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Review of the MEXSEC 14 Summit

Richard Downie, Deputy Director and Fellow, Africa Program at CSIS wrote a summary of the successful MEXSEC conference, which was held in Cancun in December 2014. The review, written in Spanish and published in local media, can be found below.

The next event in Defence IQ’s regional security summit portfolio is CABSEC, held in March 2015 in the Bahamas. Find out more here.


 

CONCLUYE CON GRAN ÉXITO FORO INTERNACIONAL DE SEGURIDAD

*Presidió la reunión el Almirante Francisco Saynez Mendoza.

*Destaco la participación del Comisionado Nacional de Seguridad, Monte Alejandro Rubido y representantes de varios países y organismos internacionales expertos en defensa y seguridad

Con gran éxito se celebró la Primera Edición del Foro Internacional de Seguridad denominado MEXSEC realizado en la ciudad de Cancún, Quintana Roo y en la que se abordaron estrategias de defensa y seguridad global. Esta reunión de alto nivel logró reunir a profesionales del cuerpo diplomático, defensa, seguridad interna y orden público de México y de otros países de la región con el fin de compartir una práctica adecuada y entablar relaciones solidas y cooperación entre organismos.

El Almirante Mariano Francisco Saynez Mendoza, Presidente del evento, luego de dar la bienvenida a los invitados, dio la pauta para iniciar la discusión de la temática relacionada a la protección de infraestructuras críticas y en donde destacó la importancia que la Ciberseguridad ha alcanzado en la actualidad.

De las intervenciones destacó la del coronel Alan Delinson Lima Costa, Jefe del Centro de Defensa Cibernética del Ejército de Brasil, quien expuso la estrategia que este país ha desarrollado y se hizo notar la diferencia entre cyberdelincuencia y cyberataque así como la necesidad de preparar al país ante estos escenarios, ya que las infraestructuras críticas  y la información que se maneja en algunas instituciones gubernamentales, no están exentas de ser blanco de uno de estos ataques.

Asimismo fue de gran importancia la participación de Abraham Stein, Subsecretario de Seguridad Multidimensional y del señor John Bumgarner, jefe de la Unidad de Consecuencias Cibernéticas del Gobierno de los Estados Unidos de Norteamérica.

El Comisionado Nacional de Seguridad “CNS” de la Secretaría de Gobernación de México, licenciado Monte Alejandro Rubido, inauguro el evento con su ponencia sobre la Política de Seguridad y Procuración de Justicia del Gobierno de la República.

Detalló los puntos que constituyen esa política que son la prevención del delito y reconstrucción del tejido social, justicia penal eficaz, profesionalización y fortalecimiento de los cuerpos de policía, transformación del sistema penitenciario, promoción y articulación de la participación ciudadana, cooperación internacional, información que sirva al ciudadano, cooperación entre autoridades, regionalización y fortalecimiento de la inteligencia. También el hablo sobre las consecuencias por el país a través de la situación de seguridad en Iguala, Guerrero.

Otro tema significativo fue la cooperación internacional—particularmente para la seguridad de la frontera sur de Mexico. Estas discusiones fueron moderadas por el Secretario Ejecutivo del evento, Dr. Richard Downie, ex Director del Centro de los Estudios Hemisfericos de Defensa en los E.E.U.U., con la participación del Ministro de Seguridad Nacional de Belize, John Saldivar, y otros importantes funcionarios y altos mandos de agencias de las fuerzas del orden y fuerzas armadas de gobiernos como Estados Unidos de Norteamérica, Guatemala, Panamá, Brasil, Belize, Ecuador, Colombia y representantes de la Junta Interamericana de Defensa, AMERIPOL y la Oficina de las Naciones Unidas Contra la Droga y el Delito.

Este evento fue apoyado por algunas de las empresas más influyentes de la industria de defensa como TEXTRON Aviation que integra marcas insignia como Beechcraft, CESSNA y Hawker; DAMEN astillero holandés especializado en fabricación de embarcaciones con propósitos militares y EXIMCO, firma mexicana líder en el diseño e instalación de sistemas de protección perimetral para infraestructuras críticas y prisiones.

Is Science Fiction holding us back?

