Archive for category PMC 2.0

Mobile Apps: The Tactical Radio Mobile App?

This is one of those posts where I thought, why hasn’t anyone in the tactical industry or law enforcement industry developed a mobile app that can convert your smart phone into a 2 way radio? Because according to this article, private industry has already created three mobile apps that turn your phone into a basic 2 way radio.

So for this post, the idea is basic. Create a similar 2 way radio mobile app, but ‘tactify’ it. lol Get it encrypted and secure, and give it functions that would be applicable to military/police/contractor uses. Or just have basic switches on the mobile app that allow a user to customize the app to suite their needs.

The top mobile app for turning your smart phone into a basic 2 way radio according to this article below is Voxer Walkie-Talkie. If you would like to play around with it, and maybe use it for hunting or none tactical purposes, here is a link to check it out. Here it is on iTunes, and below is the description of what it does.

Description
Featured by Apple in 50+ countries
Turn your phone into a Walkie Talkie.
Don’t waste time on phone calls and voicemails.
Voxer® is a Walkie Talkie app for smartphones. Send instant Audio, Text, Photo and Location messages to one friend or a group of your friends. Your friends can listen to your message while you talk or check it out later.
-LIVE WALKIE TALKIE
-Cross Platform Messenger
-VOICE, TEXT, PHOTOS and LOCATION
-GROUP CHATS
-EVERYTHING is FREE
-No annoying advertisements
-Works over WiFi, 3G and any other data network
-Get notifications for new messages
-Create messages even offline
-Play voice messages faster
-Connect with Facebook friends on Voxer
Voxer turns your iPhone/iPad/iPod touch device into the ultimate Push To Talk (PTT) real-time Walkie Talkie.

The other thing I was thinking about with a Tactical Radio Mobile App is that companies could save money by not having to buy expensive handheld two way radios. They could just depend upon an internet connection locally or 3G/data networks, and have a team work off of that. So instead of depending upon a repeater, you are depending upon a diversified array of ‘repeaters’. Or you could have this as your back up to your pre-existing communications system.

Another angle is to create a Garmin Rhino style mobile app. Something that turns your smart phone into a basic Garmin Rhino, complete with blue force tracker style capability and two way radio functionality.

On the downside would be battery life. So along with the mobile app, you would probably have to get hardened cases with extra battery juice installed, to further extend the radio’s life and durability through a shift. Although I think the market has plenty of sources for this type of thing. I would think a power source that would give your phone enough juice to last a 12 hour shift would be acceptable. Rechargeable would be necessary as well. Pretty neat and I hope someone out there is able to take this idea and run with it. Maybe do a kickstarter for it? -Matt

 

 

Smartphone? Presto! 2-Way Radio
By DAVID POGUE
September 5, 2012
Cave drawings, smoke signals, letters, Pony Express, telegrams, phone calls, text messages. From the dawn of civilization, man has experimented with different modes of communication, each with pros and cons. Smoke signals, for example, contribute to far fewer car accidents than text messages. Text messages, on the other hand, leave much less soot.
You might think that we’ve exhausted every variation on electronic communication — text, audio, video — but you’d be wrong. A new one is quietly winning over millions of gadget fans. They’re free apps with names like Voxer, HeyTell and Zello, and they really do mess with the rules of the game.
Nobody’s settled on a good name for this communications category. But if we call them voice-texting apps, or walkie-talkie apps, you’ll get the idea.
They work on iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches, Android phones and Windows phones. You open the app, tap someone’s name, hold down the big Talk button and speak. A second after you start talking — yes, even before you’re finished — your voice bursts to life, extremely clearly, on your friend’s phone, wherever it may be in the world.
Your buddy can respond to you by pressing his own Talk button, and the conversation is under way.
Now, before you roll your eyes — “These youngsters today! Why do they need so many different ways to talk!?” — consider all the ways these apps improve on existing modes of chat.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , ,

Technology: Miniature Aerostats-The MAKO Affordable Stationary Aerial Platform

Sofcoast is developing a revolutionary new product category called “Affordable Stationary Aerial Platforms” (ASAP). This product category is designed to be a coverage capability that represents a dramatic departure from the typical aerostat lifting systems on the market today and a product category that we believe can and will bring lightweight, affordable, rapid and mobile “on-demand” data, voice and imagery aerial coverage systems to the masses.

