Army, Marines want to give combat troops access to ‘cyber fire support’

By Dawn Lim

September 11, 2012

The Army and Marine Corps are developing procedures for frontline troops to request offensive electronic tools to support ground missions, Foreign Policy reports.

Such tools could plausibly infiltrate networks, disrupt communications, or deliver misleading messages to enemy computers. The Army currently uses a system called the Cyber Effects Request Format for combatant commanders and operational commanders to request help from Cyber Command. The service wants to expand this platform so that smaller, tactical-level units in combat can request such “cyber fire support,” according to the report.

One of the biggest challenges to knitting cyber operations more closely with ground missions is getting military planners to understand what electronic tools are available. As the shroud of secrecy around the Pentagon’s use of electronic weapons lifts, the use of such computer operations is likely to become institutionalized.

A senior military official, speaking at a conference in Baltimore last month, publicly acknowledged that offensive campaigns have been an important part of the Pentagon’s arsenal in the war in Afghanistan, according to reports.

"I can tell you that as a commander in Afghanistan in the year 2010, I was able to use my cyber operations against my adversary with great impact," said Marine Lt. Gen. Richard Mills, who led international forces in southwestern Afghanistan between 2010 and 2011. "I was able to get inside his nets, infect his command-and-control, and in fact defend myself against his almost constant incursions to get inside my wire, to affect my operations."


By Dawn Lim

September 11, 2012

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