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Thread: The Cell Phone/Web Page effect

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  1. #1
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Oct 2006
    Fort Leavenworth, KS

    Default The Cell Phone/Web Page effect

    I started to post this on the Saddam’s Execution thread because the use of the cell phone & the internet to reach a broad audience jumped out at me, but it seemed like it belonged in a different category.

    Remember everybody preaching the "CNN Effect" at the CTCs just last year? Networked camera/video cell phones are everywhere over here. Our guys are using them, their guys are using them (although their guys are better at it then our guys). They are far cheaper and more available then back in the States. $200 here a very capable tri-band video cell phone and you get what would cost $500-$700 back home. The network for sending stuff is close (and remarkably cheap)

    A little bit of movie maker savvy, or Adobe photo shop, access to you tube, or a well connected hub and your message gets out. Where it goes from there is anybody's bet.

    It beats the pants off of a state sponsored media, or even profit driven media - no QA /QC, but it grabs the initial impression.

    Just about everybody over here is a collector - its just a question of who they are collecting for and why they are doing it.

    There is an IO fight at the low tactical levels, capture the right image and get it to a site that has allot of links, and it will get out. Very smart to post to the web first – it goes to the audience its really targeting in a very private manner – with little to no adult supervision or peer context competition. The cable TV/major mainstream media outlet must also then consider to carry it, even if its late – it will still get some ratings from the older crowd who get their news primarily from FOX/Al Jazeera/CNN/BBC and the like.

    Not every bad guy over here carries a RPG or detonates an IED. Was that cell phone video of Saddam supposed to be covert? Maybe. Maybe he was lowering his hand so he could get a glass of chai. It could be that there are several cell phone videos out there - it would not surprise me. You bring somebody to a meeting here and an American pulls out a Sony Cybershot camera- the Iraqi will pull out a very slick Nokia - in this environment who has the better tech?

    I'm attaching a proposal I sent up through the CoC. Guess what - its not something I came up with - the IA did - they just can't resource it to the degree I think would get the most out of LTIOV info (although they do share video at weekly meetings) - hence I asked for $$$ (in a pretty .ppt form). Guess what else - they say this is nothing new, the bad guys are already doing it, and are resourced better then our guys.

    I also want to pass on a great read I picked up as a ref. from a T.X. Hammes article - "Linked: The New Science of Networks" by Albert'Laszlo Barabasi will teach you allot about networks and the Internet. I don't know if Kilcullen had included the Internet in his "know your turf" statement, but the enemy is using it as a psychological mobility corridor.
    Attached Files Attached Files

  2. #2
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Dec 2005

    Default For Rob

    Rob, I will send you a PM later on some street wise TTP's for this operation. Gangs and drug dealers have been doing this kind of stuff for some time in USA. But one quick warning if any of your people have their cell phones set on auto answer and they don't answer it!! It has become an open microphone!!! and the user will not know until he tries to use his phone. The bad guy will hear everything going on within range of the phone.

    In the US several cops have been set up for ambushes in this way. I have had some strange experiences with it myself. If you have any MP's near you they can go to the Calibre press Street Survival web site and pull up the articles about this. The web site is restricted to LE only but that includes MP's. However they are great folks there and if you e-mail them and explain who you are they can be very helpful. They even have special forums for human proof (police proof,we can be hell on equipment) street level technologies.

    Finally TX Hammes has a great article on how to deal with evolved networks in the July issue of Military Review. July, August, or September can't remember for sure. The main point most networks are family based!! and expand from there. Later, Stay Safe!

  3. #3
    Council Member
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    Oct 2005

    Default Ttp

    Slapout I would appreciate it if you could send those TTP my way also when you send the PM.

    This is one threat that most ground pounders are very familiar with, yet I haven't seen any TTP for mitigating it, or simply a threat brief to tell soldiers the obvious, and based on this threat this how you should adjust. Hammes was an excellent source for pointing out the accelerating rate of change, and how 4GW forces are better at adapting the technology to the next generation of war, than 3GW forces. (guys I know a lot of you don't like the 4GW thing, but bear with me, I see weaknesses in the definition too, but right now it suits what I'm trying to explain).

    Deception is much tougher now, because everyone is a collector and a communicator, and their ability to collect digitally and transmit real time is increasing everyday. It is amazing, I remember my earlier ODA days when I would walk a terrain feature away with our Commo guy to tap out an encyrpted message, that would go to the FOB, get decyrpted, relayed to the Cdr, then he would compose a response, it would be encrypted, then back to us, then we would decrypt it. Nobody could do it better, we were riding high on the information age wave (or so we thought). Big picture, that wasn't too many years ago (seriously). Fast forward now slightly less than 20 years, and an 8 year old kid can take a picture of a convoy leaving a FOB with his cell phone, transmit it in less than a minute to a cell leader, then follow up with a voice call to explain what is happening. It isn't secure (but he can talk in code or dialect, and it isn't exactly unsecure), but it is fast and omnipresent.

