Tag: Communications

NATO’s underwater communication tool debuts at submarine rescue drill

Illustration. Photo: NATO

Taking part in the submarine escape and rescue exercise Dynamic Monarch for the first time, NATO’s Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE) supported the exercise using a new digital underwater acoustic communications capability providing more effective command and control to escape and rescue operations.

After 10 years of development by CMRE and partners, with support from the NATO Allied Command Transformation (ACT), the first ever standard for digital underwater communications was established in March 2014.

It’s called Janus and is known in formal terms as STANAG4748. Adopted globally, Janus can make military and civilian, NATO and non-NATO devices interoperable, providing them all with a common language with which to communicate and arrange to cooperate.

The prospect of employing Janus for submarine rescue operations is very attractive. Currently, communications during rescue operations are performed solely with the analogue underwater telephones and the usage of the phonetic codes alpha to zulu.

Turkish diver in an Atmospheric Diving Suit ready to be dropped into the sea during Dynamic Monarch 17

This has the clear problem of needing an operator (that may be required for other equally critical tasks) to handle the communications on the submarine side.

Stress and language phonetic biases may also play a role in the success of the data exchange. By employing Janus for rescue communications, the operator requirement can be removed with automated systems transmitting critical data, and human factors may be removed altogether.

Such operator-dependent factors play an important role in the ability to properly decode analogue underwater telephone communications.

Throughout the exercise CMRE worked closely with Spanish Navy submarine ESPS Tramontana, the NATO Submarine Rescue System, ITS Anteo (Italian Navy) and TCG Inebolu and Alemdar (Turkish Navy).

See also: NATO wraps up naval exercise Dynamic Monarch in Eastern Mediterranean

Vejonis: Closer NATO and EU cooperation in strategic communications must become a priority

RIGA – During today’s Riga StratCom Dialogue 2017 Conference, being held at the Latvian National Library, President Raimonds Vejonis said that closer cooperation between NATO and the European Union (EU) in the area of strategic communications must become a priority, especially in regards to NATO’s enhanced presence in the Baltics and Poland.

Addressing the conference, the Latvian president pointed out that there have been substantial geopolitical changes the past three years. ”From the east, we feel the impact of Russian misinformation and propaganda, but from the south – another information campaign by the terrorist organization Daesh, which is capable of radicalizing those weaker members of society,” the president said.

”We are not involving ourselves in anti-propaganda campaigns. Instead, we are investing in the development of media skills and the work of a professional journalist, which will help in strengthening critical thinking in people and unmask lies. We chose the truth in place of lies,” Vejonis emphasized.

The president highlighted the achievements made in this area within the EU and NATO and mentioned the establishment of the NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence, the EU’s Eastern Strategic Communications Group, the Baltic Media Center of Excellence, and the European Hybrid Threat Center of Excellence in Helsinki as examples.

”We still have much to do, and much to learn. We have been victims of misinformation campaigns, with the aim of influencing our opinions, as well as the opinions of our partners. We must react to these attempts to take advantage or our democratic values by hiding behind freedoms of speech and freedoms of the press,” Vejonis said.

According to the president, responsible, honest, objective and transparent media outlets are a main characteristic of a democratic society. At the same time, measures are being looked at to counter the influence of misinformation and propaganda, the president said.

”I am confident that by working together, we can make this era of ”post truths” and ”fake news” a thing of the past. We understand the threats we are facing, and we are looking for the necessary solutions,” the president emphasized.

Meanwhile, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid expressed hope that these discussions will lead to answers on how best governments can utilize strategic communications and find a suitable balance.

”The best response to lies circulated by our enemies is the free availability of truthful information. People must be taught how to decipher propaganda, and relations between the government and the media must be a good one,” the president said.

At the same time, the Estonian president also emphasized the role social media plays in strategic communications, pointing out that a large portion of society obtains its information through social networking websites like Facebook.

Original article: The Baltic Times.

Special Forces in Focus: Sissi – Guerilla Warfare Specialists

Sissi Geurilla Warfare Specialists

The Baltic Post, 26 June 2017

Sissi Insignia

Sissi is a Finnish term for light infantry which conducts reconnaissance, sabotage and guerrilla warfare operations behind enemy lines. The word sissi, first attested in the modern meaning “patrolman, partisan, spy” in 1787, comes to Finnish from Slavic and refers either to a forest bandit or his yew bow.

The Finnish Army Sissi units are trained to conduct long range reconnaissance patrols, gather intelligence from concealed observation posts, raid enemy installations (especially supply depots), conduct road side ambushes and pursue and destroy enemy special forces units.

