Creating Cognitive Warriors

 Senior Program Analyst

In the mid-1990s, Commandant of the Marine Corps General Charles Krulak, recognized the changing nature of modern conflict and introduced the concepts of the “Three Block War” and the “Strategic Corporal.” Both ideas stressed the dynamic challenges of the new battlefield, where leaders across the military rank structure would have to make diametrically different decisions often within moments of one another during a single operation.

Krulak’s view of the future operating environment demanded mental agility. Centrally, he recognized that poor tactical decisions would quickly turn into an adversary’s advantage, particularly in a globally connected environment. The Commandant’s prescient vision became reality only a few years later in Iraq and Afghanistan.

To prepare the Marines of that era for this challenging new environment, Krulak provided the following guidance:

“There is a critical need for all Marines to prepare themselves mentally and physically for the rigors of combat. Physical preparation has long been ingrained in our culture and Marines are well known for their physical conditioning. Mental preparation needs to receive the same emphasis.”

He stressed the need for Marines to take time to improve tactical decision-making and ordered a two-pronged approach – make wider use of tactical decision games and have regular discussions on warfighting. Krulak also challenged traditional views of training by encouraging the use of commercial video games to improve tactical decision-making when live training opportunities were limited.

Today, Marines still emphasize the need to hone decision-making skills in officer development programs. Successfully completing the leadership reaction course is part of Officer Candidate School while land navigation, where individual decision-making is as important as military orienteering, is still a significant part of The Basic School curriculum at Quantico.

The Marines are not the only service members to recognize the need to continually sharpen mental acuity to prepare for the complex battlefield. Navy SEALs are widely recognized as world-class athletes but they are also some of the most intelligent members of the US military. For years the SEALs have used Keep In Mind exercises to improve an operator’s powers of observation and recall. A decade ago, the SEALs faced the challenge of growing their numbers while not compromising their high standards. Rather than having candidates do more push-ups or flutter kicks, they enlisted the help of top neuroscientists to help improve the cognitive conditioning of future warriors. These scientists found four cognitive pillars which help ensure success: setting goals, mental visualization, positive self-talk and stress control.

The Secretary of the Navy has also recognized the need to improve the cognitive skills of naval officers. Specifically, he tasked the services to improve problem-solving skills of naval officers, to make wider use of wargames and to increase the use of virtual training and simulation systems. All of these actions are to help prepare Navy and Marine Corps leadership for a complex and uncertain future, saving time and lives on a future battlefield.

Despite top leadership’s guidance not all naval officers believe cognitive skills are valued in the fleet. During Task Force Innovation we found that many junior officers, fighter pilots being an exception, were discouraged from developing critical thinking and problem solving skills in the operational environment. Instead, the emphasis was placed on enforcing established practices and following check-lists. In the private sector, workers performing such repetitive functions have been replaced by robots.

Such devaluation demoralizes our junior leaders, and risks worsening their response time in combat. In a future foreshadowed by swarms of micro UAVs, cyber attacks, and even the proliferation of intelligent robots on the battlefield, decentralization of decision-making will be critical for success.

As an institution we must recognize this problem – the navy attracts some of the best young minds our nation has to offer. This is a success, yet their cognitive skills are not valued or developed in the operating forces. Simply sending officers periodically to graduate schools is an insufficient remedy either to encourage the best to stay or to develop needed problem-solving, and life-saving, skills.

As a Marine Officer, I designed several squadron, group/regiment and wing-level exercises. The guidance I received was usually the same – make the exercise challenging and force leaders to make decisions in a stressful, realistic environment. General Al Gray, Krulak’s Cold War predecessor, was an advocate for “free play” and risk-taking in field training, influencing the Marines of that generation.

“Hot washes” after the exercises were an essential part of the learning environment. Exercise participants were usually advised of the “Rhino-Rules”, that is, have a thick skin and let the spears thrown by others bounce off, in other words, have candid discussions about what worked and more importantly what didn’t work during the exercise; that’s what great organizations do.

In contrast, my first fleet-wide Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection exercise as a navy civilian was just the opposite of my Marine Corps experience: we were advised to follow a script and make sure there were no surprises! My observation was that large naval exercises were more of a demonstration to prove training had finished. Although history has shown these may reassure allies and capture an adversary’s attention, they are not true learning exercises.

Some may argue that the missions of the navy, focused on commanding ships, submarines and aircraft, are significantly different than those of the Marines or SEALs, which are focused on leading people and operating in a human-centric battle space. Therefore, training the former should also be different. But the future battle space for all naval officers will change significantly over the next few decades and officer development must adapt as well. Just as Commandant Krulak was able to look into the future and urge his Marines to adapt, we should be scanning the horizon today for similar changes and a recent US Army study should provide us with some interesting food for thought.

