Marines are laying the groundwork for the Corps' next generation of information warfare — including offensive operations.

Leadership from across the force and subject matter experts from across the force are meeting now through Jan. 14 at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, to integrate streamline strategy across information operations, cyberspace, communications and intelligence as part of a new Marine Corps Information Warfare Task Force activated Dec. 1.

The task force, dedicated to institutionalizing information warfare within the Marine Corps, was announced Nov. 25 as a standing organization at Quantico dedicated to institutionalizing information warfare within the Marine Corps  by Marine administrative message 596/15, released Nov. 25.

One of its primary tasks is to recommend ways in which for Marine air-ground task force commanders can to "sense, respond, adapt, and command and control his forces while manipulating the enemy’s situational awareness and denying him the ability to command and control his forces," the message states.

The commandant of the Marine Corps also established a new position — assistant deputy commandant for information warfare — whose job it is to lead development and integration of forcewide information warfare capabilities.

Brig. Gen. Lori etta E. Reynolds is currently serving in this position in addition to her role as commanding general of Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command, according to Marine Corps officials.

In times of crisis or conflict, information warfare helps shapes the battle space by bringing a wide range of assets to the table, including public affairs, cyber operations, electronic warfare, intelligence and psychological operations.

Across a the range of military operations, they aim is to disrupt affect enemy information and information systems while at the same time defending friendly information and information systems, according to the Marine Corps’ guide to information operations for Marine air-ground task forces.

"When deterrence fails, [information operations] help Marines win in war by providing essential protection and enhancing the effective use of force," the publication states.

The new task force, however, aims to accelerate the expansion of information warfare into the offensive domain by institutionalizing it across the Marine Corps. At the same time, the Corps will continue to focus on defensive operations geared toward protecting personnel, networks and operational security.

The new task force, however, marks the next phase in expanding information warfare beyond passive, defensive operations geared towards protecting personnel, networks and operational security into the offensive domain.

This will provide a critical tool for commanders, in line with the Marine Corps' warfighting philosophy which "seeks to shatter the enemy's cohesion through a series of rapid, violent and unexpected actions to create a turbulent and deteriorating situation with which he cannot cope," according to the Marine Corps' 2013 operating concept for information operations.

"We are now at a point in the development of the cyber force where [Marine air-ground task forces] need to be capable of planning, employing and leveraging offensive and defense cyber capabilities for warfighting and crisis response," then-Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford stated in his 2015 Commandant's Planning Guidance. "Our end state will be to increase the capacity and capability of the MAGTF to operate and exploit the cyber domain."

The new task force will seek to lay the groundwork for the full implementation of implement incorporate this guidance during its initial meeting this month.

Specifically, it will: take on a variety of tasks relating to information warfare, including:

  • Assessing current doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, facilities and policy;
  • Createing case studies through the use of vignettes, experimentation and war-gaming to develop lines of operation and effort;
  • Identifying current gaps and proposeing solutions, including changing current capabilities and military occupational skill sets;
  • Determineing a new conceptual and organizational model for the operating forces;
  • Developing a game plan to integrate this across the force, in line with the Marine Corps’ Expeditionary Force 21 concept.

An executive steering committee will make final recommendations on strategy and plans to the assistant deputy commandant for information warfare at the end of the session.

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