Tag Archives: IO

Twenty-First Century Information Warfare and the Third Offset Strategy

The following article originally published at National Defense University’s Joint Force Quarterly and is republished with permission. Read it in its original form here

“While the United States and our closest allies fought two lengthy wars over the past 13 years—the rest of the world and our potential adversaries were seeing how we operated. They looked at our advantages. They studied them. They analyzed them. They looked for weaknesses. And then they set about devising ways to counter our technological over-match.”

—Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work

By James R. McGrath

It is well established that both state and nonstate adversaries are gaining parity with current U.S. military-technological capabilities, and as a result adversaries are eroding the tremendous asymmetrical conventional warfare advantages once exclusively enjoyed by U.S. forces.1 This leveling of the playing field has been enabled through decreased costs of modern information technology and low barriers of entry to attaining precision weapons; stealth capabilities; sophisticated commercial and military command and control (C2) capabilities; advanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); and relatively cheap access to commercial and government-sponsored space and cyber capabilities.2 As a result, in November 2014, then–Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced the Defense Innovation Initiative to counter adversary technical and tactical progress that, if left unchecked, will ultimately hinder U.S. ability to project power across the globe and permanently challenge its aims of retaining its coveted status as a global hegemon.3 While there are many aspects to this initiative, the Third Offset Strategy, as outlined in policy, does not adequately address the need for advanced information operations (IO), particularly IO wargaming, modeling and simulation (M&S), and training systems. The purpose of this article is to make the case that increasing the investment in joint live, virtual, and constructive (LVC) IO wargaming and simulations will generate lasting asymmetrical advantages for joint force commanders and will significantly contribute to the achievement of the Third Offset Strategy.

U.S. Navy E-2C Hawkeye 2000 aircraft assigned to “Wallbangers” of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 117 approaches flight deck of USS John C. Stennis while ship is underway in Pacific Ocean, July 13, 2006 (DOD/John Hyde)
U.S. Navy E-2C Hawkeye 2000 aircraft assigned to “Wallbangers” of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 117 approaches flight deck of USS John C. Stennis while ship is underway in Pacific Ocean, July 13, 2006 (DOD/John Hyde)

Military Problem

The Defense Innovation Initiative is aimed at solving the problem of ensuring that lasting power projection capabilities are available to the U.S. military in pursuit of the Nation’s core and enduring national interests, most notably safeguarding national security, promoting democratic values, maintaining long-term economic prosperity, and preserving the current international order.4 The solution to this problem—one that has yet to be fully articulated and bounded in scope, much less solved—has been named the Third Offset Strategy, meaning that there are a series of strategic capabilities that must be developed to give U.S. forces a decisive military-technological offset that generates lasting asymmetrical advantages over any potential adversary for the next 25 to 50 years. The strategy is so named because there already were two successful offset strategies in the 20th century.5 The first was President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s New Look Strategy during the 1950s, which sought to develop advanced nuclear weapons capabilities to offset the Soviet Union’s overwhelmingly superior conventional forces and nascent nuclear capabilities. The second strategy was Secretary of Defense Harold Brown’s Offset Strategy during the 1970s, which was aimed at countering recent Soviet advances in both numerical and technical parity regarding its nuclear arsenal, coupled with sustained numerically superior conventional forces deployed in Eastern Europe and elsewhere around the globe. Essentially, the U.S. Offset Strategy invested in stealth technologies, precision weapons, sophisticated C2 capabilities, and advanced airborne and space-based ISR that were ultimately revealed to the world during the first Gulf War.

As outlined by Secretary Hagel and currently being championed by Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, the Defense Innovation Initiative emphasizes three key areas for sources of innovation: long-range research and development, new operating concepts, and reenergizing wargaming efforts and techniques.6 Currently, most of the discussion regarding this initiative is overly focused on purely technical, materiel solutions, such as unmanned autonomous systems and sources of new global strike and ISR capabilities. Regrettably, the appeal for the development of new operating concepts and wargaming techniques seems to be overlooked in the media and most defense policy think tanks.

What many analysts fail to realize is that the operating environment, specifically the information environment (IE),has changed, and our adversaries are undermining our asymmetrical advantages through innovative use of the information space, particularly by operating in the informational and cognitive dimensions on a global scale.8 What should be obvious—but unfortunately is not to many military and defense planners—is that IO is precisely the tool set that joint force commanders already have to attack our adversaries’ newly found advancements in C2 warfare, ISR, and precision weapons. Unfortunately, for example, the Russians,9 Chinese,10 and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,11 to name a few, are now also demonstrating advanced forms of information warfare that continually undermine U.S. tactical prowess and enable successful antiaccess/area-denial (A2/AD) strategies that are the root cause of the problem.12 For U.S. forces to achieve the Third Offset Strategy, the joint force must be able to achieve information superiority at the time and place of its choosing. To do that, the joint force must develop innovative operating concepts for IO, wargame them using a variety of computer-based methods, and then train to the newly discovered tactics, techniques, and procedures that are absolutely essential for 21st-century warfare—a type of warfare aimed at breaking the will of the adversary through control of the IE.

Currently, IO is often treated as an ad hoc, additive activity during most joint LVC training events; therefore, IO is routinely ignored or underutilized despite being a major component of every real-world joint operation since Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm13 and arguably in other forms, such as psychological warfare and deception, throughout all of human history.14 Much of the reason for this routine omission and lack of prominence in major joint LVC exercises is that military information support operations (MISO, formerly known as psychological operations), public affairs, electronic warfare (EW), cyber warfare, military deception (MILDEC), special technical operations, and other information-related capabilities (IRC)15 are difficult to simulate over a relevant exercise time horizon. Even more challenging is the ability to realistically but sufficiently model the physical, technical, and cognitive complexities of the IE as a coherent whole whose sum is greater than its individual parts. If this can be achieved, U.S. joint forces would be able to train in synthetic environments that would ultimately enable them to effectively maneuver within the IE, counter recent adversary military-technological gains and newfound information warfare prowess, and provide the baseline for a newly defined technical, military, and psychological offset.

