complex, networked systems. This post asserts that a wide variety of distributed control systems, including national infrastructure systems and possibly military command and control systems are subject to deliberate and inadvertent cyber and physical anomalies (failure modes) and states the author’s opinions regarding the implications of the ongoing integration of IT and OT for future Mission Command decisions and future Operational Environment (OE) state estimation results.

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