Now this is some interesting kit. This company called SOF Coast has created a miniature aerostat or helium filled mini-blimp equipped with a wireless camera. What is neat with this thing is that it is man portable, yet gives a small outpost the ability to have it’s own aerostat surveillance capability for night and day, and a repeater for radios. Something that large FOBs enjoy, but not so much for the smaller sites, combat outposts, and patrol bases.

The other thing that I thought that was cool, is that it is smart phone capable. Meaning you could watch the feeds through a smart phone like an iPhone. So that would give everyone of that camp, that has a link to that feed, the ability to see what the aerostat sees. My hope and concern is that this feed can be encrypted so that no one else can see what the aerostat sees. Here is a run down on what it can do:

-Portability – It is man-packable while wearing standard combat equipment.
-A high resolution image and full motion video surveillance camera for day/night operations.
-Communications repeater to increase dismounted patrol range and increase situational awareness.

Also, I guess the Army is looking at these things and will be playing around with them. That’s great and they might find some utility with such a tool. It will definitely add to the ‘Observe’ portion of their OODA. -Matt

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

DIY: Opensource Military Hardware?

Ok, I have to say it. I watched this video at TED and instantly thought–Opensource Military Hardware wiki (OMH). The same concepts these guys applied to farm equipment and the basic tools of a society, can easily be applied to weapons and military equipment manufacture. And in fact, if you watch what is going on in Libya or even Mexico, it is already happening on the world stage.

Honestly speaking, mankind has been doing this since the time of spears. What makes this unique though, is the concept of open source and collaboration. That some engineer in Sweden combined his knowledge with some student in Ethiopia, to help some Peruvian maker shop put together a cost effective armored vehicle that works. And the whole world can access the same open source material via a wiki.

Of course the down side of this type of wiki would be ‘everyone’ could access it. That makes this a dangerous idea. But on the other hand, OMH is going to happen regardless. The internet already provides plenty of resources for folks to check out and use.

The other idea is that OMH could be a closed wiki, only available between partner nations. That way, one nation could give preferred poorer nations a means to protect themselves from neighbors. The thought here is ‘give a man a fish, you feed them for a day’….’but teach them how to fish, and you feed them for life’. To basically give countries a means to create their own defense industries, as opposed to giving them expensive weapons and hardware and expecting them to be able to maintain this costly equipment.

This is also a PMC 2.0 topic. Companies have built homemade armored vehicles in places like Iraq, and often these designs were based on whatever ideas those contractors in the field had come up with. Imagine if a company had access to an OMH, and could cheaply build the equipment they needed in whatever country they were operating in? You could either make an OHH ‘tank’, or go through the risk of open markets and hostile neighbors to purchase such hardware?

Or if your logistics sucks, and you need an armored vehicle yesterday, OMH could come in extremely handy. Lot’s of angles to go with this concept, and definitely check out the video below. -Matt

Edit: 11/29/2011- Check out this wiki. It is called Open Warfare.org. and it is pretty much doing what I was talking about in this post. Making public projects based on open source information and using the feedback of a the crowd. Check it out here.

 

Tags: , , , ,

Leadership: TED–General Stanley McChrystal: Listen, Learn… Then Lead

This is a great presentation and very powerful. Also, the TED crowd gave the good General a standing ovation at the end!

The other thing that I noticed was the ideas he talked about, totally mesh well with Jundism. Learn from your people or ‘learning organizations’, and listen to your people or ‘get feedback’. Even the ‘shared reality’ concept was an issue that the General discussed as a difficulty with command in the modern age. Very cool and check it out. -Matt


Tags: , , , ,

Building Snowmobiles: The Cyber Lance

I want to thank Matt from Facebook for bringing up this quote from Starship Troopers. I found the movie clip of the quote and it clearly shows the weakness of cyber warfare. It shows why you must have a direct action/physical security component mixed with your cyber warfare/information operations unit.

