Archive for the 'Information Warfare' Tag

To: IRGC Commander Mohammad Ali Jafari
CC: High Council of Cyberspace
From: IRGC Cyber Army Major General Esmail Madani
Subject: Operation Cyrus
Date: Oct. 25th, 2021

 How to Defeat America and Win Back the Persian Gulf: Operation Cyrus

America’s military center of gravity is, and has always been, public support for its endless wars. America’s enemies in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan understood this well. They drained public support by killing Americans and their puppets in hit-and-run attacks, forcing them to spend ever more blood and treasure to accomplish their ill-defined political goals. The public became fatigued and sought an end to the losses. They then elected politicians who promised to bring American forces home and end the wars of the day. Once the American troops left, their puppets collapsed. With our new cyber operational capabilities that can target America, we can now employ a variation on this well-proven strategy with far less risk to consolidate our control of the Persian Gulf: Operation Cyrus.

The Time To Strike is Now

President Trump is considering sending troops to support the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia after Daesh’s recent victory over Saudi forces around Jeddah. Signs of an imminent Saudi collapse are everywhere. Local Shiite militias have seized Bahrain and eastern Arabia. The other Gulf monarchies are shutting their borders and using their troops to impose martial law. Hundreds of thousands of Sunni refugees are crossing the Red Sea into Egypt on their way to Europe. While our enemies are weak and divided, we must seize the opportunity to annex Bahrain and eastern Arabia. We must immediately deploy IRGC units to take control of these areas. The only thing holding us back is the potential intervention of the United States.

The Means: Operation Cyrus

After decades of study of cyber weaponry and tactics in response to the Stuxnet catastrophe and the Chinese hack of OPM, our Cyber Army have found a way to gain control of the Social Security Administration’s records, which are tied to hundreds of billions of dollars in payments to almost 50 million seniors. Once Operation Cyrus is approved, our Cyber Army will shut off all payments to seniors. This will cause widespread panic amongst a huge voting bloc and reveal an unknown vulnerability. Once the government realizes what is happening we will send a private message to President Trump’s administration that we are prepared to let them regain access to their records once their military ships and airplanes have withdrawn from the area.

If they do not relent, we will begin destroying their records. Trump will have to deal with millions of angry voters or embarrassingly admit that Iran now has control over one of their most important data systems and public fear of follow-on attacks. If this does not bring enough pressure on Trump’s administration, our Cyber Army is well prepared to target the IRS or Medicare next to significantly impair the functioning of their government and society.

Why This Will Work

The Iranian flag button on the keyboard. close-upOur cyber attacks can accomplish the same economic and political disruption of a strategic bombing campaign. Our models show that this, unlike ballistic missiles or martyrdom operations, will not rise to provoke a confrontation with the American military. The attack will shock Americans’ trust in their government to an unprecedented level, yet it will not produce mass casualties or provide images of burning buildings or ships that might raise the ire of the American people to demand war. Also, President Trump is obsessed with his poll ratings and will do anything to avoid unpopularity. His victory in the 2020 election was based on his criticism of President Hilary Clinton’s poor handling of the Syrian and Libyan interventions, indicating the public’s reluctance to enter another Middle Eastern War. The American people have never experienced the massive and prolonged disruptions and deprivations of a war on their homeland. The threat of indefinite hardships without a clear cassus belli will deter the American public and political leadership from going to war. In order to deconflict Operation Cyrus with any ongoing Chinese and Russian operations, the IRGC representative to our Cyberspace Shared Interests Working Group will notify all parties.

Why Other Plans Will Not Work

Some in the Supreme National Security Council say we should launch martyrdom operations on their homeland or target US business interests or embassies abroad. My friends misunderstand the fundamental nature of the American people. Pearl Harbor and 9/11 demonstrate that mass casualty events only prompt the American people to support politicians who want war, the very thing we are trying to avoid.

Guerrilla strategies have proven effective against American forces abroad in the past, but Operation Cyrus is not without risks or costs. If the Great Satan rises to make war, the United States has a potentially inexhaustible supply of men, women and material to throw at any adversary. Destroying their will to fight, without targeting their means to fight, is the only way to achieve victory. Operation Cyrus can accomplish this with much less cost and risk than other strategies.

Avoid Their Strengths, Strike Their Weaknesses

All of warfare is an effort to maneuver and strike the enemy at his center of gravity. Operation Cyrus gives us a means to avoid battle in the air, sea, or land, where the Americans are strongest, while striking them where they are most vulnerable.

Much has been written of late about “Creating Cyber Warriors” within the Navy’s Officer Corps. In fact, three prominent and well-respected members of the Navy’s Information Dominance Corps published a very well articulated article by that very title in the October 2012 edition of Proceedings. It is evident that the days of feeling compelled to advocate for such expertise within our wardroom are behind us. We have gotten passed the WHY and are in the throes of debating the WHAT and HOW. In essence, we know WHY we need cyber expertise and we know WHAT cyber expertise we need. What we don’t seem to have agreement on is WHO should deliver such expertise and HOW do we get there.