SpaceWarfare-SWGMBBy Rory Colthurst, Conference Producer, Defence IQ

When I began investigating the state of the directed energy market for our Directed Energy Systems event, one thing that struck me from the outset is the inevitable comparisons to science-fiction. Something about laser beams and microwave weapons seems to strike a chord with our collective conscious, stirring up nostalgic memories of Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate …basically any TV show with “Star” in the title.

This raised an interesting question though – are these associations actually holding back the wider adoption of directed energy technology? After all, there’s a certain stigma in being seen to be chasing ‘a pipedream’ based on fantasy. Militaries are often portrayed as being highly conservative organisations, opposed to radical change. Helicopters were once sneered at, as were tanks before them – the same attitude can be seen throughout the history of warfare in fact! So is there any danger of this scepticism slowing down the rate of technological advance?

I posed this question to a number of people active in the directed energy field, and to a number of military officers as well. Their responses were unexpected, but it was fantastic to hear their enthusiasm for such a fascinating technology that’s full of potential.

The unanimous response was yes, militaries are conservative by nature but, if you demonstrate something works they will back you all the way. Of course, this is exactly what eventually happened in the case of helicopters and tanks – their utility was soon proven and their adoption was widespread, and today they are ubiquitous and still in demand.

Directed energy systems have been on the cusp of this breakthrough for some time, but it seems we’re finally seeing the years of effort coming to fruition. The U.S. Navy has the Maritime Laser Demonstrator deployed on the USS Ponce at this very moment, while Boeing & Rheinmetall also have functioning systems that are highly impressive. On the microwave side of things, Boeing again has made massive progress with the CHAMP while Diehl BGT continues to make advances with High Power Electro Magnetic technology. All of these companies and many more are going to be presenting the results of their latest tests at the annual Directed Energy Systems conference, taking place in London over the 28th-30th January 2014. If you’d like to learn more, then take a look at the brochure and the website before registering your place now, or contact our enquiries team at enquire@defenceiq.com

In addition to this, we will also be exploring the potential misuse of directed energy. Yael Shahar from the Institute for Counter Terrorism will be leading a workshop examining possible scenarios and the defences available. This is not to be missed, so book now!

What is the total cost of being Iron Man?

It’s a question which we’ve asked ourselves at Defence IQ quite a bit. But now the financial wizards at Money Supermarket have come up with the definitive answer of what it actually costs to be Iron Man.

Clue: you will need a LOT of savings…

costofbeingironman980

Image source: MoneySupermarket;

Game Of Thrones In Real Life

If like us you’re currently hooked on the third season of Game of Thrones, then no doubt you’re excited by the prospect of this weekend’s finale. Yes, believe it or not, ferocious battles, military strategising and political manoeuvering does tend to draw our interest. We like the escapism. After all, a fantasy drama featuring dragons and giants is a million miles from the real world. Right?

One of our followers has contributed this chart, drawing parallels between George R. R. Martin’s characters and real world influencers. A fair assessment?…

Game-Of-Thrones-In-Real-Life

Iran “not responsible” for Shamoon malware

SaudiAramco

Following recent indications that the Shamoon virus (aka Disstrack) that targeted and disrupted about 30,000 Saudi Aramco workstations last year was “worse than originally believed”, new information has been dropped onto the desk at Defence IQ.

John Bumgarner, Chief Technology Officer at the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit, has forwarded a summary report on the Unit’s research findings that suggest a more likely source to be an extremist Islamist group based in Saudi Arabia – or at the least, not an Iranian hacker, as initially suspected.

While the findings are still circumstantial and could of course have been designed to throw forensic analysts off the scent, the evidence at hand is compelling.

The report was initially circulated at the end of last year to a number of government agencies but has been made public for the first time to Defence IQ, entitled Decapitating Saudi Aramco with the Sword of Justice.

Bumgarner will be speaking at the annual Cyber Defence & Network Security (CDANS) conference in London next week, where a number of senior government and military personnel will be joining commercial solution providers, academia and others to discuss faster progress in this field.

Find out how to attend here.

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6 major problems with military helicopters (and how to solve them)

Defence IQ takes a look into some of the most common problems for military helicopters, and what is being done about them. By no means a definitive list, the following aims to provide a broad overview ahead of the 2013 International Military Helicopter event

1. Brownout

The problem

Degraded Visual Environment (DVE) is cited by some as the biggest ongoing problem operating modern rotary-wing assets – particularly for those in deployment in dry, dusty regions. Reports suggest that it costs US forces $100m a year for Middle East operations, and has been responsible for 3 of every 4 accidents. Hundreds of helicopters have been lost in the past ten years to brownout, along with hundreds more lives.