The simple reason why is that all it takes for your enemies to ruin your ‘hacking’ ventures, is for them to kill your hacker and physically destroy his equipment. To ‘throw a knife into the hand of the guy that pushes the buttons’, to paraphrase the quote up top.

Or worse, that hacker could be tortured and key information could be extracted in order to conduct a larger attack. The value of what that hacker knows (a nation or company’s secrets), or what they know how to do (hacking a nation or company), makes them a high value target.

In other words, today’s freelance hacker or even government/military hacker, is a highly valuable asset to a nation or a company. That highly valuable asset must be defended, and have a highly evolved physical and cyber offensive capability in order to compete and survive in today’s world.

So in order to deal with this new reality I have developed and defined a new term that I wanted to share with the readership. Enter the ‘cyber lance’.

Basically, a cyber lance is a combined arms team within a privateer company or military unit. Or it could be an outsourced team. The lance part comes from the french term Lances fournies, or ‘lances fournished’. Here is the definition from wikipedia.

The Lances fournies (French: “lances furnished”) was a medieval army squad that would have surrounded a knight in battle, consisting of a four to ten man team built of squires, men-at-arms (usually mounted swordsmen), archers, attendants (pages) and the knight himself. These units formed companies under a captain either as mercenary bands or in the retinue of wealthy nobles and royalty.
A Lance was usually led and raised by a knight in the service of his liege, yet it is not uncommon in certain periods to have a less privileged man, such as a sergeants-at-arms, lead a lance. More powerful knights, also known as a knight bannerets, could field multiple lances.

And of course the cyber is used to refer to anything to do with the internet or computing. I particularly like this etymology of cyber from wikipedia:

By the 1970s, the Control Data Corporation (CDC) sold the “Cyber” range of supercomputers, establishing the word cyber- as synonymous with computing. Robert Trappl credits William Gibson and his novel Neuromancer with triggering a “cyber- prefix flood” in the 1980s.

What’s cool about a cyber lance, is that a company can actually define it’s size to a client. They can say ‘we have 20 cyber lances’ or ‘cyber lancers’ (whatever sounds better to the user)
The other reason why I like the cyber lance concept, is that it mixes physical security with cyber security. It also mixes physical offense, with the cyber offense.  You must have one with the other as the world of cyber warfare continues to evolve. The cyber lance defines that combined arms group of hackers and shooters. The way I envision it, it could be as simple as a protective detail assigned to a hacker, or as involved as a special forces type team that does both the protection of a hacker, and conducts offensive operations based upon the information gained by that hacker. It is a fusion of the cyber and the physical, and all the potential actions that can come out of that combination.
I also like the etymology of lance corporal.  If you have ever served in the Marines, you more than likely were a ‘Lance Corporal”. Although the lance part refers to lancepesade.

From the Italian lanzia spezzata, which literally means “broken lance” or “broken spear”, but which was used to denote a seasoned soldier (the broken spear being a metaphor for combat experience, where such an occurrence was likely).

Or if you have ever heard of the term ‘free-lance photographer’ or ‘free-lancer‘ (etymology- medieval mercenary warrior) , then now you know the origins of the term. I think it works pretty nicely for cyber lance. So to me, cyber lance makes perfect sense in the context of what I am talking about here.
The cyber lance is also flexible in it’s usage. They could be all military units, or a  private cyber lance contracted out to the government or companies. A cyber privateer or cyber pirate company would have several groups of cyber lances as an organizational idea. Each cyber lance is just a unit or term to describe this hardened ‘hacker team with teeth’. It also goes back to the idea of combined arms, or mutually supporting groups within a unit. This concept is very much a part of the building snowmobiles mindset.

Combined arms is an approach to warfare which seeks to integrate different branches of a military to achieve mutually complementary effects (for example, using infantry and armor in an urban environment, where one supports the other, or both support each other). Combined arms doctrine contrasts with segregated arms where each military unit is composed of only one type of soldier or weapon system. Segregated arms is the traditional method of unit/force organisation, employed to provide maximum unit cohesion and concentration of force in a given weapon or unit type.