IO as the Solution

By acknowledging the fact that adversaries are reducing our operational advantages and conventional overmatch through innovative use of the IE, it becomes increasingly imperative that U.S. IO training, wargaming, and operating concepts be improved. It is also important to emphasize that this improvement should not only mirror-image the activities of our adversaries, but also provide joint force commanders with a comprehensive set of tools and concepts that allows them to outmaneuver adversaries within the cognitive, informational, and physical dimensions of the IE. As a starting point, a brief analysis of modern IO reveals at least six interrelated IO lines of effort (LOE), which if truly integrated with each other could facilitate the Third Strategic Offset. These primary LOEs or mission areas are psychological warfare, C2 warfare, denial and deception, cyber warfare, engagement, and IE situational awareness.16

While on the surface some of these IO LOEs appear well-established IRCs, that is not the intent or the case. These highly complementary and interdependent mission areas are IRC agnostic—meaning that no one particular IRC is necessarily required for a particular mission.17 In fact, multiple IRCs applied in a combined arms fashion are a prerequisite to achieving success in any one of these critical mission areas. This idea is consistent with the accepted Department of Defense (DOD) IO definition and is precisely why they are considered germane to any serious discussion of future IO.18 The following discussion briefly highlights the need for further development and implementation of these six mission areas, as well as their relevance to the future joint force.

Generally speaking, psychological warfare is defined as actions against the political will of an adversary, his commanders, and his troops, and includes inform and influence operations directed at any third party capable of providing sympathy or support to both the adversary or friendly forces.19 This mission area directly targets the cognitive dimension of our adversaries’ operations in the IE and ultimately attacks their will to resist. It should be the primary focus of the joint force in order to ensure lasting tactical, operational, and strategic success, especially while state and nonstate actors are simultaneously competing for dominance in this highly contested space. After all, by definition, war as a contest of political wills by other means is the primary basis of most warfighting philosophies.20 Therefore, increasing the effectiveness of joint operations in this mission area would certainly require improved MISO, EW, cyber, and MILDEC capabilities and authorities at all levels of war.

C2 warfare is about controlling the physical and informational dimensions of the IE by cutting off an enemy force from its commander, key decisionmakers, or automated control systems through attacking vulnerable control mechanisms or by simply attacking the commander and removing him or her from the C2 equation, ultimately resulting in the collapse of his or her subordinate forces.21 Applying IRCs for C2 warfare purposes is one of the few ways to overcome the joint operational access and A2/AD problems. Using a combination of physical destruction, EW, cyber, MISO, and MILDEC capabilities would be indispensable to the process of systematically unravelling an adversary’s integrated air and coastal defenses; undermining his ballistic and cruise missile standoff weapons; and blinding his advanced land, sea, air, cyber, and space-based ISR platforms. Furthermore, there is a defensive aspect of C2 warfare that requires advanced electromagnetic spectrum operations, information assurance, and defensive cyberspace operations to ensure assured C2 over friendly forces on a global scale. Without a modern, robust defensive C2 warfare capability, U.S. global power projection is nearly impossible.

Denial and deception operations are a combination of operations security and MILDEC activities, supported by a wide-range of IRCs, to protect critical information, facilitate surprise, and deliberately mislead an adversary to achieve a tactical, operational, or strategic advantage. Denial and deception operations provide force-multiplying advantages by enabling operational access and joint forcible entry operations under A2/AD conditions and contributing to the cognitive demise of an adversary as part of the psychological warfare effort. In addition, counter–denial and deception operations are critical to future conflicts, as demonstrated by our adversaries’ skilled use of deception in Syria, Iraq,22 and the Crimean Peninsula.23

Cyber warfare in the IO context is about controlling the content and flow of information within the information dimension of the IE. It includes the convergence of the cyber and EW IRCs, where cyber is enabled at the tactical level through radio frequency spectrum operations; cyber warfare in support of the other five IO mission areas; and offensive cyberspace operations in support of traditional kinetic operations. For instance, a prime example of this IO mission area in action is the Russia-Georgia war of 2008, during which the Russians executed the world’s first synchronized cyber attack in concert with major combat operations, likely using both state cyber capabilities and nonstate hackers to attack key Georgian communications, finance, and government nodes prior to and during combat operations to control the narrative and pace of the psychological war as well as demonstrate Russian resolve and future deterrence capabilities.24 Furthermore, there is tremendous opportunity for future cyber warfare operations to: 1) support C2 warfare in A2/AD conditions by creating gaps and seams in an adversary’s defensive system of systems from standoff ranges, especially during the early shaping phases of an operation; 2) enable the psychological warfare effort through focused and broad social media messaging; and 3) support both the engagement and IE situational awareness efforts as message delivery and ISR platforms.

Then–Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announces Defense Innovation Initiative and Third Offset Strategy during Reagan National Defense Forum at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, November 15, 2014 (DOD/Sean Hurt)
Then–Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announces Defense Innovation Initiative and Third Offset Strategy during Reagan National Defense Forum at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, November 15, 2014 (DOD/Sean Hurt)

The U.S. Army has recently established engagement as a concept for a seventh warfighting function and defines it as influencing people, security forces, and governments across the range of military operations to prevent, shape, and win in the future strategic environment.25 While there are close similarities, in this context, engagement is an IO mission—not a warfighting function focused on the intersection between partnership activities and special warfare activities.26 In this context, engagement is about operating in the cognitive dimension of the IE through informing and influencing partner and adversary nations using a wide range of IRCs, including but not limited to media operations using public affairs and MISO. Engagement as an IO mission also includes public affairs operations to harden the friendly force against adversary psychological warfare. Moreover, for the foreseeable future, engagement will remain a combatant commander’s primary tool for Phase 0, steady-state, and theater security cooperation (TSC) operations, used to send signals to our adversaries and allies that we are committed to the current international order and a stable security environment. For instance, engagement could and should be used to amplify our TSC actions in the U.S. Pacific Command area of responsibility to ensure that Chinese psychological, media, and legal warfare27 are countered with the overarching goal of ensuring that our regional allies are able to observe our actions and interpret them as U.S. commitment to defend our common interests.

Lastly, IE situational awareness is defined as understanding past events within all three dimensions of the IE, tracking ongoing events, and being able to adequately model and reliably predict (or at the very least wargame) a wide variety of possible outcomes in support of the other five IO mission areas. These activities include not only all traditional intelligence disciplines but also the use of a broad range of IRCs operating on the battlefield as sensors, processors, and actors. In addition, IE situational awareness requires advanced M&S to aid IO planners and commanders in the extremely difficult task of understanding the dynamic, nonlinear, and ever-changing IE. Furthermore, IE situational awareness requires a detailed understanding of individuals, social groups, behavior dynamics, communication architectures, exploitation of narratives, and target audience vulnerabilities, as well as the newly emerging techniques of real-time, live big data analytics, social media scraping, and memetic warfare.28

IO M&S Requirements

As discussed, there is a known gap for joint force commanders to exercise their IO cell within the six mission areas outlined above. There is also a gap for exercising both supporting organic and non-organic IRCs and then integrating them with traditional kinetic fires. Closing this gap with computer-based M&S would ensure that joint forces are well trained in a repeatable and expandable synthetic environment prior to employment across the full range of military operations. This is particularly important because IO mission areas and their supporting IRCs are highly sensitive in nature, and live IO training events are nearly impossible to conduct. For instance, certain EW, cyber, and special technical operations capabilities must be well protected to achieve any form of technical surprise, and MISO, EW, cyber, MILDEC, and special technical operations also have uniquely strict political and legal sensitivities.

