5G networks can catapult AI, IoT capabilities throughout the defense sector

Amid rising geopolitical tensions, the Defense Department is harnessing the power of 5G to bolster the military's communications capabilities.

Amid rising geopolitical tensions, the Defense Department is harnessing the power of 5G to bolster the military’s communications capabilities.

DoD’s FutureG Office within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering has deepened its focus on technologies that require 5G to prosper, like artificial intelligence and Internet of Things.

5G network solutions are ideal for supporting AI-powered tools and IoT devices due to their high density, broad bandwidth and low latency. For AI, data collection and processing often must be performed between edge devices and clouds or data centers.

Similarly, IoT requires network connectivity that can support many devices connected within a unit space and low latency for processing IoT data rapidly. Currently, 5G connectivity is almost the only solution that provides all these features.

To truly unlock the transformational potential of AI and IoT devices, it will be critical that DoD securely expand its 5G communication infrastructure.

Security and privacy at the forefront

Security is a crucial obstacle to the military’s 5G implementation. Thomas Rondeau, DoD’s principal director for FutureG, recently stated that DoD works closely with industry partners to ensure a low probability of detection and interception and enhance anti-jam capabilities within compliant 5G systems.

Private sector partners and defense agencies can collaborate to layer on additional security capabilities for sensitive defense applications. 5G environments allow network adjustment and tuning to meet different services’ needs, including tailored approaches to security. Protection and detection tools tailored to DoD needs — from responsive scanning, monitoring and analysis to multi-network enterprise operations — can fortify vital military data and assets.

Secure identity and access management practices can help manage 5G security risks by increasing visibility throughout the 5G network. IT personnel should also work to ensure that all software is up-to-date and free from vulnerabilities to mitigate the risk of a security breach.

To further mitigate the risk of a security incident, DoD cyber professionals should prioritize continuous monitoring and analysis to detect adversarial lateral movement. Moreover, with the rising risk of deciphering encrypted data using quantum computing, DoD should consider deploying quantum-proof encryption throughout their 5G networks.

While security is undoubtedly a valid concern, particularly for an institution like DoD that handles matters of national defense, 5G networks utilize 256-bit encryption, a significant advantage over 4G networks. By deploying these comprehensive security protocols, DoD can benefit from the full extent of 5G’s capabilities for telecommunications and AI-powered applications.

Critical considerations to harness the benefits of 5G-powered AI, IoT

5G enables real-time analytics and rapid data transfers, giving the defense sector an operational advantage through improved efficiency and decision-making.

Real-time situational awareness enables threat identification and effective response. It also drives enhanced performance and accuracy for military resources, assets and operations. For example, sensors and software can allow remote control, self-guidance and autonomous operation of military systems.

To take advantage of these benefits, DoD must take development and fielding actions to validate modern sensor network architecture and configurations and underlying security systems. Integrating 5G within satellite networks is another key technology area that the DoD should leverage for effective mission operations.

Rapid data transfers and analysis powered by IoT devices can also optimize logistics by enabling informed resource allocation and dispatch decisions. For instance, radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, GPS trackers and smart containers allow for inventory tracking, asset visibility and demand forecasting.

IoT solutions can also monitor asset health status to enable preventive maintenance and downtime reduction. DoD can leverage 5G technology to enhance IoT tracking and data analytics, providing more accurate and timely asset and logistics management. However, to optimize the value of IoT solutions and 5G networks, the public and private sectors must continue collaborating to equip the military with the best technological resources to defend against adversaries.

Enhancing “decision advantage” through public-private collaboration

In addition to possessing an expert understanding of industry-leading technology, private sector partners to defense agencies must fully understand the intricacies of DoD’s needs and compliance standards.

Agility is another fundamental factor of successful public and private sector collaboration. The telecommunications industry and the AI space will continue to evolve rapidly. To ensure the military maintains and improves its “decision advantage,” all technology implementations must also account for future growth and technological advancements.

5G will play a role in enabling a broad range of future applications. Surveillance and reconnaissance through drones, sensors, goggles and cameras can provide real-time information on an adversary’s movement. For personnel health management, wearable sensors and biomarkers can track the health status of individuals, and wearable computer devices can provide secure and reliable voice and data transmission.

By implementing strategic 5G and adaptive network architectures, zero trust security in 5G and hybrid cloud infrastructure, and advanced IoT data analytics and machine learning solutions, DoD can take advantage of these possibilities to achieve better agility and performance in mission support.

Gary Wang is chief technology officer of DMI.

Copyright © 2024 Federal News Network. All rights reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Related Stories