IWS - The Information Warfare Site
News Watch Make a  donation to IWS - The Information Warfare Site Use it for navigation in case java scripts are disabled

Mr. James F. O'Bryon

Deputy Director, Operational Test and
Evaluation Live Fire Testing

Office of the Secretary of Defense

before the

Joint Economic Committee

United States Congress

Wednesday, February 25, 1998

      Mr. Chairman and other distinguished members of the Committee, it's an honor for me to appear before the Joint Economic Committee today to discuss the role and mission of Live Fire Testing, and specifically as it relates to the ballistic threat, the threats posed by radio frequency and electro-magnetic pulse and other threats. As your letter of invitation states, these issues "are of great importance to our nation as well as the world."

      Let me begin by acknowledging the fact that the Congress recognized, starting about a decade ago, that there was a significant and growing need to realistically test our major weapons and weapons platforms to assure that they would withstand the rigors of combat and to inflict the maximum effect on the enemy when used. The Live Fire Test legislation, first authored in Fiscal Year 1986 and strengthened several times since then, including most recently, the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act (FASA), signed into law by the President in October 1994, requires that this realistic testing be conducted against realistic threats and that an independent report on the test results be prepared and delivered from the Secretary of Defense to the defense committees of both houses of the Congress prior to making any decision to enter full-rate production on each designated system. These systems have included armor systems, missiles, projectiles, aircraft and others. To date, literally thousands of Live Fire Tests have been conducted and evaluated and more than two dozen Live Fire Test and Evaluation reports on both weapons and platforms have been forwarded to the House and Senate in compliance with statute, prior to the decisions to enter full-rate production.

      Live Fire Testing has revealed design flaws which, had they not been found in testing and corrected, would most likely have resulted in the loss of valuable equipment, and more importantly, loss of life of our combat forces. The kind of realistic testing that we require provides the opportunity to learn what otherwise would only be discovered in the first days of actual combat, and that is certainly not the time for surprises.

      Since this is the Joint Economic Committee, I'm confident that your focus would be on how much this testing has cost the American taxpayer and in turn how much has been returned on these investments. I'm happy to report to you that, over the past decade since the inception of this program, although significant improvements have been made to our weapons systems as the result of this testing, not one test program has exceeded 1/3 of one percent of the program's cost. This small investment has paid significant dividends in not only military equipment saved but also savings in lives from improved combat survivability.

      From its beginning, the LFT&E program has required that not only design threats be tested against our systems but that also emerging threats be tested as well since we need to anticipate what we'll face at the end of the acquisition cycle and beyond. The System Threat Assessment Reports, or STARs, as they're known, are prepared by the Service proponents and approved by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). These documents, by DoD regulation, are the primary source document used to establish what these emerging threats will be.

      The threats tend to fall into three categories: classical conventional, emerging conventional threats and unconventional threats. The legislation forming the basis for LFT&E calls for testing against expected conventional threats. The Pentagon's JCS Publication 1-02 defines a conventional weapon as one which is neither nuclear, biological or chemical. Hence, testing of our chemical, biological and nuclear weapons is not under the aegis of Live Fire Testing. However, LFT&E does include other threats including directed energy threats. The focus of the STARs over the years has been on, what I term, "classical conventional threats." They have formed the basis of the DIA threat documents outlining projected threats over the years. These traditional threats are certainly the most familiar and they include such things as rockets, bullets, missiles, mines, torpedoes, grenades, shaped charges, kinetic energy penetrators, high explosives and other similar weapons which damage by depositing either kinetic energy, explosive energy or both. We have done significant testing of these threats and these threats will, most likely continue to face us well into the next century.

      There is a second category of threats which, in my opinion, are of increasing importance, the directed energy threats. This category of threats includes low, medium, and high-energy lasers and high powered microwave radio frequency threats. I would like to focus the remainder of my opening statement on them.

      These directed energy threats are included within the official definition of conventional threats, and hence, within the LFT&E mandate for oversight, are receiving increasing attention from the Services.

      Recent defense guidance has made clear that other nations may very well choose to fight the U.S. asymmetrically, thereby avoiding a frontal assault on our forces in the more traditional war of engagement and attrition. Rather, they very well might choose to select a specific area of our potential vulnerability, for example communications, or information warfare, or other selective threat to attack us more effectively and efficiently. Recognizing that our nation, both militarily and commercially, is heavily dependent upon electronically produced, processed and transmitted information, it makes good sense to assume that rogue nations could easily try to exploit this potential niche warfare area to not only disrupt military command, control and communications but also to attempt to defeat our highly sophisticated military systems which rely increasingly on computers and their related software.

      Drawing much of their technology from the commercial world, our military systems, whether they be tanks, ships or aircraft are heavily dependent upon computers or computer components. They use computers to navigate, to communicate and to acquire and home on targets. In fact, some of our new fighter aircraft literally cannot fly without their computer controls. Destroying, disrupting, corrupting or interrupting computer components could be very serious. As our computers become more and more miniaturized, faster and more proliferated, it may become feasible to attack these platforms through their potentially soft electronic components. As Mark Twain once said, "If you put all of your eggs in one basket, you'd better watch that basket."

      Other technologies, such as the introduction of nonmetallic composite skins for our aircraft and armor, may, while minimizing weight, inadvertently increase vulnerabilities by eliminating the "Faraday cage" which has traditionally provided a degree of protection from external electronic disruption.

      We recently initiated a series of Joint Live Fire Tests (JLF) with the three Military Departments to assess the effects of potential radio frequency weapons against our platforms. While there has been some testing of RF weapons over the years, these JLF tests were particularly interesting for several reasons: First, we were examining the survivability of our systems to such weapons. In contrast to this, most tests done previously had been to asses our lethality against potential adversaries. Second, the source was a transient electro-magnetic broadband threat, making potentially susceptible a much wider range of equipment than the more traditionally tested narrow band systems. Third, the tests were conducted outside, rather than the vast majority of other testing which has been done at short range inside enclosures. Just as one's voice sounds differently in the shower than it does outside, so does the performance of an RF weapon in the open. Fourth, the tests were done against a fully operational target, not simply a component or series of components as is often done. Just as the human body behaves as a total system, weapons platforms perform differently when tested as a complete operating system. We selected the Army's Huey Cobra Gunship as the candidate platform to gain insights into not only what the first order effects might be but also to gain insights into how to even test such systems to these threats. Our intent in testing such an older and less sophisticated platform than we are currently developing was that it would not only be less costly and more available for destructive testing but also might indicate that if such an unsophisticated platform were to be vulnerable to such threats, then our newer, more computer dependent platforms could also be. We also were able to place other devices of interest in the path of the threat with significant results.

      Just three weeks ago, I and some 200 others attended a meeting in the Russell Building sponsored by the National Defense Industrial Association, at which time the issues of information security and warfare were discussed. The act that some of our military communications are conducted over commercial lines was noted. Hence, what might first appear to be a civilian problem could also be a military problem.

      Because of the rate of change of technology, in communications, computers and sensors as well as in lasers and radio frequency technology, the complexities of the issues are fast-moving.

      I'm not here to imply that the sky is falling, or that our weapons don't work. What I am trying to say is that the world is changing, the potential threat is changing, and our approach to designing and testing in this emerging world must change to meet it. We must realistically Live Fire Test to these emerging threats to our military platforms and weapons. It will be a savings not only in real dollars and equipment, but in lives as well.

      Thank you for your invitation to appear here this morning. I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have at this time.