One of the topics covered in depth at ASPI’s War in 2025 conference was information operations. What role will cyber, space and electromagnetics play in the 2025 timeframe?
As the technological era evolves, the gaps in Defence’s information warfare strategy are showing, as highlighted in General Angus Campbell’s speech on the issue. As the US and China are technologically and analytically preparing for a potential war, they are honing their digital tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs). Will Australia be prepared for a cyber or space war in 2025?
Vice Chief of the Defence Force Vice Admiral David Johnston announced the Department is undertaking the nation’s first mobilisation strategy review since WWII. This will include a range of factors that were not in play during WWII, such as the rise of the Internet of Things and the resilience of sovereign capabilities and their relative capacities. Space will also feature heavily in this effort.
“A cyber 9/11 could have happened and we wouldn’t even know about it,” VADM Johnston said. “We need to build into our forces resistance and stability, and improve our ability to act independently. Mobilisation is key.”
Space is not an untouched sanctuary and is a war-fighting domain, according to Senior ASPI analyst Dr Malcolm Davis.
“A war in space would create a larger war as everyone can access it,” Dr Davis said.
China is seeking to become a global leader in space. China is aiming to establish a power station in space by 2025 and one megawatt-level solar facility in space by 2030.
“China is preparing for space warfare,” Dr Davis said. “China could stage a space Pearl Harbour in order to cripple capabilities as part of a wider campaign.”
If China’s declared space goals are successful, it may be the only country to have an active space station after the US.
“Cyber attacks on satellites will cause major issues,” Dr Davis said. “We need to start thinking of astro-policies and astro-strategies.”
Hyper warfare is injecting commercial technologies into military technology, according to Microsoft’s Defence and Intelligence Solutions Manager Jamie Wylly. Hyper warfare can improve any existing military system and add revolutionary approaches to potential conflict.
“Computing will advance how you live your life and how we win the battle,” Wylly said. “We’ll move war games into a virtual experience, and gamify cyber security training for young people and how they want to work.”
“Virtual reality technology will redefine military training institutions for soldiers to have an immersive experience before going into the battlefield. We need to embrace new technology.”
Communications and connections have never been closer: Social media is a communication revelation that some individuals and organisations have weaponised.
“We are at war with ourselves,” Charles Sturt University’s Nicole Matejic said. “Social media is a fuel to the fire. Echo chambers amplify discord.”
There is nothing to suggest that social media is a widespread problem by its own nature, but rather, the nature of individual decisions can be a problem. With the increasing speed of technology evolution, policy can become out-dated quickly.
“Leaders must demonstrate values-led decision making,” Matejic said. “2025 will look much like today – or worse – if we do not address the fundamental societal issues that make information operations campaigns successful for agents of influence.”