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Army considers new ways to use space technology for unconventional warfare

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Army officials say space and cyber technology should be used to support special operations and information warfare

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — For decades, the U.S. Army’s ground forces have relied on satellites for communications, navigation, and early warning of missile attacks. But the Army now wants to find other ways to use space technology for non-traditional military operations such as cyberwarfare and information warfare.

During a panel discussion at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium, Army leaders said future warfare will take place in the space and cyber realm. And they argued that there should be more synergies between space, cyber, and information warfare capabilities, allowing them to be more effective.

Lt. Gen. Daniel Kerbler of the Army Space and Missile Defense Command described the concept as “a triad of space, cyber and special operations.” This requires the development of operational concepts, such as surveillance satellites and cyber tools, to support U.S. Special Forces specializing in counter-terrorism, information warfare, and influence operations.

The idea was supported by Lt. Gen. Maria Barrett, the Army’s chief cyberwarfare officer, and Lt. Gen. John Braga of the Army Special Operations Command, who co-presented at the meeting.

The deliberate use of space and cyber technology to identify targets, disrupt enemy operations, and gain information superiority is part of the Army’s tradition of being passive consumers of GPS and satellite communications services. It’s a deviation from the normal role.

Officials said the concept is consistent with the Pentagon’s defense strategy, which calls on the military to develop non-lethal capabilities, including those that can neutralize enemy networks and satellites.

In competition with industry peers, “we need flexible options to combat disinformation, cyberattacks and asymmetric threats,” says Karbler. Space and cyber tools complement the traditional hard his powers to “address threats that transcend geographic boundaries and provide options when stronger escalation options are not comfortable.”

Barrett said cyberwarfare capabilities, combined with the global reach provided by space systems, could “disrupt adversary actions and shape adversary perceptions.”

Karbler said these unconventional approaches “underscore the importance of space and the critical role it plays when used in combination with new and existing features.” says. From now on, “the space domain can no longer be separated from the terrestrial component,” he added.

Braga argued that greater use of space technology in warfare was necessary because “adversaries have invested heavily in space capabilities and have shown to use them.”

For example, China’s military doctrine integrates cyberspace, space, information operations, psychological warfare, and electronic warfare capabilities into joint military operations.

Special operations forces are increasingly aware of the importance of space as a high ground, Braga said, because “there are no sanctuaries” anywhere on Earth.

Braga suggested that the Army and other military services should jointly develop experiments using space and cyber tools, eventually “testing solutions in service exercises and joint exercises.” He said the Army Special Operations Command hosted exercises in March focused on the intersection of space, cyber and special operations, but more was needed.

The Growing Role of Space in Ground Warfare

Eric Brown, vice president of military space altitude program development at Lockheed Martin, said the idea of ​​combining space, cyber and special warfare represents a departure from how the Army views space-based capabilities. rice field.

Brown said in an interview that the “triad” concept presented by Karbler looks like an attempt to use space and cyber technology in a more sophisticated way.

“The Army is one of the largest consumers of space technology for any service, based on its size,” said Brown. “We’re starting to think in an unconventional way about the effect that would be,” he said.

Brown said the tactics enabled by space and cyber systems give the military options to fight in scenarios demanded by the Pentagon.Anti-access area denialAdversaries deploy air defenses, maritime missiles, and other systems to counter U.S. conventional military strength.

It makes sense to bring Special Operations Forces into the mix, he said. “We use specialized operators to get into places that other people can’t get in.” , Brown added.

Space-based target location and reconnaissance is one way to support missions in denied territory.air force and space force made a case Brown said surveillance traditionally carried out by aircraft should be moved to the realm of space.

Electronic warfare is another area where space systems can be used, he added. When you think about what you can do with electronic signals from space, “you really start to get creative with other ways to use the assets.”