The Russian invasion of Ukraine appears—finally (and with deep simplification)—to be reverting to Russian doctrine: soften up and flatten the enemy’s position with massive artillery barrages, and only then committing ground forces—combined armor and infantry—to the battle.
I suggest that cyber should become the new artillery. It’s cheaper. And can be more effective. Below is a very high level look.
There are a couple of ways in which I’d exploit cyber to soften up and flatten the enemy’s position before committing physical forces of any sort. The beauty of my strategy and tactic is that it would work at sea, in the air, and in space with equal cheapness and facility.
One method can be used promptly; however, the other method will take some years to prepare.
The prompt way is the currently classical method of electronic jamming of radio signals to disrupt both real time (especially critical in the air and in space) communications and electronic-centered sensor systems. This prompt way should be combined with hacking the enemy’s computers so as to disrupt his signals and sensor processing, to inject bad data into his systems databases—including those fed by his sensors—to disrupt and damage other systems databases, to deny access to critical computers (DOS attacks) at critical times, resulting denial of commanders at a number of levels contact with the combat units they command.
Those are all short-term disruptions and can be relatively quickly overcome, so they’d need to be applied only at critical times of a campaign’s onset or of a battle.
The longer-term method, and this is the especially critical part, involves the computer chips we make (and which should be the sole source of chips going into our military and civilian computers) and sell to our enemies in this global economic environment, within which we trade with our enemies even in high tech goods.
These chips—particularly those that are destined for enemy weapons systems or that are dual military-civilian use—should be delivered with small (they only need to be small) bits of code embedded in the chips’ installed software. These bits of code should be remotely triggerable to damage the host chip (primarily by erasing or merely corrupting other software installed on the chip) and/or to spread to adjacent chips in the system and then damage them. The damaged chips then would then effectively shut down the weapons system hosting the infected chip: air defense systems, sensor systems, armor and artillery systems, communications systems, government control systems, financial systems, energy distribution systems; the list is extensive. (Of course, the chips we sell that the customer specifies be devoid of any software would be harder to treat. Note, though, that “harder” is not “impossible.”)
None of this obviates the utility of artillery in leading the physical phase of the battle. First in the artillery barrage, though, should be EMP rounds, none of which, contrary to too much popular opinion, need be nuclear in order to generate the desired pulse.
Thus, the new artillery barrage begins with that chip preparation, then when the battle is forced upon us, continues with the first method outlined above, proceeds to execution of the second method, and finishes with the beginning of the physical assault—the EMP barrage.