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The five-domains update

Posted By , , and on March 13, 2018 @ 13:12

Sea state

A report produced by the Singapore government has revealed the cause of a deadly collision between an American warship and an oil tanker in August last year. The report says the collision was caused by a ‘series of missteps’ leading the USS John S. McCain to make a sudden turn, putting it into the path of the oil tanker Alnic MC. The USS Fitzgerald almost sank in a similar collision in June. Seventeen sailors died in the two collisions, prompting the US Navy to institute reforms in sea training.

Australia has refused to follow the US lead in conducting freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that Australia won’t provoke China by sailing within 12 nautical miles of China’s man-made islands. The US Navy has repeatedly sailed within 12 nautical miles of the islands. The UK recently committed HMS Sutherland to conduct freedom of navigation drills.

Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2018 has officially kicked off in the Arctic Ocean. ICEX is a 5-week training exercise designed to test operational readiness in the arctic environment. A highlight of the exercise is the construction of Ice Camp Skate, a temporary command centre built on an ice floe. Nuclear submarines USS Connecticut (SSN 22), USS Hartford (SSN 768) and HMS Trenchant (S91) are participating.

Flight path

Last week the Royal New Zealand Air Force joined ongoing recovery efforts in the aftermath of PNG’s earthquake on 25 February. On Monday, a RNZAF C-130 Hercules delivered eight tonnes of aid, then flew aid missions within PNG. The Royal Australian Air Force began recovery efforts on 2 March, setting up a logistical hub at Moro Airport. Delivering aid to remote villages had been hampered by damaged infrastructure, as well as the region’s remoteness.

The Israel Defense Forces’ Air Defense Command conducted its first exercise using the David’s Sling anti-missile system, which became operational last year. The system intercepts medium- and long-range missiles. It’s the latest in Israel’s four-layered anti-ballistic and rocket network. The operational practice is part of a larger exercise simulating a large-scale missile attack on Israel. The exercise is being conducted jointly with the US military.

Following on from last week’s report, several airlines celebrated International Women’s Day by making aviation history. British Airways operated flights with the UK’s largest all-female crews, Ethiopia Airlines flew its first flight with an all-female crew, and two indigenous women from Canada became Manitoba province’s first female indigenous medevac team.

Rapid fire

The five East African states contributing troops to the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) warned about withdrawing their troops from Somalia, voicing security concerns that it ‘would lead to a reversal of the gains made by AMISOM’. The mission has arguably turned into a military quagmire. Meeting in Kampala, leaders from Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Ethiopia and Djibouti expressed concern about phased troop drawdowns planned under UN Security Council Resolution 2372, which are due to begin this year. There are currently 21,626 troops in the force.

US soldiers deployed in Niger, Mali and Cameroon will receive ‘imminent danger pay’, amounting to up to an additional $225 each month. The decision comes after the 4 October ambush in Niger last year, which killed four US soldiers. The ambush was the largest loss of US military personnel in Africa since the 1993 ‘Black Hawk down incident. The imminent danger pay raises questions about mission creep, as US soldiers—deployed on a train, advise and assist mission with Niger’s military—find themselves in increasingly dangerous operations.

Further to this story, the release of an ISIS propaganda video last weekend appears to include footage from the helmet cameras of the four ambushed US soldiers. ISIS’ use of the footage as a recruiting tool has prompted the US Special Operations Command to develop a formal policy on the use of head cameras. Captured footage can play a crucial role in intelligence gathering, as well as providing a training tool for future troops.

Zero gravity

Partnerships in space seem to be the flavour of the week. Australia signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the EU on space cooperation last week. The MoU is between Australia’s Cooperation Research Centre for Spatial Information and the European Association of Remote Sensing Companies. The collaboration aims to share best practices and exchange information about earth observation technologies.

A Brazil–US space partnership could be the next big development in space exploration. The US has shown a great deal of interest in the Brazilian Ancantara space centre. The US and Brazil began discussions on developing a technology safeguards agreement earlier this year. Brazil’s Ancantara space centre is hotly sought after due to its location near the equator. Launching satellites close to the equator in the direction of the earth’s spin reduces the amount of fuel needed to achieve orbit. That can cut costs by a third.

But maybe a partnership with the private sector is the way to go. US President Donald Trump praised the private sector for its economic efficiency in space development. During a recent cabinet meeting, Trump commented on the stark differences in the cost of rocket development between private companies such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX and government agencies such as NASA. While NASA’s SLS is estimated to cost up to $1 billion per launch, Musk’s ‘Falcon Heavy’ launch vehicle costs $90 million per launch.

Wired watchtower

SonicWall has released its 2018 cyber threat report about trends in the areas of ransomware, encryption, the internet of things, cyber law enforcement and malware. The report also predicts risks to look out for in 2018. One key finding is that the total number of ransomware attacks decreased, yet the number of ransomware variants increased.