Achieving repeatable, scalable, and fully integrated simulation of the IE is not an easy task. However, if the Third Offset Strategy is to be realized, the Services and DOD must invest in materiel solutions to enable the joint force to train its IO forces in a synthetic environment. There are several key additional requirements for any useful automated M&S of the IE and IO for advanced wargaming purposes:

  • Must encompass a system-of-systems approach that includes training for individual IO and IRC mission essential tasks through the highest levels of a joint force’s collective-level training events. Examples include a range of immersive virtual environments for individual and small-unit IRC tactical trainers through high-level constructive simulations supporting strategic- and combatant command–level wargaming, capable of seamlessly integrating with each other as well as other kinetic and legacy M&S systems.
  • Must incorporate the full array of possible effects that can be generated by organic and non-organic IRCs from the strategic to the tactical level of warfare.
  • Must be interoperable with other joint and Service-level LVC M&S networks and systems.
  • Must be compatible with all major constructive M&S programs of record in order for IO M&S to be fully integrated into a single common tactical and operating picture.
  • Must be interoperable with current command and control systems and classified intelligence systems up to Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information and other high-level operational security control measures to be integrated into a single common tactical and operating picture.
  • Must incorporate open source media and the replication or emulation of social and traditional media for analysis, using advanced forms of data analytic techniques to simulate actions in the IE.
  • Must incorporate advanced decision support M&S techniques, including but not limited to artificial intelligence–enabled augmented reality, chatbots, and other expert systems to facilitate understanding of actions in the IE.
  • Must leverage state-of-the-art artificial intelligence algorithms, machine-learning software, and advanced M&S paradigms, such as agent-based modeling, systems dynamics, and game-theoretic modeling in a federated architecture, to accurately model complex, adaptive systems with the goal of replicating the behaviors and communications conduits of a vast array of thinking target audiences and their highly automated information systems.

Ultimately, the desired endstate for developing an advanced IO M&S capability is to ensure that there are highly trained forces ready to design, plan, rehearse, execute, and assess operations within the IE, particularly when confronted with a sophisticated, technologically enabled 21st-century adversary. This can and should be implemented via a family of tactical- through strategic-level M&S systems that adequately model and simulate friendly, neutral, and adversary decisionmaking capabilities, behaviors, and information systems as well as the complex feedback loops that comprise all relevant aspects of the physical, informational, and cognitive dimensions of the IE.

IO Considerations

There are five prominent counterarguments that immediately come to mind for not developing advanced IO M&S capabilities. These arguments range from the cost of IO M&S materiel solutions, the presence of other existing solutions, widespread doubts regarding the efficiency and efficacy of IO across the full range and spectrum of military operations, and the complex framework of legal and policy restrictions governing most joint force IRC employment.

The first counterargument is that developing IO M&S systems would be expensive and that the technology for simulating the IE is not mature. However, this is exactly the type of investment that the Defense Innovation Initiative is calling for: an investment that leverages advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, agent-based modeling, and big data analytics that our adversaries would not likely have ready access to exploit. This investment in IO M&S would also lead to new operating concepts that would be tested during high-level joint wargames using the very same systems, which is precisely the intent behind the second and third key areas for innovation outlined by the Defense Innovation Initiative.

The second counterargument is that the Joint Staff and the Office of the Secretary of Defense are already investing in IO M&S through the use of the Joint IO Range and other cyber and EW initiatives. While that is a first step, the Joint IO Range is only a stovepipe capability for cyber warfare effects rather than a capability that truly exercises all relevant IRCs in support of joint operations—that is, something more than cyber and EW operations are required to realize the true potential for full-spectrum IO, specifically how to assemble a relevant array of IRCs aimed at placing an adversary on the horns of a dilemma and then inducing a complete collapse of their will to resist our aims and objectives. Without being able to model and integrate the cognitive, informational, and physical aspects of the IE in a coherent simulation, influencing adversary decisionmakers and their supporting systems would not be achievable to the level of what is required for the Third Strategic Offset.

Soldiers from Britain’s Royal Artillery train in virtual world during Exercise Steel Sabre 2015 (MOD/Si Longworth)
Soldiers from Britain’s Royal Artillery train in virtual world during Exercise Steel Sabre 2015 (MOD/Si Longworth)

The third counterargument is that IO is not suited for major combat operations, and thus many military planners perceive it as a tool only for counterinsurgency or irregular warfare, whereby keeping the violence threshold low or controlling the attitudes and the behavior of the local populace is paramount. This is not the case, however, since IO and IRCs have routinely been employed by U.S. forces throughout all phases of operations and all types of conflict, from World War II through Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Additionally, there is considerable evidence that increasing the lethality of operations using information warfare is central to the strategy of our 21st-century adversaries, most notably and recently demonstrated by the Russians operating in Ukraine and Syria.29

The fourth counterargument is that IO is not well suited for the strategic shaping and deterrence missions required by the Third Offset Strategy, or at least not as effectively as the physical advantages that the Second Offset capabilities have provided. However, in some sense, the luxuries that were afforded by the unprecedented freedom of movement, maneuver, and firepower that successfully held our adversaries in check for the past 25 years are also the root cause of our current military problem—namely that U.S. joint forces routinely win tactically and sometimes operationally, but continuously have their victories ultimately overturned at the operational and strategic levels, such as in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ironically, it has been the overdependence on our physical, conventional superiority that has led the U.S. military to neglect the mental and moral aspects of warfighting, a deficiency that IO, by definition and if sufficiently raised to the appropriate level of prominence within U.S. warfighting doctrine, can immediately address.30 In addition, to further discredit the notion that IO is an ineffective strategic shaping and deterrence tool, it is a well-accepted fact that due to international legal, diplomatic, and political constraints, IO and a handful of select influence-oriented IRCs are our military’s only available tools to successfully prevent, deter, initiate, or close a conflict.

