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Oct. 18, 2018
Notes from the Pentagon

Army gears up for info warfare
The Army this month outlined its plan for using modern-day information warfare in future military conflicts as part of new, high-technology warfighting capabilities.

According a new manual, information operations are defined as the use during military operations of “information-related capabilities in concert with other lines of operation to influence, disrupt, corrupt or usurp the decision-making of adversaries and potential adversaries while protecting our own.”

Weapons include military information support and deception activities, public affairs work, electronic warfare and cyberoperations.

“Information is an element of combat power,” the manual states.

Unlike Russian and Chinese information warfare, the Army manual indicates that U.S. information operations will be carried out under professional military rules and legal constraints and will be conducted “ethically.”

U.S. military information operations have been hamstrung by legal restrictions, according to military officials at the Central Command. They said in the past plans for information warfare against terrorists were scuttled by delays caused by legal reviews that prevented timely use of many information operations. In the early 2000s, a Pentagon plan to use strategic information warfare in the war on terrorism was abandoned after public affairs officials opposed the use of deception operations.

The Army plans to use military deception — what it calls “MILDEC” — to deliberately mislead enemy decision-makers, whether military, paramilitary or terrorist leaders.

“The intent of MILDEC is to feed information that deliberately misleads the enemy decision-makers as to friendly military capabilities, intentions and operations and lead the enemy to take actions (or inactions) that contribute to accomplishment of the friendly mission,” the manual says.

Deception can be a decisive tool in altering enemy actions in response to U.S. military operations, the manual says.

Tactical deception is used by commanders in planning operations that will cause enemies to act or react in desired ways by masking U.S. vulnerabilities or enhancing U.S. defenses.

Counterdeception is used to prevent human and automated decision-makers from being affected by enemy deception.

Deception is also used to create “multiple false indicators to confuse the enemy or adversary.”

The Army manual identifies two secret types of information operations. The first is called “integrated joint special technical operations” — IJSTO — that use special technical capabilities to “gain a decisive advantage over an enemy or adversary.”

A second secret category is special access programs, or SAPs, that include sensitive acquisition, intelligence or operations that can be used in information warfare operations.

Chinese use of information warfare was outlined in a military publication titled “Unrestricted Warfare” that called for using all means necessary for winning.

Russian information warfare was outlined by Russian Chief of General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov in his 2013 book, “The Value of Science Is in Foresight.” The doctrine calls for extending traditional warfare to peacetime information warfare operations such as the campaign to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Technology giant Google is working with China’s government to produce a special search engine named Dragonfly that will allow government censors to limit searches of topics opposed by the ruling Communist Party.

Details about the project were disclosed in an internal speech by Ben Gomes, Google’s search engine chief.

The July 18 speech by Mr. Gomes mentions that politics in Washington under President Trump are changing rapidly and noted the strong anti-Russia policies following the disclosure of Moscow’s election-meddling.

“So at some level, at our scale, we need to maintain that optionality, in case suddenly the world changes, or he decides his new best friend is [Chinese President] Xi Jinping,” Mr. Gomes said.

Mr. Trump has frequently referred to Mr. Xi as a friend, but as a result of ongoing trade disputes recently scaled back his praise for the Chinese leaders.

Mr. Gomes’ speech, published by the anti-secrecy website The Intercept, describes China as a new market for Google and “the next billion users” of search engines.

The Chinese search engine that Google hoped to produce in six to nine months from July will allow the increasingly repressive regime of Mr. Xi to block Chinese internet users from searching for information about topics the government opposes.

That likely would include blocking search terms seeking information on the 1989 Chinese military crackdown on unarmed protesters in Tiananmen Square, human rights abuses such as the imprisonment and death of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, and the imprisonment of an estimated 1 million ethnic Uighurs in western Xinjiang province.

Mr. Gomes, in the remarks to Google employees working on the search engine, made no mention of China’s information controls, saying only that the project was “something extremely important to the company.”

However, the executive made clear that the project is controversial. He promised the assembled employees that Google leaders were working “to make sure your careers are not affected by this.”

Mr. Gomes indicated that Google was seeking to enter the Chinese market, which he described as “arguably the most interesting market in the world today.”

“We need to understand what is happening there in order to inspire us,” he said. “It’s not just a one-way street. China will teach us things that we don’t know.”

The development of Dragonfly has drawn criticism from human rights groups, Capitol Hill lawmakers and some Google employees. Vice President Mike Pence, also called on Google in a recent speech to cancel Dragonfly.

“More business leaders are thinking beyond the next quarter, and thinking twice before diving into the Chinese market if it means turning over their intellectual property or abetting Beijing’s oppression,” Mr. Pence said Oct. 4. “But more must follow suit.”

Google, Mr. Pence said, “should immediately end development of the Dragonfly app that will strengthen Communist Party censorship and compromise the privacy of Chinese customers.”

Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley warned recently that China is rapidly developing artificial intelligence (AI) for use in warfighting capabilities.

“China is aggressively pursuing a 2025 strategy where they want to be the main driver of AI, not only for their economic but for their industrial transformation,” Gen. Ashley told a conference Oct. 8.

“The character of war is constantly changing, and we see AI as we see some of these disruptive technologies that continue to change the character of war — the complexity and the speed of human interaction. Our task is to understand how they operate, what’s the defeat mechanism, what’s the target system analysis, and how do we find the vulnerabilities in those weapons systems to defeat them,” he said.

China also is using AI in a three-phase project of “human performance enhancement,” he said.

“It started with the Digital Age; it’s moving into artificial intelligence with neural networks, and then the next step — the integration of human and machines,” Gen. Ashley said.

China is working to integrate AI into its next-generation jet fighter with the aim of achieving air superiority. Other AI-powered weapons will include large formations of unmanned aerial and underwater vehicles, space combat systems and armored vehicles.

China also is developing AI-backed information warfare capabilities that combine influence operations with cyberattacks for use in future conflicts.

China’s hypersonic missiles — high-speed maneuvering strike vehicles — also will be equipped with artificial intelligence guidance and sensors.

  • Contact Bill Gertz on Twitter via @BillGertz.

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