Adding to the difficulty, brownout tends to be caused by a combination of factors, including wind speed and rotor configuration, while most of the aircraft in combat do not have the luxury of preparing or analysing the landing site.

In essence, this isn’t just a case of having a clouded visual field – dust clouds can play optical games on a pilot, skewing his or her sense of motion (i.e. ‘vector illusion’) and of the horizon angle. More odd is the relatively recent discovery of the ‘Kopp-Etchells Effect’ wherein landing in a dust cloud at night has been observed to spark sand on blades, creating a bright halo around the rotor and potentially resulting in disorientation.

Worse still is the long-term sand erosion of nickel or tin based rotor blades, driving up maintenance requirements and costs. It’s nature versus machine… and to date, nature is winning.

What can be done about it?

There have been recommendations for operational variances that can offset the probability of being caught up in the storm, such as landing at higher speed to stay ahead of recirculating dust, but these are largely reliant on specific surfaces and platform capabilities.

Effective and intense training is vital, requiring simulators that can accurately replicate a brownout experience. AgustaWestland has spent time on developing this type of visualisation with the British MoD, while other private firms such as Quantum3D, have attempted to tackle this specific issue, as seen here.

More recently, machine is making a comeback, with a range of technologies being touted as potential solutions to the problem.

Sierra Nevada’s Helicopter Autonomous Landing System (HALS) uses sensors on a 94 GHz radar, which is barely impacted by dust, sand or smoke. Integrating this with broader 3d mapping and satellite technology, the pilot is provided a detailed colour display in the cockpit with which to navigate the descent. US forces will trial it in Afghanistan from the beginning of 2013. Meanwhile, BAE Systems unveiled its similar Brownout Landing Aid System Technology (BLAST) in 2011, based on off-the-shelf technology and apparently ready for full-scale production.

DARPA began to test its own solution programme in 2009, termed Multifunction Radio Frequency (MFRF) – formerly “Sandblaster”, exploring millimetre wave (MMW) radar to update a stored terrain database and create a display for the pilot. The programme remains in development with plans to see it complete laboratory testing of key subsystem technologies for waveforms and arrays by 2013. BAE also won this development contract earlier in the year.

The US Army has also spent resources on the development of the Tactile Situational Awareness System (TSAS) by Chesapeake Technology International, which as the name suggests, is designed with a number of aims including a capacity to help pilots ‘feel’ their flight manoeuvres with touch and vibration indicators, removing dependency on pure vision.

Other ideas suggest a reconfiguration of the blades to reduce downwash, which may well be considered on future rotary-wing programmes…

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To read the rest of the article, click here. We’re also keen to hear your opinion on these issues! Email us with your thoughts at haveyoursay@defenceiq.com.

Discussion of these topics and other solutions will be on the agenda at International Military Helicopter, 23-24 January 2013, London, UK. Book your place today.

Live Vehicle Testing at the International Armoured Vehicles Show

International Armoured Vehicles

Defence IQ is proud to announce that we will be hosting the first-ever Dynamic Vehicle Experience at the Long Valley Test Track for International Armoured Vehicles 2013!

There have been a lot of whispers about this in the defence conference and exhibition markets, but we’d like to officially confirm it here: we have confirmed that Defence IQ is hosting the Dynamic Vehicle Experience at the Long Valley Test Track on both days of the exhibition, 6-7 February 2013.

The Long Valley Test Track will now be the stage for test track exhibitors to showcase their armoured vehicles for military guests.  Each route – including different tracks and obstacles – lasts about 15 minutes each, excluding a short travel time to and from the IAVs shows taking place at the FIVE, Farnborough.

There will be a 200 sqm welcome area at the start and finish sites, where vehicles will be pre-prepped to…

View original post 56 more words

Prince Harry arrives in Afghanistan, show some respect

by Andrew Elwell, Editor, Defence IQ

Captain Wales has arrived in Afghanistan for a four month tour of duty as an Apache helicopter pilot five years on from his first stint at Camp Bastion.

