The lead paragraph sets the stage:
“The U.S. military needs to upgrade its psychological operations as adversaries take advantage of cyberspace to ramp up psychological warfare on the United States. Yet the military faces a difficult landscape to up its game, based on remarks by several current and former Special Operations officers.”
While much of it is somewhat ‘old news’, readers may find the Transcript of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES UNITED STATES SENATE UNITED STATES SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND’S EFFORTS TO TRANSFORM THE FORCE FOR FUTURE SECURITY CHALLENGES (see: http://bit.ly/2GDiSmh) of interest, it’s only 60 pages.
Here are some things that struck me:
1. The experts quoted are all SOF or former SOF.
2. There is agreement that there needs to be more effective cyberspace influence operations.
3. Privacy protections limit influence operation effectiveness.
4. The Global Engagement Center was funded at $160 million under the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (see: http://bit.ly/2NlapED)
Here are some items that are missing:
1. The Global Engagement Center is actually part of the Department of State: https://www.state.gov/r/gec/)
2. The Global Engagement Center has been criticized and hobbled. Both Vanity Fair and the NY Times have published articles. (see for example: http://bit.ly/2So1Muc and https://nyti.ms/2V7XbOi)
3. The President has given the military more authority to launch cyber attacks. (see: https://cnn.it/2EpZFlB, also a photo source)
If we step back and take a look at the bigger picture, we see that:
1. There is no overall, government wide cyber influence strategy.
2. Cyberspace operations or cyber attacks are like the kinetic actions of the physical world, yet there doesn’t seem to be a non-kinetic or influence targeting balance.
3. Both PSYOP and offensive cyberspace operations seem to be considered as independent, general short term, and perhaps even tactical level operations rather than longer-term operational level or on-going strategic efforts.
As the new Congress settles in and the partisan climate continues, we should be very concerned that the critical nature of Cyber Influence Operations will continue to be ignored. Some organizations are claiming victory in thwarting alleged Russian efforts to impact the midterm elections. Hard to know if they did or didn’t, but rest assured our enemies are busily at work on their operations to influence our Presidential nomination and election process.
Reader comments invited. If you’re attending the RSA Conference in San Francisco, I’m performing on Tuesday, March 05, 14:20
As always, reader comments are encouraged.