Security technologies should be networked, Pentagon says.
Much of the technology available today offers "point solutions for specific applications," said Lt. Col. Eugene Stockel, the product manager for the Army's physical security equipment office.
The Defense Department, however, gradually wants to move away from those point solutions and buy technologies that organize and network disparate devices into a "system that provides overall capabilities across the full dimension of threats--from explosive protection, to chemical and biological [detection] and intrusive detection," he told National Defense during a technology expo in Quantico, Va.
"It's like saying 'I [don't just] want the automobile engine, [I want] the whole automobile.' That is where we are headed," Stockel explained.
In the protection of facilities, for example, it is not enough to be able to determine the presence of an intruder. It is also important to figure out, beforehand, if the enemy is carrying any weapons or explosives, Stockel said.
On the battlefield, force protection systems are robust for front-line troops, but the level of protection is much lower for support and logistics personnel. That is an area, he added, where networked systems can help improve the protection of a widely dispersed force in a hostile environment.
The Tactical Automated Security System, or TASS, is an example of the kind of integration the Defense Department increasingly favors. The Air Force began developing this system in response to the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers barracks in Saudi Arabia.
TASS is an integrated electronic security system, which can be tailored for a variety of semi-permanent, portable and covert applications. The system receives, processes, reports and graphically displays information about potential threats.
A follow-on to TASS, called ETASS expands the system's capabilities for area surveillance. Using a variety of sensors, security personnel can see farther, detect and identify threats outside of the physical perimeter, creating a "virtual fence."
In a demonstration of ETASS at the Quantico Marine Base, Va., an infrared beam, part of the virtual fence, was tripped as a person walked through it. A blinking red dot appeared on a map screen, showing where the alarm had been tripped.
A ground-based radar tracked the movement of the approaching person. The location was sent directly to a thermal imager, which immediately rotated and focused on the perpetrator. At the same time, a remotely operated weapon system was targeted to the location.
All this information is displayed instantly to an operator on a three-screen console. The operator can pass the coordinates of the action along to a small, unmanned aerial vehicle, which flies over and captures additional data on the event.
When military personnel are deployed to a hostile environment, perimeter security becomes difficult. One of the technologies now used in the Central Command area for Operation Iraqi Freedom is the Force Protection Airborne Surveillance System, or FPASS.
The Air Force Electronic Systems Center Force Protection System Program Office first deployed FPASS last year.
FPASS consists of a ground control station--computer, displays, recorder and communications equipment, six UAVs, a remote imagery viewing terminal, interchangeable payloads of color cameras and thermal imagers for day and night.
The UAVs fly at 300 to 500 foot altitudes and send back real-time video to the operators. The system can be reprogrammed in flight, according to the ESC. The airframe is manufactured from damage resistant molded material. It also can operate from a 100-meter by 100-meter clearing without a runway.
A two-person crew operates the system, which runs on rechargeable batteries that last for an hour.
This system is not intended to replace troops, officials said. It's a surveillance tool that helps detect potential threats.
The Air Force signed a memorandum of agreement to share information on UAV technology with the Marine Corps. Areas in which the two services were looking to collaborate included the payload sensors, autopilot and system software--components that account for half the costs of the system, according to Air Force documents.
Although surveillance capabilities around military bases both overseas and in the United States have improved, sensor technology meant to detect intruders still poses hurdles, said a source who works closely with the U.S. Arm/s physical security equipment office.
While sensors used inside buildings are 99.9 percent accurate, the external ones are plagued by false alarms, said the source, who asked not to be quoted by name.
"If I put a fence sensor up and a raccoon climbs on it, I have an alarm," the source said. "With microwaves--if it rains a lot--you get a nuisance alarm for the first 30 minutes."
According to the source, a solution to this problem would be to have dual-sensor technology, or multi-layered sensors, to lower the instances of false alarm. This type of multi-layered protection would ensure that at least two sensors would go off consecutively before the signal is sent to the console and alert somebody to the area of intrusion.
"With any sensor that you have, you are going to have instances of false alarms," said Stockel But, "the technology associated with it and the discrimination algorithms, [as well as] the ability to process alarms, are increasing exponentially."
He said current sensor technology provides better early warning and is tailored to specific applications. "You might have a microwave sensor, or you might have an acoustic sensor, or you may have a thermal camera or a volumetric motion detection," he said. "There are a number of different sensors that you can employ in different areas. How they report may be unique, and it relies on the command and control backbone."
The Army has a number of ongoing efforts. One of them is a mobile robotic platform, Stockel said. "We will be using that to secure selected installations," he said. It could also potentially be developed for tactical environments and contingency operations, he added.
The Army is also working on access control technology for various installations, Stockel said. The goal is to reduce the manual labor associated with access control, according to him.
