Course Objectives: To examine the fundamentals, development and evolution of information, cyber power, and intelligence. To foster critical thinking about the underlying concepts, strategies and issues that optimize information, cyber power, and intelligence as instruments of national power, and to advance the development of each student's personal theory of air, space and cyber power.
Overview: The computer and the transmission of data through the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) are ubiquitous throughout the spectrum of war, and the ubiquity has meant that they are taken for granted. From the terrorist and insurgent use of the Internet for command and control, raising funds, recruitment and propaganda; the ability to carry out strategic communications to individuals thanks to information technologies and a pervasive global media; through to the digitization of most aspects of the US military, cyberspace is, at the very least, a critical enabler in today's military and wider society. For some, cyberspace is more than this -- it is a whole new strategic domain that must be mastered.
There are several definitions of cyberspace, but for the purposes of this course cyberspace encompasses information operations that utilize information technologies, offensive and defensive computer operations, network operations, and the wider exploitation of the EMS.
Adversaries (and potential adversaries) are looking at cyberspace as an Achilles heel for the United States. Given that we increasingly rely upon computer systems to store, process, and distribute data of all types pertaining to defense, politics and the economy, the threat of cyber attack is a serious one.
The advent of the computer since the Second World War has also redefined how societies organize themselves for political and economic activity. The age we live in can be called many things -- the Information Age, the Age of Terror, etc. - but one thing it can also be called is the Age of the Network. Information technologies allow individuals to cross hitherto insurmountable boundaries and communicate with each other and share ideas. This process has transformed our economy, and at the same time, has enabled today's global economy. It has also transformed both how we fight, and, how we would like to fight our wars. We can already discern this in how terrorists operate on a global scale, and in our continuing efforts towards a Network Centric force.
In the realm of intelligence cyberspace is also a major factor. Indeed, it was Allied intelligence agencies in the Second World War who developed the first modern computers. The interception of enemy signals by manipulating the EMS became a standard method of intelligence gathering, as were operations designed to gain access to enemy networks. In protecting our networks, the concepts of noise and signals are also germane, as described by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Given the increasing complexity of our networks, can we identify and act upon signals that possibly threaten us, given all the noise? SAASS 667 will equip the student with analytical tools to address such issues.
The creation of Cyber Command should not be viewed in a wholly cynical light. Its creation is, in part, a recognition that our real and potential adversaries' view cyberspace as a critical 'domain' which is to be contested, and which the United States and its allies have largely taken for granted these past few decades.
What is 'information'? What is cyberpower? How do bits of information interact with other bits of information to create new information, in a form of creative destruction? How did we get from large transistors and Turing machines to an age where the modest I-Pod utilizes technologies based on quantum mechanics, all in the space of 60 years? What is the political and strategic context of cyberspace and cyberpower today?
Major Themes: Throughout this course we will work to develop an integrated and comprehensive framework for understanding the interplay between strategy, history, science, technology, and defense policy:
- Understanding information at a conceptual level, and how a process of creative destruction creates new information.
- Understanding the development, workings, and limitations of networks.
- A familiarization with the remarkable history of the Information Age.
- Understanding when technology drives strategy, whether it should, and analyzing potential external or spin-off problems from adopting those technologies.
- Understanding the difficulty of, and requirements for, effective information campaigns, and where those campaigns can be effective, and where they can be counter-productive.
- A comprehension of the debates surrounding whether cyberspace is a strategic domain in its own right, and as a result, be able to formulate an intelligent opinion on the matter.
- Be able to better advocate air, space and cyber power, and conversely, offer sound strategic advice on the efficacy of information and cyber power in all possible circumstances and scenarios.
- Understanding the role of information and cyber power in the wider tapestry that is Strategy.
- Understand the difficulties involved in identifying the signals of imminent enemy action, and when such signals are apparent, acting upon them.
- Familiarity with the notion that technological advantage does not necessarily bestow strategic superiority.