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India’s International Conference & Exposition on Military Communication


26 – 27 November 2019, Manekshaw Centre, Delhi Cantt, New Delhi






1. “You have what it takes but it will take everything you have” , sums up both the need and spirit of jointness. With the myriad security challenges we face today, it is imperative that we fight together with all our might. Towards this end, the recent announcement of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) by the Prime Minister is a huge step forward for jointness, but is also just the beginning.


2. The Joint Doctrine of the Indian Armed Forces (JDIAF), 2017 states; “ The nature of war demands that the Services fight as an integrated cohesive force. Rapid advances in technology necessitate, forces on land, sea and air to reinforce and complement each other to achieve the objectives set forth.”1 In order to realise this vision the first and probably most significant step is building the ability to seamlessly communicate with each other from the strategic to the tactical level. Aligned with this central precept, DEFCOM 2019 is being held on the seminal topic, “Communications as a Decisive Catalyst for Jointness.




3. The aim of DEFCOM 2019 is to collaborate with all stakeholders, including HQ Integrated Defence Staff, Indian Army, Indian Navy, Indian Air Force, DRDO, academia and the Industry on theways, means and ends to leverage Communications as a Decisive Catalyst for Jointness.




Purpose of this Concept Paper


4     The purpose of this concept paper is the following:-


(a) To orient and guide researchers while selecting topics for publication in the prestigious peer-reviewed DEFCOM Journal. As a broad guideline papers oriented towards promoting jointness in the domains of military strategy and Information Commuication Technology (ICT) will be shortlisted for peer review.


(b) To ‘broadly’ guide esteemed speakers on the contours of their topic to avoid duplication with other speakers. However, some amount of duplication is inevitable and will only strengthen core concepts.


(c) To inform prospective attendees on what to expect from the Seminar.




5. Jointness is an overarching concept, which demands Tri-Services embodiment across all functions; operations, planning, intelligence, training, logistics, force structuring, procurement, technology management and Human Resources Development (HRD). It can be envisioned by two main approaches; coordination and integration. The ‘ coordination approach’ envisages an independent role for the three Services wherein they are free to plan, train, equip and prepare for their respective missions and agree to ‘coordinate’ their operations when required. On the other hand, the ‘ integrated approach’ of jointness is one in which there is unity of command and effort wherein the three Services operate under a single commander. Militaries adhering to the integrated model usually appoint a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) or Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; have joint theatre commands and Joint Headquarters at the operational level. Most leading militaries have transitioned from the coordination to the integrated approach of jointness.2


6. The recent announcement of the CDS leaves little ambiguity on the intent of the government to achieve jointness. While the initial impetus is coming through leadership, jointness at the functional level needs to be process driven. Commonality in processes and procedures is key to success in this challenging quest. In order to achieve common processes, the requirement of seamless interconnectivity is undeniable.


7. Joint operations integrated by communication networks are key to overcoming the wide and fluid assortment of threats we face today. By combining effects from every domain (land, sea, air, space and information), allowing any unit of any Service to draw upon the whole, and permitting new levels of boldness and speed, joint operations can outperform disjointed ones, all else being equal.3


8. The operationalisation of the tri-service Defence Communication Network (DCN) is a significant step towards integration. This network has its tentacles extending to the Army Corps and the Air/Naval bases. The soon to be launched state-of-the-art ‘Network for Spectrum’ communication project will unquestioningly revolutionise the strategic backbone network. However, in spite of such positive developments and efforts, it would not be misplaced to suggest that functional integration especially at the operational and tactical level is still lacking.


9. A simple example would amplify the contention. In the era of data link enabled modern fighters capable of delivering precision accuracy, a present day combat team commander in the Tactical Battle Area (TBA) cannot seek and obtain an air strike in support of ground operations, using automated processes. In spite of the fact that individual service level communication systems are fairly modern and capable, the only reliable means of communication between ground and air elements, remains plain old Radio Telephony. Hence, the isolated nature of networks is in a way compromising the overall kinetic effect which can be delivered in a truly integrated environment. It can arguably be stated that after years of joint Services training, the minds of commanders at all levels is no longer a limitation to integration. However, the constraint is the nature of networks, as extant. This is in spite of the fact that communication systems by their very nature lend themselves to integration and communicators across the three Services speak the same language.4


10. Therefore, it may be worth deliberating whether a thrust to communications would catalyse the Indian Armed Forces towards the yet utopian dream of jointness?





11. The Themes for the Seminar are as follows:-

(a) Theme 1 : Communications and Jointness : A Symbiotic Interdependence.

(b) Theme 2 : Joint Operations in the Information Age.

(c) Theme 3 : Harnessing Technology for Jointness - Opportunities for Industry.

(d) Theme 4 : Security Framework for Joint Networks.