    I can't think of an insurgent group anywhere that doesn't use cell phone (voice and text) and internet technology to facilitate their net operations. They use simple codes for security, or the information is so quickly perishable it doesn't matter if it is detected. Who has information dominance on today's battlefield?

    It is limited to the battlefield obviously. They can send IO message globally in seconds. What do we do, we have to wait for a poorly trained public affairs officer to get the proper level of command's approval on PAO guidance. We're fighting this war with our hands tied in many ways. I'm not sure there is a way around this, but we are definitely at a disadvantage.

    Borrowing some thoughts from Hamme's book, if we want to exploit this, we need systems and authorities at the tactical level (maybe all the way down to Co level) that can rapidly translate the information and analyze it for operational purposes. That translates into trusting your subordinates, parking your ego on the shelf, and leading with commander's guidance. Power down, flatten our organizations, etc.....

    I hope this thread generates a lot of interest Rob, I am a neophyte when it comes to this technology, so I would love to hear what the threats are to us from the experts. Slapout pointed something I heard before, but never really understood on using the cell phone as an eavesdropping device. All of our soldiers need to know this information.

  4. #4
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Sep 2005
    Largo, Florida

    Default My way too Slapout...

    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Rob, I will send you a PM later on some street wise TTP's for this operation.
    ... will make sure it is passed along USMC channels. Thanks. For Rob and Bill - great thread - very topical and important issues here.

  5. #5
    Council Member RTK's Avatar
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    Aug 2006
    Wherever my stuff is


    I'd like to hop aboard this too if I could, since it's essentially a counter-reconnaissance fight

  6. #6
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Dec 2005

    Default Ok

    Everybody that requested info on TTP's. This for the open board part. I have already sent it to Rob but I saved so I am just going to send it to you guys but it will have Rob's name on it. These are police techniques so you will have to adapt for military use. I don't know for sure because I don't know what your final Objective is but you should be able to adapt with little problem.

    I retired the end of 02 so I don't have my security clearance anymore so I cannot get the exact warning that was put out to LE on the auto answer of the cell phone however I remember it since I had this #### pulled on me it is in the PM.

    MP units,CID,Naval Investigations should know or can get any details.
    Caliber Press has a Street Survival series and they often issue warnings of this type. Must be LE and they check!! I can't even get on anymore and one of my adventures was used in one of their seminars. Again any MP, Provost Marshal,CID types can subscribe for free and I highly recommend somebody do this. They can find original warnings and articles on the cell phone. They are good folks and would probably let SWJED,Bill,RTK have access. But DO NOT POST on an open board and DO NOT LET THE PRESS get it!!! They do not cooperate with the press because they are usually so ####ty about security and exposing LE officers personal details.

    This is a three day weekend and I have some friends that are techies in our local DA's office that specialize in this stuff. Tuesday I will see about other stuff going on, I know they already have a bunch of stuff for PDA devices that local LE is using while waiting for funding on the big ticket items.

    Hope this wasn't to jumbled my wife gave me a" honey do list" for the weekend and I am popped. Later guys watch your PM's

  7. #7
    Council Member
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    Oct 2005


    Slapout is correct - because of dealing with these issues with gangs and organized crime (and these days, there's only a very fine line separating sophisticated street gangs from organized crime syndicates) certain elements within the LE community are way ahead of the military in developing awareness of the threat.

    Thinking along those lines, I probably should have posted this resource on here sooner - for those who aren't already aware:

    The Online Research and Intelligence Mailing List is a list-serve that is great for posting RFIs on subjects such as the topic of this thread, and for picking up bits and pieces of other info dealing with potential threat use of 'net technologies.
    The Online Research and Intelligence Mailing List is a forum for Police, Regulatory and other Law Enforcement personnel to discuss issues relating to online intelligence gathering, analysis and dissemination. This list is restricted to law enforcement and other qualified personnel only.
    Military types fall under other qualified personnel. This list-serve is not real heavy, traffic-wise, and won't clog up your e-mail box. I know some shy away from list-serves, or drop off'em for just that reason; i.e. INTELST and LEANALYST tend to have more junk than worthwhile traffic. ORIML is just the opposite. Very rarely have I have received a posting that is worthless.
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 12-31-2006 at 11:20 PM.


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