July 19, 2019

PREPPING FOR CYBERATTACKS: Field artillery back to emphasizing ‘charts and darts.’

With the growing threat of cyberattacks, the U.S. Army Field Artillery School has placed a renewed emphasis on learning manual methods of fire direction and gunnery.

“Bringing back the charts is a big deal,” said Staff Sgt. Chad Payne, an instructor for the 13J fire control specialist course. “If you don’t understand the chart, you won’t actually understand what the automated system is doing for you.”

About a decade ago, the school began reducing its emphasis on teaching manual methods, said Col. Samuel Saine, assistant commandant. That’s because improvements to the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System enabled AFATADS to be used effectively in all situations, he said, and it dramatically sped up the firing process.

Then electronic warfare in Crimea and Ukraine shut systems down there, and at the same time, cyberattacks began disabling automation systems at civilian firms. These attacks “woke some people up,” Saine said.

Over the past year, the Field Artillery School commandant has made it a priority to reinsert manual or degraded operations back into the program of instruction for all courses, Saine said.

The Navy’s back to teaching sextant navigation, too. Smart.

Plus, a benefit: “What we found along the way is that we actually were increasing the proficiency of our Soldiers and our leaders. . . because it helped them understand to a higher degree how everything worked together.”

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