DoD Roles and Missions
The module learning objective:
- To consider the question of who does what, who should be doing
what, and what policy is in place that provides specific authority
for both defensive and offensive IW.
Why is DoD involved in Information Warfare?
Consider the two perspectives:
- The offensive perspective. DoD must maintain the leading edge
in warfighting capability.
- The defensive perspective. DoD must defend America (a shared
The DoD is critically dependent on information technology.
In the past:
DoD maintained a dedicated hardened communications capability.
Current technology offers better commercial communications services
than past DoD systems. This coupled with declining budgets, has
driven DoD to the commercial sector for communications needs.
Currently, 95% of DoD communications ride on the public switched
DoD has no authority to provide guidance on securing the public
So, What is DoD's role?
- Develop new weaponry that will operate in the new information
- Coordinate DoD policy with national policy needs. This can be
done through executive committees, congressional support, and
- Ensure efficient use and system interoperability (ASDC3I).
- DoD procurement - solving future challenges in acquisition and
technology (e.g, commercial, off-the-shelf purchases (COTS)).
Here are some DoD agencies who have an important role in IW:
- Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) - previously
known as ARPA, has traditionally coordinated leading edge technology
development, and is now focusing on information security technology.
- Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) - DISA takes the lead
in securing DoD unclassified, but sensitive networks.
- National Security Agency (NSA) - has the responsibility for
securing the nation's classified data networks as well as managing
the nation's cryptographic (code-breaking) activities.
The Joint Chief of Staff
Within DoD, the IW division of effort resides with the Joint Chief
J3 is responsible for offensive IW. It coordinates development
and approval for release of all IW weaponry. Whereas, J6K is responsible
for defensive IW. Further, the J6K acts as the Information Assurance
policy coordinator and, focuses DoD's IW education in conjunction
with the J7 and ASDC3I.
The split nature of the JCS will likely precipitate a change toward
unification of both offensive and defensive IW. Since historically,
the military's primary role is warfighting, it would be reasonable
to assume that the J3 and J6 will merge their IW mission under the
J3 umbrella. Look for similar merging of offensive and defensive
missions throughout DoD organizations and agencies.
How does DoD ensure that public systems on which the military depends
The question of who will coordinate the processes of securing America's
information infrastructure is still unanswered, but it is unlikely
that DoD will assume this role.
Information Warfare may be likened to waging Infrastructure Warfare.
Whoever is responsible for managing the infrastructure will probably
assume some key responsibilities in securing America.
So, what is the DoD role at the national strategic level?
To lead from behind.
- Provide sound advice on the exact nature of the threat.
- Provide information (knowledge) gained by past experiences (i.e.,
what works and what does not).
- Provide technical expertise when requested.
- Form partnerships with state and local governments as well as
with the commercial sector.
DoD's most important role
As a result of Watergate, Vietnam, and other associated events,
public trust in the government has steadily eroded over the past
six decades. This erosion has also affected the DoD's image. Many
Americans believe that DoD is not in line with main stream culture,
e.g., policies on gay's in the military and sexual harassment (Tail
Hook). It is a common belief that the Pentagon is looking for a
new global threat now that the Cold War is over; that the
Information War is the new global threat used to acquire
additional DoD funding. Reinforcing these views is the recurring
question what is big brother up to? Given that situation,
it is clear that the public will demand strong evidence before accepting
an expansion of DoD's role into cyberspace.
This cannot be understated: DoD must take steps to re-establish
the public trust and provide clear evidence that the IW threat is
real. The first steps are:
Public trust is critical. Americans should not have ask What
is my government up to?
This module contained two simple, yet important messages. DoD must
accomplish these two tasks to accomplish its IW mission:
- DoD is dependent on the civil infrastructure. DoD must share
responsibility with the civil sector for defense of the national
- Government department and agencies will have to develop a strategy
for leading from behind.
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