A cyber lance also promotes the idea of ‘team’, as opposed to an individual.  I believe cells or teams are far more capable for the attack and defense, as opposed to just an individual. The security of a nation or company, or the prosecution of that nation or company’s best interest would best be placed into the hands of a team, as opposed to just one individual.  Primarily because teams would actually have the ‘teeth’ necessary to capture or kill ‘individuals’, or defend against an attacking force. A cyber lance could also be attacked by a cyber lance, or a group of cyber lances that would make up a cyber privateer company.

Another key component of the cyber lance is it’s ability to work within the borders of another country or navigate the complexities of the commons called cyber space. A small team can be surgical and have a light foot print.  It also falls in line with the concepts of netwar, and offense industry which was a past building snowmobiles post.
Finally, as hackers become more valuable and more capable, it will be of national interest to protect these assets. The cyber lance could very well be the next chapter or paragraph in the world of combined arms and cyber warfare. It will also take the combination of the hacker’s mind and the tactical and strategic thinking of a special operations team to think of all the ways a cyber lance could be used for the defense or offense. The end result could lead to the destruction of a nation’s key national security assets, or the preservation of a nation’s vital national security assets. That is what makes a cyber lance a very important and lethal building snowmobiles concept. -Matt

Tags: , , , , , ,

Libya: Rebels Hijack Gadhafi’s Phone Network, With The Protection Of Private Security

By March 21, most of the main pieces of equipment had arrived in the U.A.E. and Mr. Abushagur was ready to ship them to Benghazi with three Libyan telecom engineers, four Western engineers and a team of bodyguards.

So if these Arab countries that funded this ‘hijacking’ or ‘telecom coup’ of Ghadhafi’s phone network bought the equipment, it would be reasonable to assume that they also purchased the services of some competent PSC to protect this operation?  I mean the return on investment for an operation like this would be immense.
It is also important to note that the Wall Street Journal really didn’t focus on the security side of this operation. On Facebook I have been asking around as to what PSC or group of contractors that participated in this telecom coup? So if any of the readership has anything, let me know in the comments are contact me through emails and I will make the edits.
This also introduces a new chapter in the world of contracting.  Make no bones about it, what these guys did was very dangerous and it was private forces that accomplished this task.  They were also able to capitalize on the chaos of the opening days of this conflict, and they were also able to capitalize on a poorly protected network.
This is also a hijacking or telecom coup that required security and tactical prowess, as well as the services of hackers. I envision this as a ‘Geek Squad’ with guns, and certainly will be studied by cyber warfare specialists. It was also the effort of private forces, with government backing.
Very interesting and I wonder how much money the investors of this operation will make, once Libya settles down and Free Libiyana turns into a full blown telecom?  Because these types of ventures are extremely profitable. Not to mention the brand loyalty that folks will have from here on out.
As to the communications advantage, that is a no brainer. Of course the rebels can organize better for warfare.  They can also issue orders via text message, and give updates to their troops and the world audience with tools like Text to Tweet. Lots of ways to get networked, once you have the architecture to support that network. Definitely a game changer, but time will tell. It still takes really good leaders as well as organization, discipline, etc.  People win wars, not gadgets. -Matt
A Group of Expatriate Executives and Engineers Furtively Restore Telecommunications for the Libyan Opposition
APRIL 13, 2011
By MARGARET COKER and CHARLES LEVINSON
WSJ’s Margaret Coker reports on efforts by telecommunications executives to restore cell phone service to rebels in eastern Libya, allowing them to communicate without interference from government personnel loyal to Col. Moammar Gadhafi.
A team led by a Libyan-American telecom executive has helped rebels hijack Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s cellphone network and re-establish their own communications.
The new network, first plotted on an airplane napkin and assembled with the help of oil-rich Arab nations, is giving more than two million Libyans their first connections to each other and the outside world after Col. Gadhafi cut off their telephone and Internet service about a month ago. Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , ,