Open Source Intelligence May Be Changing Old-School War

Ford says the high level of mobile connectivity among Ukrainians and the noticeable lack of combat images of smartphones and cameras, especially in the early stages of the war, suggest that an operation may be underway. effective information. “Undoubtedly, Ukrainians fear that these images will reveal their tactics, techniques and procedures,” says Ford. So the Ukrainians may simply be self-censoring.

Social media platforms and mobile phones are also a force multiplier for traditionally weaker military powers, such as Ukraine, especially when it comes to coordinating intelligence gathering for targeting activities. “Targeting information is being exchanged online,” says Ford. “Successful killings have taken place in Telegram. Chatbots have been set up to help Ukrainians share target coordinates with their smartphones. Target identification does not involve complex military systems; it works from infrastructure infrastructures. civil information ”.

“The problem with collective intelligence in a war like Ukraine is standardizing reports,” says Ford. For example: “You want to be able to identify the vehicle, locate it geographically, and then map it with any available signal or satellite image, or other collection disciplines, merging it into actionable target information.”

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is not only the first conventional war of the 21st century in Europe, but it is the “most digitally connected in history,” according to Ford. “If the Ukrainians can make this intelligence operational faster than the Russians, they can use their limited remote fire, artillery, drones and maybe even missiles or air power effectively. the goal, therefore, is to find, fix and end Russian forces more quickly than the Russians can do themselves. “

When Russia launched its large-scale invasion in late February, the U.S., its allies, and Russia concluded that Ukrainian forces were asymmetrically at a disadvantage over Putin’s gifted and historically brutal counterpart. U.S. officials expected the country to fall within days. However, despite the monumental success of the US, it predicted Russia’s intentions and plans and offered warnings, US intelligence agencies incorrectly assessed Ukraine’s prospects, the current issue of a internal review.

In the face of the full onslaught of Russia’s armed forces, Ukraine’s military resilience may have come as a bit of a surprise to the Ukrainians themselves, Ford suspects. However, misjudgments about the expected balance between strong and weak powers, accompanied by strategic surprise, may be a common occurrence in the information age. Before the recognized role of social media in feeding the Arab Spring, or the importance that was reported of memory units in the latest bugs of counterintelligence, telecommunications, open source infrastructure and cheap and affordable consumer technology have affected the calculation of parity for state and non-state actors. the same.

In fact, it was global telecommunications growth during the 1990s that enabled Al Qaeda to successfully carry out its covert military attacks on U.S. soil on September 11, 2001. In the run-up to these attacks, the U.S. Department of Defense had … drafted a net assessment of military or intelligence capabilities of what was later described by the 9/11 Commission as the “foreign enemy.” most dangerous in the United States. ” The concept was unimaginable then, but now it shouldn’t be.

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