IDF cyber warfare room 370.
(photo credit: Courtesy IDF)
The IDF is adapting itself to a new regional reality, in which anarchy, failed states, threats of missiles, terrorism, and Iran's nuclear program are replacing traditional threats posed by state militaries.
The unpredictable and volatile nature of the new Middle East requires the military to be prepared for the sudden eruption of multi-arena conflicts, a challenge best met when all of the components in the IDF are able to function as one, interlinked network. In such a network, fighter jets, drones, tanks, and infantry battalion commanders can share information, communicate the location of targets, and synchronize precision firepower, while staying in touch with general headquarters and regional commands.
The IDF's C4i Corps is at the heart of a dramatic technological upgrade aimed at achieving this vision. It has seen the IDF revolutionize its capabilities in a very short matter of time, and 2013 has been a key year for developments.
The changes are transforming the IDF into a network-centered military, a change that is perhaps one of the most important to take place in world of Israeli defense.
The C4i Corps has developed technological units, such as Hoshen, responsible for military communications, and Mamram, the Center for Computers and Information Systems, that serve as the backbone for all current military operations, from air strikes in Gaza to classified missions far from Israel's borders.
Paper maps have become a thing of the past, replaced with digital, interactive images, but this only the start of the process. In the future, according to C4i officers, infantry commanders will be able to access their own operational-intelligence internet in a battle arena, receiving real-time intelligence on their sector. They will be able to access a search engine that will tell them about targets, hostile force locations, and the location of their fellow IDF units in the air, sea, and ground. As one senior officer told The Jerusalem Post this year, "there is no end to the possibilities." The Amirim (Treetops) Battalion is a flagship Hoshen Unit, keeping military units online through a range of messaging systems, including ultra wide band satellite communications for long-range and local missions. Amirim enables the IDF to set up command and control networks over any distance. It also runs the IDF's encrypted cellphone network, known as Rose Mountains.
Digital Ground Army, a system that generates and updates a computer map of army and enemy locations in a given area, is a C4i-led project. It is gradually being adopted by all of the IDF's Ground Forces. In 2013, battalion and company commanders began to learn how to use it, giving them unprecedented operational independence. Individual tank operators are also part of the DGA network, letting other forces know when and where tank shells are being fired in real time. Work is also under way to connect the DGA to the air force and navy.
The Center for Encryption and Information Security (CEIS), a secretive military unit, makes sure the enemy isn't listening in on the most sensitive of communications, enabling missiles to send messages safely to control stations, fighter jet pilots to talk to their bases, or rocket defense batteries (such as Iron Dome) to send and receive vital signals before intercepting incoming projectiles.