1st Time Ever: US Air Force To Hold ‘Next-Gen’ War Drills With Aim Of Thwarting Russia, China

Amid growing threats from China and Russia, the United States Air Force (USAF) is planning to hold very unique war drills that will not involve any fighter jet but will include its newly created cyber warfare team.

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The USAF will conduct an information warfare ‘flag’ (USAF exercises are known as flags) in spring 2021, at a training facility at Playas, New Mexico, deputy commander of Air Combat Command, Lt. Gen. Chris Weggeman, said this during a virtual conference hosted by AFCEA’s Alamo chapter on Tuesday.

According to experts, information warfare combines electronic warfare, cyber warfare, and psy-ops (psychological operations) into a single fighting organization, and this will be central to all warfare in the future.

File:U.S. Air Force 309th AMARG "Boneyard", Tucson, AZ (15703990644).jpg -  Wikimedia Commons
File: U.S. Air Force 309th AMARG “Boneyard”, Tucson, AZ – Wikimedia Commons

Last year, the USAF created a new Information Warfare unit named 16th Air Force. The first-of-its-kind unit integrates multisource intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, cyber warfare, electronic warfare, and information operations capabilities across the conflict continuum to ensure that the Air Force is fast, lethal, and fully integrated into both competitions and in war, according to the USAF.

The deputy chief said that the exercise would involve ‘Live Fire and Live Fly’, and that the new facility at New Mexico would provide all the required live services aiming to improvise and develop own tactics for information warfare, like cyberwarfare and honing electronic spectrum capabilities.

“They’ll focus mission-area working groups of pressing IW problems and challenges, and focus on developing on tactics, techniques, and procedures for optimizing IW forces and capabilities integration to deliver those required mission outcomes that we need for our component and combatant commanders,” Weggeman said.

In recent times, such capabilities have been refined by Russia and China, which also have dedicated units for such operations. China’s Strategic Support Force is such an organization, which aims to aid the PLA’s main combat units with cyberwarfare and information warfare by using propaganda and psychological operations — deepening rift between factions within a country, exploiting loopholes in a political system and demoralizing the enemy.