The U.S. military’s ability to repel electronic attacks while preserving its “freedom” to conduct such attacks are integral to achieving “information superiority” over the rest of the world, the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) says. However, these capabilities alone cannot guarantee such superiority, according to AFRL. Consequently, it has launched an R&D program whose goal is to combine cyberattack operations with public relations and military deception campaigns -- the outcome which would give decision makers the ability to control the “battlespace” and simultaneously mold “the perceptions and behaviors of leaders, groups, or entire populations.”
The “Information Warfare: Offensive and Defensive Counterinformation” program seeks to develop new and advanced technologies to provide war fighters with “all the mechanisms and services required” to achieve such control.
“This gives the commander freedom from attack, the freedom to maneuver and the freedom to attack,” the document, known as a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA 06-12-IFKA), says. “Information superiority is that degree of information advantage of one force over another that permits the conduct of operations at a given time and place without prohibitive opposition.”
The initiative calls for the submission of innovative concept papers that potentially “provide the Air Force with the greatest technology push possible,” the BAA says. It is focusing on three infowar subject areas: network warfare operations, electronic warfare operations, and “influence operations.”
Network warfare involves the destruction or disruption of “enemy” communications and data networks, whereas electronic warfare focuses on controlling the “electromagnetic domain” of various wireless systems.
Influence operations, on the other hand, emphasize a military commander’s ability to broadly disseminate information “to achieve desired effects across the cognitive domain.”
These capabilities are employed in the form of “psychological operations, military deception, operations security, counterintelligence operations, counterpropaganda operations and public affairs operations,” according to the BAA.
Though participation initially was limited to U.S. firms and persons, earlier this month the Air Force authorized “foreign allied participation” at the prime contractor level. It specifically designated those foreign allies as Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and United Kingdom.
Approximately $40 million has been tentatively approved to launch the project. AFRL says it anticipates funding the endeavor at the rate of about $10 million annually between fiscal years 2006-2009. It expects to award individual contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements not to exceed 24 months, with dollar amounts ranging from $100,000-$1 million per year.
“Information superiority is an integral part of air and space superiority, an Air Force doctrine,” the agency says.