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Future security challenges will be dynamic and complex, says Mr. Marcel Lettre, Vice President, National Security in Lockheed Martin Government Affairs, in an exclusive interview to iHLS. He will be giving the keynote lecture at the coming Future Forces Conference and Exhibition organized by iHLS on May 9, 2018.

To Future Forces Conference and Exhibition

Mr. Lettre’s perspectives are based on insights from his recent year in Lockheed as well as from a 20-year experience in the US government, the Pentagon, and intelligence. Overall, he believes that the future global landscape will be one of the most complex and challenging in decades. Current threats include terrorism, border security, weak states, regional instability caused by states, particularly in the Middle East and Northern Africa. Another major concern is the great power competition and the dynamics of potential competitors. The combination of these threats means that future forces will have to be able to operate in contested environments and within rapid technological change.

Sensor technology has been developing fast. We asked Mr. Lettre if too many sensors could impair the processed information delivered to field commanders. “There are not too many sensors, any sensor can be useful”, he said, but the challenge is rather the large amount of data collected by these sensors. Therefore, two things are required: The application of machine learning and artificial intelligence to process the information; and the integration of the sensors so that they supply all military levels and analysts with a common picture of the situation with all its dimensions. Video streaming, images, radio frequency signals, etc. should all be integrated together in real-time.

How vulnerable are intelligence systems to cyber attack? Future forces that will be a target to cyber attacks will not include only the intelligence but also law enforcement and other agencies. Hacking will be a major weapon used by the enemies. So, in Lockheed Martin, all the weapon platforms are cyber-protected in advance, from the stage of design. Mr. Lettre stressed that the commercial sector industries should support the military and the government with the best capabilities in order to confront the dynamic and changing cyber threat.

Can real-time tactical intelligence that was not processed still be efficient? Mr. Lettre believes it can. There are methods to ensure that real-time tactical intelligence is supplied to the users that are supposed to conduct the operations. Ideally, the processing systems work in two levels – real-time level and complex analyst level. Flexible collecting and processing systems will be required to future forces. Commanders in the field need access from various communication platforms. At the same time, the system should supply the senior command levels with a different access.

To summarize, Mr. Lettre evaluates that due to the complex strategic landscape and the rapidly-changing technology, what is required from the private defense and homeland security sector is innovation. Autonomous systems and artificial intelligence are needed, coupled with a more rapid capabilities building. Private innovation should be leveraged and prototypes must be built in a faster pace. This is a major challenge that governments and armed forces are facing, and it is in this direction that the commercial sector should act intensively.

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