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Force Design (Spotlight Brief 2/21)

6 May 2021
Strategic Analysis
Spotlight Brief
Force Design

Cyber Capabilities and Multi-Domain Operations in Future High-Intensity Warfare in 2030

Source: NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence – Dec 20

Western militaries have spent decades attempting integration of maritime, land and air domains, yet still run into misunderstandings and issues that undermine our ability to operate as a joint force. Despite rapidly growing demand to operate beyond the physical domains, cyber suffers similarly, exacerbated by its newness and opacity to those not familiar with the capabilities offered. In order to better integrate cyber into the future military, the NATO Centre of Excellence identifies three key requirements the force must achieve:

  • A fully digitally integrated force that uses AI to enable command and control
  • Integration between formation HQ and higher with equivalent cyber commands
  • Command with decentralised decision making and execution

With these in place, it reviews US, UK and German efforts and provides a set of recommendations for technical capabilities, organisational structures and doctrinal changes that should occur.

Related:

‘Russian Cyber Strategy’, Small Wars Journal, 14 Feb 21

‘Defending Forward in the Cyber Domain’, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, 15 Dec 20

‘Op-Ed: Artificial intelligence and the future of command & control’, Defence Connect, 30 Nov 20

‘More aggressive and less ambitious: Cyber Command’s evolving approach;, War on the Rocks, 14 Sep 20

‘Inside Project Convergence: How the US Army is preparing for war in the next decade’, Defense News, 10 Sep 20

Cyber Maneuver and Schemes of Maneuver

Source: The Cyber Defense Review - Nov 2020

Our familiarity in operating in physical domains affords a common lexicon allowing us to describe easily desired effects and actions. Professionals readily understand the differences between “clear the objective” and “destroy the enemy on the objective” despite apparent similarity, as well as fires that “supress” or obstacles that “block”. While attempts have been made to use these to describe cyber activities, the non-physical elements of cyber require different thinking and new terms to describe manoeuvre and supporting effects. Dr Allen seeks to provide a list of verbs and effects easily understood by non-technical personnel, while providing clear direction to technical personnel. They encompass the wider scope of operations and may be adaptable to current Australian doctrine.

Related:

‘Differentiating Kinetic and Cyber Weapons to Improve Integrated Combat’, Joint Forces Quarterly, Nov 20

‘What Can The Military Learn From A Decade Of Cyber Attacks?’, Wavell Room, 22 Sep 20 

‘Doctrinal Confusion and Cultural Dysfunction in the Pentagon Over Information and Cyber Operations’, Lawfare, 27 Mar 20

‘Tactical Maneuver In The Cyber Domain: Dominating The Enemy – Analysis’, EurAsia Review, 05 Jun 19

‘Training Cyberspace Maneuver’. Small Wars Journal, 15 Jun 18

Multiple Dilemmas: Challenges and Options for All-Domain Command and Control

Source: RAND – 2020

Commissioned by the US Air Force, and hence US and air-focused, this RAND report reviews their command and control construct to determine impediments when engaged with a near-peer competitor and what changes would be needed to improve. The author’s conclusions are of interest for the ADF, key among them being:

  • specific concepts for MDO are still emerging (so it is not yet clear what changes are most important or how beneficial such changes would be),
  • operational planning is currently component-centred, creating the risk of insufficient expertise in all domains and a preference for solutions in certain domains,
  • single-service initiatives cannot resolve command and control impediments that involve forces from multiple combatant commands or services,
  • and operations that rely on command and control for planning, approval or execution that lie outside the theatre may be particularly vulnerable when communications are contested.

RAND’s primary recommendation is there needs to continue to be significant work to develop operational concepts, then build suitable command and control models to war game and analyse in order to find the best solution. RAND further identifies a need for planners to have better understanding of cyber and space capabilities. Consideration also needs to go into what we expect our command and control network to do – and if the desire to network everything poses unacceptable risks when a threat contests the electromagnetic spectrum or creates decision or analysis paralysis. 

Related:

‘Future Battlespace Management’, Joint Air Power Competence Centre, 19 Feb 21

‘How To Make The Third Offset Real: The Combined JADC2’, Breaking Defense, 05 Feb 21

‘JADC2 May Be Built To Fight The Wrong War’, Breaking Defense, 14 Jan 21

‘Challenges Loom for Joint All-Domain Command, Control’, National Defense, 08 Dec 20

‘JCN 1/20 - Multi-Domain Integration’, Ministry of Defence, Nov 20

Eyes on target: ‘Stay-behind’ forces during the Cold War

Source: War in History – Dec 20

When faced with an overwhelming force, many nations revert to the use of stay behind force to conduct intelligence gathering, targeting and small raids. Similarly, small teams are used to operate behind front lines. Australia is no stranger to this concept, with Z Special Unit, M Special Unit, Commandos, and the Coastwatchers being vital parts of the Allied war effort in the Pacific. In looking through NATO’s stay behind assets during the Cold War, Tamir Sinai highlights a number of considerations and issues that would still need to be considered for such forces in the future. His finding that secure communications were the Achilles heel of these elements is likely to remain the case against a peer threat who can contest the electromagnetic spectrum. Additionally, the overlapping areas of responsibility between civilian agencies, conventional forces and Special Forces all require as close attention now, as does the need to have forces easily deployed or permanently forward. It is Sinai’s final paragraph that holds the gem for the ADF though; that specialist stay behind forces (or indeed, covertly inserted teams) are an important asset when it comes to targeting conventional strikes. For the Australian Army, that is increasing its striking range through the current FSP to unprecedented levels, the ability to accurately target these assets at range may demand consideration of something similar.

Related:

‘The Coastwatchers: intelligence lessons learned for the future single naval battle’, Center for International Maritime Security, 31 Mar 21

‘The untold story of Z Special Unit’, 2GB, 07 Mar 21

‘Commandos Confront a World After the Forever War’, The Diplomat, 25 Feb 21

‘Long-distance and secure quantum key distribution (QKD) over a free-space channel’, Phys.org, 25 Jan 21

‘Improved Sensors are Critical to the Army’s Long-Range Artillery Modernization’, The National Interest, 22 Jan 21

The views expressed in this article and subsequent comments are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.

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