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ICG Risk Blog - [ Informationalization in Chinese military doctrine affects foreign commercial and military assets ]

Informationalization in Chinese military doctrine affects foreign commercial and military assets

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Informationalization, the computerization of business, industry, and military, has entered Chinese military thinking in earnest, affecting both foreign commercial and military assets. US and EU commercial assets have already suffered serious predation from Chinese military assets and Chinese commercial assets operating under military direction.

In the absence of a US counter-cyber warfare strategy, Chinese IT technologists enter all but the most secure US systems, exceeding the limits of passive examination and surveillance. Naval Network Warfare Command (Netwarcom) and others observe:

  • Chinese attacks "far outstrip other attackers in terms of volume, proficiency and sophistication, [the conflict having] reached the level of a campaign-style, force-on-force engagement"
  • "Motives of Chinese hackers run the gamut, including technology theft, intelligence gathering, exfiltration, research on DOD operations and the creation of dormant presences in DOD networks for future action"
  • Chinese employ complex, parallel attacks including using a virus plant "as a distraction and then come in "slow and low" to hide in a system while the monitors are distracted... spear phishing, sending deceptive mass e-mail messages to lure DOD users into clicking on a malicious URL, [and innovative implementations] of more traditional hacking methods, such as Trojan horse viruses and worms"
  • Attacks are so deliberate, "it's hard to believe it's not [Chinese] government-driven"

Shifting from 'passive' to active cyberwarfare, the PRC intends to "be able to win an "informationized war"" by 2050. Where technology continues to outstrip policy, the advantage goes to the agile able to pierce regulatory and technical barriers.

In reverse order, I have gathered together the pertinent information warfare snippets from the 2007, 2006 and 2005 annual Military Power of the People's Republic of China that outline the significant leaps made by China in both conceptual thinking and implementation:

2007

The 2007 Military Power of the People's Republic of China cites active and passive Chinese cyberwarfare in two chapters:

Chapter Four, Force Modernization Goals and Trends:

Information Warfare. There has been much writing on information warfare among China's military thinkers, who indicate a strong conceptual understanding of its methods and uses. For example, a November 2006 Liberation Army Daily commentator argued:

[The] mechanism to get the upper hand of the enemy in a war under conditions of informatization finds prominent expression in whether or not we are capable of using various means to obtain information and of ensuring the effective circulation of information; whether or not we are capable of making full use of the permeability, sharable property, and connection of information to realize the organic merging of materials, energy, and information to form a combined fighting strength; [and,] whether or not we are capable of applying effective means to weaken the enemy side's information superiority and lower the operational efficiency of enemy information equipment.

The PLA is investing in electronic countermeasures, defenses against electronic attack (e.g., electronic and infrared decoys, angle reflectors, and false target generators), and computer network operations (CNO). China's CNO concepts include computer network attack, computer network defense, and computer network exploitation. The PLA sees CNO as critical to achieving "electromagnetic dominance" early in a conflict. Although there is no evidence of a formal Chinese CNO doctrine, PLA theorists have coined the term "Integrated Network Electronic Warfare" to prescribe the use of electronic warfare, CNO, and kinetic strikes to disrupt battlefield network information systems.

The PLA has established information warfare units to develop viruses to attack enemy computer systems and networks, and tactics and measures to protect friendly computer systems and networks. In 2005, the PLA began to incorporate offensive CNO into its exercises, primarily in first strikes against enemy networks.

Chapter Six, Force Modernization and Security in the Taiwan Strait:

Beijing's Courses of Action Against Taiwan

Limited Force Options. A limited military campaign could include computer network attacks against Taiwan's political, military, and economic infrastructure to undermine the Taiwan population's confidence in its leadership. PLA special operations forces infiltrated into Taiwan could conduct acts of economic, political, and military sabotage. Beijing might also employ SRBM, special operations forces, and air strikes against air fields, radars, and communications facilities on Taiwan as "nonwar" uses of force to push the Taiwan leadership toward accommodation. The apparent belief that significant kinetic attacks on Taiwan would pass below the threshold of war underscores the risk of Beijing making a catastrophic miscalculation leading to a major unintended military conflict.

2006

This is consistent with the 2006 Military Power of the People's Republic of China which described Chinese IT warfare preparation as follows:

Chapter Five, Force Modernization Goals and Trends:

Formation of Information Warfare Reserve and Militia Units

The Chinese press has discussed the formation of information warfare units in the militia and reserve since at least the year 2000. Personnel for such units would have expertise in computer technology and would be drawn from academies, institutes, and information technology industries. In 2003, an article in a PLA professional journal stated "coastal militia should fully exploit its local information technology advantage and actively perform the information support mission of seizing information superiority."

Militia/reserve personnel would make civilian computer expertise and equipment available to support PLA military training and operations, including "sea crossing," or amphibious assault operations. During a military contingency, information warfare units could support active PLA forces by conducting "hacker attacks" and network intrusions, or other forms of "cyber" warfare, on an adversary's military and commercial computer systems, while helping to defend Chinese networks.

The PLA is experimenting with strategy, doctrine, and tactics for information warfare, as well as integrating militia and reserve units into regular military operations. These units reportedly participate with regular forces in training and exercises.