The fifth and final counterargument is that there are insurmountable legal and policy restrictions for the joint force to conduct full-spectrum IO. This is simply not the case. However, the two primary supporting counterarguments either revolve around U.S. Code Title 10, Armed Forces, versus Title 50, War and National Defense, arguments, or claim that the current review and approval processes for IRCs are too complicated to achieve timely and relevant effects in the IE. The first supporting argument is false because Title 10 and Title 50 issues have already been solved and are deconflicted on a daily basis using a highly complex but extremely effective ISR and strike network. This network is enabled by intelligence professionals and operators working side by side, both physically and virtually, and allows the lowest tactical formations to receive the benefits of strategic assets and vice versa. There is some truth to the second supporting counterargument that the review and approval processes are overly complex. Many IRCs do, in fact, require DOD- and national-level approvals. This is not true for all IRCs, however, and there are numerous IRC-unique programs already in place for military planners to immediately implement. In addition, all IRCs can be and already are implemented with great effect for those commanders with well-trained IO staffs. Hence, developing an IO M&S and training capability is actually part of the solution to the military problem and not an impediment. Lastly, as joint forces continue to demonstrate their increased proficiency for fighting and winning in the IE—and as our adversaries do the same—it is inevitable that over time, many of the authorities for certain sensitive IRC activities, currently held at the strategic level, will naturally be delegated to operational and tactical commanders.

Soldiers from U.S. Army’s 350th Tactical Psychological Operations, 10th Mountain Division, drop leaflets over village near Hawijah, Iraq, on March 6, 2008, promoting idea of self-government (U.S. Air Force/Samuel Bendet)
Soldiers from U.S. Army’s 350th Tactical Psychological Operations, 10th Mountain Division, drop leaflets over village near Hawijah, Iraq, on March 6, 2008, promoting idea of self-government (U.S. Air Force/Samuel Bendet)

Future Innovation

In the long run, creating the necessary technical innovation in the field of advanced IO M&S and training would no doubt lead to the maturation of capabilities and tactics needed to achieve the goals of the Third Strategic Offset. Furthermore, the gaps that IO M&S could immediately close are also the first steps in the necessary research, design, and development of an integrated global effects network that could and should act as the primary intellectual engine for an advanced, semi-autonomous global strike and ISR network—a network that has been considered the “holy grail” by those who already offer solutions to the Third Strategic Offset problem and that is a solution that is eerily similar to nefarious systems of science fiction literature and movies, such as The Terminator’s self-aware “SkyNet” and “Genisys” programs.31 The flaw in this popularized global strike and ISR network solution—other than the obvious science fiction connotations—is that it is short-sighted and deals only with the current problem within the physical dimension of the operating and information environments. The real solution is something far more complicated and worthy of the forward thinking required by the Third Strategic Offset problem set.

A better solution is an advanced, semi-autonomous hybrid kinetic and nonkinetic weapons system fully enabling the warfighter to, at a moment’s notice, conduct highly integrated, cognitively focused operations that are also simultaneously synchronized with other ongoing joint actions across the globe, as well as concurrently facilitating long- and short-term influence campaigns. Continuously and consistently striking at the will of our adversaries through the use of carefully selected physical, information, and cognitive-related capabilities should be the ultimate goal of this advanced weapons system concept. This system would facilitate maneuver warfare and mission command by integrating, synchronizing, and coordinating many different capabilities by different commanders at all levels directly against an adversary’s physical, moral, and mental critical capabilities. Again, this is something that clearly cannot be accomplished without advanced IO M&S accurately and continuously modeling the complex, nonlinear, and ever-changing IE. While the fusing of kinetic and nonkinetic modeling into a semi-autonomous global effects network might seem like material for science fiction, in the current era of machine-based learning and artificial intelligence–enabled autonomous vehicles, these capabilities are not too far over the horizon and are worthy goals for the ambitions of the Third Offset Strategy.

The military-technological gains of our adversaries over the past several decades are apparent and alarming. To counter this threat and meet the intended objectives of the Defense Innovation Initiative, a robust set of research and development programs, concept development activities, and wargaming efforts has begun to uncover a series of technologies required to achieve the Third Strategic Offset. While an advanced family of IO LVC M&S systems is not the only capability required to achieve this ambitious offset strategy, failing to recognize the prominence of IO in this new era would be a serious mistake. In addition, these IO M&S capabilities should be the foundation and focus of any future advanced, semi-autonomous global effects system. Therefore, advanced IO M&S is an absolutely indispensable capability that will fully enable the joint force to achieve lasting asymmetrical advantages over our newly emerging, emboldened, and technologically savvy 21st-century adversaries. JFQ

Lieutenant Colonel James R. McGrath, USMC, is the Information Warfare Department Head for Expeditionary Warfare Training Group Atlantic.


1 James R. Clapper, Opening Statement to the Worldwide Threat Assessment Hearing, Senate Armed Services Committee, February 9, 2016, available at <www.dni.gov/index.php/newsroom/testimonies/217-congressional-testimonies-2016/1314-dni-clapper-opening-statement-on-the-worldwide-threat-assessment-before-the-senate-armed-services-committee-2016>.

2 Robert Martinage, Toward A New Offset Strategy: Exploiting U.S. Long-Term Advantages to Restore U.S. Global Power Projection (Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment, October 2014).

3 Chuck Hagel, “Secretary of Defense Memo: Defense Innovation Initiative,” November 2014.

4 National Security Strategy (Washington, DC: The White House, February 2015), available at www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/2015_national_security_strategy.pdf>.

5 Martinage.

6 Hagel.

7 The information environment is an environment that is an aggregate of individuals, organizations, and systems that collect, process, disseminate, or act on information as defined by Department of Defense (DOD) Directive 3600.01, Information Operations (Washington, DC: DOD, May 2013), available at <www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/360001p.pdf>.

8 The information environment is comprised of three interrelated dimensions: cognitive, information, and physical. See Joint Publication 3-13, Information Operations (Washington, DC: The Joint Staff, November 20, 2014), x.

9 Jolanta Darczewkska, The Anatomy of Russian Information Warfare (Warsaw: Centre for Eastern Studies, May 2014), available at <www.osw.waw.pl/en/publikacje/point-view/2014-05-22/anatomy-russian-information-warfare-crimean-operation-a-case-study>.

10 Larry M. Wortzel, The Chinese People’s Liberation Army and Information Warfare (Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, March 2014), available at <www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/display.cfm?pubID=11901>.

11 U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) G-2 Intelligence Support Activity, Complex Operational Environment and Threat Integration Directorate, Threat Tactics Report: Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Fort Leavenworth, KS: TRADOC, November 2014), 1, 13–15, available at <https://drakulablogdotcom3.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/trisa_threat_tactics_rpt_isil_141101-cdr-137271.pdf>.