Finnish Sissi Geurilla Warfare-Recon Team

In wartime, an unspecified number of reservists assigned to Sissi battalions would deploy and operate as small groups up to company size. They are meant to stay behind and covertly operate against enemy forces in their area of responsibility even if regular friendly troops have been forced to retreat. Sissi battalions are part of Finnish Army local troops, unlike the jäger and armored brigades meant for operational use. Sissi units are considered as the elites of the Army conscripts, and many of the units, such as the Paratroopers or Border Jaegers, are formed of volunteers.

Sissi are specialist unconventional guerilla warfare specialists that form part of a highly trained, highly skilled Finnish Special Forces Command.

Wars between Russia and Finland have a long tradition of Finnish sissi warfare. Famous sissi leaders have included Pekka Vesainen (c. 1540—1627), Tapani Löfving (1689–1777, fought during the Greater Wrath), and Olli Tiainen (1770–1833, fought during the Finnish War).

Before the hostilities of Winter War, the Finnish Borderguard formed 25 Independent Battalions (Erillinen Pataljoona) from local reservists along the border area. After the outbreak out of hostilities, a further five Sissi Battalions (Sissipataljoona) were formed from “auxiliary personnel”. These battalions especially those of the latter type, were below their nominal strength in both men and weaponry. These units proved to be effective in using motti tactics in their native area with light infantry weapons and skis.

Finnish soldiers on skis with reindeers, near Jäniskoski, Finland, 20 Feb 1940

In the Continuation War the ad hoc Sissi Battalions were discontinued, but Independent Battalions were raised, 4th Independent Battalion was directly under the command of Supreme Headquarters doing LRRP and raiding missions deep inside Soviet area. In the Battle of Ilomantsi, soldiers of the 4th disrupted the supply lines of the Soviet artillery, preventing effective fire support. In the Ladoga Karelia front the length of the front, absence roads and lack of troops prevented continuous front lines during the trench warfare period. Both armies used a chain of fortified field bases separated by the wilderness, monitoring and controlling the gaps with patrols. Both Finns and Soviets launched raids and recon patrols into enemy territory. Battles were short clashes of lightly armed infantry groups from squadron to battalion in size, with little chance of support or reinforcements.

After the Second World War, Sissi units were de-commissioned and officially Sissi training was discontinued, although many units gave Sissi training for their reconnaissance units. In the beginning of the 1960s, Paratrooper School was established at Utti, infantry and border guard established Sissi training companies thereafter.

Famous sissi troops

  • Ilmari Honkanen, officer in 4th Independent Battalion (ErP 4). Known especially from the destruction of the Soviet military depot in Petrovski Jam.
  • Lauri Törni a.k.a. Larry Thorne, a commander of “Detachment Törni”, the reconnaissance company of the 12th Infantry Regiment during the Continuation War, had a bounty on his head by the Soviets, joined Waffen-SS in 1940 and was sent back home before the Continuation war. After the Finno-Soviet ceasefire he returned to Waffen-SS because he did not believe that Soviets would actually follow the ceasefire agreement. After the war Törni joined US Army and volunteered for the US Army Special forces.
  • Mauno Koivisto, member of “Detachment Törni” during Continuation War, later the President of Finland.
  • Mikko Pöllä, most decorated member of the ErP 4.
  • Onni Määttänen.
  • Paavo Suoranta (Peltonen).
  • Viljo Suokas, killed while on patrol in Sekee 1943.
President Mauno Koivisto 1967

In Finnish, “sissi” means guerrilla, but the term is somewhat misleading when referring to Finnish Defence Force Sissi troops. Sissi forces are not irregular guerrilla or militia forces; they are part of the regular FDF troops trained for operations behind enemy lines. Like most of the Finnish Defence Forces, Sissi battalions are composed of reservists. Their closest foreign equivalents are the Swedish Armed Forces Jägare troops.

Sissi as a description is a person of extraordinary stamina (or Sisu) – e.g. “Sissi weather” (Sissin sää) refers to the worst possible weather conditions, for sissi soldiers prefer these for their operations, since bad weather tends to distract enemy soldiers (any normal soldier tends to think about getting to shelter as soon as possible when bad weather strikes) and hide any noise caused by sissis.

