China Seeks ‘Information Dominance,’ Pentagon Says

Military delegates dressed in the latest uniform attend the reception of the 80th anniversary of the founding of the PLA at the Great Hall of the People

China wants to be able to control the flow of information in the event of a war to thwart data-hungry adversaries such as the U.S., according to a Defense Department report released this week.

The People’s Liberation Army, or PLA, considers the strategy of “information dominance” a critical form of defense against countries that it views as “information dependent,” according to the Pentagon’s latest annual assessment of China’s armed forces.

“PLA authors often cite the need in modern warfare to control information, sometimes termed ‘information blockade’ or ‘information dominance,’ and to seize the initiative and gain an information advantage in the early phases of a campaign to achieve air and sea superiority,” the document states. The country’s “investments in advanced electronic warfare systems, counterspace weapons, and computer network operations … reflect the emphasis and priority China’s leaders place on building capability for information advantage.”

The report, released May 5, concluded China’s military build-up is continuing, with investments in missiles, drones and cyber warfare as part of a plan to deter the U.S. and other countries from intervening in the region. The U.S. calls these types of missions “anti-access/area-denial,” or A2/AD, while the PLA refers to them as “counter-intervention operations,” it states.

The report marked the first time the Defense Department blamed China directly for targeting its computer networks. The attacks were focused on extracting information, including sensitive defense technology, according to the document.

“In 2012, numerous computer systems around the world, including those owned by the U.S. government, continued to be targeted for intrusions, some of which appear to be attributable directly to the Chinese government and military,” it states. “The accesses and skills required for these intrusions are similar to those necessary to conduct computer network attacks.”

China called the accusations “groundless” and “not in line with the efforts made by both sides to strengthen mutual trust and cooperation,” according to a May 9 report published on the state-run website, “People’s Daily Online.” The country is a “victim itself of cyberattacks,” it states.

A Chinese espionage group since 2006 has stolen hundreds of terabytes of information from at least 141 companies across 20 major industries, including aerospace and defense, according to a February report from Mandiant, a closely held company based in Alexandria that sells information-security services.

The Defense Department wants to better protect its networks from attack and asked Congress to increase funding for so-called cyberspace operations 21 percent to $4.7 billion in fiscal 2014, which begins Oct. 1.

The military over the next three years plans to hire more military and civilian personnel and contractors at U.S. Cyber Command. The employees will be part of regional teams in Maryland, Texas, Georgia and Hawaii.

The Pentagon is building a joint operations center for the command at Fort Meade, Md. Construction is slated to begin in 2014, with tenants occupying the facility in 2017.

The military will fund efforts to automatically detect vulnerabilities on classified networks, buy software that looks for suspect files, and support other operations to “detect, deter and, if directed, respond to threats,” according to an overview of the budget.

The boost in cybersecurity funding is part of a larger trend across the federal government. The Obama administration’s budget would spend more than $13 billion on such programs. That amounts to about 16 percent of the government’s $82 billion information-technology budget.

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of Military.com. He can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • BlackOwl18E

    That’s exactly what I’ve been saying! China doesn’t have the ability to make a conventional military powerful enough to go toe-to-toe with us in the immediate future so they turn to hacking and cyber warfare.

    Also, am I the only one worried that the F-22 proved to be only evenly matched with 4th gen jets at dogfighting?

    Link: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/07/f-2

    • Josh

      In WVR combat, they will be very evenly watched, yes. See, they don’t tell you all the restrictions that they may have implemented. It’s like saying the F-15 got it’s ass kicked by the Su-30 in Cope India, so the Su-30 is superior. But then you never tell us that the F-15 were restricted to using their radars on very low power, they were outnumber 5-1, and they were not allowed to use BVR missiles, such as the AIM-120. I’m sure there were restrictions in this as well. The officers even said in their report that the F-22 was unmatched in BVR. He said you could not get anywhere near them without getting targeted. It was once you were on a 1-1 dogfight that they were evenly matched. The F-22 was primarily designed for just that, BVR engagements. Often times in these war simulator games, they will create certain scenarios to see how the jets will perform. So, they might say that the jets have to dogfight WVR to see the capabilities if it ever were to come down to it.

      Remember, 96% of air to air kills scored in the Gulf War were BVR. That number has only gone up in 20 years with the advancements in stealth, radar, missiles, etc. The days of one on one dogfights are almost over. It is very unlikely we will see dogfighting in the next air war. Stealth and BVR engagements are the new normal.