12. This theme will build the conceptual framework for jointness and establish how communications can be leveraged to empower jointness. It seeks to establish an overarching view at the macro level on the subject.


13. Sub Theme 1 : Global Insights and Indian Armed Forces Perspective on Jointness . Drawing on the experiences and best practises of leading militaries on jointness, this sub theme seeks to establish the ‘ends’ i.e. the strategic outcomes expected from jointness. It will identify the need for jointness by examining the security challenges we confront, operational imperatives, opportunities and key drivers. It will highlight the benefits accrued from jointness both from an operational perspective as well as from economies of scale. It may like to weigh on the pros and cons of the ‘coordination’ and ‘integrated’ approaches covered earlier. This sub theme seeks to build an overarching narrative on jointness which will guide subsequent deliberations.


14. Sub Theme 2 : Contours of a Joint Communications Framework . Having established the ‘ends’ in the previous session, this sub theme will explore how communications can be leveraged to attain the desired strategic outcomes. It will provide guidance on integrating communications into joint operations across the spectrum of conflict. It will benefit from the models for communications and information support being practised by leading militaries. Based on a comprehensive analysis, it will espouse a vision for joint communications to guide capability and capacity building. It will delve on synergies in procurement and technology management and will also identify fields in which Tri- Services collaboration would reap great dividends like SATCOM, cyber, Electronic Warfare (EW), spectrum management etc.


15. Sub Theme 3 : Organisational Structures for Communications in a Joint Environment . It can be argued that the ‘coordination approach’ espoused earlier is an adhoc and bottom up approach. It would constitute integration of communications at a functional level followed by establishment of joint organisational structures to sustain and build on. A case in point would be the DCN, where a Tri-Services organisational structure came up along with the fielding of the network. The ‘integrated approach’ on the other hand is a top down approach where joint organisational structures are chartered from the three Services and then entrusted to build capabilities and capacities to enable joint communications. This sub theme seeks to identify challenges and opportunities in both approaches and propose organisational structures for joint communications in a status quo, joint theatre and transitional environment.


16. Sub Theme 4 : Maximising Human Potential : HR Strategies for ICT . The JDIAF-2017 states; the aim of HRD programs in the Armed Forces are to impart skills and knowledge necessary for each progressive rank and appointment held by the individual. The objective is to prepare officers/men for present and future conflicts. In order to fight together there is a need to train jointly. This would lead to a common understanding of doctrines, concepts, each other’s Service competencies, capabilities, strengths and limitations. The outcome would improve control and coordination amongst elements of the Services at tactical, operational and strategic levels. Also, to achieve ‘Jointness’, it is essential that personnel from the three Services serve together in organisations across the strategic, operational and tactical levels in command and staff functions.5 The recent experience gained from DCN has highlighted crucial Tri-Services HR aspects concerning communicators from the three Services including differences in trade structures, specialist training, administrative aspects and organisational cultures. This sub theme will explore the ‘ways’ and ‘means’ for Human Resource Development (HRD) to empower communicators across the three Services to realise jointness.




17. Sub Theme 1 : Achieving Jointness through Net Centricity . Modern warfare can be visualized as the interplay between five major components; sensors, shooters, decision makers, information nodes (where data is stored/ processed) and the ubiquitous network. Net centricity advocates that networking battlefield entities enables shared situational awareness which translates into a Common Operational Picture (COP) leading to shared understanding, collaborative decision making and self synchronisation. While integration in the physical and informational dimension is a pre-requisite, jointness has to be realised in the cognitive and social dimensions. Arguably, net-centric capabilities of the Indian Armed Forces are weighed down due to lack of integration of disparate networks of the three Services i.e. the Army Data Network (ADN), Air Force Network (AFNET) and the Navy Enterprise Wide Network (NEWN). It is also a well-accepted fact that the true power of networks is unleashed only when applications are populated on it. With the fully operational apex level DCN and soon to be realised NFS with a state of the art core network and Data Centres, has adequate emphasis been laid on applications?6 Applications to enable joint operations would essentially encompass threat identification and assessment, strategy planning aids, course of action development, planning, monitoring, risk assessment, logistics and shared situational awareness. This sub theme will identify the ‘ways’ and ‘means’ to achieve the end state of net-centricity including the applications, techniques, procedures, practices, strategies and resources required. It will also establish the operational need to integrate networks of the three Services and identify the barriers and concerns of stakeholders which prevent integration.