In the Finnish Defence Forces, sissi is used as an umbrella term for all unconventional military applications, such as MREs, which are called “Sissi rations”, also any improvised and/or temporary repair to any equipment is often called “sissiviritys”, literally “sissi fix” or “sissi patch”, in addition any improvised booby-trap, such as a firearm rigged to fire at doorway of a building once someone opens the door, may be called “sissijäynä”, literally “sissi prank”.

Finnish Army Sissi (Ranger-Reconnaissance) on patrol

Volunteers with hobbies such as hunting and hiking are preferred for Sissi training, but any conscript in decent physical condition has a good chance of being assigned to a Sissi training company.

Sissi troops are trained in several brigades under the Finnish Defence Forces. Finnish Border Guard, which is under the Ministry of the Interior, also trains Sissi-troops in Frontier Guard units. In the FDF and Border Guard, Sissi troops are trained in:

  • Kainuun Prikaati
  • Jääkäriprikaati
  • Ivalo Company
  • Onttola Company, Headquarter of North Karelian Border Guard

In addition to this small groups of conscrips (8-10 people) are bi-annually given marine Sissi and reconnaissance training at the amphibious brigade in Dragsvik. The group is usually taken from the “rannikkojääkärit” (Coastal Jaeger) infantry unit. In Finnish Border Guard sissi troops, called Frontier jaegers, are trained in each Border Guard Command. Sissi troops trained in Finnish Border guard are also taught basic duties of border guarding. In Kaakkois-Suomen Rajavartiosto ( Southeast Finland Border Guard District) special Sissi troops (Special frontier jaegers) are also trained in Special forces tactics and techniques. Reserve officers for all Sissi troops are trained at Reserviupseerikoulu. Rivalry between Sissi-troops in different services is traditionally high.

Conscript training in these units is 6 to 12 months long. Leaders of guerrilla warfare platoons and squads serve 12 months whereas crew members serve 6 months. The medical personnel (as also in scout units) serve 9 months, except leaders specialising in medical training serving 12 months.

Conscript in Sissi-company begins with 8-week basic infantry training. After this training becomes more intense. Conscripts are given survival training during every season of the year, they can specialize further into reconnaissance, sniping, dog handling, battlefield medical service or signals. Sissi NCO/Officer training includes additionally signals, demolitions, extended small arms training as well as advanced escape & evasion techniques and ambush tactics. Those unable to cope for either physical or psychological reasons are either given deferments or transferred to a regular infantry training.

Hayha-ampujat

Special Sissi NCOs are also trained to operate in Sissi platoons, called sissiradisti or Sissi signalists. These NCOs are trained in the use of telegraphy for long-range communications.

Besides specially trained sissi troops, everyone in Finnish army at least in theory receives basic training in survival and sissi tactics. All troops and soldiers in Finnish army are theoretically capable of moving from normal warfare to sissi tactics if they are, for example, encircled or their main forces or command structure are destroyed.

Sissi troops are generally not airborne, with the exception of Army Para Jaegers trained in the Utti Jaeger Regiment. Para Jaegers are trained in sissi warfare, with an emphasis on long-range reconnaissance and the addition of close-quarter battle and urban operations training.

Sissi troops also resemble Scout troops (tiedustelijat), who are more specialized at gathering intelligence than the aggressive Sissi troops. In some brigades, Sissi are trained in Scout companies, and vice versa in other brigades, as the training is quite similar.

Sissi Recon Sniper

Sissi troops are un-motorized and are not equipped with heavy weapons or equipment (Except SiRad), their uniforms and weaponry are almost identical with regular infantry issue. Distinctive personal equipment used by Sissi are Savotta “Para Jäger” backpacks used because of extended hikes, camouflage paint and personal camouflage nets. Sissi units have fewer crew served weapons and more sniper rifles than regular infantry.

Mines are an important part of the Sissi tactic of ambushing enemy convoys. They are also used to discourage pursuit after a raid and serve as defences of bivouac. Sissi training includes constructing improvised explosive devices, as well as boobytraps (e.g. from dud artillery shells). Sissi units have a wide variety of land mines at their disposal, including: (Because of Ottawa treaty traditional word mine is nowadays explosion device.)