12 Joint Operational Access Concept, Version 1.0 (Washington, DC: DOD, January 17, 2012), available at <www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/JOAC_Jan%202012_Signed.pdf>; and Joint Concept for Entry Operations (Washington, DC: The Joint Staff, April 2014), available at <www.dtic.mil/doctrine/concepts/joint_concepts/jceo.pdf>.

13 John Broder, “Schwarzkopf’s War Plan Based on Deception,” Los Angeles Times, February 28, 1991, available at <http://articles.latimes.com/1991-02-28/news/mn-2834_1_war-plan>.

14 Jon Latimer, Deception in War (New York: Overlook Press, 2001), 6.

15 Information-related capabilities are tools, techniques, or activities employed within the dimensions of the information environment and can be used to achieve specific ends as defined by DOD Directive 3600.01.

16 Martin C. Libiki, What Is Information Warfare? (Washington, DC: NDU Press, 1995); Darczewkska; Wortzel; TRADOC.

17 Agnostic in this sense is based on the information technology context, where software and other processes are independent of hardware or various platforms. In this case, for example, psychological warfare objectives could be achieved outside the traditional doctrinal military information support operations construct with kinetic effects, maneuver, and other information-related capabilities (IRCs). Similarly, cyber objectives and denial and deception objectives could be achieved or supported outside the current cyber and joint military deception doctrinal framework using a variety of IRC effects—not to circumvent current DOD policy and authority framework but to simply acknowledge that there are other, perhaps more innovative means and ways to achieve the same ends.

18 Information operations are generally defined as the integration, coordination, and synchronization of IRCs to deny, degrade, disrupt, or usurp an adversary’s decisionmaking capabilities, people, and systems in support of a commander’s objectives as defined by DOD Directive 3600.01.

19 Libicki, 34.

20 Carl Von Clausewitz, On War, trans. J.J. Graham (London, 1909), chapter 1, available at <www.gutenburg.org>.

21 Libicki, 9–15.

22 TRADOC, 12.

23 Lucy Ash, “How Russia Outfoxes Its Enemies,” BBC.com, January 29, 2015, available at <www.bbc.com/news/magazine-31020283>.

24 David Hollis, “Cyberwar Case Study: Georgia 2008,” Small Wars Journal, January 2011, available at <www.smallwarsjournal.com>.

25 TRADOC Pamphlet 525-8-5, Functional Concept for Engagement (Fort Eustis, VA: TRADOC, February 28, 2014), available at <www.tradoc.army.mil/tpubs/pams/tp525-8-5.pdf>.

26 Ibid.

27 Wortzel.

28 Memetics and memetic warfare are used in the context of discrete ideas or units of culture being rapidly transferred to wide audiences, particularly over social media—that is, things “going viral” and their influence on cognition and behavior. See Jeff Giesa, “It’s Time to Embrace Memetic Warfare,” Defense Strategic Communication1, no. 1 (Winter 2015), available at <www.stratcomcoe.org/download/file/fid/3956>.

29 David Stupples, “How Syria Is Becoming a Test Zone for Electronic Warfare,” CNN.com, October 9, 2015, available at <www.cnn.com/2015/10/09/opinions/syria-electronic-warfare-russia-nato/index.html>.

30 Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication 1, Warfighting (Washington, DC: Headquarters Department of the Navy, June 7, 1997). Mental, moral, and physical aspects of maneuver warfare and the Marine Corps’ warfighting philosophy are discussed throughout the text.

31 Martinage.

Featured Image: MEDITERRANEAN SEA (Aug. 25, 2016) Sailors stand watch in the combat information center aboard USS Ross (DDG 71) Aug. 25, 2016. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Theron J. Godbold/Released)

A Cyber-Information Operations Offset Strategy for Countering the Surge of Chinese Power

The following is a two-part series on how the U.S. might better utilize cyberspace and information operations as a Third Offset. Part I will evaluate current offset proposals and explores the strategic context. Part II will provide specific cyber/IO operations and lines of effort.

By Jake Bebber 

“It is better by noble boldness to run the risk of being subject to half of the evils we anticipate than to remain in cowardly listlessness for fear of what might happen.”

-Herodotus, The Histories


In 2014, then Secretary of Defense Hagel established the Defense Innovation Initiative, better known as the Third Offset, which is charged with recommending ways to sustain American military superiority in the face of growing capabilities fielded by powers such as Russia and China.[i] The purpose of the Third Offset is to “pursue innovative ways to sustain and advance our military superiority” and to “find new and creative ways to sustain, and in some cases expand, our advantages even as we deal with more limited resources.” He pointed to recent historical challenges posed by the Soviets in the 1970’s which led to the development of “networked precision strike, stealth and surveillance for conventional forces.” Centrally-controlled, inefficient Soviet industries could not match the U.S. technological advantage, and their efforts to do so weakened the Soviet economy, contributing to its collapse.

Today, China represents the most significant long-term threat to America and will be the focus here. A number of leading organizations, both within and outside government, have put forward recommendations for a Third Offset. However, these strategies have sought to maintain or widen perceived U.S. advantages in military capabilities rather than target China’s critical vulnerabilities. More importantly, these strategies are predicated on merely affecting China’s decision calculus on whether to use force to achieve its strategic aims – i.e., centered around avoiding war between the U.S. and China. This misunderstands China’s approach and strategy. China seeks to win without fighting, so the real danger is not that America will find itself in a war with China, but that America will find itself the loser without a shot being fired. This paper proposes a Cyberspace-IO Offset strategy directly attacking China’s critical vulnerability: its domestic information control system. By challenging and ultimately holding at risk China’s information control infrastructure, the U.S. can effectively offset China’s advantages and preserve America’s status as the regional security guarantor in Asia.

All effective strategies target the adversary’s center of gravity (COG), or basis of power. “Offset strategies” are those options that are especially efficient because they target an adversary’s critical vulnerabilities, while building on U.S. strengths, to “offset” the opponent’s advantages. Ideally, such strategies are difficult for an adversary to counter because they are constrained by their political system and economy. Today, China’s COG is the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The stability of this system depends greatly on the ability of the Chinese regime to control information both within China, and between China and the outside. Without this control, opposition groups, minority groups, and factions within the CCP itself could organize more effectively and would have greater situational awareness for taking action. Thus, information control is potentially a critical Chinese vulnerability. If the United States can target the ability of the Chinese regime to control information, it could gain an efficient means to offset Chinese power. This offset strategy, using cyberspace and other information operations (IO) capabilities, should aim to counter China during the critical window in the next ten to twenty years when Chinese economic and military power will surge, and then subside as demographic, economic and social factors limit its growth.

