Australian Special Forces Need a New Cyber-Enabled Information War Concept

The Australian Centre for Cyber Security (ACCS) at the University of New South Wales Canberra today released a new discussion paper proposing a concept of Special Information Warfare Operations.


The paper is titled "Asymmetric Advantage in the Information Age: An Australian Concept for Cyber-Enabled Information Warfare". It highlights the opportunity for Australia's elite special forces to become a torch bearer in the ADF's cyber revolution. The paper underscores the duality of the information domain as both a technical phenomenon (cyber-enabled) and a social one (classic information warfare).


According to the author, Ben Johanson, Australia's special forces will face a "congested, contested future operating environment riddled with persistent disorder, hyper-connected population centres and hybrid adversary threats who have adopted information-centric strategies ". He says that this dictates a  a commensurate "asymmetric approach" from Australia's special forces who will need to craft "indirect and direct Special Operations enabled with technological means" that lie remote from the field of combat ("at strategic distance") and these will need to be "tethered to strategic joint enablers and capabilities" in ways that our special forces have not often experienced.


The author, an officer in the Australian Defence Force, prepared the paper in connection with his graduate studies at UNSW Canberra in cyber war and peace (the Master's degree in Cyber Security, Strategy and Diplomacy). 


According to Professor Greg Austin, Acting Director of ACCS, "Johanson's paper exemplifies the spirit of reform and strategic rethinking that the ADF is now experiencing under the influence of unprecedented strategic circumstances. Johansen also discusses the novel opportunity presented by the cyber domain to  deliver asymmetric advantage in war (and military operations other than war) against otherwise superior adversaries."