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[] BBC 27.01.07: U.S. plans to 'fight the net'

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

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.

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 importance.


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

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

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

'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 system.

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

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 intelligence.

"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

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

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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