The Chinese and Russian militaries, identified as the top priorities in the 2018 National Defense Strategy, determined some time ago that the character of war has changed.1 They believe military competition has shifted decidedly to the information domain. The operational-level challenge they present is not their use of social media to influence strategic narratives; rather, it is their assertion that in modern war, military forces must vie for battlespace information superiority.
If there has been such a fundamental shift in military competition, and if the nation must have the “dominant naval force . . . ready for decisive combat operations” called for in A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority 2.0, then Design 2.0 does not address the necessary priorities. To remedy this, the Navy information warfare community (IWC)—comprising the intelligence, cryptologic warfare, cyber, communications, and oceanography disciplines—must act urgently to shore up Design 2.0 with information-centric operational concepts.
1. The character of war should not be confused with the nature of war. According to Clausewitz, the nature of war is enduring, “an act of force to compel our adversary to do our will.” The character of war, how belligerents engage in conflict, changes over time due to variables such as technological developments, culture, law, and politics.
2. See Thomas Pickering, “Oral Presentation to the Chinese Government regarding the Accidental Bombing of the P.R.C. Embassy in Belgrade,” (official memorandum, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of State, 17 June 1999).
3. Zhang Wannian Writing Team, Biography of Zhang Wannian, (Beijing: Liberation Army Press, 2011), 416, as cited in Tai Ming Cheung et al. “Planning for Innovation: Understanding China’s Plans for Technological, Energy, Industrial, and Defense Development,” report prepared for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, University of California, Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, July 2016, 26.
4. U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Vision 2010 (U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington, DC, 1996), 16.
5. ADM William Owens, USN, “The Emerging System of Systems,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 121, no. 5 (May 1995): 35–39; VADM Arthur Cebrowski, USN, and John Garstka, “Network-Centric Warfare—Its Origin and Future,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 124, no. 1 (January 1998): 28–35.
6. China Ministry of National Defense, China’s National Defense in 2004, white paper (Beijing: PRC State Council Information Office, December 2004).
7. James C. Mulvenon, “The PLA and Information Warfare,” in The People’s Liberation Army in the Information Age, ed. James C. Mulvenon and Richard H. Yang (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 1999), 185.
8. Cheung, et al. “Planning for Innovation,” 27.
9. Li Daguang, “Perspectives on PLA Equipment Development on the 90th Anniversary of the Founding of the Army,” China Defense Industry Conversion, July 2017, 8.
10. Sergei Chekinov and Sergei Bogdanov, “The Nature and Content of New-Generation War,” Voennaya Mysl [Military Thought], October–December 2013, 18.
11. Dmitry Adamsky, Cross-Domain Coercion: The Current Russian Art of Strategy (Institut Francais des Relations Internationales [IFRI] Security Studies Center, November 2015), 30.
12. GEN Joseph Dunford, USMC, “The Character of War and Strategic Landscape Have Changed,” Joint Force Quarterly 89, 2nd Quarter (2018): 2.
13. Design 2.0 discusses developing a “comprehensive operational architecture” to support distributed maritime operations (DMO). While this appears to be an initiative to create a communications and data network, it falls well short of integrating broader IW capabilities into DMO.
14. James Mattis, Summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy of the United States of America (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Defense, 2018), 6.
15. Rochefort’s full quote regarding the attack on Pearl Harbor was, “I can offer a lot of excuses, but we failed in our job. An intelligence officer has one job, one task, one mission—to tell his commander, his superior, today what the Japanese are going to do tomorrow.” John Schindler, Leadership Embodied: The Secrets to Success of the Most Effective Navy and Marine Corps Leaders, ed. Joseph. Thomas (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2013), 76.
16. For example, Gregory Slavonic, “Order Convening the FY-20 Promotion Selection Boards . . . Lieutenant Commander” (official memorandum, Washington, DC: Department of the Navy, 16 May 2019), 17.
17. For example, CAPT (ret) Bill Bray, “Naval Intelligence: Build Regional Experts,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 143, no. 12 (December 2017).
18. For example, CAPT Dale Rielage, USN, “War Gaming Must Get Red Right,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 143, no. 1 (January 2017); ADM Scott Swift, USN, “Fleet Problems Offer Opportunities,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 144, no. 3 (March 2018); CAPT Henry Kim, USN, “Surface Warfare Needs Aggressor Squadrons,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 145, no. 5 (May 2019).
19. U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Concept for Operating in the Information Environment (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Defense, 25 July 2018).