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[] US plans to 'fight the net' revealed

*US plans to 'fight the net' revealed *

By Adam Brookes
BBC Pentagon correspondent

*A newly declassified document gives a fascinating glimpse into the US
military's plans for "information operations" - from psychological
operations, to attacks on hostile computer networks. *

Bloggers beware.

As the world turns networked, the Pentagon is calculating the military
opportunities that computer networks, wireless technologies and the
modern media offer.

 From influencing public opinion through new media to designing
"computer network attack" weapons, the US military is learning to fight
an electronic war.

The declassified document is called "Information Operations Roadmap". It
was obtained by the National Security Archive at George Washington
University using the Freedom of Information Act.

Officials in the Pentagon wrote it in 2003. The Secretary of Defense,
Donald Rumsfeld, signed it.

   Information Operations Roadmap

The "roadmap" calls for a far-reaching overhaul of the military's
ability to conduct information operations and electronic warfare. And,
in some detail, it makes recommendations for how the US armed forces
should think about this new, virtual warfare.

The document says that information is "critical to military success".
Computer and telecommunications networks are of vital operational

*Propaganda *

The operations described in the document include a surprising range of
military activities: public affairs officers who brief journalists,
psychological operations troops who try to manipulate the thoughts and
beliefs of an enemy, computer network attack specialists who seek to
destroy enemy networks.

All these are engaged in information operations.

Perhaps the most startling aspect of the roadmap is its acknowledgement
that information put out as part of the military's psychological
operations, or Psyops, is finding its way onto the computer and
television screens of ordinary Americans.

"Information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy
and Psyops, is increasingly consumed by our domestic audience," it reads.

"Psyops messages will often be replayed by the news media for much
larger audiences, including the American public," it goes on.

The document's authors acknowledge that American news media should not
unwittingly broadcast military propaganda. "Specific boundaries should
be established," they write. But they don't seem to explain how.

"In this day and age it is impossible to prevent stories that are fed
abroad as part of psychological operations propaganda from blowing back
into the United States - even though they were directed abroad," says
Kristin Adair of the National Security Archive.

*Credibility problem *

Public awareness of the US military's information operations is low, but
it's growing - thanks to some operational clumsiness.

*When it describes plans for electronic warfare, or EW, the document
takes on an extraordinary tone. It seems to see the internet as being
equivalent to an enemy weapons system *

Late last year, it emerged that the Pentagon had paid a private company,
the Lincoln Group, to plant hundreds of stories in Iraqi newspapers. The
stories - all supportive of US policy - were written by military
personnel and then placed in Iraqi publications.

And websites that appeared to be information sites on the politics of
Africa and the Balkans were found to be run by the Pentagon.

But the true extent of the Pentagon's information operations, how they
work, who they're aimed at, and at what point they turn from informing
the public to influencing populations, is far from clear.

The roadmap, however, gives a flavour of what the US military is up to -
and the grand scale on which it's thinking.

It reveals that Psyops personnel "support" the American government's
international broadcasting. It singles out TV Marti - a station which
broadcasts to Cuba - as receiving such support.

It recommends that a global website be established that supports
America's strategic objectives. But no American diplomats here, thank
you. The website would use content from "third parties with greater
credibility to foreign audiences than US officials".

It also recommends that Psyops personnel should consider a range of
technologies to disseminate propaganda in enemy territory: unmanned
aerial vehicles, "miniaturized, scatterable public address systems",
wireless devices, cellular phones and the internet.

*'Fight the net' *

When it describes plans for electronic warfare, or EW, the document
takes on an extraordinary tone.

It seems to see the internet as being equivalent to an enemy weapons

"Strategy should be based on the premise that the Department [of
Defense] will 'fight the net' as it would an enemy weapons system," it

The slogan "fight the net" appears several times throughout the roadmap.

The authors warn that US networks are very vulnerable to attack by
hackers, enemies seeking to disable them, or spies looking for

"Networks are growing faster than we can defend them... Attack
sophistication is increasing... Number of events is increasing."

*US digital ambition *

And, in a grand finale, the document recommends that the United States
should seek the ability to "provide maximum control of the entire
electromagnetic spectrum".

US forces should be able to "disrupt or destroy the full spectrum of
globally emerging communications systems, sensors, and weapons systems
dependent on the electromagnetic spectrum".

Consider that for a moment.

The US military seeks the capability to knock out every telephone, every
networked computer, every radar system on the planet.

Are these plans the pipe dreams of self-aggrandising bureaucrats? Or are
they real?

The fact that the "Information Operations Roadmap" is approved by the
Secretary of Defense suggests that these plans are taken very seriously
indeed in the Pentagon.

And that the scale and grandeur of the digital revolution is matched
only by the US military's ambitions for it.

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