According to the report, major changes are coming with respect to our ability to see, communicate, think, and decide on the tactical battlefield of 2050. These changes draw upon a shared view that this battlefield will be characterized by the vastly increased presence and reliance on automated processes and decision making; humans with augmented sensing; and information-related and cognitive capabilities.

The study’s authors identified the following 7 interrelated future capabilities that they believe differentiate the battlefield of the future from current capabilities and engagements:
• Augmented humans
• Automated decision-making and autonomous processes
• Misinformation as a weapon
• Micro-targeting
• Large-scale self-organization and collective decision-making
• Cognitive modeling of the opponent
• Ability to understand and cope in a contested, imperfect, information environment

For the naval services to contend with these new realties, we must prepare our future leaders to thrive in this new information- cognitive-centric environment. The first step is to follow the advice of General Krulak and place cognitive fitness on a par with physical fitness.

To improve cognitive fitness we should follow the same structure as physical conditioning programs. We must create local experts to offer cognitive instruction and provide ample opportunities to allow junior officers to exercise decision-making ability; the latter can occur in a virtual environment if needed. Fitness equipment is widely available to condition physical systems; so, too, should simulation or networked gaming to develop cognitive skills. Finally, the naval services include the results of physical fitness tests on officer performance evaluations. We must develop an accurate standard of cognitive development and include those scores on performance evaluations as well.

The information age battle space will be much different from that of the industrial age. We must recognize the need to develop the next generation of warriors with the cognitive skills to dominate the data rich environment of the future. The cognitive warriors of the naval services must be able to apply mental and physical skills with equal acumen. Simply developing and promoting leaders who can follow a checklist will leave us ill-prepared for future challenges.

** = The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense or the United States government.


How Syria is becoming a test bed for high-tech weapons of electronic warfare

nrg8drg7-1444299498October 8, 2015 10.55am EDT

Author – Professor of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Director of Electronic Warfare, City University London

The relationship between Russia and the West is becoming increasingly dangerous with potential flashpoints developing in both eastern Europe and Syria. After repeated incursions into Turkish airspace by Russian warplanes on bombing raids over Syria, NATO’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg warned Moscow that it stands ready to “defend all allies”. Meanwhile Britain announced it would send troops to Baltic states to defend NATO’s eastern boundaries against possible Russian aggression beyond Ukraine.

Russia’s military presence in Syria has been steadily increasing over the past few months. Its warplanes are carrying out regular bombing raids against both Islamic State position and, reportedly, other rebel groups opposed to the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Its warships are launching cruise missiles against the same targets. But the latest reports are that Russia has also deployed its most modern electronic warfare system to Syria – the Krasukha-4 (or Belladonna) mobile electronic warfare (EW) unit.

The Krasukha-4 is a broad-band multifunctional jamming system designed to neutralise Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) spy satellites such as the US Lacrosse/Onyx series, airborne surveillance radars and radar-guided ordinance at ranges between 150km to 300km. The system is reported to be able to cause damage to the enemy’s EW systems and communications. The Krasukha-4 system works by creating powerful jamming at the fundamental radar frequencies and other radio-emitting sources.

Lt General Hodges, the commander of US Army Forces Europe, commented that Russia had demonstrated a high level of offensive EW proficiency against Ukrainian forces in Donbas using a first foreign deployment of the Krasukha-4 system.

Hi tech hostilities

Electronic warfare (EW) was first developed in World War II by the UK to defend against Axis bomber attacks and to defend Allied bombers from enemy surveillance systems. From that time there have been major technological breakthroughs and EW is now acknowledged to be a major fighting element of armed forces worldwide. The US, Russia and Europe invest billions of dollars each year in research and development in order to be the best at this essential military art, while Asian countries, led by China, also view EW as ta vital area for research and development.

E3 Sentry – NATO’s ‘eyes in the sky’. Author provided

EW is considered to include electronic attack/support, electronic intelligence and signals intelligence. In conflicts since World war II, EW has played an increasingly important role in major including Korea, Vietnam, Arab/Israeli, Balkans, Desert Storm/Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan, and Ukraine. EW is effectively employed before the hard fighting begins to deny an opponent intelligence and the use of weapon systems.

Since the beginning of the Arab Spring, NATO countries led by the US and directly supported by the UK have been actively gathering intelligence from countries employing EW assets including low-orbit surveillance satellites (Lacrosse/Onyx series), reconnaissance aircraft (NATO E3 Sentry (AWACS), USAF RC135-Rivet Joint, RAF’s Sentinel R1 and Reaper drones), and sharing intelligence information with the side being supported in the conflict.

