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Air University Research Paper 1999

Title: Building Castles on Sand?

Subject:  Ignoring the Riptide of Information Operations

Author(s): CARLA D. BASS, Lieutenant Colonel, USAF

DTIC Keywords: MILITARY BUDGETS, *INFRASTRUCTURE, POSITION(LOCATION), DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, ACQUISITION, DEFENSE SYSTEMS, MANAGEMENT, TRAINING, WEAPON SYSTEMS, LONG RANGE(TIME), COSTS, INSTALLATION, MISSIONS, LOGISTICS, PROCUREMENT, ALLOCATIONS, PERSONNEL, MODEMS, SAVINGS, MONEY

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Foreword

    Dominating the information spectrum is as critical to conflict now as controlling air and space, or as occupy -ing land was in the past. . . . Whoever has the ability to gain, defend, exploit, and attack information, and deny the same capabilities to an opponent, has a dis -tinct strategic advantage.

—Air Force Doctrine Document 1-1

    Air Force Basic Doctrine

    In this compelling study, Lt Col Carla D. Bass argues that the American military, underestimating vulnerabilities of the US information infrastructure, has based its strate -gic policy not on a firm foundation, but rather has built castles on sand. Such documents as Joint Vision 2010 and United States Air Force Global Engagement assume the United States will have unimpeded access to information on our own forces and on the enemy’s forces as well, due largely to our technological sophistication. They propose application of a downsized US military in a still very deadly world, based on the premise of information superiority. However, the United States will not achieve information superiority until we first attain information assurance by securing our own information systems. Indeed, the De -fense Science Board cited this point most eloquently in its report delivered to the secretary of defense in November 1996.

    Lieutenant Colonel Bass believes that the United States cannot simply postulate doctrine and tactics which rely so extensively on information and information technology without comparable attention to information and informa-tion systems protection and assurance. As outlined by the Defense Science Board in its Task Force on Information Warfare-Defense, this attention, backed up with sufficient resources, is the only way the Department of Defense (DOD) can ensure adequate protection of our forces in the face of the inevitable information war.

    This paper postulates that the information operations (IO) mission should be centralized at the unified command level, specifically Atlantic Command (ACOM), to capture  the plethora of uncoordinated, IO-related activities ongoing throughout DOD. Using Special Operations Command (SOCOM) as a model, ACOM would assign teams to com -batant commands to help plan and execute information operations missions. ACOM should be allocated a program element (PE) for information operations, paralleling SO-COM’s major force program 11. This would alleviate a ma -jor criticism identified in several national-level studies re -garding insufficient, sporadic, and uncoordinated IO expenditures. Establishing an information operations PE would also minimize the conflict with conventionally minded elements of DOD that resist realigning kinetic re -sources to fund IO initiatives, another problem identified at the national level. Designated as commander in chief for information operations and armed with an information-operation program element, ACOM could lead the way for DOD to attain information assurance, thus establishing a firmer foundation for US strategic policy.

TIMOTHY A. KINNAN
Major General, USAF
Commandant
Air War College