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Preparing For The All-Domain Battlefield
Chad Bates, Director Modeling And Simulation At U S Army Cyber Command | Wednesday, June 16, 2021
Despite being man-made, cyberspace and most of the information environment is a domain that human beings cannot sensethrough our natural abilities;therefore, we rely upon technical or electronic devices to interpretthese complex, often enigmatic facetsfor us. Behind this façade,information flows by the physics of the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS), with electrons moving through fiber at the speed of light or through the natural world on differing wavebands. Our societies rely upon this information flow, but few care about where it is stored, how it is computed, or the method it is transmitted. We just want it to work when we request information (e.g. our entertainment). Society relies upon the trust we give our devices, hopingthe information displayedis accurate, and this trust is often the gap in our armor that adversaries exploitto disrupt operations and lives.With the high level of trust given to information from Department of Defense (DoD)“trusted information services,” malicious actions in the cyberspace domain can be highly detrimental to military operations.
On the future battlefield, there will be a constant struggle to gain superiority in the EMS withelectronic attacks and protection measures saturating the environment. Adding to this chaos will be the vast number of devices populating thedomains, emitting across this contestedspectrum. In this unruly landscape, reduction in “blue-on-blue” electromagnetic interference is critical while simultaneously mitigating adversaries’ attempts to further disrupt and deny this environment. However, this EMS conflictisthe forefront of the battle. Moving within the dark confines of cyberspace - before, during, and after the battle–are thecyber and information warriors instilling mistrust, deception, and sometimes destruction within adversarynetworks and systems while defending their own. These actionscreate the constant companions of complexity and unfamiliarity into the environment, further increasing the cognitive load this congested, contested environment demands ofits practitioners.
Supportingthe significant cognitive flexibility and innovation of thoughtrequired to seamlessly interconnect the domains of this battlefield will require a different simulated environment; an electronic world whereteams can test new ideas, challenge processes and preconceived notions, and take risks knowingly and for the right reasons. Most importantly, it provides a venue to establish different tactics, techniques, and procedures for operating in a constantly fluctuating EMS, fraught with deception, misinformation, and outright attacks on perception.Our human perception is a very important aspect of this new domain. How do you know what you are seeing is true or not? What do you have to do to sustain trust in the information flow?Theanswers to those questions will have to mirror the revolutionary changes in the new joint all-domain command and control (C2) programsthat will drive how humanssense and understand anall-domain battlefield.
Underpinning ourC2 systems are the Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) assets that encircle the planet. All weapon systems, platforms, sensors, and communication networks rely upon the accuracy of this globally available information network to function and to synchronize operations. Anticipating thatthis will be a contested environment, the DoD and the services are working on solutions to assure or create resilient PNT solutions that provide alternatives to traditional methods of C2, to include the networks that connect them. A vital component of these systems, whichneeds to be better understood, is the data that supports and enables C2 and where it is stored, transported, and how its integrity is maintained. These alternateC2.
systems, coupled with a contested EMS, will amplify the mentally tough and rigorous environment future practitioners will face. Therefore, simulations need to accurately replicateC2assets and networks for training, experimentation, and testing events – each with their own standards and fidelity requirements.With the right cognitive and technical ecosystem, the most important integrator – the human warrior - can be prepared for the future operational environment.
Revolutionizing these simulationswill require several major steps. The first step isreplicating the tactical and enterprise networks in sufficient fidelity so owners can measure and investigate networkfunctionality in differentconditions -all within real-time and utilizing the same tools they will use on the battlefield. The secondstep is integrating highfidelity engineering models into a much lower fidelity combat simulation. Understanding the complexities of this battlefield requires accurate replication that these models can produce, accountingfor different aspects of the terrain and atmosphere, to include the operational limitsof the equipment. Additionally, practitioners will have to understand the technical aspects of the battlefieldand howto properly synchronize an operation within the context of their granted authorities and capabilities. Given hundreds of mission repetitions within a constantly changing and complex environment, this understanding of the battlefield is possible. An enhanced simulated environment providesthe conditions to think creatively and react thoughtfully to complexity, unfamiliarity, deception, and confusion. It sets the conditions for all-domain warriors to practice mission assurance and maintain overmatch on the all-domain battlefield,regardless of conditions.