The Fifth Domain of Warfare

Everyone knows technology becomes more and more advanced every day.  When the new Iphone or computer comes out, everyone becomes excited about its new functions and applications. Every one automatically assumes technology can only help our lives become easier and essentially safer. However, people neglect to acknowledge that technology is becoming more advanced all around the world, even in foreign countries that threaten the United States.

Shane Harris is expert on Cyber National Defense and an award-winning author and magazine journalist. His book The Watchers won the Helen Bernstien Book Award for Excellence in Journalism and was claimed top 10 books of 2010 by the Economists.   Shane earned the 2010 Gerald R. Ford Prize in for Distinguished Reporting on National Defense. In addition, Shane worked for the National Journal and Government Executive magazine and currently works for The Washtonington Magazine.

The link above leads you to his February 23rd, 2013 speech entitled “The New Cold War: Hackers, Drones and Cyber Spies.” In this speech he claims that the “Global War on Terror” is over and we have shifted to a new era. This new cyber and technological war far involves new military tactics that Obama already utilizes: Drones (unmanned air-crafts). In addition, this new era added “cyber space”  to the traditional  four domains of land, water, air and space. As a result, Obama’s Administration’s responsibility involves defending America’s cyberspace, both military and civilian.

Harris starts by discussing the possibility of a cyber-attack on America’s financial industry and the horrific impacts on our economy. Most interestingly, Shane then talks about how China already penetrated the CIA Department of Defense’s contractors’ computers and stole classified information about a fighter aircraft. As a result, the Defense Industrial Base Initiative was implemented to ease collaboration between private sector and government agencies to ensure better cyber security. He explains how this represents an alliance between the business industry and government because the industry is threatened by foreign powers in which the government can only help through cyber security.

In addition, Harris tells about Obama’s November 2011 speech revealing the government’s concern for the Chinese government and Russia entities stealing information from not only the government, but US companies. Harris also discusses that the US government may have also use cyber warfare to combat Iran’s nuclear power through the ‘Struxnet virus’ that delayed their nuclear program for months and maybe even years.

Harris then discusses how this new warfare demands the use of drones. Currently, drones are becoming more and more complex and soon will be self-run and able to work in teams with other drones to accomplish missions. However, China also invests in developing more complex drones for military use. But drones will not only be used in military domains, in the near future drones will be part of our everyday lives through crop-dusters and cargo planes. This creates another issue because if terrorists pursue hacking into these drones they could alter its task and create danger.

With students and faculty becoming more and more submersed with the internet and technology, Shane Harris gives valuable insight to what our future may hold. Essentially, everyone is impacted by this cyber threat and needs to become more aware of it. Before I researched his speech, I never knew China’s threat through cyber domain. This crucial topic becomes overlooked by the media because it is relatively new and has been overlooked for the past years. Potentially, the business industry that Bucknell students will enter in the coming years has the potential to change drastically. Students not only would like to hear about this, but really need to hear his speech to learn more about what our futures will be like.  Overall, Shane offers interesting and valuable advice about the future that people rarely ever think about.


5 thoughts on “The Fifth Domain of Warfare

  1. That is a very thorough review of his talk.

    If cyberspace is the fourth domain of war, do you think that poses particular challenges for you as a tech user? Does it put you “on the front lines” in a way you never would in the other three?

  2. In a way, yes and no. I do not think that China or some other company is particulary interested in my individual financials or what I am doing on the web. However, I do believe that this new domain involves everyone by threatening our the financial industry. As Harris explains, this then threatens our economy and induces fear into the public. This shows that potentially more people are directly impacted by this new domain than ever before.

  3. Do you believe that countries will stray from modern warfare and move more towards cyber warfare? In layman’s terms, do you think that terrorists will start attacking financial industries rather than participate in actual warfare?

  4. Scary stuff. I wonder how he’d be received by the student population. Somehow I expect a certain level of apathy, unfortunately. Personally I find his findings thought (and paranoia) invoking yet I almost want to play ostrich and stick my head in the sand when he speaks. The way he speaks doesn’t bother me, he’s quite engaging, but its subject matter that makes me not want to listen. It’s easy to comprehend, “this is an interesting and deep topic”, but It’s hard to comprehend, “how does this effect my life?”. I feel like this material is better suited for the Times, or a thick hardcover book. What I’m trying to say is I found it captivating, I’m not sure if a majority of the campus would.


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