Last week Beijing’s local police tested smart glasses that can recognise faces and number plates and match them to a database. The glasses flag anyone who appears on the database of blacklisted individuals. The technology joins a growing system in China that ranks, blacklists and tracks its citizens, linking behaviour to privileges such as travel, credit and access to public services.

Drones have a lot of potential for the future, but drone developers are also aware of the risks that drones pose. South Australian Professor Javaan Chahl has raised concerns that his drone technology could be used for ill. Chahl’s research team has developed drone technology that can measure a person’s breathing and heartrate from 60 metres away. The technology is intended to be used by the Australian Defence Force to aid victims during humanitarian crises. Yet Chahl is worried that the system could be used for espionage or even be weaponised.

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[1] report: https://news.usni.org/2018/03/08/singapore-safety-report-uss-john-s-mccain-aug-21-2017-collision

[2] Julie Bishop: http://www.afr.com/news/politics/world/foreign-minister-julie-bishop-wont-provoke-in-the-south-china-sea-20180308-h0x7nr?btis

[3] HMS Sutherland: https://thediplomat.com/2018/02/the-british-royal-navy-will-send-a-frigate-to-the-south-china-sea/

[4] Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2018: http://seawaves.com/2018/03/07/us-navy-kicks-off-icex-2018/

[5] Ice Camp Skate: https://www.stripes.com/news/navy/navy-starts-under-ice-submarine-exercise-off-alaska-s-coast-1.515464

[6] Last week: https://medium.com/@nzdefenceforce/nzdf-helps-airlift-aid-to-quake-damaged-region-of-papua-new-guinea-1d17afa6dc3d

[7] Moro Airport.: http://video.defence.gov.au/play/5568

[8] hampered: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-06/aid-finally-arriving-in-quake-devastated-png-villages/9518054

[9] David’s Sling anti-missile system: https://www.defensenews.com/global/mideast-africa/2018/03/08/us-israel-prepare-to-train-for-joint-missile-defense-ops/

[10] system: https://www.defensenews.com/land/2017/04/02/israel-marks-operational-deployment-of-davids-sling/

[11] jointly: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/israeli-u-s-armies-practice-joint-response-to-attack-on-israel-1.5888099

[12] last week’s: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/five-domains-update-12/

[13] operated: http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/international-womens-day-british-airways-all-female-crew-uk-2018-a8245326.html

[14] Ethiopia Airlines: http://www.africanews.com/2018/03/08/ethiopian-airlines-dispatches-all-female-crew-in-historic-argentina-flight/

[15] became: https://winnipeg.ctvnews.ca/pilots-take-flight-as-manitoba-s-first-female-indigenous-medevac-team-1.3835297

[16] would lead to a reversal of the gains made by AMISOM: https://www.voanews.com/a/amison-heads-state-call-on-united-nations-reverse-troop-drawdown-somalia/4278061.html

[17] Resolution 2372: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170831-un-mission-in-somalia-extended/

[18] will receive ‘imminent danger pay’: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/07/world/africa/pentagon-us-troops-niger-combat-pay.html?mtrref=www.google.com.au

[19] amounting to up to an additional $225: https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/03/08/us-troops-niger-get-danger-pay-five-months-after-deadly-ambush.html

[20] deployed on a train, advise and assist mission: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/02/17/world/africa/niger-ambush-american-soldiers.html

[21] prompted the US Special Operations Command: http://time.com/5184631/niger-isis-ambush-head-cams-footage-propaganda/

[22] signed: http://earsc.org/news/earsc-and-crcsi-sign-mou

[23] Cooperation Research Centre for Spatial Information: http://www.crcsi.com.au/

[24] can cut costs: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-brazil-space/u-s-space-companies-aim-to-help-brazil-rocket-base-lift-off-idUSKCN1GK0J1

[25] praised: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/08/trump-praises-elon-musk-spacex-for-beautifully-landing-rocket-boosters.html

[26] commented: https://www.theverge.com/2018/3/8/17097150/trump-cabinet-meeting-spacex-nasa-policy-private-industry

[27] NASA’s SLS: https://www.nasa.gov/exploration/systems/sls/overview.html

[28] 2018 cyber threat report: https://cdn.sonicwall.com/sonicwall.com/media/pdfs/resources/2018-snwl-cyber-threat-report.pdf

[29] Last week: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-parliament-surveillance/china-eyes-black-tech-to-boost-security-as-parliament-meets-idUSKBN1GM06M

[30] growing system: https://theconversation.com/chinas-social-credit-system-puts-its-people-under-pressure-to-be-model-citizens-89963

[31] raised concerns: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-08/drones-what-happens-when-good-tech-falls-into-the-wrong-hands/9524130?section=technology