It’s been 47 minutes since media outlets were allowed to report on the story after being given permission to do so by the MOD following an agreement to keep it under wraps until the Prince had safely landed in Afghanistan. All of them (that I’ve read, so far) have made reference to his antics in Las Vegas and Twitter has come alive with “chopper” jokes.

This is poor form, surely?

It’s difficult to ignore the furore that Harry created a few weeks ago in Nevada, and it would be naïve to think it wouldn’t get a mention following today’s news, but taking a more responsible tone should be the order of the day.

Regardless of background, Harry is a Captain in the British Army.

He is a highly trained soldier with skills invaluable to the mission in Helmand Province. It’s not cheap to train an Apache pilot – last year he said, “You become a very expensive asset, the training’s very expensive and they wouldn’t have me doing what I’m doing (otherwise).”

Over the last decade the British Armed Forces have come to be seen as a highly prized institution by the public, achieving a level of admiration not seen since 1945. Harry is a part of that institution and he should be afforded the same respect we would endow to any other soldier serving in Afghanistan.

So please, no jokes. Nor sniggering.

Good luck Captain Wales.

We’re keen to hear your thoughts – do you agree or disagree with this post? Email comments or article submissions to: haveyoursay@defenceiq.com or comment below.

6 Major Problems with Modern Infantry Weapons (and how to solve them)

Defence IQ takes a look into some of the most common problems for modern infantry weapons, and what is being done about them. By no means a definitive list, the following aims to provide a broad overview ahead of this year’s Infantry Weapons 2012 event…

1. Too heavy

The problem  

Reducing overall system weight without comprising  the “soldier proof” factor (i.e. the likelihood of your weapon continuing to function despite the rigours of use, impact, and heavy-handed infantrymen) continues to present a puzzle to small arms manufacturers. Go for lighter materials and you increase the risk of watching your rifle succumb to short-term stress, not to mention compromising valuable aspects from lower speed to increased recoil. In this era of worldwide soldier transformation programmes, achieving this balance is a decisive factor for many materiel decision-makers.
 
What can be done about it?
 
Current solutions pivot around use of polymers (hard, durable plastics), waving goodbye to traditional metals for some rifle components, such as the magazine. Others are focusing on reducing the accessory and battery weight, as in the use of powered rails which removes the need for individual batteries. Rifle plus sights, rails, bipods, and other add-ons can be incrementally scaled down, owing to the fact that this does not impact the robustness of the overall frame of the weapon and offers something of a buffer period between now and a time when future solutions can address the main components, such as the barrel and receiver.
 2. Weak Ammo

The problem
 
Weight of the firearm is not the only concern. Ammunition weight is also in need of attention in order to lighten the load as ammo is never expendable. However, lighter ammunition obviously means that stopping power is often sacrificed.
 
5.56 mm ammo doesn’t burden the soldier much, but it’s little use at long range. Meanwhile, 7.62 mm can drop a bear at 100 yards but it will sap energy if you have to carry several magazines around. The question as to where the balance lies is an old one, but is still open to the floor.
 
What can be done about it?
 
Multi-calibre solutions are coming to the forefront. The Indian Army, for example, is planning to roll out a hugely improved modular standard rifle that incorporates both 5.56 and 7.62, while Colt introduced its similarly capable LE901-16S Winchester in early 2012.
 
Meanwhile, Remington Arms rolled out a 6.8 mm SPC cartridge for US Special Operations to bridge the gap and the 6.5 mm Grendel has emerged, thanks to British engineer Bill Alexander, which boasts a flatter trajectory and retains greater terminal energy at extended ranges than either of its predecessors.
 
NATO continues to consider the possibility of an intermediate round to overcome this issue of two standard cartridges.
 

3. Too much recoil

The problem

For sustained fire, getting back on target can be an issue, particularly when every second counts. Reducing the recoil, especially in larger calibre weapons, enables significant improvements to the volume of fire on a target, but with lighter materials and higher stopping power on most wish lists, kick can be difficult to manage.
 
What can be done about it?
 
Quite simply, time and technological advances. Recoil is an equation that is being solved through restructuring of the internal and external mechanics of the weapon as much as the materials being used to build them.
 
