For years the United States Military had a considerable technological advantage in front of its adversaries, which the U.S. dominated in communication and technological abilities. But, as China and Russia have rapidly progressed in this field, this advantage has gotten smaller. As such, the Pentagon is now analyzing the way a conflict with a rival with similar abilities might take place.
Heather Wilson, the secretary of the Air Force, has recently warned that both Russia and China are searching for ways to counteract the satellites of the U.S. Army, which are essential in the American war machine.
“These two countries know that we are dominant in space, that every mission of our soldiers depends on space and they are looking to throw us out of it” Wilson added. She also said that the U.S. will not let this happen.
The Pentagon’s budget for next year includes new investments in better GPS systems to counteract the new type of “asymmetrical” war done by Russia which associates propaganda and destabilization by using social networks or by disabling the rival’s computer systems.
The White House blames Russia for many hacking attacks, including the attack in June of last year known as “NotPetya” which paralyzed thousands of computers from all over the world. Also, U.S. computer investigators accused Russia of making sustained efforts to take over essential American infrastructure centers. On the other hand, Russia denied any involvement in such attacks, but this was to be expected from Russia.
And even if the Pentagon gives assurances that it has all the tools and skills required to properly reply to these attacks, there are some difficulties including the fact that military personnel do not have the authority of “disturbing” Russia’s services.
“We need to have strict rules of engagement online, similar to those in other areas we evolve” General John Hyten said, the man in charge of STRATCOM.
“The internet must be treated as a battlefield and if someone threatens we need to have the authority of replying” Hyten told the U.S. congress earlier this week.
Moreover, the destabilization activities of Russia remained masked, which raises the problem of responsibility, as the Skripal case shows. The nerve gas attack against the former double agent Serghei Skripal, 66 years old, and his daughter, 33 years old, took place on March 4, 2018 in Salisbury was attributed to Russia however Russia is defending itself by denying any accusation, while the Western community is having difficulty proving Russia’s involvement in this case.
Russia’ destabilization actions remain under the “conflict level” which limits replies from the Western countries.
The Pentagon has recently opened an air base in Colorado, which is tasked to overseeing and protecting geo-location satellites owned by America. Created in 2015 with a small team that oversaw space a few hours a day, the air base now operates full time, 24,7.