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Space, Missile Defense and Computer Network Operations Challenges: Computer Network Operations: A Critical Element of Current and Future Military Operations in Combating the Asymmetrical Threat

November 6, 2002

The conduct of military operations is no longer limited to the traditional dimensions of land, sea and air. Technology has taken the realm of warfare into the space and cyber domains. In today’s information age, fighting and winning battles on a traditional battlefield is no longer the norm, but rather the exception. The enemy is becoming increasingly sophisticated and resourceful in his approach and methods in shaping the battlespace through “cyberwarfare.” As the traditional geographical boundaries do not exist in the world of global networks, adversaries of the United States are quickly becoming capable of causing millions of dollars worth of damage, disrupting communications and military operations, and in some cases, influencing U.S. decisionmaking processes, most often from safe havens thousands of miles away. Today, the Army views computer network operations (CNO) as an extension of the commander’s combat power. The integration of CNO into military operations creates the ability to achieve the information superiority and full battlespace awareness necessary for full-spectrum dominance.

Intelligence sources have revealed that adversaries will continue to seek and develop asymmetric approaches as a means to counter the Army’s superior warfighting capabilities. Adversaries understand the importance of operating in the cyber arena. More than 20 nations and a Computer-based Information Operations could provide our adversaries with an asymmetric response to U.S. military superiority by giving them the potential to degrade or circumvent our advantage in conventional military power. George J. Tenet Director of Central Intelligence before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence 7 February 2001 2 myriad of nongovernmental organizations and individuals are developing Computer Network Attack (CNA) capabilities.1 China, Russia, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya and North Korea are developing capabilities to attack military systems. “More and more countries, especially poorer ones, are coming to see the advantage of cyberwarfare methods over traditional warfare.”2 Investing in cyber technology is far less expensive, often costing thousands of dollars, compared with billions for a nuclear weapons program