Pentagon Names Cyberspace
A Key Battlefield
By Bob Brewin (
And Daniel Verton (
Federal Computer Week
From Stig Agermose <>
SAN DIEGO -- The Defense Department last week revealed its plan for how the military services will carry out offensive and defensive information operations in future wars -- a move that holds wide-ranging implications for information systems.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff formally codified in October an Information Operations (IO) doctrine when it endorsed a guidance document called "Joint Publication 3-13," according to Daniel Kuehl, chairman of the Information Operations Department, School of Information Warfare and Strategy at the National Defense University.
Kuehl said the new doctrine treats cyberspace as "a critical environment [and] moves information operations from an ad hoc process and institutionalizes it."
Although doctrinal publications are rarely visionary in nature, " 'Joint Pub 3-13' was clearly written with Joint Vision 2010 in mind," Kuehl said. Joint Vision 2010 is a DOD effort to create seamless battlefield communications across the services. "This [new document] institutionalizes a process for looking at IO as a strategy and makes it part of the planning process for all joint [military] plans."
"Our ability to conduct peacetime theater engagement, to forestall or prevent crisis and conflict, and to fight and win is critically dependent on effective IO at all levels of war and across the range of military operations," wrote Army Gen. Henry Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, in his introduction to "Joint Doctrine for Information Operations." Shelton said that IO, which includes both offensive and defensive information warfare operations, is as crucial to the national defense as air, land or naval operations.
Offensive IO will include such existing military operations as psychological operations, electronic warfare, physical attacks or destruction of enemy information systems, special information operations "and may include computer network attack," Shelton said. The doctrine foresees offensive IO conducted "at all levels of war -- strategic, operational and tactical -- throughout the battlespace," he said.
The doctrine broadens the definition of an adversary, including not only attacks by a known enemy state but also any IO threat "that is organized, resourced and politically sponsored [and] motivated to affect decision-makers," including hackers, criminals and organized crime, industrial and economic espionage, and in some cases, terrorism, Shelton said.
"This threat requires monitoring for indications of a specific IO threat and subsequently may require additional IO defensive measures," according to Shelton.
DOD plans to give primary responsibility for information operations to the joint commands, such as the Atlantic Command, the Pacific Command and the Central Command and their subordinate Joint Task Forces. The doctrine calls for the Joint Force Commands to staff so-called IO cells, with staff being drawn from existing combatant commands.
The National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Defense Information Systems Agency will support IO for the combatant commands and the Joint Staff. The DIA will be given the responsibility of selecting key offensive IO targets, help combat commanders develop a command intelligence architecture to support IO and detect IO attacks in cooperation with DISA.
DISA will be charged with protecting the Defense Information Infrastructure, and the NSA will provide information security and operational security products as well as analyze the vulnerability and threats to U.S. and allied information systems. On the operational side, the Special Forces Command was directed to begin IO training and "organize forces with capabilities to conduct IO...across the range of military operations," Shelton said.
A Pentagon source said the Joint Chiefs have put an "intense" effort behind the newly established Joint Task Force for Computer Network Defense, which is located in DISA's Global Security Operations Center. In addition, the newly prescribed doctrine may pave the way for use of the reserves in a homeland cyberdefense role, the source said.
Lt. Col. Kathleen Harrison, director of the Command and Control Branch of the Doctrine Division at the Marine Corps' Combat Development Command, Quantico, Va., said no great policy changes have taken place yet in light of the new doctrine guidance. However, Harrison said the Navy and Marine Corps plan to issue in the summer a Naval Command and Control Warfare Doctrine publication, which will consider the new guidance published by the JCS.
Copyright 1998 FCW Government Technology Group