The global domain of cyberspace connects the four physical domains (land, air, maritime, space)within the folds of the information environment. It bridges the physical world with the cognitive one – where the constructs of the human brain interact with the real world. This “operational environment” is the composite of these domains where conditions, circumstances, and influences affect the employment of capabilities and decision-making of military forces. As shown in the holistic view of the Operational Environment from Joint Publication 5-0, cyberspace and the information environment connect every aspect of the environment, directly or indirectly. The military heavily relies upon this interconnectivity to communicate, conduct operations, and to meet their objectives. However, while the cyber domain is one of our greatest enablers, it also provides opportunities for exploitation.
Despite being man-made, cyberspace and most of the information environment is a domain that human beings cannot sense through our natural abilities; therefore, we rely upon technical or electronic devices to interpret these complex, often enigmatic facets for us. Behind this facade, information flows by the physics of the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS), with electrons moving through fiber at the speed of light or through the natural world on differing wavebands. Our societies rely upon this information flow, but few care about where it is stored, how it is computed, or the method it is transmitted. We just want it to work when we request information (e.g., our entertainment). Society relies upon the trust we give our devices, hoping the information displayed is accurate, and this trust is often the gap in our armor that adversaries exploit to disrupt operations and lives. With the high level of trust given to information from the Department of Defense (DoD) “trusted information services,” malicious actions in the cyberspace domain can be highly detrimental to military operations.
On the future battlefield, there will be a constant struggle to gain superiority in the EMS with electronic attacks and protection measures saturating the environment. Adding to this chaos will be the vast number of devices populating the domains, emitting across this contested spectrum. In this unruly landscape, reduction in “blue-on-blue” electromagnetic interference is critical while simultaneously mitigating adversaries’ attempts to further disrupt and deny this environment. However, this EMS conflict is at the forefront of the battle. Moving within the dark confines of cyberspace—before, during, and after the battle–are the cyber and information warriors instilling mistrust, deception, and sometimes destruction within adversary networks and systems while defending their own.