Since the land grab by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) in both Iraq and Syria, NATO’s EW assets have been targeting IS rebel fighting units, gathering intelligence to provide tactical target information and to actively engage IS by denying rebel units radio communication and surveillance information – thus electronically blinding them. Sanitised intelligence information is shared with friendly forces including the rebel forces opposed to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

Until September 2015, Russia has been supporting Assad by supplying arms and training to Syrian forces. Bolstered by what it sees as Western indecisiveness on a Syria solution and by the West’s inaction on Russia’s military intervention in the Ukraine, Russia has decided to provide direct military air support to Syria. However, Assad’s enemies comprise all rebel groups opposing his rule – not just IS.

RAF Sentinel 1: the UK’s eyes and ears on the battlefield. Author provided

Russia is aware that NATO surveillance assets are able to monitor all Syrian-based Russian military aircraft activity including the rebel groups it is targeting, locations and weapons used. Some of these rebel groups are directly supported by the US and its allies which may result in Russia becoming in direct political conflict with NATO. To avoid being spied on, Russia needs to blind the eyes and silence the ears of NATO reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering assets so its actions are not open to close scrutiny.

Cat and mouse conflict

So how can the Krasukha-4 be used to cloak Russia’s operations in Syria? In words – partially effectively. Its surveillance systems will not only be able to monitor NATO aircraft movement over Syria but also the types, and from its intelligence it will know the frequencies used and signal characteristics present – Lacrosse satellites and AWACS operate in S-band, Sentinel (and similar) in X-band, and drones in J-band. Lacrosse/Onyx satellite positions are continually tracked by Russia. With this intelligence detail the Krasukha-4 can be programmed to engage in order to deny or disrupt NATO intelligence gathering.

The EQ9 Reaper drone: high tech target for Krasukha-4. Author provided

But it is not all one way – US and NATO intelligence gatherers will have “electronic counter counter measures” (ECCM) to combat Russian EW interference – and so the cat and mouse game of the Cold War is repeated. Intelligence gathering and radar-guided munitions will suffer some disruption and mistakes may be made but operations will continue.

ECCM may include being frequency agile and dodging the jamming signal or pointing the receive antenna away slightly from the jamming source. There are also many tricks that can be played with signal processing that will mitigate the effects of jamming. Of course, it would also be possible for NATO to jam the Russian surveillance radar, denying them of identification and positioning of NATO aircraft – but this would really ramp up the war of words with Vladimir Putin. We must also accept that the Krasukha-4 EW system is an essential part of the defence of Russian forces at the Latakia airfield in Syria and this must not be denied them.

Russian military has long appreciated that “radio-electronic combat” is integral to modern warfare and accordingly that it offers a set of relatively inexpensive weapons that can potentially cripple an opponent’s ability to sense, communicate and exercise command and control within a battlespace.

Russia will now be able to test its new EW systems in live combat but avoiding direct conflict with NATO – it will enhance overseas sales prospects of the Krasukha-4 system. NATO will be able test its ECCM against another EW system, presumably with similar ends in mind.

Why Vladimir Putin’s a pro at turning terror to Russia’s advantage

1448515960838by Hannah Thoburn

As French President Francois Hollande visits Washington and Moscow to solicit aid in fighting Islamic State, which has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Paris that claimed 130 lives, his options seem few.

Where the European allies are seemingly incapable and unwilling to confront the issues at hand, Russia, which already has a military presence on Syrian soil, has said that it is willing to shift its bombing focus from the Syrian opposition to areas controlled by IS. Russia is also a recent victim of the group, with the downing of MetroJet Flight 9268 by a bomb planted aboard. The US, desirous only of avoiding yet another Middle Eastern war, but worried by the unravelling of regional order and growing humanitarian disaster, seems willing to go along with the idea of a US-French-Russian anti-IS coalition.

But both Hollande and President Barack Obama should be on their guard. In past situations, Putin and his Kremlin have made a habit of responding to tragic events and terror attacks only in ways that they believe will benefit them politically. There is no reason to believe that pattern will change now.

If, as it seems will happen, US and French leadership do decide to work in conjunction with the Russians in Syria, they must take that step with their eyes wide open. Vladimir Putin – the same man who insisted that Russian troops were not in Crimea, and said Russian soldiers had nothing to do with violence in eastern Ukraine – is not a good-faith actor. The Kremlin is not a trustworthy ally, nor is it now in its interest to really and truly combat IS.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, favcing camera, and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov speak during a wreath  laying ceremony at Russia's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Russian President Vladimir Putin, favcing camera, and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov speak during a wreath laying ceremony at Russia’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Russia’s goals in involving itself militarily in Syria, remain very different from US and French aims. Though many have assumed that the deaths of 219 Russians at the hands of IS-related terrorists will change the Kremlin’s calculations, we must remember that Russia has always responded far differently to terrorism than has the West.