Targeting the CCP’s ability to control information can be considered a long-term IO campaign with options to operate across the spectrum of conflict: peacetime diplomacy and battlespace preparation; limited conflict; and, if deterrence fails, full-scale military operations. The goal is to ensure that PRC leaders believe that, as conflict escalates, they will increasingly lose their ability to control information within China and from outside, in part because the U.S. would be prepared to use more drastic measures to impede it.

This strategy is most efficient because it serves as an organizing concept for cyber options targeted against China that would otherwise be developed piecemeal. It could serve as a means to prioritize research and development, and better link military planning for cyberspace operations to public diplomacy, strategic communication, and economic policy initiatives. The nature of cyberspace operations makes it difficult to attribute actions back to the United States with certainty, unless we wish it to be known that the U.S. is conducting this activity. Finally, it provides an alternative array of responses that policy makers can use to offset growing Chinese power without immediate direct military confrontation.

Demographic, economic and social factors will combine to create a ceiling on Chinese power, ultimately causing it to enter a period of decline much sooner than it expects.[ii] These factors will stress the Communist Party’s ability to exclude economic, social and political participation of dissenters, and create further reliance by the Party on information control systems.

The Strategic Environment

The United States is a status quo power. It seeks to retain its position of dominance while realizing that relative to other powers, its position may rise or fall given the circumstances. It supports the post-World War II international order – a mix of international legal and liberal economic arrangements that promote free trade and the resolution of disputes through international organizations or diplomatic engagement when possible. The United States recognizes the growth of China, and that it will soon achieve “great power” status, if not already. It is most advantageous to the United States if the “rise” (or more correctly, return to great power status) of China occurs peacefully, and within the already established framework of international rules, norms, and standards.

There are two important considerations. First is the “singularity” of China with respect to its self-understanding and its role in the world. China views the last two centuries – a time when China was weak internally and under influence from foreign powers – as an aberration in the natural world order. Most Chinese consider their several thousand year history as the story of China occupying the center of the world with “a host of lesser states that imbibed Chinese culture and paid tribute to China’s greatness …” This is the natural order of things. In the West, it was common to refer to China as a “rising power,” but again, this misreads China’s history. China was almost always the dominant power in the Asia-Pacific, punctuated by short periods of turmoil. It just so happened that the birth and growth of the United States took place during one of those periods of Chinese weakness.[iii]

The strategic approach of China is markedly different, based on its concept of shi, or the “strategic configuration of power.” The Chinese “way of war” sees little difference in diplomacy, economics and trade, psychological warfare (or in today’s understanding, “information warfare”) and violent military confrontation. To paraphrase the well-known saying, the acme of strategy is to preserve and protect the vital interests of the state without having to resort to direct conflict while still achieving your strategic purpose. The goal is to build up such a dominant political and psychological position that the outcome becomes a foregone conclusion. This is in contrast to Western thought which emphasizes superior power at a decisive point.[iv]

To the American leadership, the “most dangerous” outcome of a competition with China would seem to be one that leads to war; hence the near-desperate desire to not undertake any action which might lead China down that path. Yet a better understanding of China suggests that it believes it can (and is) achieving its strategic purpose without having to resort to force. Its military buildup, use of economic trade agreements, diplomacy, and domestic social stability are creating the very political and psychological conditions where the use of force becomes unnecessary. China is quite content to remain in “Phase 0” with the United States, because it  believes it is winning there. Thus, the question for America is not “How do we maintain the status quo in Phase 0?” but “How do we win in Phase 0?” The most dangerous course of action is not war with China, but losing to China without a shot being fired.

cyber 2
Figure 1. In 2015, China reorganized the PLA and created a new Cyber Warfare branch under its Strategic Support Force.

Current Offset Proposals

In response to the call for proposals, a number of initiatives and programs have been put forward by both the Department of Defense and leading national security think tanks. The underlying assumption of most of these proposals is that the United States has lost or is quickly losing its “first mover” advantage – such as that offered by the shift from unguided to guided munitions delivered from a position of stealth or sanctuary. In this regard, China represents a “pacing threat,” leading the way in developing its own guided weapons regime and the ability to deliver them asymmetrically against the United States.[v] In order to regain America’s military advantage, most recommendations follow along these lines:

  • Development and procurement of new platforms and technologies that leverage current perceived technological advantages over China in such areas as:
    • Unmanned autonomous systems;
    • Undersea warfare;
    • Extended-range and low-observable air operations;
    • Directed energy; and
    • Improved power systems and storage.
  • New approaches to forward basing, including hardening of infrastructure (both physical and communication networks), the use of denial and deception techniques and active defense;
  • Countering China’s threats to U.S. space-based surveillance and command and control systems;
  • Assisting allies and friends in the development of or exporting of new technologies that impose smaller-scale anti-access and area denial (A2/AD) costs on China; and
  • Reconstitute and reinvigorate Department of Defense “iterative, carefully adjudicated tabletop exercises and model-based campaign assessments.”[vi]

These approaches[vii] may have much to offer and are commendable, however they suffer from a glaring weakness: none target China’s center of gravity or critical vulnerabilities. They seek to leverage capabilities where the United States appears to enjoy an advantage, such as undersea warfare. For example, while it may be true that the People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) is not as proficient as the U.S. Navy (or some allies) in the undersea domain, it is also true that the Chinese regime is investing heavily to “close the gap” in these and other capabilities or is developing asymmetric alternatives. The United States will face a diminishing marginal utility as it attempts to maintain or widen the gap, especially in an era when China’s cyberspace-enabled information exploitation capabilities are extremely robust, and capable of transferring intellectual property back to China on a scale unimaginable in the Cold War.

More fundamentally, the offsets proposed are not guided by an overarching grand strategy that utilizes all elements of national power attacking key weaknesses and critical vulnerabilities in the Chinese regime, much in the same way that the Reagan Administration was able to do against the Soviets. Reagan’s policy and strategy represented a “sharp break from his predecessors,” eschewing containment in favor of attacking “the domestic sources of Soviet foreign behavior.”[viii] By recognizing the inherent weakness of the Soviet economic system, the new policy sought to leverage national military, political and economic tools to press the American advantage home, causing the Soviet system to collapse. This is not to suggest that the Chinese economic system suffers from the same malaise as their Soviet brethren did. Despite growing demographic, social and economic headwinds, it is unlikely that the United States can “bankrupt” the Chinese. However, China does have acute vulnerabilities – vulnerabilities which align with unique American advantages.