For instance, KRISS Vector submachine guns place the barrel in line with both the shoulder and hand, reducing the distance between the hand and bore axis. When combined with a mechanism that forces the block and bolt to recoil off-axis into a recess behind the magazine well, the overall recoil and muzzle climb are significantly minimized.
 
Heavier shoulder-mounted and multirole weapons offering the likes of anti-tank capabilities of course require an even greater engineering effort to ensure low or no recoil. SAAB’s Carl-Gustaf M3 is a recoilless rifle and has been in use for more than 50 years across more than 40 countries. Owing to continuous improvements, re-orders continue to come in from the likes of the US Army and SOCOM.
 

4. Not accurate enough

The problem
 
Moving from close quarters battle (CQB) to long range, the need to be able to maintain accurate engagement at distance is a key requirement. More forces are bringing in Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR) to combat the inability of standard issue firearms to reach out to long distances accurately enough, but this may not remain the case forever.
 
What can be done about it?
 
Accuracy of the system could be improved by rebarreling the rifles, although this is a costly process. Instead, most nations are looking to purchase advanced fire control systems to reduce “user error” to a minimum, making the rifle perform as accurately as possible.
 
Improved durability in the material being used can lengthen the life of a barrel, or in other words, can delay the time it takes for the barrel to erode through extended use, abrasion, and heat or chemical factors. Likewise, high quality cleaning tools are a must for users when ensuring the internal surface of the rifle is clear, where anything less can cause damage over time.
 
More accurate targeting sights are also making waves, such as Raytheon’s ELCAN Specter Sights, which provides wider viewing angles, long eye relief and high resolution under low light conditions, as well as options to switch between red dot and telescopic.
 

5. The full-auto dilemma

The problem
 
Here’s another question pondered by the land force requirement chiefs: should weapons be made with full automatic use in mind, or should this remain the responsibility of the dedicated SAW gunner?
 
Full auto generally means carrying more ammo, not to mention burning through more of it. It also increases the heat of the weapon and generally limits accuracy. All of this – next to a long list of other drawbacks – means full auto is rarely used in theatre. On the other hand, the option of at least having it available to every soldier would provide them with greater suppressive fire, the ability to clear small rooms and spaces, and gifts a psychological edge to the user that could make all the difference in a CQB scenario. Without it, soldiers are arguably lacking a fully-rounded capability…
 
What can be done about it?
 
To counter some of the technological drawbacks, weapons could be designed differently, such as in firing from an open bolt or thicker barrel (though this would increase the weight). The question however is more to do with strategic requirements. At present, the cons of full auto outweigh the pros, and only a proven need for such a wildcard capability in the future – such as increased need for suppression – should sway the decision-makers.
 

6. Undertrained users 

The problem
 
Fully priming the user as much as the weapon he or she carries is as vital to modern militaries as the technology to hand. Today’s forces are approaching a “soldier as a system” format, in which the human element is closely integrated with the equipment, thereby making the need for familiarity and instant decision-making one of paramount importance.
 
Live fire training has been the most common of methods in bringing the infantryman up to speed for as long as firearms have existed. While essential in familiarising the soldier with the very weapon they will be responsible for in-theatre, it does demand extensive time, cost and maintenance efforts to develop, presents a danger if the zone is encroached upon, is reliant on environmental conditions, and often does not portray an accurate picture of the real battlefield.
 
What can be done about it?
 
Simulated training for the dismounted soldier is now entering standard training programmes, offering the benefits that a synthetic environment has already provided the military pilot or vehicle operator.
 
Laser Shot, one US-based training solutions provider, offers simulated trainers of this kind that incorporates instructor input, defined attributes and variables, and even graphic animations to properly accustom soldiers to the reality of CQB. View this video for an idea of its capabilities.
 

Trainers like this often integrate with other highly-developed software packages – including the ever-popular Virtual Battlespace 2 (VB2) – but can also be made easily mobile while reducing the need for large open space.

 

We’re keen to hear your thoughts – do you agree or disagree with this post? Email comments or article submissions to: haveyoursay@defenceiq.com or comment below.

Paramount Group the next Google? An African success story

In an interview with Defence IQ, Ivor Ichikowitz, the founder of South Africa’s Paramount Group, discusses the state of the African defence industry and the company’s unique, indigenous AHRLAC programme.

Read the full interview here.

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