  • Track Mine TM 65 77 (AT mine)
  • Pipe Explosion Device 68 95 (AP Explosion Device, future uncertain because of Ottawa treaty),[7sometimes called “ovikello”, “doorbell.”
  • Anti-personnel mine 65 98 (AP mine, prohibited by Ottawa treaty)
  • Side Explosion Device 87 (AT Mine)
  • Side Explosion Device 81 (AT Mine)
  • VP 88 Claymore (AP Explosion Device )
  • VP 84 Claymore (AP Explosion Device )
  • Mortar 81mm 81 KRH 71 Y (mortar) both firing and producing guided-launched antipersonnel improvised charges
Finnish mortar squad using the 81 KRH 71 Y Mortar

The National Defense University of Finland hasn’t published any thesis or paper on the 21st century where sissi units and tactics are mentioned. This might be mainly because the FDF has moved to a more flexible defense by reforming its land warfare doctrine leaving no room for tactics and strategies for regiment/company level sissi troops. After organizational changes, the FDF will provide reconnaissance (formerly sissi) training in Kainuun Prikaati, as well as in other major training formations, where they emphasise scout recon. training. That includes reconnaissance, forward observation and fire control but this training no longer leans towards special tactics, weapons, sabotage and woodland area fighting skills. However, the FDF still trains long range reconnaissance patrol units in Utti jaegare Regiment (Paratroopers, one of the elite units of the FDF) and they are trained in woodland area fighting, survival skills, unconventional methods and asymmetric tactics though the major role is geared more towards long range reconnaissance and special operations.

Finnish Border Guard, under the ministry of interior, trains traditional sissi units itself for peace/gray/war time duties. Border Jaegares (or ‘Rajasissi’ – Border Ranger) are trained to operate behind the enemy lines with asymmetric tactics and unconventional weapons and methods as well as do long term operational reconnaissance and aggressive short term reconnaissance and sabotage. Training includes peace time operational methods and the responsibilities of the Border Guard i.e. border control, patrol and tracking and catching illegal intruders. But the training is mostly sissi training with the majority happening in the wilderness.

The future of FDF sissi units is uncertain, clearly decreasing dramatically, but the Finnish Border Guard will maintain sissi training (of a few hundred per year) including the, highly respected, traditional branches such as woodman and survival skills. The FDF have dismissed/are dismissing most of its sissi units and there is fiscal pressure ob the Finnish Border Guard as well, which has already dismantled some regiments of sissi units. The wartime mobilized strength of the Finnish Border Guard is 11,600.

The FDF’s reformed land warfare doctrine is a distributed fighting doctrine so in some sense every soldier in the army is required to understand basic principles of asymmetric tactics and guerrilla warfare.

Sissi Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP)

‘Sissi’ means ‘guerrilla’ or ‘partisan’ in the Finnish language, it doesn’t mean paramilitary or illegal troops without a controlling high command and government. The name only points towards the tactics used in historical guerrilla wars (Freedom fighters / Terrorists). This is an important difference to note as, unlike guerrilla combatants, Finnish sissi don’t hide in the local population and they always carry a belt, cockade, rifle and other signs which makes these units a legal fighting force, by the UN legal definition, alongside regular units. Local civilian support would likely be welcomed but there are no guidelines or a codex for these kinds of situation or interactions and sissis are trained to be invisible to the local population which also helps avoid legally and ethically difficult situations.

 

 

 

 

THE FIVE EYES

PRIVACY INTERNATIONAL, 11 June 2017

The Five Eyes alliance is a secretive, global surveillance arrangement of States comprised of the United States National Security Agency (NSA), the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters(GCHQ), Canada’s Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), and New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB).

Beginning in 1946, an alliance of five English-speaking countries (the US, the  UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand) developed a series of  bilateral agreements over more than a decade that became known as the UKUSA agreement, establishing the Five Eyes alliance for the purpose of sharing intelligence, primarily signals intelligence (SIGINT). For almost 70 years, this secret post-war alliance of five English-speaking countries has been building a global surveillance infrastructure to “master the internet” and spy on the world’s communications.

What does the Five Eyes agreement say?

Despite being nearly 70 years old, very little is known about the alliance and the agreements that bind them. While the existence of the agreement has been noted in history books and references are often made to it as part of reporting on the intelligence agencies, there is little knowledge or understanding outside the services themselves of exactly what the arrangement comprises.

Even within the governments of the respective countries, which the intelligence agencies are meant to serve, there has historically been little appreciation for the extent of the arrangement. In fact, it is so secretive that the Australian prime minister reportedly wasn’t informed of its existence until 1973 and no government officially acknowledged the arrangement by name until 1999. Few documents have been released detailing the Five Eyes surveillance arrangement. To read the documents available, click here for the National Archives and here for the NSA’s release of the UKUSA Agreement.

National Security Agency Headquarters (NSA), Maryland, USA.