In 1999, just after Putin was made Prime Minister by then-President Boris Yeltsin, three apartment buildings in three different Russian cities were blown up, killing nearly 300. These attacks, the origins of which have never been confirmed, were blamed on Chechen terrorists. The day after a similar attack was foiled in the city of Ryazan, Putin launched air strikes against the Chechen capital, starting the Second Chechen War.

In 2000, a Russian nuclear submarine, the Kursk, sank in the Barents Sea with 118 on board. At the time, Russia’s media was relatively free, and it was unashamed in broadcasting the reality of the military and government incompetence that had made the accident possible. It was that honestly that spelled the beginning of the end for free Russian media, especially since most Russians receive their news through television. Very quickly, two of Russia’s most-watched TV channels, NTV and ORT, came under the Kremlin’s control.

In 2004, a year of many deadly terror attacks in Russia, a school in the North Caucasus was taken by Chechen terrorists. Nearly one-third of the 1100 hostages were killed in the siege, a number that the media struggled to keep under wraps. Putin took the opportunity to further consolidate his power, ended the local election of governors, and gave himself the power to appoint them. At the time, he said: “Under current conditions, the system of executive power in the country should not just be adapted to operating in crisis situations, but should be radically restructured in order to strengthen the unity of the country and prevent further crises.”

Vladimir Putin lands of Francois Hollandes and Barack Obama's thanksgiving
Vladimir Putin lands of Francois Hollandes and Barack Obama’s thanksgiving David Rowe gallery

The Kremlin’s reactions to these events highlight a key difference between the Western and Russian understanding of the role of the state. While Western nations largely consider the state to be in the service of the citizens that have established and nurtured it, the Russian understanding is the opposite. In Russia, the people are to serve the state, which exists to prevent the blossoming of chaos. The existence and survival of the state is of higher importance than the people who belong to that state. “While Mother Russia must be protected,” write Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy, “she does not necessarily protect her own citizens.”

It is this understanding that informs Russian actions in Syria. Where the West seems more concerned about the humanitarian situation in Syria and the millions of displaced persons, Russia’s key concern remains the continued existence of the Syrian state and the preservation of Bashar al-Assad as the rightful leader of Syria. Neither the crash of the MetroJet plane nor the loss of life in Paris has changed that ultimate intention. To give in wholesale to Western demands that Assad must go would be, for the Kremlin, an admission that the very foundations of Russian statehood are illegitimate. Worse, it might open the possibility of the future destruction of the Russian state.

For Russia, then, the destruction of the Islamic State is only a secondary concern. Since it declared common cause with France on November 17, Russia has made a show of increasing its bombing of IS positions in Syria. But it is exactly that, a show. In reality, its old bombing patterns – in which it claimed to be targeting IS but was largely bombing those who stand in opposition to Assad – largely remain the same. In fact, by largely bombing groups opposed to Assad, Russia has been tacitly assisting IS in its mission. Even IS itself notes that it is not being very much targeted by Russian bombing raids, and that those sorties are still largely focused on the opposition strongholds in cities like Aleppo.

As Western leaders meet in Vienna to discuss Syria’s future, and meet with each other to discuss a possible alignment with Russia in the fight against IS, they must bear these realities all in mind. There may be little appetite in the West for more wars, but outsourcing our dirty work to a Russia with vastly different goals has the potential to produce a set of outcomes that we have not even begun to imagine.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey favours "peace, dialogue and diplomacy".
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey favours “peace, dialogue and diplomacy”. AP

Hannah Thoburn is a Research Fellow at the Hudson Institute, focused on Eastern Europe.


The Pro-Russian Disinformation Campaign In The Czech Republic And Slovakia

Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 10.59.24 AM

Editor’s note: Over the course of the past 20+ months I have witnessed a huge influx of pro-Russian disinformation.  I warms my heart that this is being examined.

However…  I received feedback on this from my Czech resident expert in the Czech Republic, Dr. Veronika Valdova.

1)      It does not have methodology. PSSI has enough resources to conduct a proper study. I can do that for them/with them, but they need to pay me.

2)      Picking four relatively obscure media outlets does not do the trick. It is necessary to screen the whole media spectrum in a comprehensive and rigorous manner, i.e. snapshot over two months, and quantify the findings. Mainstream media are often picking up and republishing highly controversial content. To name and shame mainstream publications, one needs a very good research methodology, to make the findings and conclusions valid.