As a proud member of both the Cryptologic Community and the Information Dominance Corps, I feel confident stating the responsibility for cultivating such expertise lies squarely on our own shoulders. The Information Dominance Corps, and more specifically the Cryptologic and Information Professional Communities, have a shared responsibility to “Deliver Geeks to the Fleet.” That’s right, I said “Geeks” and not “Cyber Warriors.” We don’t need, and despite the language many are using, the Navy doesn’t truly want “Cyber Warriors.” We need and want “Cyber Geeks.” Rather than lobby for Unrestricted Line status, which seems to be the center of gravity for some, we should focus entirely on delivering operational expertise regardless of our officer community designation.

For far too long, many people in the Restricted Line Communities have looked at the Unrestricted Line Communities as the cool kids in school. Some consider them the “in-crowd” and want to sit at their lunch table. Some think wearing another community’s warfare device validates us as naval officers and is the path to acceptance, opportunity, and truly fitting in. We feel an obligation to speak their language, understand the inner workings of their culture, and act more and more like them. Some have grown so weary of being different or considered weird that many would say we’ve lost our identity. Though establishment of the Information Dominance Corps has revitalized our identity, created a unity of effort amongst us in the information mission areas, and further established information as a legitimate warfare area, many continue to advocate that we are lesser because of our Restricted Line status. We seem to think we want and need to be Unrestricted Line Officers ourselves. Why? Sure, we would like to have direct accessions so that we can deliberately grow and select the specialized expertise necessary to deliver cyber effects to the Fleet. Yes, we would like a seat at the power table monopolized by Unrestricted Line Officers. And yes, we would appreciate the opportunity to have more of our own enjoy the levels of influence VADM Mike Rogers currently does as Commander, Fleet Cyber Command and Commander, U.S. TENTH Fleet.

But there is another path; a path that celebrates, strengthens, and capitalizes on our uniqueness.

In the private sector, companies are continually racing to the middle so they can appeal to the masses. It’s a race to the bottom that comes from a focus on cutting costs as a means of gaining market share. There are, however, some obvious exceptions, my favorite of which is Apple. Steve Jobs was not overly interested in addressing customers’ perceived desires. Instead, he anticipated the needs of the marketplace, showed the world what was possible before anyone else even dreamt it, and grew a demand signal that did not previously exist. He was not interested in appealing to the masses and he surely wasn’t focused on the acceptance of others in his industry. He was focused on creating unique value (i.e. meaningful entrepreneurship over hollow innovation), putting “a dent in the universe,” and delivering a product about which he was personally proud. We know how this approach evolved. The market moved toward Apple; the music, movie, phone, and computing industries were forever changed; and the technological bar was raised with each product delivered under his leadership. Rather than lobby for a seat at the table where other leaders were sitting, he sat alone and watched others pick up their trays to sit with him. Even those who chose not to sit with him were looking over at his table with envy, doing their best to incrementally build on the revolutionary advances only he was able to realize.

Rather than seek legitimacy by advocating to be part of Team Unrestricted Line, we ought to focus on delivering so much value that we are considered a vital part of each and every team because of our uniqueness. I am reminded of a book by Seth Godin titled “We Are All Weird.” In it he refers to “masses” as the undifferentiated, “normal” as the defining characteristics of the masses, and “weird” as those who have chosen not to blindly conform to the way things have always been done. For the sake of argument, let’s consider the Unrestricted Line Officers as the masses, those considering themselves “warfighters” as the normal, and the Information Dominance Corps as the weird. I say the last with a sense of hope. I hope that we care enough to maintain our weirdness and that we don’t give in to the peer pressure that could drive us to lobby for a seat at what others perceive to be “The Cool Table.” By choosing to be weird and committing more than ever to embrace our geekiness, the table perceived to be cool will be the one at which the four Information Dominance Communities currently sit. It won’t happen by accident, but it will happen, provided we want it to happen. Not because we want to be perceived as “cool,” but because we are so good at what we do, and we deliver so much unique value to the Navy and Nation, that no warfighting team is considered complete without its own personal “Cyber Geek.”

I sincerely respect the opinions voiced in the article to which I referred earlier in this post. However, I think we are better than we give ourselves credit for. Let’s not conform, let’s create. Let’s not generalize, let’s specialize. Let’s not be normal, let’s be weird. Let’s choose to be Geeks.

CDR Sean Heritage is an Information Warfare Officer who is currently transitioning from Command of NIOC Pensacola to Staff Officer at U.S. Cyber Command. He regularly posts to his leadership-focused blog, Connecting the Dots.