Exploiting Information Warfare

The PLA considers active offense to be the most important requirement for information warfare to destroy or disrupt an adversary's capability to receive and process data. Launched mainly by remote combat and covert methods, the PLA could employ information warfare preemptively to gain the initiative in a crisis.

Specified information warfare objectives include the targeting and destruction of an enemy's command system, shortening the duration of war, minimizing casualties on both sides, enhancing operational efficiency, reducing effects on domestic populations and gaining support from the international community.

The PLA's information warfare practices also reflect investment in electronic countermeasures and defenses against electronic attack (e.g., electronic and infrared decoys, angle reflectors, and false target generators.

Computer Network Operations. China's computer network operations (CNO) include computer network attack, computer network defense, and computer network exploitation. The PLA sees CNO as critical to seize the initiative and achieve "electromagnetic dominance" early in a conflict, and as a force multiplier. Although there is no evidence of a formal Chinese CNO doctrine, PLA theorists have coined the term "Integrated Network Electronic Warfare" to outline the integrated use of electronic warfare, CNO, and limited kinetic strikes against key C4 nodes to disrupt the enemy's battlefield network information systems. The PLA has established information warfare units to develop viruses to attack enemy computer systems and networks, and tactics and measures to protect friendly computer systems and networks. The PLA has increased the role of CNO in its military exercises. For example, exercises in 2005 began to incorporate offensive operations, primarily in first strikes against enemy networks.

2005

The 2005 Military Power of the People's Republic of China identified Informationalization as a key element of Chinese Military Doctrine in all its aspects:

Developments in Chinese Military Doctrine

  • China's latest Defense White Paper deployed authoritatively a new doctrinal term to describe future wars the PLA must be prepared to fight: "local wars under conditions of informationalization." This term acknowledges the PLA's emphasis on information technology as a force multiplier and reflects the PLA's understanding of the implications of the revolution in military affairs on the modern battlefield.
  • The PLA continues to improve its potential for joint operations by developing a modern, integrated command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) network and institutional changes.
  • During 2004, the PLA began to integrate military and civilian suppliers in the procurement system and outsourced a number of previously military jobs to civilian industry. The PLA is placing greater emphasis on the mobilization of the economy, both in peacetime and in war, to support national defense...

Perceptions of Modern Warfare and U.S. Defense Transformation

China observes closely foreign military campaigns and defense modernization initiatives. The United States factors heavily in these observations as a model of how a modern military engages in modern warfare. China draws from U.S. military operations by adopting or emulating lessons in some areas, and in others, by identifying exploitable vulnerabilities in potential high-tech adversaries. In addition, U.S. defense transformation, as demonstrated by recent U.S. operations, has highlighted to China the expanding technological gap between modern military forces and those of developing countries. The 2004 Defense White Paper identifies the "technological gap resulting from the revolution in military affairs" as having a "major impact on China's security." These concerns have prompted China's leaders, including President Hu Jintao, to order the PLA to pursue "leap ahead" technologies and "informationalized" capabilities to increase the mobility, firepower, and precision of PLA weapons and equipment.

Operation DESERT STORM (1991) was a primary motivator behind China's efforts to prepare for future warfare. The PLA noted that the rapid defeat of Iraqi forces revealed how vulnerable China would be in a modern war. The Gulf War drove the PLA to update doctrine for joint and combined operations to reflect modern warfare and to accelerate reform and modernization. The Gulf War also spurred PLA debates on the implications of the revolution in military affairs, and led China to seek modern C4ISR and to develop new information warfare, air defense, precision strike, and logistics capabilities...

Observations of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM
In May 2003, PLA Deputy Chief of the General Staff Xiong Guangkai authored an article assessing the broad implications of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM for Chinese assessments of modern war. Some of his more salient observations follow:
-- On gleaning lessons from coalition operations: ". . . the trend of new military changes is developing rapidly in the world, and the recent Iraq war has reflected this trend. We should not only profoundly research and analyze this trend but also actively push forward military changes with Chinese characteristics according to our country's actual conditions." ...

Informationalization
Dougle Tongued Dictionary
Note: The Double-Tongued Dictionary is useful to readers of Asian issues in particular as it "records undocumented or under-documented words from the fringes of English, with a focus on slang, jargon, and new words [that are] absent from, or are poorly covered in, mainstream dictionaries."

China Crafts Cyberweapons
The Defense Department reports China is building cyberwarfare units and developing viruses.
Sumner Lemon
IDG News Service
May 28, 2007 10:00 AM PDT

DoD: China seeking to project military power
By William H. McMichael - Staff writer
Marine Times
Posted : Friday May 25, 2007 16:11:31 EDT

DoD Background Briefing with Defense Department Officials at the Pentagon
Presenter: Defense Department Officials May 25, 2007
[No attribution, comments for background only]
[Subject was the 2007 China Military Power Report]
News Transcript On the Web
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
US Department of Defense
May 25, 2007

Military Power of the People's Republic of China
ANNUAL REPORT TO CONGRESS
Office of the Secretary of Defense
2007

Cyber officials: Chinese hackers attack 'anything and everything'
BY Josh Rogin
FCW
Published on Feb. 13, 2007

Military Power of the People's Republic of China
ANNUAL REPORT TO CONGRESS
Office of the Secretary of Defense
2006

The Military Power of the People's Republic of China
ANNUAL REPORT TO CONGRESS
Office of the Secretary of Defense
2005

Gordon Housworth



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