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US Army uses satellites to affect the state of the battlefield

YUMA PROVING GROUND, Ariz. — To put it bluntly, the U.S. Army is not exactly known for its space savviness.

However, as the Army gears up for combat with near-peer competitors, it’s doing its best to leverage new space capabilities to improve its targeting and networks, greatly expanding the range it can fire at enemies effectively. And at Project Convergence 20, the service got its first high profile opportunity to show off what it can do with emergent tactical space capabilities.

Project Convergence is the first iteration of the Army’s new “campaign of learning,” an effort to bring together the most cutting edge technologies, connect them together with an advanced battlefield network, and extend their ability to hit beyond-line-of-sight targets with confidence. During six weeks in the blazing Arizona heat at Yuma Proving Ground, the Army ran through dozens of scenarios, linking weapons systems and sensors together, applying artificial intelligence to detect and target threats, and using a developmental network to expand the battlefield.

Perhaps most importantly, Army’s Futures Command was able to show how new tactical space capabilities can transform the battlefield.

Three key technologies are driving this change. First are the satellites that can take detailed photos of the battlefield. Second are the developmental ground station and artificial intelligence system that receives those images, processes them, and turns them into targeting data. And third are the tactical communications satellites that take that data and transfer it across the country to the weapon systems that will fire on the target.

US Space Force to establish new acquisitions command in 2021

At Project Convergence, leaders focused on “that ability to request data, bring that data directly back down into theater, very rapidly process that data, you know, finding threats in those images or within that data set,” Willie Nelson, director of Army Futures Command’s Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing Cross-Functional Team, told C4ISRNET following the exercise.

This transformation is only possible due to the growing prevalence of satellites operating in low Earth orbit.

“For decades now, the military — not just the Army by itself, but the military generally — has been dependent on geosynchronous Earth orbit satellites, or GEO satellites,” a member of the Network Cross Functional Team told Army Sec. Ryan McCarthy in Yuma. “Today, we have commercial satellites in constellations that are at the mid Earth orbit level and the low Earth orbit level, or MEO and LEO. This is a difference between 22,000 miles for the GEO satellites, 5,000 miles altitude for the MEO satellites, and only 320 miles for the LEO satellites.”

Naturally, it’s far cheaper to send a satellite to LEO than to GEO — which has led to an explosion of new small satellites being launched into orbit. Instead of launching five or six massive, expensive satellites into GEO, companies can create huge constellations of small, cheap satellites in LEO to much the same effect. Some of those constellations — think SpaceX’s Starlink and OneWeb – already have hundreds of satellites

Americans Believe That Misinformation Could Affect The Election. Here’s How A College Education Matters.

New polling by Gallup/Knight Foundation shows that the majority of Americans are very concerned about misinformation and its effects on the upcoming election. The probability-based web survey was conducted with 1,269 adults from Sept. 11-24, prior to the first presidential debate and before President Donald Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis.

According to the poll, roughly 80% of Americans are concerned — either very (48%) or somewhat (33%) — that misinformation on social media will sway the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. Their level of concern differs considerably by political party, with 62% of Democrats very concerned about misinformation and its effect on the election, compared to 36% of Republicans and 40% of independents. Nonetheless, majorities of both Republicans and independents are at least somewhat concerned about misinformation’s potential impact.

The survey also asked respondents to evaluate how much misinformation was being spread by 13 potential sources. Only two — Donald Trump and social media — were seen by a majority of Americans “to be spreading a great deal of misinformation about recent U.S. events, including the election, protests and community violence, and the coronavirus.” The results for all 13 sources are presented in the figure below.

Educational Differences

In addition to political affiliation, level of education also moderated these opinions – in some cases substantially.

Predictably, given what we know from other polling, college graduates were much more skeptical of Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress than were respondents with less education. The reverse was true, but to a lesser degree, for opinions about Joe Biden and Congressional Democrats.

  • Among those with a high school diploma or less, 46% believed Trump was spreading a great deal of misinformation compared to 56% of those with some college education and 75% of college graduates.
  • Among respondents with a high school education or less, 34% believed that Republicans in Congress were the source of a great deal of misinformation. By contrast, 46% of those with some college and 53% of college graduates felt the same way.
  • Regarding Joe Biden, 39% of those with a high school education or less believed he was responsible for a great deal of misinformation, compared to 34% of those completing some college and 15% of those with a college degree.
  • Congressional Democrats were viewed as the source of a great deal of misinformation by 45% of individuals with a high school education or less, compared to 43% of those with some college and 19% of those completing college.

In general, respondents with a college degree were less skeptical of traditional media sources, established government agencies and elected state officials like governors. For example:

  • Whether judging network TV, cable TV, or major newspapers, respondents who held a college degree were less likely than those with lesser levels of education to believe that traditional media spreads great deal of information.
  • When it comes to state elected officials like