Feeds

MPs criticise combat ID systems

Troops can't tell who's friend or foe

Mobile application security vulnerability report

MPs have said poor progress in developing combat identification technology is compromising the safety of military personnel.

A report from the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) says British soldiers are at risk of death and injury from "friendly fire" because the Ministry of Defence has failed to develop a technological solution to identify friend or foe.

"Over half of the programmes promising technological solutions for the identification of friend and foe have been delayed, deferred or rescoped," said committee chair Edward Leigh.

"Friendly fire deaths during the 2003 Iraq war have shown just how important it is to ensure that the fire power of our forces on the battlefield is directed at the enemy – and not at our own servicemen and women or at civilians."

Despite making investment decisions on a number of programmes to improve combat identification, the MoD's progress in purchasing these systems has stumbled.

A decision on a battlefield target identification system has still not been made, despite the MoD's assurances and the development of a successful prototype in 2001. The committee found that the ministry has had difficulties in developing a system which will enable British forces to communicate effectively with their allies, in particular the US.

In 2004 the MoD appointed Air Vice Marshal Stephen Dalton to act as a champion of combat identification, but he has neither budgetary control nor any direct authority. The report urges the ministry to determine whether greater management authority would make Dalton more effective.

The PAC first reported on improving combat identification five years ago. Since then the MoD has made little progress in implementing its recommendations, despite the deaths of six British soldiers in Iraq as a result of friendly fire.

In its latest report the committee says the MoD must address outstanding issues and develop a viable combat identification solution as a matter of urgency. It also recommends the development of a timetabled plan for its introduction, which is currently expected in about 10 years.

In the meantime, other systems, including Blue Force Tracker and the Bowman communication system, could help situation awareness. But the time-lag in collating information from these systems will restrict their potential for target identification.

Leigh said: "The department seems no further forward on cooperating with allies on developing a common battlefield target identification system. If agreement is not to be reached very soon, then an interim, more limited national system must be deployed."

The committee has previously warned that military personnel are sometimes poorly equipped and put at risk because of the MoD's inadequate management of procurement projects. In March it criticised the ministry's management of the Bowman CIP digital radio programme, which left British forces using radios dating back to the 1970s.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

Kablenet's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
US Social Security 'wasted $300 million on an IT BOONDOGGLE'
Scrutiny committee bods probe derailed database project
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
Australia floats website blocks and ISP liability to stop copyright thieves
Big Content could get the right to order ISPs to stop traffic
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.