China’s Center of Gravity and Critical Vulnerabilities

None of the proposed previously mentioned offset lines of effort attempt to identify or target China’s COG. The center of gravity is defined by Milan Vego is “a source of massed strength – physical or moral – or a source of leverage whose serious degradation, dislocation, neutralization, or destruction would have the most decisive impact on the enemy’s or one’s own ability to accomplish a given political/military objective.”[ix] Joint military doctrine defines it as “The source of power that provides moral or physical strength, freedom of action, or will to act.”[x] The center of gravity concept is important to offset strategies because it enhances “the chance that one’s sources of power are used in the quickest and most effective way for accomplishing a given political/military objective.” It is the essence of “the proper application of the principles of objective, mass and economy of effort.”[xi]

Using an analytic construct designed by Vego, we note that any military situation encompasses a large number of both “physical and so-called abstract military and nonmilitary elements.” These are the “critical factors” that require attention and are deemed essential to the accomplishment of the objective, both of the adversary and ourselves. Not surprisingly, these factors encompass both critical strengths and critical weaknesses – both of which are essential. Critical vulnerabilities are “those elements of one’s military or nonmilitary sources of power open to enemy attack, control, leverage, or exploitation.” By attacking critical vulnerabilities, we ultimately attack the enemy center of gravity.[xii] The figure below shows notionally how China’s information control systems are a critical vulnerability (note that it is not all-encompassing).

Figure 2. Notional Center of Gravity Analysis[xiii].
Figure 2. Notional Center of Gravity Analysis[xiii].
According to Vego, it is generally agreed that for most authoritarian/totalitarian regimes, the dictator, central governing party or leadership committee is the strategic center of gravity. In the case of China, the CCP is the sole governing political party. The top leadership of the CCP is the Politburo Standing Committee (or Central Standing Committee), currently made up of seven members and led by General Secretary Xi Jinping. A number of factors permit the continued rule of the CCP, including a massive domestic security apparatus and the world’s largest military, a growing standard of living and state control over media and information available to its people. In many ways, the Chinese leadership have already conducted their own vulnerability analysis and concluded that the free flow of information represents the biggest threat to their power – we can see this in both their words and deeds. China spends more on domestic security than on its own military. The last officially reported figures from the PRC in 2013 show the military budget was approximately 740.6 billion yuan ($119 billion) while domestic security received 769.1 billion yuan ($121 billion).[xiv] Beginning in 2014, the PRC stopped reporting on domestic security spending.[xv] In 2015, the PRC announced an 11 percent increase in “public security” spending to 154.2 billion yuan, or $24.6 billion. However, the total amount spent on domestic security remains unreported, and is certainly much higher, since regional and provincial figures are not provided. The reported military spending was 886.9 billion yuan, approximately $139 billion.[xvi] Fourteen separate state ministries are charged with domestic censorship responsibilities, everything from traditional press and broadcast media to text messages on cell phones.[xvii] A form of self-censorship has been institutionalized with Chinese internet companies being required to sign a “Public Pledge on Self-Regulation and Professional Ethics for China Internet Industry.”[xviii] In short, China has already shown what it fears most and where it is most vulnerable – it has performed its own “COG analysis” and has identified information control as a critical requirement to maintain CCP dominance.

cyber 3
Figure 3. In 2015, the U.S. and China met to discuss recent cyberspace issues.

A Cyberspace – IO Strategy

China’s regime identifies the free flow of information as an existential threat, and has erected a massive bureaucratic complex to censor and restrict free access to the nearly 618 million (and growing) Chinese internet uses (and 270 million social network users).[xix] However, the very nature of the Internet as a networked system makes censorship and restricted access difficult to maintain. As has been shown, China’s information control systems represent a critical vulnerability to their center of gravity. China’s network security is managed by a fragmented, disjointed system of “frequently overlapping and conflicting administrative bodies and managing organizations.”[xx]

China’s cyberspace operations and strategy are driven primarily by domestic concerns, with its central imperative being the preservation of Communist Party rule. Domestic security, economic growth and modernization, territorial integrity and the potential use of cyberspace for military operations define China’s understanding. Even its diplomatic and international policies are built around giving China maneuvering room to interpret international norms, rules and standards to serve domestic needs, principally through the primacy of state sovereignty. This creates a natural tension, as China must seek to balance economic growth and globalization with maintaining the Party’s firm grip on power. Not only is Internet usage controlled and censored, but it is also a tool for state propaganda.[xxi]

Chinese authorities use a number of techniques to control the flow of information. All internet traffic from the outside world must pass through one of three large computer centers in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou – the so-called “Great Firewall of China.” Inbound traffic can be intercepted and compared to a regularly updated list of forbidden keywords and websites and the data blocked.[xxii] Common censorship tactics[xxiii] include:

  • Blocking access to specific Internet Protocol (IP) addresses;
  • Domain Name System (DNS) filtering and redirection, preventing the DNS from resolving or returning an incorrect IP address;
  • Uniform Resource Locator (URL) filtering, scanning the targeted website for keywords and blocking the site, regardless of the domain name;
  • Packet filtering, which terminates Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) transmission when a certain number of censored keywords are detected. This is especially useful against search engine requests.
  • “Man-in-the-Middle” attack, allowing a censor to monitor, alter or inject data into a communication channel;
  • TCP connection reset, disrupting the communication data link between two points;
  • Blocking of Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections; and
  • Network Enumeration, which initiates an unsolicited connection to computers (usually in the United States) for the purpose of blocking IP addresses. This is usually targeted against secure network systems or anonymity networks like “Tor.”

cyber 4
Figure 4. Simplified Chinese Firewall Topology[xxiv].
China also heavily regulates and monitors Internet service providers, Internet cafes, and university bulletin board systems. It requires registration of websites and blogs, and has conducted a number of high profile arrests and crackdowns on both dissidents and Internet service providers. This “selective targeting” has created an “undercurrent of fear and promoted self-censorship.” The government employs thousands who monitor and censor Internet activity as well as promote CCP propaganda.[xxv]

China’s information control regime is vulnerable on a number of levels to a coordinated strategy that seeks to hold it at risk. From a technical standpoint, the distributed nature of the internet makes it inherently vulnerable, the “Great Firewall” notwithstanding. The techniques used to filter and block content have a number of workarounds available to the average person. For example, IP addresses that have been blocked may be accessed utilizing a proxy server – an intermediary server that allows the user to bypass computer filters. DNS filtering and redirection can be overcome by modifying the Host file or directly typing in the IP address ( instead of the domain name (www.google.com). These are simple examples that a novice government censor can easily outwit, but the point remains.