3)      Some directories suppress or amplify content as they deem fit. Their impact is significant because of reader behavior. Naturally, frequently used directories have higher impact. This needs to be quantified.

4)      Television should not be disregarded, it is a major influencer. The paper noted the role of pro-Russian president Milos Zeman, although very carefully – calling him “a strong supporter of Czech-Russian relations”. My take is that this is an understatement. Despite the controversies he still has very strong popular support. This orientation gives information coming from Russian and pro-Russian sources much more legitimacy and credibility than it otherwise would have, at least among certain audiences.

5)  PSSI should contact other gov’t institutions and ask them to provide a comprehensive library service.   ProQuest would help, for instance.

I was going to complain about the All-Caps title…  her expertise is much greater than mine in methodological critiques.

Bottom line, this study is a good first step but it needs a refined and disciplined methodology to achieve professional standards.



By Ivana Smoleňová



• In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the proRussian disinformation campaign originates from multiple sources: numerous pro-Russian websites, informal groups and communities on social media, several printed periodicals, radio broadcasts, and non-governmental organizations. Their pro-Kremlin messages are amplified through extensive social media activity, and through the organization of public events and gatherings.

• Common characteristics of the pro-Kremlin media and websites in CR and SR are as follows:

− They claim no allegiance to Kremlin;

− Send very similar messages and use similar arguments;

− Are strongly anti-Western, most frequently targeting the United States, Ukraine and the West in general;

− To lesser extent, are ProKremlin and pro-Putin; − Heavily use conspiracy theories, combining facts and half-truths;

− Have negative undertones, usually depicting moral, economic, political and social degradation and predicting a bleak future, including the collapse or clash of civilizations;

− Frequently use loaded language and emotionally charged words, stories and pictures;

− Are interconnected and supported by various public personalities that give the campaign both credibility and public visibility.

− The advent of the pro-Kremlin media and organizations in these two countries predates 2014, as many were founded in 2013 or earlier, but their rhetoric and activities hardened and intensified with the crises in Ukraine.

• Their motives, origins and organizational and financial structures remain, in most cases, unknown. To date, all efforts by investigative journalists or activists have only resulted in finding dubious links and facts, but no direct proof of Russian involvement.

• The lack of transparency is one of their strongest assets, as any accusation of ulterior motives is depicted as an attempt to suppress ‘alternative opinions‘ and any challenger is branded ‘America‘s propaganda puppet.‘

• The most important role of these new proKremlin media, and especially their social media channels, is that they facilitate vivid platforms where like-minded criticism and discontent can be shared and, to the Kremlin’s benefit, spread and amplified.

• The goal of the pro-Russian campaign is to shift public opinion against its own democratic institutions and foreshadow a world where the United States intents to overrun the globe, every West-leaning politician is corrupt, all media outlets not of their persuasion are biased and the future is bleak, hopeless and full of conflict. In such a world, Russia emerges as both the savior and moral authority, the guarantor of political stability and peace.

The Next War Will Be An Information War, And We’re Not Ready For It

While I appreciate Dr. Stupples’ article and his intention to highlight our non-existent counter to adversarial Information Warfare, he made far too many errors in what appears to be a new subject for him: Information Warfare at the national level.

I wrote a response in the comment section in the original article, but it would take pages and pages and pages to properly address my thoughts.  He mentions Russia and China…  when I saw China mentioned, I knew he was thinking of cyber and electronic warfare.  Living and working in the UK, I am certain Dr. Stupples knows about Information Warfare and Psyop waged against Russia, and the UK has a much more whole-of-government approach than does the US.  Beyond Cyber, EW and Psyop, I am afraid I must regretfully judge him lacking in knowledge of the greater field of information warfare. We further complicate matters by not having a recognized name for IW, in the West, at the national level.  In the US we were forced to change the name from Information Warfare to Information Operations because some people at the US Department of State simply said “We don’t do warfare”.

This article will haunt me, I am certain, for days.  Not for what it said, but for what it did not say.

To get more of an idea, please read “Propaganda and Counter-Terrorism” by Dr. Emma Briant. Twice. Her book is the definitive book for IW (or whatever the heck you want to call it) organizations in both the UK and the US.  …and it still falls short of everything in the discipline.

One last thought. It was very nice to see the late Dan Kuehl’s name mentioned at the beginning of the article. My wonderful friend, mentor and sometimes father figure, Dr. Dan Kuehl, his efforts continue and always will.

The next war will be an information war, and we’re not ready for it

November 26, 2015 11.35am EST

By Professor of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Director of Electronic Warfare Research, City University London

In the 21st century the familiar form of warfare in which physical damage is meted out against the opponent’s military forces and infrastructure has become only one form of attack. Instead, states are increasingly launching non-lethal attacks against an enemy’s information systems – this is the rise of information warfare.

