As the Army both advances its posture within cyberspace and other nonkinetic domains of warfare and pushes ahead with emerging multi-domain concepts, one of the more critical elements is developing doctrine to inform commanders how they can leverage the capabilities resident in these spheres.

The Army published an update to its field doctrine in April in the way of cyber and electromagnetic activities known as “Field Manual 3-12,” the first such manual.

“This doctrine codifies how we’re going to operate in cyberspace [and] it wraps in electronic warfare,” Maj. Gen. John Morrison, commander of Fort Gordon and the Cyber Center of Excellence, said Aug. 8 during a keynote address at TechNet Augusta in Augusta, Georgia.

What makes this doctrine stand out? For the first time it says Department of Defense Information Network operations are the foundation for cyberspace operations, Morrison noted.

[Army releases new cyber, EW field manual]

This will have reverberations in budgeting for the Army, Morrison said, as the service will be managing its money to reflect an entire portfolio of an end-to-end network that goes from the strategic to the tactical “because it is one network.”

The document also codifies how the Army is going to organize itself from an offensive cyber perspective while responding in a defense manner in cyberspace. Morrison described these actions as taken in a gray space in order to prevent attacks.

It also brings all three aspects of electronic warfare — electronic protection, electronic attack and electronic support — into cyberspace operations.

For commanders in the field, the manual serves as a template for them ”to integrate electronic warfare or cyber into offensive or defensive components,” Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, commander of Army Cyber Command, told C4ISRNET in an interview at TechNet.

During a separate briefing Monday, Morrison described a “subtle but very fundamental difference” inside “Field Manual 3-12” as the document being an operational framework vice a planning framework. However, he did acknowledge that planning is a piece of it.

It is an “80 percent” document, he said, meaning 80 percent doctrine is better than nothing. Eighty percent today in cyberspace is about 70 percent tomorrow, he said, referencing how fast the information space moves.

“It’s not perfect, but we didn’t intend it to be perfect. We intended to make sure it could get out so our commanders could have an ability to leverage it,” Nakasone said.

In the wake today’s fast-paced technology, the document is already under revision, making it a living document of sorts. Traditionally doctrine is updated every three to five years, Nakasone noted, but this one is on an 18-month cycle.

Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.

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