Russia Employs Full Range of Information Warfare Capabilities
Failure is not an option in the cyber realm.
The Russian Federation forces are using a wide array of cyber and electronic warfare capabilities unlike anything U.S. forces have faced in the past 16 years. Russia uses its sophisticated capabilities to detect, locate and eliminate enemy forces, according to Maj. Gen. Stephen Fogarty, USA, commander, U.S. Army Center of Excellence.
Gen. Fogarty made the comments as the first speaker for AFCEA’s TechNet Augusta conference, Cyber in the Combined Arms Fight, taking place in Augusta, Georgia, August 2-4.
“What we’ve observed them do is employ the full-range of information warfare capabilities to effectively find and fix their opponents. And then they finish them with long-range fires and combined arms maneuvers,” Gen. Fogarty reported.
He indicated Russian forces use a variety of capabilities, including communications intelligence, electronic intelligence, human intelligence, geospatial intelligence, media streaming and social media exploitation. “They detect, they identify, they geolocate their adversaries, and then they fix them with very sophisticated electronic warfare and cyber attacks,” he said.
To explain how military forces can be physically fixed in place with electronic attacks, Gen. Fogarty explained that when communications are jammed, personnel can receive neither direction nor support. “You can’t call for supporting fires. You can’t call for medevac. You can’t get resupplied. You don’t know where your leaders are at. You get fixed. And you become a very easy target for precision fires. They maneuver right over you with combined arms maneuvers,” Gen. Fogarty declared. “And they don’t have a multi-billion program of record to present this capability.”
The “traditional yardsticks” of power include attack helicopters, artillery and armored vehicles, he added, but the Department of Defense Information Network (DODIN) may be the most critical weapon in the arsenal, he indicated. “[W]ithout effective DODIN operations, we don’t have effective mission command, we don’t have precision fires, we don’t have joint ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance], we don’t have joint logistics, we don’t have telemedicine,” he pointed out.
He also argued that providing that network is not a service—it is a military operation. “All those capabilities that we require before we send our troops in harm’s way are not available to our commanders and to our deployed forces without one foundational, fundamental operation. That’s the Department of Defense Information Network,” Gen. Fogarty stated. “This isn’t a service. It’s a warfighting capability and that DODIN, in fact, is a warfighting platform, and it has to be defended.”
Continuing to think of the network as a service, he warned, can have dire consequences. “What we have observed over the last 18 months in particular is that if we continue to operate under that mindset that providing communications, providing access to the network, is a service and it’s not an operation, then I think we’re going to set ourselves up for failure,” he said.
Gen. Fogarty lauded the successes of recent conflicts but predicted that the electronic domain against future adversaries will be not only congested but contested as well. “[F]or the last 16 years, we have deployed the most capable communications this nation has ever taken to war,” he said before suggesting success is the antithesis to change.
Enemy forces in Iraq and Afghanistan did not contest the electronic domain, he pointed out. Operating as it has for the last 16 years, the United States will continue to have some success—provided the future enemy does not have modern electronic warfare and cyber capabilities. As those capabilities become more ubiquitous, the threat continues to grow, he offered.
“Failure to change in this space, failure to change the way we view the problem ... is a decision to fail,” Gen. Fogarty argued.