Dan Kuehl of the National Defence University defined information warfare as the “conflict or struggle between two or more groups in the information environment”. You might say that just sounds like a fancier way of describing hacking. In fact it’s a lot more sinister and a lot more dangerous than its somewhat tame name implies.

Western leaders are investing billions to develop capabilities matching those of China and Russia, establishing military commands for attacking, defending and exploiting the vulnerabilities of electronic communications networks. Information warfare combines electronic warfare, cyberwarfare and psy-ops (psychological operations) into a single fighting organisation, and this will be central to all warfare in the future.

The anatomy of information warfare

The free flow of information within and between nation states is essential to business, international relations and social cohesion, as much as information is essential to a military force’s ability to fight. Communications today lean heavily on the internet, or via communications using various parts of the electromagnetic spectrum (such as radio or microwaves) through terrestrial communications networks or satellite networks in space. We live in a highly connected world, but it doesn’t take much to tip over into instability or even chaos.

Electronic warfare is used to disrupt or neutralise these electromagnetic transmissions. These might be electronic counter measures and jammingused to cripple military communications or weapons guidance systems. Or it can include civil uses, for example the ADS-B air traffic control system used by aircraft to avoid in-flight collisions, or the recently adopted European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) that replaces railway trackside signalling and provides full control of trains. Jamming or degrading either of these would cause chaos.

We have become familiar with cyber-attacks launched through the internet against digital networks, which can make it impossible for businesses to operate. Enormous damage can follow, in cost and reputation, as seen from attacks on Sony Pictures and TalkTalk. Bringing down a stock exchange could cause massive financial losses. Cyber-attacks can also be directed at industrial control systems used in manufacturing plants or in power, water and gas utilities. With the capacity to affect such a wide range of national infrastructure lives would be put at risk.

Psy-ops are aimed more at degrading the morale and well-being of a nation’s citizens. This might include spreading false information, rumour and fear through social media and news outlets. The great level of connectedness that populations have today is a strength, but being instantly connected means that misinformation and fear can also spread rapidly, resulting in panic.

Information warfare, then, is the integration of electronic warfare, cyberwarfare and psychological operations, for both attack and defence.

The joined-up approach to the many aspects of information warfare. US DoD

Information war has already broken out

It’s suspected that Russia has launched increasingly sophisticated non-lethal attacks on its neighbours, for example against Estonia, Georgia andUkraine, which experienced an integrated onslaught of electronic, cyber-attacks and psychological operations.

There is convincing circumstantial evidence that the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan gas pipeline in Georgia was targeted using a sophisticated computer virus which caused an uncontrolled pressure build-up that led to an explosion. Even the so-called Islamic State has shown it has a good understanding of how to use and manipulate social media for use in psychological warfare. IS is reportedly building greater cyberwar and electronic warfare capabilities, as it recognises that winning the information war is key.

A response to unconventional warfare

In response to the threat of information war the British Army has established two new formations: the 77th Brigade for dealing with psychological operations, and the 1st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Brigade which combines electronic warfare and intelligence. Hundreds of computer experts will be recruited as reservists, trained with the help of GCHQ’s Joint Cyber Unit.

These are moves in the right direction, but the approach is too piecemeal. A recent RAND Corporation report argued for a highly integrated approach to all aspects of information warfare in order to present an effective defence force. In the US, Admiral Michael S. Rogers released a Cyber Command vision statement, describing how it would defend Department of Defence networks, systems and information against cyber attacks and provide support to military and contingency operations. The US approach is more integrated but this is only the case within the military – from a national perspective both countries lack an overall integrated approach with a common command structure that includes threats to civilian infrastructure.

So while the concept of information war appears to be well understood the aspects of it are not being addressed together, and such siloed thinking could lead to gaps in our security. Western governments have failed to fully grasp the vulnerability of electronic communications and the enormous risks this poses to critical infrastructure, transport, and the safety of civilians.

The US director of intelligence has emphasised the enormity of the cyber-threat facing the US, while British General Sir Nicholas Houghton in a speech at Chatham House observed that most acts of physical war today incorporate an online aspect, where social networks are exploited to manipulate opinion and perception. He also acknowledged that the tactics employed by Russia combine aspects of information war and also counter-intelligence, espionage, economic warfare and the sponsoring of proxies.

We need to better understand the full scope of information warfare as it evolves, identify where we are most vulnerable, and then establish a single point of responsibility to implement defence mechanisms. Because those adversaries that are unconstrained by western policies, or by ethical or legal codes, can and will exploit our vulnerabilities.


Russia, do you monitor the Guard Frequency, and how?