Stockel's office is working on an early warning detection capability called the Battlefield Anti-Intrusion System.
Compared to base perimeter security, waterside protection to this day is probably one of the trickiest to develop. Water is one of the harshest environments to work in, said John Girdwood, who works in the waterfront physical security program at SPAWAR, in San Diego, Calif. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center does research and development work in waterside security.
"You have salty water or murky water," he said. "You have commuter traffic and pleasure traffic. People expect that the waterways are open to the public."
The Navy uses special algorithms to detect targets, he explained. Those algorithms are largely based on proximity. The speed of a vessel, or the presence of weapons on board help determine whether it has hostile intent, said Girdwood.
The Navy is looking to improve its subsurface swimmer detection technologies, which the service has had for some time. These include underwater cameras, hull scanning, commercial sonars, acoustic guidance, and acoustic lens sonar. "We are looking at alternative sonar technologies," that can be integrated with the technology the Navy already owns, Girdwood said.
When it comes to the security of Navy ships stationed in ports around the world, technology is not the biggest hurdle, said William Smith who works in the Nays anti-terrorism program.
"Our own tactics and procedures are the biggest challenge, because the technology is there," he told National Defense. "You know what you are looking for and you recognize the threat. When you find it you have [certain] procedures to mitigate them. Procedures are constantly being refined," he said. "Every day, you look and see what you missed [the previous day]."
Standoff Explosive Detection
Standoff explosive detection remains a problem for some military organizations. To search a vehicle, "you have to go to the vehicle with a dog and the standoff is how long the leash is," said Don Lowe a senior operations analyst with the Air Force's Force Protection Battle Lab at Lack-land Air Force Base in Texas. "We do not have anything else but the dogs."
The battle lab evaluates technologies and makes recommendations to acquisition agencies. If the technology is not mature enough, the lab defines the deficiencies that need to be solved.
"We look at using technology in different ways that would not have been used, otherwise," said Lowe.
Although the lab caters to Air Force needs, it collaborates with the other military services.
"Everybody has the same force protection issues," said Lowe. "They may have slightly different applications, but solutions are available to everyone.
The lab recently recommended that major commands purchase a standoff explosive detection technology, based on a neutron generator that would allow users to detect explosives from a safe distance.
"You generate neutrons at a target and when the neutrons go through that package, they generate gamma radiation," said Lowe. "Using sensors you can detect within the gamma radiation certain elements." The system's software can be programmed to identify the materials that are being detected.
"The problem with it is that it takes a little bit of time to do that," said Lowe. "The speed has been a critical factor."
Similar technologies are being marketed for airport baggage screening. (National Defense, June 2003)
Chemical and Biological Detection
A technology that is on its way to the joint chemical and biological program office is the Chemical-Biological Aerosol Warning System. CBAWS will most likely serve as an interim solution for a deployable chemical and biological sensor capability, said Lowe.
CBAWS consists of an array of remotely deployed, battery operated aerosol detectors radio-linked to a central base station. The detectors report their aerosol activity status, GPS location, wind speed and direction, and humidity to the base station in one-minute updates. The detectors also report the status of attached chemical and biological agent detectors.
"The difference between this system and the others already out there is that it is rapidly deployable," Lowe noted.
"The particle counter acts as a trigger that tells you that there are particles in the air that could be biological," he said. When a potential biological cloud is present, the base station operator sends out a masking alert and transmits a command for the detectors to physically acquire an aerosol sample.
The sample then is retrieved manually and analyzed for biological agents using a DNA-based identification device called RAPID, or Ruggedized Advanced Pathogen Identification Device, developed by Idaho Technology Inc., in Salt Lake City. RAPID is designed to analyze 32 samples in less than 30 minutes. The U.S. Air Force has deployed this technology for the past two years.
"We are separating the trigger from the identification piece, and we are using operational techniques to do the identification vs. using an automated capability," said Lowe. "I am pretty confident that some day we are going to do, all in the same box."
However, Lowe cautioned that having both the trigger and the identification capability in one box is very hard to accomplish and could end up in a "big box that is not deployable."
A promising biological detection technology developed at the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency is the Canary B-Cell amplifier, said Lowe. It relies on cell-based sensor technology for bio-aerosol monitoring and medical applications.
Accurate and speedy identification of biological and chemical agents in a field environment remains a large gap that needs to be filled, he said.
According to Lowe, scientists have been trying for 25 years to come up with sensors to quickly identify chemical and biological threats. "What makes it really hard is that you have a lot of things that look similar to each other," he said. "So, when you try to separate what is real from what is not, it is hard to do that with sensors."
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|Date:||Jul 1, 2003|
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