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Impaired Cyber, Information Systems Likely in Future Battles

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U.S. Army
Monday, March 25, 2019

A report from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments cautions the U.S. military should accept and plan for the possibility it could have severely reduced cyber and information capabilities in future wars.

“It is impossible to deny an adversary entirely of the ability to shape aspects of the information environment, to include spoofing and sabotaging [information communication technology]-based warfighting systems. As a result, the U.S. military’s goal should be to sustain military operations in spite of a denied, disrupted, or subverted information environment,” writes Jennifer McArdle, a nonresident fellow at the center, in her January report, “Victory Over and Across Domains: Training for Tomorrow’s Battlefields.”

“U.S. warfighters should be trained to fight as an integrated whole in and through an increasingly contested and complex battlespace saturated by adversary cyber and information operations,” McArdle writes. “The battle for information control should drive training adaptation to provide warfighters the experiential learning that translates into quick reflexes, critical thinking, and cross-domain synergies on the battlefield.”

McArdle recommends extensive use of simulated cyber and information lapses to show the vulnerabilities. “Exactly how a system or platform could be disrupted by a cyberattack depends on the details of that system. This calls for deep knowledge of how the system works, its specifications and how the system fits into its broader battle network.” That level of detail is highly classified and many training simulators are unclassified, she notes, suggesting this is a hurdle that can be overcome. 

“A common mantra within the U.S. military has been to ‘train as you fight.’ Yet, live training fails to replicate with fidelity the type of cyber and informationized operations that warfighters will experience in a contested and complex battlespace,” she writes.

The full report is available for download here:https://csbaonline.org/uploads/documents/Victory_Over_and_Across_Domains.pdf