6976422-3x2-700x467Editor’s note: Russia’s probable response to the release of the Turkish recording of multiple warnings to the Russian pilot is predictable.

It’s embedded in their Information Warfare DNA:

  • Deny, deny, deny
  • Produce a recording of a Russian pilot, and a pitifully bad Turkish speaker playing the part of a Turkish air controller, stating ‘thank you for avoiding Turkish airspace!’  Of course the speakers will sound like they are reading from a script.
  • Putin will claim, once again, that Russia is the victim. ‘Russia will respond with the harshest of actions’.
  • Russia will respond with the mildest of reactions.

I’m only surprised Putin has not picked up on the Hillary Clinton phrase (from 1998), and has not said ‘A vast Western conspiracy!’

On the original website, the audio is available (link at the bottom).  “Guard” refers to the Guard Frequency, the aircraft emergency frequency, which is supposed to be monitored by all aircraft.  Russian civilian aircraft monitor this frequently, if this particular aircraft did not, they were just plain wrong.  I did a fairly extensive online search for Su-24 and Black Box and Flight Recorder.  Zero, zip, nada.  This intrigued me, so I pushed further.

I asked an aviation expert about Su-24 Black Boxes, if they have them.  His answer:

Never known Russian fighters to carry them. Moreover I looked for data on radios to see if they have capability to use NATO/ICAO spec VHF AM 121.5 MHz and UHF AM 243 MHz but could find no data.

It looks like Russian Su-24s might not even monitor the Guard Frequency.  Both Turkey and Russia may be telling the truth.

Again, my aviation expert, when I specifically asked about Russians and the Guard Frequency:

They might not have had capability to monitor Guard. They may not have had procedure to monitor Guard. They made have been ordered not to monitor Guard. They may not have had sufficient English language skills to monitor Guard …..

All likely irrelevant as they were baiting the Turks. Never bait the Turks, they have no sense of humour when it comes to matters of honour.

Somebody needs to ask Russia, point blank, do you monitor the Guard Frequency, and how?  This is a simple question which may have a strategic impact.

Turkish military releases recording of warning to Russian jet

Surviving crew member of downed plane is rescued in 12-hour mission and says there were no warnings

The Turkish military has released what it says is an audio recording of a warning it gave to a Russian fighter jet before the aircraft was shot down near the Syrian border, hours after the surviving Russian crew member insisted there had been no contact.

A voice on the Turkish recording can be heard saying “change your heading”. But Konstantin Murakhtin, a navigator who was rescued in a joint operation by Syrian and Russian commandos, told Russian media: “There were no warnings, either by radio or visually. There was no contact whatsoever.”

He also denied entering Turkish airspace. “I could see perfectly on the map and on the ground where the border was and where we were. There was no danger of entering Turkey,” he said.

The apparent hardening of both countries’ versions of events came as Russian warplanes carried out heavy raids in Syria’s northern Latakia province, where the plane came down. Tuesday’s incident – the first time a Nato member state has shot down a Russian warplane since the Korean war – risks provoking a clash over the ongoing conflict in Syria, where Russia has intervened to prop up the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

A Turkish official said his country stood by its version of events. The Turkish military has said it delivered multiple warnings to the plane as it neared the border and shot it down after it entered the southern province of Hatay. “We shared concrete evidence of airspace violation with relevant international bodies,” the official said. “From where we stand, there’s nothing to discuss.”

Turkey’s military said on Wednesday night that it invited Russian military attaches to its headquarters and explained that the plane was shot down because its rules of engagement went into effect after the jet did not respond to warnings.

In a written statement, the Turkish armed forces said it had made great efforts to find and rescue the pilots of the plane and that it had also called military authorities in Moscow and expressed readiness for “all kinds of cooperation”.

Russian officials said earlier that Murakhtin, one of two airmen who ejected from the downed Su-24, was “alive and well” after a 12-hour rescue operation succeeded. The second airman was killed by gunfire from the ground, apparently from Syrian Turkmen fighters.

Rescued navigator Konstantin Murakhtin.
Rescued navigator Konstantin Murakhtin. Photograph: YouTube

The Russian agency LifeNews said Murakhtin was found by an 18-man Syrian special forces team. It said he had hidden for many hours after landing, and was found by a radio signal.

A military source from the Syrian government said: “Special operations units from the Syrian Arab army conducted last night a special operation in which it penetrated areas where the terrorists are present and was able to rescue one of the pilots of the Russian plane.”

Speaking on Russian television after his rescue, Murakhtin said he knew the area where his plane came down “like the back of my hand”. He was receiving medical treatment and said he wanted to stay in Syria and continue flying missions.

