The IDF C4I Directorate is Preparing for the Next War

The IDF C4I Directorate, and the Lotem Unit in particular, are investing substantially in the development of the IDF's communication and computing capabilities, based on the understanding that the operational advantage of IDF depends on those capabilities

Photo: IDF

Brig. Gen. Rami Malachi, Commander of the Lotem Unit at the IDF C4I Directorate, held the annual press conference he has been holding regularly since he entered office, on the eve of the Jewish New Year. The objective of this event was to present to the public the C3-related technological developments and processes the IDF had dealt with in the past year and those that will keep the Lotem Unit busy in the coming year.

Well, the primary processes on which the C4I Directorate is currently working include switching to a new ERP system, to be initiated very soon; digitizing the civilian liaison link through a website in Hebrew (and soon in foreign languages as well); assimilating the Microsoft CRM Dynamics system in a private cloud, including upgrading of the IDF service center for civilians; redeploying the server farms; relocating the C4I units to Beersheba; developing the new military cellular system and managing the spectrum, including the development of a dedicated C3 system.

Additionally, the Lotem Unit is currently involved in an extensive range of social projects in the form of technological education throughout the country. One of the primary efforts in which the Unit is currently involved consists of training courses for the orthodox religious sector. At this point, this effort only consists of the training of men to qualify as software testers. The IDF Computer and Software School currently trains 90 orthodox religious men for service in this specialized position. Additionally, the Lotem Unit does its best to integrate Ethiopian and more recently Druze servicemen in IDF programming courses.

Another activity in which the Lotem Unit invests substantially is the fusion of data from the various systems of the IDF. As this activity is classified, not much has been said about it, but from the little information that had been provided, it was evident that the people of the C4I Directorate understand that the advantage of the IDF also depends on algorithms from the field of machine learning, and the dedicated department in charge of that activity at the Lotem Unit provides services to the entire IDF. These services include the field of spectrum management, among others. In this field, the Lotem Unit developed a new C3 system for the spectrum and is investing in the development of capabilities for automatically identifying emitters in the field. At the Lotem Unit, they are also aiming at the field of cognitive radio, but are modestly saying that it is still a long way to go before they get there.

Emoji, on Command

The IDF cellular communication system is yet another activity handled by the Lotem Unit, which is expected to undergo a profound revision with the transition from the Vered-Harim (= Mountain Rose) infrastructure to the new LTE infrastructure designated "Maya". The new system consists of Android-based devices with a dedicated IDF app store, and the apps are being developed at the Lotem Unit. The Unit has already developed a WhatsApp application for the IDF, including end-to-end encryption, plus a range of other apps. At the same time, the people at the C4I Directorate stress that the new military cellular system is not intended for maneuvering applications at this point – only to provide cellular communication inside the country.

Other projects the Lotem Unit is working on include a real-time video analytics system with an image capturing capability and even an engine capable of interpreting the processes being videoed and translating them into textual information. Another project involves the development of a projected maintenance capability for IT systems. This application has already been tested successfully during the recent Army Corps training exercise. Through this capability, the C4I Directorate intends to ensure the operational continuity of the systems at all times – during peacetime as well as in emergencies.

The Lotem Unit also invests substantially in the development of an infrastructure for communicating with the general public. Candidates for compulsory military service, individuals in active service, reservists and anyone who had served in the IDF will be able to communicate with the new IDF service center through any communication channel they choose, including WhatsApp, text messages and E-Mail, and ask for documents or other information. Candidates for compulsory military service will be able to change some of the dates of their pre-recruitment summons through the new website, and even the dates of the actual draft orders may be changed through the service center. The people at the Lotem Unit stress that communication with the public is one of the Unit's primary goals.

The relative openness of the dialog notwithstanding, one of the activities Brig. Gen. Malachi did not address during his press conference was the question of the interdependence between the IDF's C3 and computer infrastructures and the civilian infrastructures of the State of Israel. The manner in which the technical cooperation between the IDF and the Cyber Authority, ISA, the government ministries and the critical infrastructures actually operates is classified, they say at the C4I Directorate. At the same time, any sensible person will understand that in an emergency, tensions will develop between the IDF's aspirations to enable maneuvering and have the actual fighting transferred to the enemy's territory, and the aspirations of the civilian organs to care for the civilians in the rear area. The more the civilians and the IDF become dependent on communication and computing resources during peacetime, so that tension will increase in an emergency.

Without a doubt, the IDF C4I Directorate and the Lotem Unit, in particular, invest substantially in the development of the IDF's communication and computing capabilities, based on the understanding that the operational advantage of the IDF depends on those capabilities. Although the people of the Lotem Unit had not provided any details about it, they invest substantially in cooperating with the cybersecurity division of the C4I Directorate in order to assure the IDF of freedom of operation opposite an enemy aspiring to disrupt and jam the IDF's C3 infrastructures. In the next war, the IDF will require C3 infrastructures capable of supporting the fire layout and the maneuvering backbone. Admittedly, the Commander of the IDF C4I Directorate is the function officially responsible for it, but Brig. Gen. Malachi of the Lotem Unit shares a considerable portion of that responsibility.


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