The Changing Face of Warfare
Army leaders confront circumstances challenging warfighters.
Evolutionary threats, global instability and the rapid pace of technological change are influencing the U.S. Army’s next steps for planning, training and fighting. Although the service has made significant network improvements for more than a decade, its leaders agree that more progress is needed to operate in the contested environment of the future.
Experts from throughout the U.S. military, industry and academia recently gathered at TechNet Augusta in Georgia to explore the way forward. Speakers and panelists included leaders intricately involved in the cyber fight, including Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford, USA, who became the service’s chief information officer/G-6 in August; Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, USA, commanding general, U.S. Army Cyber Command; and Maj. Gen. John B. Morrison Jr., USA, commander, Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon.
Cyber electromagnetic activities (CEMA) were among the hottest topics discussed. Gen. Morrison shared that the Army’s newest doctrine, which codifies how the service will operate in cyberspace and wraps in electronic warfare (EW) for fighting in these new domains, already is changing the way the service operates.
“For the very first time, it says that DODIN [Department of Defense Information Network] operations are the foundation for cyberspace operations. That intrinsically means that the Signal regiment is intricately linked to cyber operations. There is no separation,” the general stated.
In addition, the doctrine establishes the network end to end—strategic to tactical. “There is no differentiation between the two because in cyberspace it is ubiquitous. It codifies how we’re going to organize ourselves from an offensive cyber perspective and then balances that with ... those defensive actions we take ... to prevent an attack. It brings those two together,” he said.
Lt. Gen. Mark Bowman, USA (Ret.), former director of command, control, communications and computers/cyber for the Joint Staff, agreed that CEMA is crucial but is not convinced that troops are being sufficiently trained in these activities.
During a panel discussion about building and integrating CEMA at the tactical and operational levels, Gen. Bowman painted a dire picture of future warfare. The next war, he said, would begin with wave after wave of cyber and EW attacks, and the United States is not prepared for this type of warfare.
Although the Army is making strides in training the CEMA force, it is not yet doing enough and may not be able to address all possible scenarios in a training environment. “We as a nation are extremely vulnerable, more so than any of us would really want to admit—not only our networks but our infrastructure. And the bad guys are banging on us every day,” Gen. Bowman stated.
To exemplify his stance, the general shared a personal experience. He was in charge of a network that was attacked and taken down by the Russians. “It was an ugly event, but it was much the same as a natural disaster, such as Katrina. They whacked us. Our network went down, and we started rebuilding,” Gen. Bowman recalled.
But if hit by multiple waves of attacks, rebuilding will not be so simple, he asserted. “They’re going to hit us and hit us and hit us, and the only way we’ll be able to survive and to operate through that is to start expanding the level of training and the experience that we have operating with degraded systems or sometimes no systems at all,” he said.
Gen. Nakasone of Army Cyber Command agreed with Gen. Bowman’s emphasis on securing networks and training personnel. “Protecting and defending cyberspace and exploiting electromagnetic spectrum will be key to overcoming the anti-access and anti-denial strategies of our adversaries. The success of the CEMA concept relies on integrating the cyber, electromagnetic, electronic warfare and information force in the future,” Gen. Nakasone stated.
The general compared today’s changes in cyber and technology to the changes that occurred during World War I that transformed 20th-century warfare. “To succeed on the future battlefield will require our Army and the joint force to adapt how we fight in response to these changes. Military history is filled with examples of armies that adapted their tactics in response to change, and quite frankly, those armies that did not,” he said.
Unfortunately, the United States may not have an advantage in any single domain. “Nowadays, I would say American superiority in any domain against a peer or near-peer adversary can certainly not be guaranteed,” Gen. Nakasone stated.
On the battlefield of the future, enemy cyber attacks likely will be launched to disrupt U.S. military electronic systems before any kinetic operations even begin. Battle for air and sea control would commence hundreds of miles from any landing area, and barrages of missiles would attempt to defeat naval and air forces. Airdrops would be futile, and drones overhead would film the destruction in an attempt to control the narrative, he said.
Future conflicts are likely to expand far past what traditionally would be thought of as the battle lines, Gen. Nakasone added. “We should anticipate cyber attacks—not only cyber attacks in an area of conflict but against the homeland—certainly against our critical infrastructure and key resources,” he predicted.
Col. Charles Chalfont, USA, chief, Enterprise Integration Division, Office of the Army Chief Information Officer/G-6, shared that the Army, Air Force and Defense Information Systems Agency are taking steps to decrease the chances that this will occur. Together, they have developed the Joint Regional Security Stacks (JRSS) to better protect and defend information networks by reducing the attack surface.
Before the JRSS, the Army had hundreds of server stacks both on the classified and unclassified side. The modernization effort ultimately will reduce that to 23 secure stacks and 25 unsecured.
“We’re eliminating different ways into the network,” Col. Chalfont said. “This ends up with an increased level of security and more efficient operation as well. The bits and bytes will flow faster and more smoothly as we take out some of these redundant security solutions that are in place.”
Find additional articles, plus photos and videos at event.afcea.org/TNAugusta17.