Information Warfare: China Has A Scary Plan

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March 1, 2012:  The U.S. Department of Defense believes that China's military strategy relies heavily on over a decade of penetrating American government, military, and commercial computer networks. These penetrations, many of them never discovered, were mainly to steal technical data for commercial products. But a lot of military, diplomatic, and weapons data was obtained as well. The Department of Defense has been pleading with Congress for help in this area but Cyber War defense is not sexy, so American defenses remain weak and the Chinese keep at it.

China uses all this Internet based theft to improve Chinese military capabilities and weaken American ones. Department of Defense officials also see China's ambitious space program as another component of Chinese military strategy. By combining the ability to knock down American military satellites while at the same time launching Internet based attacks at American military, government, and commercial Internet activities, China believes it could make up for a lot of current American military superiority. At the very least, the Chinese believe that all this stolen (via the Internet) data and damage to American space satellites would cripple American military power aimed at China.

This is all consistent with Chinese strategic thinking. Chinese leaders are very much aware of historical lessons and the writing of the ancient Chinese military writer Sun Tzu. This sage was a big proponent of the indirect approach and winning wars without much fighting. The Chinese particularly admire the American ability to fight so often but suffer such low casualties and seek to do that against the Americans. Not all of Sun Tzu's advice is still applicable but he was a big believer in doing what the enemy did not expect and exploiting enemy weaknesses. Sun Tzu lived 2,500 years ago, in a world that could not conceive of something like the Internet or space satellites. But Sun Tzu understood the value of information, communications, and secrets. That's what China is concentrating on now and it has the Department of Defense nervous.

 


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