Marine general wants to see information operations in space

Space has become not only congested but contested, with adversaries developing both kinetic and non-kinetic means of denying the U.S. military operations.

Adversaries have recognized how reliant the U.S. has become on space from GPS that enables precise time, troop location and precise location for munition strikes, as well as communications links that enable beyond-line-of-sight control of large unmanned systems such as the MQ-9 Reaper.

Space has two different pieces to it: “One, we talk about protecting our own so we can fight. I think we probably spend most of our time talking about that,” Brig. Gen. Dennis Crall, director of C4 and CIO of the Marine Corps, said during a keynote presentation October 23 in Baltimore at the annual MilCom conference hosted by AFCEA. “I’d like to shift gears a bit though. I want to deny space to our adversaries.”

Specifically, Crall noted that he’d like to see information operations used in the space realm against adversaries.

In the past, counter-space effects have been borne out in denial that has been evidenced to the user, Crall explained. This could take the form of breaking devices, preventing them from connecting or blocking GPS signals.

With numerous space-enabled IO activities, just like with cyber-enabled IO activities, the U.S. has amassed great capability providing for “a level of manipulation we haven’t seen before.”

“The most dangerous way of spoofing now is having a device that appears to be functioning perfectly yet the information that it is portending to give you is erroneous,” Crall said. “That’s a next level of gamesmanship and most of that is done right now through RF. But our adversaries have found ways to do that through the space segment — very dangerous.”

“Protecting our own [and] using that same capability against the adversary, I think, are gamechangers for the Marine Corps as it moves forward,” he added.

Crall discussed how the Marine Corps recently stood up the deputy commandant for information, a three-star position that oversees all information-related capability.

[Information domain demands major force structure changes for Marines]

“What that means for us is finally the ability to integrate a lot of the information environment-related activities under one roof,” he said of the new role. “Whereas before we hadn’t practice them at all, or we practiced them so disparately you couldn’t find a common design.”

The capabilities and disciplines that will exist under the DC-I, according to Crall, include military deception, deception in support of operations, electromagnetic warfare, military information support operations — which was left primarily to other services but the Marines want this organically in all units — and operational security.

These capabilities will be manifested and exercised in the field through the new Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) Information Group or MIG, which are being stood up in each of the three MEFs within the Marine Corps.

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