QUESTION A: The command and control hub of air operations is the AOC, and it is heavily reliant on electronic networks to fulfill its mission. This reliance creates both strengths and vulnerabilities. Pick one network-related strength and one vulnerability that characterize AOC operations. For the strength, explain how the COMAFFOR/JFACC may leverage or expand it into opportunity for increased mission success; for the network vulnerability, explain how he/she may mitigate it.
ANSWER:response to w6 question A
From the outside, the AOC is somewhat of a marvel. The closest I’ve gotten to a CAOC/JAOC is the 6th fleet watch floor in Naples, Italy, which seems insignificant in comparison to the CAOC at Al Udeid Air Base, for example. Pictures of that CAOC make it very evident that the AOC is completely reliant on networks and technology to carry out its purpose.
As suggested by question A, reliance on technology and networks is a force multiplier as well as a possible vulnerability. The ability to receive, interpret, and transmit persistent, real-time ISR is at the forefront of network-related competencies. The unified force relies largely on persistent ISR capabilities, which are inextricably linked to our capacity to conduct unrestricted satellite communications (JP 3-14 Space Operations, 2020, I-3). Doctrine acknowledges that our ability to exploit the space domain is inextricably linked to our ability to dominate the cyber domain, which includes blue network space (ibid). This network is easily exploited against adversaries in all phases of operations, from collaborative intelligence preparation of the OE to targeting and eventual visibility on activities (AFDP 2-0 Globally Integrated ISR Operations). External links., 2015, pp. 6-9). The operational success of the COMAFFOR/JFACC in the modern age of air warfare is dependent on the stability of ISR-related networks, and the Air Force has no intention of permitting near-peer opponents to erode that advantage (Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs). The Air Force is charting a course toward next-generation ISR dominance. External site links., 2018).
On the other hand, the capacity of COMAFFOR/JFACC (and the wider DOD) to C2 is heavily dependant on the SIPR net for transmitting secret information, which is a clear vulnerability. SIPR is not strictly an Air Force instrument, but rather a communications network that is part of the larger DoD information network (JP 3-12 Cyberspace Operations, 2018, I-5). When I voice my anger with SIPR dropping off unexpectedly, I’m confident I’m not speaking for myself. In the marine environment, having things move slower has the advantage of reducing the pandemonium that might result from a prolonged outage. Given the rapidity with which air operations occur, dependable access to SIPR is a near necessity; nonetheless, even when not under attack from adversary cyber attacks, it is prone to disruption. Operationally, the JFACC has a crucial instrument under Air Force doctrine for this exact situation: centralized command and dispersed execution. This doctrinal perspective strengthens the JFACC’s mission execution resilience in the event that a cyber fire prevents the usage of classified communications (Mulgund Evolving the Command and Control of Airpower, Links to an external site.2021). In addition to the operational resiliency provided by CCDE, the JFACC should include defensive cyber operations in DODIN network planning (JP 3-12 Cyberspace Operations, IV-4).
The JFACC’s capacity to operate is dependent on reliable access to the ISR and DODIN networks. A solid support relationship with USCYBERCOM, as well as effective CO integration, are required to ensure that these networks stay unimpeded.
QUESTION B: The Lesson 6 narrative states, “The purpose of Information Operations (IO) is to affect cognitive processes in all domains while protecting our own.” Pick the one Information-Related Capability you believe is most important, explain why you believe this is so, and describe how your chosen IRC can be used to affect cognitive processes of an adversary or enemy.
ANSWER: Initial Response, Group B:
Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance are the most significant capabilities in information operations since they provide advice to the majority of the other capabilities. Integration of information operations intelligence substantially simplifies understanding the interdependence of the physical, informational, and cognitive elements of the information environment (JP 3-13, 2014, II-10). IO planners and integrators are tremendously aided in selecting the correct effect to elicit the desired reaction by getting the proper intelligence (JP 3-13, 2014, II-10). A couple instances of how important ISR is to other capabilities are civil-military operations, which rely on appropriate ISR to better understand the public, and military deception, which involves a proper understanding of an enemy or their decision-making process. Effective ISR can be used to influence the adversary’s cognitive processes by integrating information collection, analysis, and dissemination to produce products that disclose a TA’s prospective capabilities or vulnerabilities (JP 3-13, 2014, II-10). As previously stated, ISR informs many other parts of IO, such as civil-military activities and military deception. Finally, ISR is critical to a thorough JIPOE process because it allows you to go “inside” the enemy’s decision-making cycle (AFDP 3-0, 2016, 151).