18. Sub Theme 2 : Harnessing C4I2SR to Galvanise Joint Operations . At its core, C4I2SR seeks to provide information dominance, battlespace awareness and decision advantage. Command and Control (C2) systems allow parallel planning and decision- making abilities. ISR systems task, collect, process, analyse, fuse and disseminate mission- critical information from the multitude of sensors spread over the battlefield. They enhance situational awareness and help stay ahead of the enemy in accelerated operational cycles. Joint C4I2SR enables ability to mass effects without massing forces; protects against asymmetric threats; and provides joint force flexibility, analysis, interpretation, and efficiency. It calls for Interoperability of systems and subsystems, standards and protocols for interconnection, integration and information management; policies, procedures and formats for Information assurance, data storage, data retrieval and data security.7 It can be argued that communications is the edifice around which all these activities take place. Services can benefit from information derived from sensors of each other leading to economy of effort and fiscal savings. With collaboration on joint communication architectures and joint security frameworks the Services can also settle their trust deficits. Arguably, true collaboration would be spurred by joint applications for C4I2SR. This sub theme seeks to examine how C4I2SR can be leveraged to galvanise joint operations.


19. Sub Theme 3 : Joint Communications Enabling Conventional Kinetic Operations . Communication systems that provide connectivity throughout the operational area are vital to plan, conduct, sustain operations, and enable information superiority. This sub theme will explore the criticality of joint communications for kinetic operations at the operational and tactical levels. It will examine challenges in provisioning communication support for air-land, air-transport, air-borne, maritime-air and amphibious operations. It will identify the barriers to integration of Tri-Services communications for conduct of joint operations and suggest the ‘ways’ and ‘means’ to overcome the same. The underlying motif being that secure, robust, reliable and interoperable communication systems are a pre- requisite to be able to prosecute war.


20. Sub Theme 4 : Cyber and Electromagnetic Activities (CEMA) Framework for Joint Operations in the Information Domain . The Information Domain is an important all pervasive domain which integrates the conventional domains of land, air, sea and space; from both within each domain and inter domain. The domain comprises of the Electromagnetic Spectrum (EMS) and cyberspace. Information Operations (IOs) are conducted in this domain to achieve information dominance/superiority and encompass cyber, Electronic Warfare, military deception, operation security and psychological operations. The raising of the Defence Cyber Agency is a landmark initiative towards jointly contesting the cyberspace. To extend the argument further, it is imperative that the three Services synergise their efforts to contest in the EMS and cyberspace. A joint CEMA framework would allow the synchronisation and coordination of cyber and electromagnetic activities to deliver an operational advantage while simultaneously denying and degrading the adversary’s use of the electromagnetic environment and cyberspace. Arguably a CEMA framework encompasses all stakeholders both exploiting and protecting the information domain like cyber (both offensive and defensive), Electronic Warfare (EW), Communication Systems, Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) and Spectrum Management Operations (SMO). This sub theme seeks to explore contours of a CEMA framework for joint operations in the information domain.




21. Sub Theme 1 : Emerging Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for Jointness . Technology is a fundamental change agent in the military realm. Major shifts in military history have often followed ground breaking developments in technology. If not initially the result of military research and development, new technologies often find military applications, which in some cases, has disruptive effects on the conduct of warfare.8 Current innovations in the ICT sphere include Software Defined Networks (SDN), Network Function Virtualisation (NFV), Mobile Edge Computing (MEC), New Radio (NR), Software Defined Radios (SDR), Cognitive Radios, Mobile Adhoc Networks (MANETs), Cloud Computing, Blockchain and AI to name a few. These emerging technologies have tremendous disruptive potential and can alter the way joint forces communicate and collaborate. Arguably, given the nature of emerging technologies and the high cost and efforts involved during their gestation period, Tri-Services collaboration can bring in great economies of effort. This technology watch sub theme seeks to examine the landscape of emerging Information and Communication Technologies and their potential ‘use’ cases for the Armed Forces.


22. Sub Theme 2 : Joint Enterprise Cloud for the Armed Forces . Simply put, cloud computing is the on demand delivery of computing services including servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence without direct active management by the user. The “cloud” offers faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale. Other benefits accrued are speed, performance, security, scale, productivity, maintenance, location independence and reliability. The inherent and esoteric challenges of the military environment make cloud solutions optimal for large scale deployment. With NFS on the horizon, which will deliver unprecedented speeds and bandwidth to over four hundred Army, Navy and Air Force Stations, cloud computing is a natural choice. This sub theme seeks to establish an optimal cloud strategy for a Joint Enterprise Cloud for the Armed Forces. It also seeks to identify solutions both hardware and software for integrating disparate networks of the three Services built on a foundational trust mechanism. It will explore solutions across the physical, data link, network, transport and application layers.