      • USS ENTERPRISE

        100% knowledge here. BVR fights are the way for the future; and frankly, the F-15 and F-22 dominant in that field. Couple with the AIM-120, and AESA radars, they hold serious power in the air. I would imagine that the F-22, withs its superior thrust vectoring and its computer systems, would be excellent in dogfights. The F-15 has taken MiG-29’s, so logically, the F-22 shouldn’t have trouble with a Flanker. Probably most importantly is that NK’s air force consists of mostly 50’s aircraft. From the limited knowledge we have, their best aircraft appear to be MiG-21s and MiG-29s, both of which have fallen prey to the F-15 on a number of occasions. As for China, well, majority of their aircraft are just copies of Russian designs, so I would imagine that the MiG and Flanker copies are targets for the F-15 and 22. The J-20 doesn’t hold a really good call as a “stealth” fighter; large, canards, etc.

      • Matt

        Wargames with restrictions on our equipment are actually a pretty good approximation of the problematic ROE we will place on our warfighters.
        Better choice is to let the world see our military as the big quiet mean dog on the leash. When the time comes for a reaction, unleash hell and let the dog eat.
        Stop pretending warfare can be surgical.

    • USS ENTERPRISE

      Conspiracy theories more than anything. F-22 was designed to take the threats offered by the MiG-29 and Flanker series. We have seen that the -15 has been quite capable against the Fulcrum. The Flanker series is a whole different animal, though I maintain with new AESA radars and AIM-120s, the F-15 could probably take it out in BVR combat (my first argument on this site, against Restore, if anyone remembers). WVR is somewhere that the Flanker might hold an advantage, but once again, BVR has dominated as the primary form of air combat in the past few aerial operations. The F-22, with its advanced systems, shouldn’t be out classed by Flankers, its practically impossible, considering the level of technology available on either aircraft. PAK FA is anyone’s guess, really. The J-20 is overrated; canards and large design don’t yield stealthy.

    • Brandon

      What is scary is that the F35 will have nothing close to the capabilities of the F22 in BVR or dogfighting. Boy… really helps me sleep better at night. I sure hope everything else in the JSF is supposed to make as much a difference as they say it will.

    • blight_

      And as Talosian noted, thanks for the massive derail.

      • BlackOwl18E

        Derailment is my specialty. ;)

    • STemplar

      If you’re in dog fights your air campaign strategy has already failed. If you are in a significant number of dog fights it doesn’t matter if you win those battles you’re already losing the war.

  • Belesari

    I’m glad we haven’t built our entire military power plan for the future entirely on having absolute knowledge of the battle field and the haring of such information over raw fire power and ability in our systems.

    …..wait…f**k….

  • Sev

    Thats why we should act totally at random and have absolutely no coherent plan, that way they could never predict what we might do next, because we wouldn’t know either. Information would be useless. We could sink a ship one day and moon their soldiers another. Then offer to sign a treaty and bomb the meeting, killing their generals and leaders.

  • Sev

    im kidding btw

    • Belesari

      I figured that. Or the beer is flowing freely. Either is a good day in my book.

    • USS ENTERPRISE

      Yeah, I was about to say. A rogue state with nuclear weapons? We have enough of those already.

  • Roland

    We probably need to hire the US paparazzi. (Just kidding)

  • Talosian

    It’s strange, how in reference to an article about information dominance, we get a 40-comment thread about war history and fighter pilots…

    • blight_

      “investments in advanced electronic warfare systems, counterspace weapons, and computer network operations … reflect the emphasis and priority China’s leaders place on building capability for information advantage.”

      Indeed, a mirror statement of whatever cyber warfare unit is stood up here in the states.

    • USS ENTERPRISE

      Yeah, well welcome to Defensetech, where we rarely DEBATE (dirty debating) about anything the article talks about.

    • Ben

      We as Americans have always held opinion dominance. It’s not necessarily the same thing, lol.

  • Big-Dean

    I can’t believe how collectively dumb we are. If you want to protect you stuff you don’t put in on a network that can be publicly accessed. Keep all of you secret stuff air gaped then you don’t have to worry about it.

  • Lance

    I think show China’s best threat to us is that it can spy better than most can. they cant make better weapons than we can so they spy and copy them.

  • Javier

    I think we should start eliminating them from our list of importing countries and start modifying their behavior and way of thinking.

  • Javier

    I think I am going to stop purchasing their products (all types).

  • Bruce Kuzma

    It is not what they have…It is what they are building…Never underestimate the Chinese. They take what information they want and build on it…Study your History Folks because China is coming of Age and It is not going in the Back Seat.

  • Neil

    Where is Sun Tzu when you need him?

  • SFP

    Thats why we should act totally at random and have absolutely no coherent plan, that way they could never predict what we might do next, because we wouldn’t know either. Information would be useless. We could sink a ship one day and moon their soldiers another. Then offer to sign a treaty and bomb the meeting, killing their generals and leaders.

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