Feeds

MPs criticise combat ID systems

Troops can't tell who's friend or foe

High performance access to file storage

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.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.