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Big Data analytics to steer military intelligence

Amrita Nair Ghaswalla Mumbai | Updated on January 10, 2018 Published on September 18, 2017

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‘Future wars will be decided by smart machines’

Analytics is driving military intelligence in a big way. With the armed forces investing in integrated Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) capabilities, information overload is leading to a deluge of data.

Big Data analytics is helping to quantitatively deal with the information overload, as well as to qualitatively improve intelligence assessments by drawing out patterns and insights from data, say intelligence experts.

Data analysis

Though reconnaissance and surveillance tasks are carried out by the military prior to mounting any assault, the success of the mission depends on the correct analysis of the available information. Experts say the collection of information, its analysis, and further dissemination is of prime importance for the military.

Rear Admiral S Kulshrestha, Senior Fellow of New Westminster College, Canada, said: “If standalone computers and devices can be injected by viruses, drones and aircraft can cripple a nation’s cyber capability. Information and intelligence for the military is fundamental to the planning of any military operation. It forms the core component of the military kill chain.” He added that technological advances in smart and networked combat systems is pushing the military to adopt new technologies, including Big Data analytics. French major Thales’ recent acquisition of the US-based Big Data analytics firm Guavus is a case in point.

While the US Department of Defence has already spent $1.6 billion to cover critical areas such as cyber defence analytics, €3 billion has been invested by NATO Communication and Information Agency in defence technologies. Last October, the UK Defence Secretary announced a £800-million fund that supports projects that include Big Data and predictive analysis.

Indian scenario

In the case of India, experts state a road map has already been implemented, focussing on the application of Big Data analytics in the armed forces.

Conventional algorithms are unable to tackle the huge amount of data, says Kulshrestha. He suggests using flexible Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems with learning capability.

The defence sector is swiftly moving to the age of AI, where the processing of strategic and tactical intelligence has moved out from command centers to a distributed, augmented and autonomous military intelligence framework, said Atul Jalan, CEO, Manthan, a Big Data analytics firm.

“Battles in the future, large or small, may be decided by smart machines that learn, decide and act in real time, and augmented military systems that extend the human perceptive, physical and cognitive abilities,” he said.

Signals intelligence

Signals intelligence (SIGINT), or intelligence-gathering by the interception of signals – whether communications between people or from electronic signals – is also gaining prominence. In a first, the Israeli defence major Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) recently achieved phase 1 operational capability of its advanced SIGINT Center, which integrates and fuses “the nation’s SIGINT sensors at a strategic level using Big Data and high-throughput real time data processing.”

Developed by Elta Systems, an IAI subsidiary, this is the first time that a center has been developed to handle large amounts of sensors and data, creating a national-level Electronic Order of Battle from ground, airborne and other sensors, an official said.

Published on September 18, 2017
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