Having served in Desert Storm flying combat missions in the F-16, I found that success during that conflict came from the first true integration of electronic warfare and conventional munitions given the support we received from the F-4G Wild Weasels and EF-111 jammers.
Today’s forces are at a similar point of opportunity for enhanced operational effectiveness. As the battlespace evolves, mission success requires an expanded understanding of how to include cyber — creating a “trinity” of integrated conventional weapons, electronic warfare and cyber capabilities.
Success in Desert Storm began with many years of rigorous modeling and simulation of EW and conventional effects, followed by experiments and wargames. That led to operationalizing the capabilities by populating and validating Joint Munitions Effectiveness Manuals; essentially a guide with probabilities of success for the full range of conventional munitions against specific targets. These steps built commanders’ understanding and confidence in the capabilities.
Likewise, we need to take a similar approach to integrate today’s trinity of capabilities. The first step is the same — modeling and simulation. Then we need experiments and wargames using the trinity of capability, as well as a 21st century JMEMS that adds cyber. This will build understanding and confidence for battlefield commanders in the use of cyber, which is paramount.
Any number of constraints can keep cyber capabilities on the shelf, even when a probability of success could be assessed in a cyber test range. As such, confidence levels associated with probability of success calculations depend upon the fidelity of the data assessed. These confidence levels are key in allowing commanders to assess the risks of using cyber weapons.
Information gained by modeling cyber offensive capabilities, or cyber weapons as they are now being referred to, should be used in subsequent experiments or wargames to assess the results of synchronized actions with cyber, electronic warfare and conventional capabilities. These integrated results could be used to understand levels of effectiveness and implications more fully to guide when to use each of the “trinity” of capabilities together or separately. The process of bringing cyber capabilities to real-world, battlespace operations will be accelerated by warfighter-gained confidence or, at the very least, understanding of integrated courses of action.
In the end, the tested and proven process leading to combat success remains unchanged: modeling and simulation, experiment/wargame and operationalize. The Department of Defense should take action now to start the process and prepare to deploy confidently the integrated “trinity” of conventional, electronic warfare and cyber capabilities.
Mike “Boe” Boera is a business development executive at Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services. He is a retired U.S. Air Force major general.