China has long been rightfully accused of being a state-sponsor of cybercrime and theft of intellectual property. One negative consequence of this from China’s perspective is the high level of cybercrime within China “due in large part to rampant use and distribution of pirated technology” which creates vulnerabilities. It is estimated that 54.9 percent of computers in China are infected with viruses, and that 1,367 out of 2,714 government portals examined in 2013 “reported security loopholes.”[xxvi] China’s networks themselves, by virtue of their size and scope, represent a gaping vulnerability.

At the same time, China’s information control bureaucracy is especially unwieldy. This is an ideal target to exploit the seams and gaps both horizontally and vertically in their notoriously byzantine structure. The fourteen agencies that conduct internet monitoring and censorship operations must all compete for resources and the attention of policy makers, leading to organizational conflict and competition. Any strategy should exploit these fissures, complicating China’s ability to control information.

Part 2 will outline several lines of effort the U.S. might pursue to attack China’s critical vulnerabilities in its information control system. It will advance the notion that the full range of American power – overt, covert, diplomatic, economic, information and military – must be coordinated and managed at the national level to wage a successful information operations campaign. Based on America’s past success, the future may be brighter than it first appears. Read Part 2 here.

LT Robert “Jake” Bebber USN is a Cryptologic Warfare Officer assigned to United States Cyber Command. His previous assignments have included serving as an Information Operations officer in Afghanistan, Submarine Direct Support Officer and the Fleet Information Warfare Officer for the U.S. Seventh Fleet. He holds a Ph.D. in Public Policy from the University of Central Florida. His writing has appeared in Proceedings, Parameters, Orbis and elsewhere. He lives in Millersville, Maryland and is supported by his wife, Dana and their two sons, Vincent and Zachary. The views expressed here are his own and do not reflect those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy or U.S. Cyber Command. He welcomes your comments at jbebber@gmail.com.

[i] Charles Hagel. “The Defense Innovation Initiative .” Memorandum for Deputy Secretary of Defense. Washington, D.C.: Department of Defense, November 15, 2014.

[ii] Robert Bebber. “Countersurge: A Better Understanding of the Rise of China and the Goals of U.S. Policy in East Asia.” Orbis 59 no. 1 (2015): 49-61.

[iii] Kissinger, Henry. On China. (New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2012).

[iv] David Lai. “Learning from the Stones: A Go Approach to Mastering China’s Strategic Concept, Shi.” U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute. May 1, 2004, accessed Decmeber 26, 2014. http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/display.cfm?pubID=378

[v] Shawn W. Brimley. “The Third Offset Strategy: Security America’s Military-Technical Advantage.” Testimony Before the House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces. Washington, D.C., December 2, 2014.

[vi] David.Ochmanek. “The Role of Maritime and Air Power in the DoD’s Third Offset Strategy.” Testimoney Before the House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces. Washington, D.C., December 2, 2014.

[vii] This list is certainly not exhaustive. For a more thorough review of the ones mentioned, see:. Brimley, Shawn W. “The Third Offset Strategy: Security America’s Military-Technical Advantage.” Testimony Before the House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces. Washington, D.C., December 2, 2014. Martinage, Robert. “Statement Before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces on the Role of Maritime and Air Power in DoD’s Third Offset Strategy.” Testimony Before the House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces. Washington, D.C., December 2, 2014. Ochmanek, David. “The Role of Maritime and Air Power in the DoD’s Third Offset Strategy.” Testimoney Before the House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces. Washington, D.C., December 2, 2014.

[viii] Thomas G. Mahnken.”The Reagan Administration’s Strategy Toward the Soviet Union.” In Successful Strategies: Triumphing in War and Peace from Antiquity to the Present, by Williamson Murray and Richard Hart Sinnreich. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

[ix] Milan N. Vego. Joint Operational Warfare – Theory and Practice. (Newport, RI: Government Printing Office, 2007) VII-13-29.

[x] Joint Chiefs of Staff. Joint Publication 5-0: Joint Operational Planning. (Washington, D.C.: Department of Defense, 2011).

[xi] Vego, Joint Operational Warfare – Theory and Practice, VII-15

[xii] Ibid, VII-15.

[xiii] Joint Publication 5.0 defines Critical Capability as “A means that is considered a crucial enabler for a center of gravity to function as such and is essential to the accomplishment of the specified or assumed objective(s);” Critical Requirement as “An essential condition, resource, and means for a critical capability to be fully operational;” and Critical Vulnerability as “An aspect of a critical requirement which is deficient or vulnerable to direct or indirect  attack that will create decisive or significant effects.”

[xiv] Ben Blanchard and John Ruwich. “China Hikes Defense Budget, To Spend More on Internal Security.” Reuters, March 5, 2013, accessed December 23, 2014.http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/05/us-china-parliament-defence-idUSBRE92403620130305  

[xv] Michael Martina. “China Withholds Full Domestic Security-Spending Figure.” Reuters, March 4, 2014, accessed September 25, 2015.  http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/05/us-china-parliament-security-idUSBREA240B720140305

[xvi] Ting Shi and Keith Zhai. “China To Boost Security Spending as Xi Fights Dissent, Terrorism.” Bloomberg News, March 5, 2015 accessed September 25, 2015. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-05/china-to-boost-security-spending-as-xi-fights-dissent-terrorism

[xvii] Michael Wines, Sharon LaFraniere, and Jonathan Ansfield. “China’s Censors Tackle and Trip Over the Internet.” The New York Times, April 7, 2010, accessed December 23, 2014.http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/08/world/asia/08censor.html

[xviii] Biena Xu. Media Censorship in China. February 2014, accessed December 23, 2014. http://www.cfr.org/china/media-censorship-china/p11515

[xix] Ibid..

[xx] Amy Chang. Warring State: China’s Cybersecurity Strategy. (Washginton, D.C.: Center for a New American Security, 2014) 12.

[xxi] Rebecca MacKinnon. “Flatter World and Thicker Walls? Blogs, Censorship and Civic Discourse in China.” Public Choice 134 (2008): 31-46.

[xxii] Michael Wines, Sharon LaFraniere, and Jonathan Ansfield. “China’s Censors Tackle and Trip Over the Internet.”

[xxiii] Jonathan Zittrain, and Benjamin Edelman. “Empirical Analysis of Internet Filtering in China.” Harvard Law School Berkman Center for Internet and Society. March 20, 2003, accessed December 23, 2014. http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/filtering/china/

[xxiv] Available at: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4931595

[xxv] Thomas Lum, Patricia Moloney Figliona, and Matthew C. Weed. China, Internet Freedom, and U.S. Policy. Report for Congress, (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service, 2013).

[xxvi] Amy Chang. Warring State: China’s Cybersecurity Strategy. 15.