The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) posted a broad agency announcement [PDF] recently, calling on contractors to submit concept papers detailing technological demonstrations of ‘cyberspace warfare operations’ (CWO) capabilities.
The Air Force is looking to obtain CWO capabilities falling into a number of categories including: ‘cyberspace warfare attack’ and ‘cyberspace warfare support.’
The broad agency announcement defines ‘cyberspace warfare attack’ capabilities as those which would give them the ability to “destroy, deny, degrade, disrupt, deceive, corrupt, or usurp the adversaries [sic] ability to use the cyberspace domain for his advantage.”
Cyberspace warfare support capabilities, the document claims, would include actions deployed by operational commanders in order to, intercept, identify, and locate sources of access and vulnerability for threat recognition, targeting, and planning, both immediately and for future operations. This also includes the providing of information required for the immediate decisions involving CWOs and data used to produce intelligence or provide targeting for an electronic attack.
In addition to those listed above, the Air Force is seeking ‘situational awareness capabilities that give an operator near real-time effectiveness feedback in a form that is readily observed by the operator.’ This would address the ‘mapping of networks (both data and voice),’ ‘access to cyberspace domain, information, networks, systems, or devices,’ ‘denial of service on cyberspace resources, current/future operating systems, and network devices,’ and ‘Data manipulation.’
Furthermore, the Air Force is requesting proposals for technologies and concepts for ‘developing capabilities associated with cyberspace warfare attack,’ ‘developing and assessing cyberspace capabilities while disconnected from the operational cyberspace domain,’ ‘developing capabilities to assess and visualize non-kinetic cyberspace domain effects,’ ‘developing capabilities to support rapid implementation of effects-based cyberspace capabilities,’ and ‘employing unique characteristics resulting in the adversary entering conflicts in a degraded state.’
The solicitation provides a rare glimpse at the kind of information warfare systems that the U.S. military uses and is trying to build in the future. The Department of Defense typically does not discuss these kinds of capabilities publicly.
In order to be considered, concept papers must be submitted via registered mail (to ensure their protection) before the end of this year. In cases where submitters believe their concept contains particularly sensitive information, they are urged to contact the AFLCMC’s security officer, Michael Gamble.
This public announcement comes at something of an odd time considering the outrage in Congress and the ensuing investigation launched by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder after the New York Times published an article in which anonymous Obama administration officials were quoted saying that the Stuxnet worm had been a U.S. operation.
Back in April, Ilan Berman, the vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council issued a grave warning [PDF] in a statement to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies as well as the Counterterrorism and Intelligence Subcommittee.
“Over the past three years, the Iranian regime has invested heavily in both defensive and offensive capabilities in cyberspace. Equally significant,” Berman warned, “its leaders now increasingly appear to view cyber warfare as a potential avenue of action against the United States.”