Here’s what we do know: under the agreement interception, collection, acquisition, analysis, and decryption is conducted by each of the State parties in their respective parts of the globe, and all intelligence information is shared by default. The agreement is wide in scope and establishes jointly-run operations centres where operatives from multiple intelligence agencies of the Five Eyes States work alongside each other.

Further, tasks are divided between SIGINT agencies, ensuring that the Five Eyes alliance is far more than a set of principles of collaboration. The level of cooperation under the agreement is so complete that the national product is often indistinguishable.

What’s the extent of Five Eyes collaboration?

Together the Five Eyes collaborated and developed specific technical programmes of collection and analysis. One senior member of Britain’s intelligence community said “When you get a GCHQ pass it gives you access to the NSA too. You can walk into the NSA and find GCHQ staff holding senior management positions, and vice versa. When the NSA has a piece of intelligence, it will very often ask GCHQ for a second opinion. There have been ups and downs over the years, of course. But in general, the NSA and GCHQ are extremely close allies. They rely on each other.”

GCHQ Headquarters, Cheltenham, United Kingdom.

The close relationship between the five States is also evidenced by documents recently released by Edward Snowden. Almost all of the documents include the classification “TOP SECRET//COMINT//REL TO USA, AUS, CAN, GBR, NZL” or “TOP SECRET//COMINT//REL TO USA, FVEY.” These classification markings indicate the material is top-secret communications intelligence (aka SIGINT) material that can be released to the US, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and New Zealand. The purpose of the REL TO is to identify classified information that a party has predetermined to be releasable (or has already been released) through established foreign disclosure procedures and channels, to a foreign country or international organisation.

The level of co-operation under the UKUSA agreement is so complete that “the national product is often indistinguishable.” Another former British spy has said that “[c]ooperation between the two countries, particularly, in SIGINT, is so close that it becomes very difficult to know who is doing what […] it’s just organizational mess.”

Despite rumours of a “no-spy pact”, there is no prohibition on intelligence-gathering by Five Eyes States on the citizens or residents of other Five Eyes States, although there is a general understanding that citizens will not be directly targeted and where communications are incidentally intercepted there will be an effort to minimize the use and analysis of such communications by the intercepting State.

Are there any other surveillance alliances?

In addition to the Five Eyes alliance, a number of other surveillance partnerships exist:

  • 9 Eyes: the Five Eyes, with the addition of Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Norway;
  • 14 Eyes: the 9 Eyes, with the addition of Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Sweden;
  • 41 Eyes: all of the above, with the addition of the allied coalition in Afghanistan;
  • Tier B countries with which the Five Eyes have “focused cooperation” on computer network exploitation, including Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungry, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey;
  • Club of Berne: 17 members including primarily European States; the US is not a member;
  • The Counterterrorist Group: a wider membership than the 17 European States that make up the Club of Berne, and includes the US;
  • NATO Special Committee: made up of the heads of the security services of NATO member countries.

Alaska preparing for arrival of second Sentinel-class coast guard cutter

Illustration. Photo: US Coast Guard.

NAVALTODAY.COM, 8 June 2017

Alaska is set to host a commissioning ceremony for its second Sentinel-class U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bailey Barco in Juneau, Alaska, on June 14.

Bailey Barco will become the second of overall six 154-foot fast response cutters stationed in Alaska.

The cutters are designed to patrol coastal regions and feature advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment, including the ability to launch and recover standardized small boats from the stern.

The cutter is named after Bailey Barco, Dam Neck Life-Saving Station’s Keeper. Barco received a Gold Lifesaving Medal Oct. 7, 1901, for his heroic actions during the rescue of the crew of the schooner Jennie Hall. On December 21, 1900, the Jennie Hall ran aground in a severe winter storm off the coast of Virginia Beach, Virginia. Bailey Barco proceeded to the scene with his crew took command and ultimately brought five survivors to safety.

The commissioning will be presided by Vice Adm. Fred M. Midgette, Coast Guard Pacific Area commander. Attendees include 17th District commander, Rear Adm. Michael McAllister; Coast Guard Sector Juneau commander, Capt. Shannan Greene; and cutter Bailey Barco’s commanding officer, Lt. Frank Reed. Also in attendance is the cutter’s sponsor Carol Lash Push, great-granddaughter of Bailey Barco.

The Coast Guard is acquiring 58 FRCs to replace the 110-foot Island-class patrol boats. The FRCs are designed for missions including drug and migrant interdiction; ports, waterways and coastal security; search and rescue; and national defense.

Each FRC is named for an enlisted Coast Guard hero who distinguished him or herself in the line of duty.