The Unfair Advantage: Video at the Tactical Edge


The Unfair Advantage: Video at the Tactical Edge

The tumultuous landscape of war is perpetually compromised. Video is an essential tool that delivers instantaneous clarity, cutting through the fog of war and providing critical information to determine friend from foe. The application of quantum mathematics can dramatically improve the security of video from source to sight, providing warfighters with the assurance that what they see is reliable.

Joshua Cryer, President, and CEO of Reticulate Micro

War is messy. Even with the advent of advanced technologies that enable rich situational awareness, sometimes innocent civilians become unintended casualties and friendly forces suffer from misguided kinetic weapons. Sometimes even the best intelligence is blurred by the smoke of conflict, becomes twisted in the confusion of broken communications, or is altered through the process of language translations. Politicians and commanders are left navigating through a morass of obscure threats and opportunities. The fog of war of war veils the truths of conflict. Truth itself often becomes the first causality of war.

This grave concern is highlighted by the recent tragedy stemming from the Gaza offensive in Israel, where Israeli forces struck the World Central Kitchen humanitarian aid convey, killing seven aid workers. Israel’s ever-impressive intelligence apparatus, enabled by a technologically superior military surveillance ecosystem, still managed to miss the mark in this tragic event. The best communications. The best processes. And still, mistakes were made. The act was allegedly unintended, but that offers little consolation.

The fog of war is further compounded by an age of polarizing pundits, evolving artificial intelligence, unbridled immediate access to global information through the proliferated internet, and an inability to believe what you see – thanks to deep fakes. Adding to these technologyinduced quandaries is the factor of quantum computing. While quantum computing holds deep potential and promise to radically transform the lives of humanity for the better, positively impacting medicine, engineering, and mathematics, in the wrong hands, it can break modern data encryption and cripple every aspect of our lives. Bank accounts, email passwords, and secure communications can all be compromised with quantum technology. The quantum threat poses a grave danger to the battlefield, potentially compromising the secure communications between commanders and their subordinates, allowing hostile forces to intercept mission-critical planning, alter content in real time, or determine the locations of opposing forces.

In this future hellscape, warfighters are left unable to discern fact from fiction and the real from the perceived as events unfold, and piecemeal reports rapidly route through compromised communications chains. Video gives military forces an unfair advantage over opposing forces that are technologically disadvantaged. Ensuring this video is unadulterated and available in real-time is essential for mission success.


Since the 1950s, the United States and Allied Forces have benefited greatly from the unfair advantage of advanced communications. Radar helped the Allies detect aircraft and ships during World War II, crucially improving offensive and defensive capabilities. Advanced satellite technologies provided the United States with superior communications, surveillance, and space-based monitoring that were decisive in winning the cold war. The 20-year war in Afghanistan showed time and time again how advanced communications capabilities enabled friendly forces with enhanced situational awareness, delivering decisive victories in the spectrum between minor skirmishes and major offensives.

The Predator UAV became a critical ingredient in the recipe of victories in Afghanistan by delivering persistent video of battlefield objectives with a bird’s eye view. Ground forces could rely on these platforms to deliver realtime video of objectives, day or night, to attain unprecedented clarity of the locations of hostile forces, friendly forces, and non-combatants. This rich visual information helped reduce the risks associated with ambushes, accidental fratricide, and collateral damage.

The first versions of the video downlinks from UAVs were unencrypted, making them easily interceptable. Before long, the Taliban discovered that sometimes the video feeds could be seen on standard televisions when they were tuned to the right frequencies. For a short time, this unintended discovery began to tip off the Taliban, and in some situations, gave them an equitable information 20 | May 2024 advantage. Allied forces quickly remedied this issue by implementing high assurance cryptography and resilient waveforms to obfuscate voice and video communications, assuring secure communications between friendly forces, and denying enemies access to mission critical content. Now, the high ground of encrypted communications that allied forces enjoy is under the emerging threat of quantum computing.


Quantum computing is a transformative technology that fully embodies the entire gamut of our overused colloquialisms used to describe evolutionary technologies. Quantum computing is trailblazing, groundbreaking, paradigm-shifting, game-changing, mold-breaking, bleeding edge technology. It almost sounds like the introduction for the entertainment wrestler Rick Flair (I hope you earn that Emmy, Rick). Math problems that currently take eons to solve with computers based on Von Neumann architectures can be solved in minutes and seconds with quantum computers. While the benefits of this technology have the potential to completely change every facet of society for the better, there is a very real dark side to Quantum computing.

In the context of communications, the looming threat of Quantum Computing is the breakdown of classical cryptography that currently secures digital communications and financial transactions. Existing secure data that uses current cryptographic technologies can be retroactively vulnerable, enabling the unauthorized decryption of historical information. This means encrypted files that are stored in the cloud can become vulnerable to hacking overnight. Bad actors will have access to banking records, personal identifiable information (PII), medical history, family photos, and text messages – the security that society takes for granted in the everyday rhythms of life will be fully compromised.

Nation-states that are first movers in quantum computing can dominate markets by solving problems faster than their competitors. The disruption could potentially devastate global markets, yet the issue receives little press. The Quantum threat is a massive Gray Rhino – highly probable, high impact, and largely neglected. Coined by policy analyst Michele Wucker, Gray Rhinos are anything but random, occurring after a series of warnings and evidence. Fortunately, there are potential solutions that can be emplaced and implemented before it is too late and modern society’s communications are completely compromised.


The good news is that this Gray Rhino can be countered. The first step is developing, implementing, and deploying cryptographic systems that are secure against threats from both classical and quantum computing. In this phase, quantum mathematics will be applied to classical encryption methodologies. The method will likely combine quantum-based extreme randomization with the quantum distribution of keys, functioning as a “drop-in replacement” for extant methods for randomization and key management. This approach will harden current cryptography, while entirely new quantum-based cryptographic techniques are created and refined.

The impact for video in military operations will be massive. The application of quantum mathematics to current miliary encryption will forestall the ability for adversaries to break mission-critical communications, and compromise mission effectiveness.

Additionally, the extreme randomization will have a direct positive impact on compression techniques and technologies, specifically relating to Fourier transforms and discrete wavelet transforms, by promoting better energy compaction in wavelet coefficients. The quantum-sourced randomization helps to distribute significant wavelet coefficients more uniformly, enhancing the effectiveness of the coding process in those areas. The compression efficiency is improved, the reconstructed images have a potentially higher quality, and distortion is minimized.

Video improvement on the battlefield is three-fold. First, video compression is vastly improved, enabling higher quality video streaming over disadvantaged connections or transports. Second, the security is enhanced with postquantum encryption, precluding interception of the video by enemies. The third, and final improvement is better connections, and quantum-mathematics can even enhance the modulation of radio signals that carry video on the battlefield.


By harnessing the power of quantum mathematics for good, all our communications will become ultra-secure and extremely reliable. In the context of video, the applications of quantum mathematics will galvanize the quality and security of video from source to sight. I am proud to say that Reticulate Micro is a pioneering firm in this field. The application of this technology will enhance resilience and access to video on the battlefield, democratize access to real-time video-based information, and burn away the fog of war. In place of potentially compromised content, warfighters will be able to trust and rely on video at an unprecedented level. The information chain of custody for military operations will become unquestionable, which will be beneficial for directing military operations with high trust as well as auditing operations when they do not go as planned.

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