QUESTION C: Is cyberspace considered a domain? This decision will have an impact on long-term policy regarding cyber operations. Support your response by connecting it to the potential consequences of long-term cyber policy.
QUESTION C: Is cyberspace a domain? This determination will impact long-range policy concerning cyber operations. Support your answer and link it to the possible effects of long-range cyber policy.
ANSWER: Initial Post for Q6C
“Is cyberspace a domain?”
I feel that it is best to think of cyberspace as a separate domain from the traditional warfighting domains of air, land, and sea. According to Greggory Rattray, “…although mountains and oceans cannot be manipulated by fighters, a combatant in cyberspace can shift or even turn off the corresponding geographic features with the flip of a switch” (Rattray 2009). Because of its all-encompassing ability to touch every “battlefield,” I chose to regard it as a distinct domain, elevating it to a position deserving of concerted planning and utilization.
The capacity to accomplish “adaptive domain control… will be the most significant shift for the Air Force (or the entire military) to operate—especially with any degree of superiority—in a contested environment.
[Summarized]: When one domain’s ability to operate is constrained, AF forces deploy efforts from other domains to achieve the required objectives.” (Available in 2019)
Cyberspace is the most important domain for this adaptive strategy. Air superiority and cyberspace are inextricably linked, according to Lt Gen William Bender and Col William Bryant: “Obtaining and maintaining freedom of action will prevent the enemy from successfully interfering with operations.” This also enables the Air Force to deploy accurate combat capability by leveraging cyberspace’s distinct qualities.” 2016 (Bender and Bryant)
“potential consequences of long-term cyber policy”
Obtaining and deploying cyberspace dominance will necessitate a fundamental shift in the average Airman’s mindset, with cyberspace weaponization viewed as both a critical component of our warfighting strategy and a domain to be protected with the same zeal as physical assets such as warheads and aircraft. “The personnel and equipment that comprise these systems execute unique duties and complement one other,” writes Robert Skinner in his article on the need of defining weapon systems as uniquely cyber in nature (Skinner, 2013, p. 30).
It will also necessitate a shift in mindset from expecting “100% security at all times” to anticipating successful enemy breakthroughs and being resilient enough to adapt on the fly: “Resilience instead calls for embracing uncertainty and designing for the ability to adapt to failure and the unexpected” (Bender and Bryant 2016). For the most part, these are notions that are essentially distinct to the domain of cyberspace, necessitating nomenclature that distinguishes it from air, land, and water.
Keeping the adversary out of any domain will no longer be accomplished exclusively through air defense artillery or superior ground tactics. These changes will necessitate considerable shifts in the culture, training, and default ways of thinking currently inherent in a military accustomed to operating in its own time and place. At the risk of oversimplification, the strategy must include “jamming” their aircraft’s onboard computers and impeding their capacity to gain command and control electronically.
Bender, W., & Bryant, W. (2016). Assuring the USAF Core Missions in the Information Age. Air & Space Power Journal, 4-8.
Rattray, G. (2009). An Environmental Approach to Understanding Cyberpower. In F. Kramer, S. Starr, & L. Wentz (Eds.), Cyberpower and National Security (p. 256). Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books.
Skinner, R. J. (2013). The Importance of Designating Cyberspace Weapon Systems. Air & Space Power Journal, 29-48.
Venable, H. (2019, March). More than Planes and Pickle Buttons: Updating the Air Force’s Core Missions for the 21st Century. Retrieved April 2022, from War on the Rocks: https://warontherocks.com/2019/03/more-than-planes-and-pickle-buttons-updating-the-air-forces-core-missions-for-the-21st-century