Combatant commanders now have a place to test, train, evaluate and develop nonkinetic alternatives to fight in the Global War on Terrorism. The Information Operations Range enables warfighters to explore military deception, electronic warfare, psychological operations, computer network operations and operations security to influence behavior or respond to an event. In conjunction with the range, commands can use Virtual Integrated Support for the Information Operations Environment tools to conduct the planning, assessment and analysis for information operations. The tools also can be employed to create events to assess new technologies and systems integration in the cyber and information operations domains.
U.S. soldiers will soon be planning and executing operations in cyberspace as effectively and efficiently as they do on physical battlefields. These new missions are being outlined in a series of concepts suggesting how ground forces will function in cyberspace. Once they are formally evaluated and approved, the cyberplan is scheduled to become part of the U.S. Army’s overall warfighting and operational doctrine.
The danger to the Free World’s information infrastructure has become more sophisticated and widespread, and it now poses a threat to the very economic well-being of the Free World. Economics and national security have become so closely intertwined that both now are facing common threats from global information operations.
U.S. government agencies and private-sector firms must improve communications to better protect vital national infrastructure. Besides the ongoing need to shield both classified and unclassified computer network assets, an industry expert maintains that a vigorous defense has a deeper psychological impact, implying that systems can be trusted.
Modern information operations cover a range of capabilities from psychological tactics to cyber warfare. They are designed to provide U.S. warfighters with a crucial edge on the battlefield by preventing opposing forces from effectively gathering intelligence or coordinating attacks. Information warfare provides commanders with a flexible tool that can be used to subtly influence local opinion in an anti-insurgency campaign or cripple enemy communications in a major conflict.
The U.S. Air Force seeks to dominate networked warfare through a new command specializing in cyberspace operations. The organization will enable U.S. strategic efforts by providing a variety of services and capabilities from information assurance and network security to intelligence gathering and defensive and offensive cyber activities.
A knowledge-sharing effort is helping the U.S. Defense Department's information operations community overcome complex operational challenges. Administered by the U.S. Air Force, this information exchange mechanism permits analysts and warfighters to access relevant data from government, academic and corporate experts. The undertaking also gathers subject matter experts together to discuss and to solve specific issues then stores their findings in an online repository.
Although centuries old, information operations is fast becoming the newest strategic weapon in the U.S. military's arsenal. The reformation has come about more by evolution than revolution, bringing individual specialties such as electronic warfare, operations security, military deception, psychological operations and computer network operations under one umbrella. But the result of this synthesis is a military capability that can be a force multiplier when integrated early, often and continuously throughout mission planning and execution.
Flattening a network instead of a city may be the key to successful urban combat operations. U.S. Army intelligence is restructuring its information architecture both to suit the ongoing force transformation and with an eye on the joint arena. The Army's goal is to create a network that extends the reach of vital information across the breadth of the force and down to the individual warfighter.
Not since the second American revolution has the United States had to defend its homeland, yet the country is not much better prepared today than it was when much of Washington, D.C., was torched by an invading military force during the War of 1812.
Integrated signal processors are the buzzword for new electronic warfare suites designed for adaptability across a broad range of threat environments. Embedding these commercial off-the-shelf devices in sea- and airborne signals intelligence platforms both increases interoperability and reduces the likelihood of rapid obsolescence.
Next-century warriors will face a radically different electronic warfare and electronic intelligence environment in the information age battlespace. Rapid advances in technology will profoundly influence 21st century conflicts because highly advanced systems will provide greater situational awareness, higher quality threat assessment, and more accurate, timely automated matching of active signals with the resources of widely distributed libraries. Operators and analysts will be able to collaborate in real time within a distributed virtual environment. They will configure, launch and control highly efficient software agents to conduct geographically widespread tasks and accomplish complex analyses within a changing operational context efficiently and quickly.
As a first point in the United States' electronic combat test process, researchers strive to re-create electronic warfare accurately to challenge the effectiveness of hardware against hostile threats. A major link in this process is the U.S. Air Force Electronic Warfare Evaluation Simulator in Fort Worth, Texas, which can evaluate defensive systems against most known threats and can respond quickly to newly discovered threats.
Just as information system users are becoming accustomed to the concept of cyberwar, a new form of information conflict is emerging that rests on a completely different set of principles. Popularly known as netwar, it is based on a strategy of accessing a network, not to destroy it but to maintain and operate it as a tool to gather support and maintain communications.
The U.S. Department of Defense is not fully exploiting information technology in military operations and departmental procedures. For an organization that relies on information superiority and technological capabilities to put U.S. national defense at an advantage, the department is lax in thwarting potentially devastating threats to its information systems.
While the security industry concentrates on protecting systems from external threats, a danger to information access is brewing from within organizations. The expansion of and growing reliance on networks is jeopardizing military information technology by exposing numerous sectors and even entire commands to errors that are introduced internally by a single entity.
The U.S. Defense Department is refocusing efforts to protect military communications from computer network threats. By shifting its network operations emphasis from exclusively defensive to a more offensive stance, the government seeks to ensure the integrity of coalition operations. Preparations for projecting a greater disruptive potential to adversaries are underway.
Although experts agree that the vast majority of future military operations will be fought by joint forces, the U.S. military's information technology continues to be somewhat fragmented. To take advantage of all the benefits of information operations during a mission, systems used by all the forces and at all levels must be able to talk to each other. Numerous technologies have been developed that enable this capability; however, the challenge is larger than technology.
Future military communications equipment may one day be able to detect and use locally available radio spectrum automatically. U.S. Defense Department researchers are developing methods that allow systems to scan for unassigned frequency bands autonomously. These technologies will allow warfighters to deploy quickly anywhere in the world without time-consuming spectrum management and allocation concerns.
The menu for U.S. Army information operations now runs several courses long as the service integrates low-end news activities directed at local populace with high-end cyberspace defense and attack. As all of these elements come together in a common operational mode, the future cyberwarrior may see netwar visualization capabilities that provide cyberspace situational awareness akin to icon-driven battlefield monitoring systems.