IT withstands mock cyberwar

Information technology was holding its ground as the Army began its massive Division Capstone Exercise last week.

Division Capstone Exercise home page

Information technology was holding its ground as the Army began its massive Division Capstone Exercise last week.

During the opening days of the two-week exercise at the Army's National Training Center in Southern California, Fort Irwin's world-class opposing force had failed to launch a successful cyberattack on the first digitized division, service officials said.

The "enemy" is using information warfare techniques that the Army believes represent likely threats from potential adversaries. An Army spokes-man said April 5 that the opposing force had not yet penetrated the firewalls of the 4th Infantry Division — the Fort Hood, Texas, unit known as the first digitized division.

Cyberwarriors from the Land Information Warfare Agency also are attacking the digitized division's networks, but their actions are classified.

Twenty-four hours into the exercise, the score was Good Guys 60, Bad Guys 40. But several observers indicated that the 4th Infantry Division suffered major losses in ensuing battles, in part because troops suffered from "information overload," hindering their ability to make sound and timely decisions.

With the first digitized division destroying 60 percent of the opposition force while having 40 percent of its own forces destroyed during the first battle, IT was seen as being effective in peering through the inherent battlefield confusion — and Mojave Desert sandstorms — according to service officials.

A sandstorm hit the post April 4, partially blinding both sides and grounding much of the digitized division's information-gathering aircraft.

"The weather was so bad that nothing flew — no [unmanned aerial vehicles], no helicopters," said Col. John Antal, deputy chief of staff for the 4th Infantry Division commander. "So, there we are: The division was ready to use all these great robotic vehicles, and nothing can fly."

The digitized division had to rely on more traditional scouts on the ground to spot enemy troops, Antal said. By using the Tactical Internet, the scouts were able to update battlefield computers for the rest of the division, using icons to locate opposing force vehicles.

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