Guest Editorial – 5G to XG and the Future of Warfare: Enhancing Communication

August 12, 2021

Written by 6GWorld Contributor
CATEGORY: Exclusives

Communications are critical to the future of U.S. defense planning. Looking towards 5G and XG, meaning all future generations of wireless, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is seeking new solutions to help “master advanced communications technologies and ubiquitous connectivity [which] will have a long-term economic and military advantage.”  As the landscape evolves to integrate air, land, sea, space, and cyber forces in a wireless world, there is a keen interest to improve communications to support the warfighter.

Today, communications are not only vital on the battlefield, but also in the research labs and industry forums that bridge information gaps in the capabilities of 5G and the needs of future defense engagement.  Specifically, the future of 5G to XG-enabled warfare will depend on enhancing communications by encouraging better articulation of industry needs, establishing shared language by which to address common issues, and creating new forums for dialogue.

Defining and explaining 5G defense needs is a critical communication hurdle. According to Krystle Kaul, Former GS-15 Director of Strategic Communications at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency  and MC of an upcoming 5G to XG Defense Symposium, “public-private collaborators have been slow to develop defense solutions because there is a lack of understanding of the DoD’s needs on 5G to XG, but the DoD also faces challenges in vocalizing its specific needs within a large, evolving and complex 5G to XG ecosystem.”  She added, “This is a learn-and-go process, but we can help create a clearer vision if there is an open forum to discuss the DoD’s 5G to XG gaps and challenges with a goal to solve them.”

Public-private sector collaboration should help make these issues better understood.  And from this, we can create a stronger dialogue between the 5G research industry and the DoD which can identify new trends and create critical alignment on key challenges that will support better problem solving and clarity.   

Another important communications bridge is establishing a shared language to address common 5G issues.  While pockets of the industry have begun to explore specific use cases for 5G to XG communications such as spectrum sharing between military and civilian users, Communications-as-a-Service (CaaS) and Algorithm-as-a-Service (AaaS), there remains ambiguity around the definition of these key terms in both industry and within the DoD.

The term Algorithm-as-a-Service, for example, can be useful for defense engagement, but has multiple meanings both within the DoD and within industry.  Where one expert can offer their specific description of AaaS in detail, the definition can vary widely if another researcher was asked to describe it through the lens of their work.  By creating a shared language that addresses and links battlefield needs and 5G to XG capabilities, wireless industry researchers can better help the DoD meet its needs by understanding the solutions required.

In addition to establishing communications tools and a shared language to identify key 5G defense issues, we must also create new forums that encourage and foster a dialogue between defense and wireless industry experts as well as stakeholders from across the ecosystem.  Understanding that 5G to XG is not at the core of a military general’s expertise, nor is battlefield communication strategy in the common purview of a 5G mmWave engineer, it is critical to create a space where both can complement their personal understanding and begin to build important bridges between 5G to XG technical capabilities and emerging defense mission needs. 

These exact considerations, and the dialogue that defines them will take center stage at the 5G to XG US Defense Symposium taking place April 28th 2022 online and in-person at the Halcyon House in Washington D.C.  The curated panel discussions will explore the key challenges facing the DoD and include experts from the public and private sector as well as academia, who will dive deep into technical issues, including artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML), edge computing, Internet of Things (IoT), Open RAN (O-RAN) and AaaS, and assist the DoD to better understand standards development, 5G to XG outer space and tactical ground deployment, spectrum sharing and much more. 

If interested in being a keynote speaker or a panelist for this symposium, please contact the organizer, Krystle Kaul.   

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