23. Sub Theme 3 : Redefining Joint Communications : Software Defined Radios (SDR) . Software Defined Radios promise to alter the very epoch of tactical communications. They are essentially a hardware platform with the ability to implement various radio functions using software. They provide unmatched dexterity to add, remove or modify their outputs through reconfigurable and re-deployable waveforms leading to multi- mode, multi-frequency and multi-platform operations. They also assure increased data rates, which is imperative to meet the aspirations of warfighters on the modern battlefield. SDRs promise to alter the paradigm of joint communications. Arguably, there are challenges as well including their form factor, certification, security grading etc. This sub theme seeks to examine Software Defined Radios as a key enabling technology for joint communications in the Tactical Battle Area (TBA). It will also explore opportunities and challenges in fielding of Mobile Adhoc Networks (MANETs) leveraging SDRs.


24. Sub Theme 3 : Achieving Jointness through Joint Cellular Networks . The critical factor for military success on the battlefield is a robust, secure and high-throughput mobile communications network. The timely exchange of information including voice, video and data is critical for success of joint operations. Arguably, tremendous economies of scale can be obtained by adopting commercial technologies for military networks. A case in point would be the AFCEL and Mobile Cellular Communication Systems. This sub theme seeks to examine opportunities and challenges in implementing mobile cellular communication technologies for both the Tactical Battle Area (TBA) and peace time deployment. It will also examine solutions for user end devices like smart phones and tabs which offer high grade security, interoperability, offer powerful edge computing, are rugged and deliver persistent communications in highly degraded and contested environments.




25. Sub Theme 1 : Threatscape : Security Challenges for Military Networks . The common perception is that Military networks being exclusive and “air gapped” are inherently secure. However, it must be understood that the underlying technologies supporting these networks are commercial ones and have their associated vulnerabilities. Further, the security of a military network is as good as its weakest link. The entire gamut of threats in cyberspace can be broadly understood by the following interrelated aspects; insider threat, malware, hacking, supply chain integrity concerns, Industrial Control System (ICS) or Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) attacks, exploits, social engineering, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks and Advanced Persistent Threats (APT). This sub theme seeks to identify the ‘threatscape’ i.e. the security challenges to military networks. It will also identify threats to discrete Service networks and Tri-Services integrated networks from a risk management perspective.


26. Sub Theme 2 : Security Solutions for Integrating Tri-Services Networks . Having identified the security challenges, this sub theme seeks to identify security solutions for Tri-Services networks. Proliferation of networks and dependence of the Armed Forces on IT infrastructure has increased manifold which presents both opportunities and challenges. Security of networks is both a technological and management challenge which devolves upon people, processes and technology. Security solutions for Tri-Services networks have to be built on a foundational mechanism which inspires ‘trust’ between stakeholders. The solution should provide a joint security stack which can be implemented across ‘use cases’ of the Armed Forces requiring different levels of security and should also cater for risk management and incident response. This sub theme seeks to identify security solutions both hardware and software for integrating disparate Tri-Services networks while maintaining confidence of individual stakeholders and promoting ‘trust’ between all of them.


27. Sub Theme 3 : Enhancing Cyber Security Posture by Leveraging Technologies like Big Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain Technologies . Emerging technologies like big data analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Blockchain have demonstrated significant potential for application in the cyber security realm. Arguably, time is of critical importance when it comes to cyber security as the detection and mitigation of a cyber incident has to be in real time to block the threat and arrest the damage. Big data analytics provides the ability to analyse data from many different sources and then respond in real time. AI solutions can be applied to produce a learning behaviour capable of detecting and eliminating threats, just like humans do, but thousands of time faster. Blockchain, on the other hand, leverages a secure and highly encrypted digital ledger platform, only accessible by authorized peers. This sub theme seeks to explore how emerging technologies like big data analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Blockchain can be leveraged to enhance the cyber security posture of military networks.



28. Sub Theme 4 : Leveraging Quantum Key Distribution for Secure Joint Communications . Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) is a secure communication method which implements a cryptographic protocol involving components of quantum mechanics. It enables two parties to produce a shared random secret key known only to them, which can then be used to encrypt and decrypt messages. An important and unique property of QKD is the ability of the two communicating users to detect the presence of any third party trying to gain knowledge of the key. QKD of late has shown remarkable progress with newer benchmarks being set on a regular basis. In the military domain where secrecy is of utmost concern, QKD promises to be a game changer. This sub theme seeks to examine the potential of QKD for secure joint communications.






29. DEFCOM – 2019 promises to be an exciting and significant event to promote collaboration between all stakeholders, including HQ Integrated Defence Staff, Indian Army, Indian Navy, Indian Air Force, DRDO, academia and the Industry on the seminal topic; Communications as a Decisive Catalyst for Jointness. The outcomes and insights gained during the seminar will guide development of a joint communications framework, joint organisational structures, communications support for joint operations in both the conventional and information domain, net-centricity and joint C4I2SR capabilities, joint HRD strategies, technology adoption and management, security frameworks and capability & capacity building for the future.