During the Iraq operations in 2003, the U.S. Air Force put computer network hacking and electronic warfare, together with psychological operations, into its main warfighting activities and continues to integrate the lessons learned from that effort into its information operations (IO) capabilities. One success touted by the Air Force was using a combination of psyops leaflets dropped from aircraft together with electronic messages pumped into the Iraqi internet connections to dissuade Iraqi soldiers from fighting.
IO has been defined to include missions traditionally listed under electronic warfare (EW), including jamming radar and communications and disruption of enemy computer networks, as well as more esoteric practices such as psyops, military deception, and counter-propaganda. These tactics are expected to be integrated into the existing range of kinetic solutions (i.e. dropping bombs) to create a seamless solution. One need for expanding IO use is a capability to test and evaluate these capabilities in a controlled environment, so effects can be measured and repeated to insure the impact on a foes behavior. Improvements to existing training ranges are expected to be requested in next years budget.
Computer network defense is also considered an IO mission. Air Force commanders are concerned that hackers will pass through a U.S. Internet Service Provider (ISP) to launch attacks, thereby using the ISP as a legal shield. The Air Force is precluded from operating against U.S. civilian interests, so law enforcement must be called in. In the future, the Air Force would like to see the creation of a hot-pursuit capability while meeting the letter of the law. For 2003 operations in Iraq, Air Force defenders took such steps as blocking out Internet addresses known to be used by hackers. Doug Mohney