China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is looking to up the ante on electronic warfare by mating EW and computer networks in a whole new way to launch cyber-attacks, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) says in a recently released report.
“The PLA believes that EW is one of the best ways to counter stronger military powers, CSBA notes in its report, “Reinforcing the Front Line U.S. Defense Strategy and The Rise of China.:
In addition to developing a variety of dedicated EW platforms, CSBA says, the PLA “has embraced the concept of Integrated Network Electronic Warfare (INEW), which seeks to meld EW and computer network into a ‘hybrid capability.’”
CSBA says, “INEW promises to make network warfare relevant to areas traditionally dominated by electronic warfare by enabling network attacks to ‘bridge the air-gap’ and enter relatively unprotected, isolated battlefield networks.”
CSBA asks: How might China employ some of these information warfare capabilities?
“One possibility is that they could be used in advance and alongside missile and air forces during a campaign against military targets to undermine an opponent’s willingness to resist and further degrade its ability to retaliate,” the report says.
Quoting from Mark Stokes’ book, “China's Quest for Joint Aerospace Power: Concepts and Future Aspirations,” CSBA points out, “The PRC views information operations as integral to a successful joint aerospace or firepower campaign.”
From China’s perspective, CSBA points out, quoting Stokes, “Effective military operations rely upon the ability to defend one’s source of information while exploiting and assaulting an opponent’s information structure,” including its command, control, and communications systems.”
In fact, counter-C4ISR attacks to disrupt critical networks would likely play a crucial role in almost any coercive campaign, CSBA says.
“Despite its emphasis on holding at risk U.S. information networks, the PLA also aspires to become a more ‘informationized’ force, a goal it expects to achieve by 2050,” CSBA says.
“This suggests that it will soon suffer from many of the same vulnerabilities that it has identified in the United States and other advanced militaries,” CSBA says. “This trend is already underway. China’s A2/AD (anti-access, area-denied) network, for example, is extremely dependent on the acquisition, transmission, and use of information from a variety of sources—from broad area surveillance systems that can provide initial queuing for ASBMs (anti-ship ballistic missiles) to satellite navigation systems that guide land-attack missiles to their targets.”
----Michael Fabey is a Scout Warrior Pentagon Correspondent who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org----