The U.S. military’s chief information officer (CIO) and former CIA deputy director John Sherman said his office will assume control of all 5G-related activities in the U.S. military and expand the military’s 5G pilot programs — a move critics said could lead to increased surveillance of U.S. citizens.
The transition will officially take effect on Oct. 1, but Sherman said his office has “already been working left seat, right seat with research and engineering on this, [in] a very close partnership with Honorable Heidi Shyu and her team.”
Sherman also wants to expand the military’s use of 5G, but he did not say exactly what that expansion may look like.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) in 2020 spent $600 million to launch 5G pilots at military bases in Utah, Washington, Georgia, California and Nevada that use “smart” warehouse 5G wireless technology to streamline logistics and “enhance distributed command and control” and has since doubled its 5G activities.
Sherman also wants to set up open radio access network — or Open RAN — pilot programs.
Sherman said his office is working with several U.S. companies to expand 5G pilots “as we move away from a closed network kind of black box sort of thing, like certain Chinese companies like to do with their global marketing here, to more of an open-network, open-software approach that our U.S. industry can work and dominate on.”
But critics — including W. Scott McCollough, a former marine and Children’s Health Defense’s (CHD) lead litigator for its electromagnetic radiation cases — said it’s not just foreign adversaries the DOD is concerned about.
“The military is a trojan horse for the intelligence community in terms of domestic surveillance and societal control. These efforts are geared toward sustaining ‘domination’ in the RF-EMF ‘domain’ at home, not just abroad.
“Those in charge are concerned about their own citizens as much as they are perceived foreign hostile actors.”
Military will gain control over an ‘extraordinary amount of data’
The military’s expansion of its 5G efforts comes as no surprise since the U.S. military has been “very active” on the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) “for a very long time” — and they want to dominate it, McCollough said.
He pointed out that the DOD in 2021 announced a plan for how the U.S. military would “achieve spectrum superiority in all domains” and “dominate the future battle space.”
However, in the hands of military officials such as Sherman, 5G technology could be used to surveil and dominate U.S. citizens, McCollough said.
Sherman — who was sworn in as the DOD’s CIO on Dec. 17, 2021, and will now direct all of the Pentagon’s 5G projects — served as the Intelligence Community CIO from 2017-2020.
According to McCollough, Sherman’s takeover of the Pentagon’s 5G projects has serious implications for the surveillance of U.S. citizens. He said:
“Sadly, in many respects, those in power have come to view large portions of the U.S. population as actual or potential adversaries or mere subjects that must be monitored, manipulated and controlled.
“5G is an essential component in how that is and will be accomplished.”
McCollough, a former Texas assistant attorney general and telecom and administrative law attorney, told The Defender what interests the military and the intelligence community about 5G is “the ability to obtain important data … in close to real time.”
5G’s wireless low latency network — meaning, a network that can process a very high volume of data messages with minimal delay — gives the military and intelligence services access to and control over an extraordinary amount of data regarding people and the local surroundings.
These powerful tools could be used for “population repression and control,” he said.
‘DOD involvement in 5G could lead to the militarization of the technology’
Crisanna Shackelford, Ph.D., an expert in nonlinear warfare and former DOD intelligence professional with 32 years of experience, also found the news of Sherman’s takeover and expansion of the Pentagon’s 5G efforts “concerning.”
Shackelford — a senior military fellow with CHD — told The Defender, “DOD’s involvement in 5G could lead to the militarization of the technology, blurring the lines between civilian and military applications.”
“Potential military control over 5G networks could potentially infringe on privacy and civil liberties,” she added.
“The consolidation and integration of civil-military 5G advancements raise concerns about the emergence of global surveillance networks, as various international entities collaborate to establish pervasive surveillance, particularly in the realm of biomedical surveillance.”
While the advancements in communication and connectivity are “undoubtedly important,” she said, “we must proceed with caution to safeguard our society, privacy and civil liberties.”
Shackelford pointed out that the DOD’s 5G efforts could “result in mass data collection, tracking, and monitoring of individuals, leading to a loss of privacy.”
DOD’s transition to 5G lacks sufficient transparency and public involvement, she said. “Decisions are being made without adequate public scrutiny or opportunity for meaningful input, limiting democratic processes and accountability.”
Shackelford also said she had “significant concerns about the consolidation of power in the hands of a few major companies involved in the 5G ecosystem.”
Finally, both Shackelford and McCollough said DOD’s broadened 5G efforts leave questions about the health and environmental ramifications of 5G unanswered.
According to McCollough, the military has “long been aware of the destructive and harmful human and environmental effects from RF-EMF exposure,” but these are seen as “merely collateral damages” that are “necessary” to the accomplishment of its perceived missions