The dead pilot was named by Russia as Lieutenant Colonel Oleg Peshkov. One of the rescue helicopters sent to search for the men was hit by rebel fire, forcing it to make an emergency landing. One of the marines on board, Alexander Pozynich, was killed.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, said Peshkov would be awarded the country’s highest military honour, the Hero of Russia award. The Order of Courage would be awarded to Murakhtin and posthumously to Pozynich.

Russia has repeatedly said its plane did not enter Turkish airspace. On Tuesday Putin said the downing of the plane was a “stab in the back by the accomplices of terrorists” and promised “serious consequences”.

Turkey said the plane entered its airspace for 17 seconds, in what it said was the latest in a string of provocative attacks on Ankara-backed Turkmen fighters close to the Turkish border. Last Friday the Turkish foreign ministry summoned Russia’s ambassador to complain about the incursions.

Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 7.52.46 AM

The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, repeated his insistence that the Russian jet was in Turkish airspace when it was shot down and said parts of the wreckage fell into Turkey, injuring two people. Ankara had no wish to escalate the incident and was only defending “our own security and the rights of our brothers” in Syria, he said.

The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said he had spoken to his Turkish counterpart for around an hour on Wednesday. He said the attack looked like a “pre-planned provocation”, and even if Turkish claims that the plane had strayed into Turkish airspace proved to be correct, there were no grounds for shooting it down.

Later, in a telephone call with John Kerry, the US secretary of state, Lavrov said Turkey’s actions were a “gross violation” of an agreement between Moscow and Washington on air space safety over Syria. The state department said Kerry called for calm and more dialogue between Turkish and Russian officials.

In Moscow, a crowd of youths gathered outside the Turkish embassy and threw rocks. Some of the ground-floor windows in the building were broken. Police at the scene did not make arrests, according to witnesses.

Russian protesters pelt the Turkish embassy in Moscow with eggs and tomatoes on Wednesday.

Russian officials made it clear that despite the fury the reaction would be measured. There is no talk of a military response, and no suggestion that diplomatic relations could be cut or the Turkish ambassador expelled from Moscow. However, the tone of relations between the two countries is likely to change dramatically.

Lavrov cancelled a visit to Istanbul planned for Wednesday, and recommended Russian citizens not travel to Turkey because of the terrorist threat.

Russia’s state tourism agency said it was banning all tour operators from offering holidays in Turkey. There has been no suggestion of cutting air links, but anysuch move would hurt the Turkish economy. About four million Russians a year visit Turkey, mainly for tourism.

A Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, hit out at the US state department official Mark Toner, who said the Turkmen fighters who shot the Russian airman as he parachuted to the ground could have been acting in self defence. “Remember these words, remember them forever. I will never forget them, I promise,” Zakharova wrote on Facebook.

Also on Wednesday, Russia announced it would send its latest air-defence system, the S-400, to its base at Latakia to back up Russian air operations in Syria. The defence ministry has vowed to continue its strikes on Islamic State. Moscow says it is fighting Isis, but western capitals have said the majority of the strikes appear to be targeting other groups.


Moscow and the west are still at odds over whether Assad is part of the problem or the solution to the Syrian crisis. The French president, François Hollande, will travel to Moscow on Thursday for meetings with Putin to discuss coordinating action to fight Isis.

Activists said there were ongoing clashes on Wednesday in the northern Latakia countryside where the plane fell, as well as airstrikes by either Russian or Syrian warplanes. Jahed Ahmad, a spokesman for a rebel brigade in the region affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, said the Russians appeared to be taking revenge for the plane’s downing by Turkey and were providing cover for advancing Syrian ground forces and their Lebanese Hezbollah allies.

The area has long been a flashpoint of battles between the Syrian government and an alliance of rebels that includes Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaida’s wing in Syria. The region straddles the Syrian-Turkish border that separates Latakia and Hatay in southern Turkey. The city of Latakia is one of the Assad regime’s redoubts and a key part of its sphere of control in western Syria.

The Syrian military said in a statement that Turkey’s downing of the Russian plane was a “blatant attack on Syrian sovereignty”. It said: “This confirms without a doubt that the Turkish government stands by terrorism.”

Turkey has long opposed the Assad regime and has backed rebel groups bent on overthrowing him. The country hosts two million Syrian refugees and shares a long border with its southern neighbour.


Opposite of Rising: Falling?

Russia and China appear to be rising.

What is the US doing?  Falling.

In the information world, in the public view, in the eyes of the world.

Why?  Because the US refuses to play in the Information world.  Big Boy propaganda, countering Big Boy propaganda, disinformation, exposing disinformation, misinformation, countering misinformation.

Ben Rhodes. Why do you still have a job?