In February 2013 General Valery Gerasimov, the chief of staff of Russia’s armed forces, submitted an article to a military journal. In it, he proposed dramatic changes in Russian military strategy. After Radio Free Europe published a translation, U.S. officials took notice. This new doctrine was based on the internet and new tactics for waging war. Political, economic and informational platforms have become weaponized and supplemented by strategic popular protests. Banking systems, electronic grids, sanitation systems, and the websites of government, business, media organizations, and personal communication sites could be paralyzed. In other words, informational warfare can be used to weaponize political, racial, religious, and economic divisions within target nations.
This Russian general was keenly aware that this new form of cyber warfare is more effective in terms of cost benefit than traditional military warfare. He said the rules of warfare have changed as technology has changed. The new weapons are skilled hackers, ingenious propagandists, misleading information and mistrust of government in the target nation. Nonmilitary means of achieving strategic goals is now a reality.
American intelligence agencies have expressed concern that Russian cyber hackers are more aggressive and sophisticated with their cyber hacks. By using unidentified Russian trolls (GRU intelligence operatives), misinformation can be used to mislead the American public and seed mistrust in our government. If the American people no longer trust the election process, democracy will be brought to its knees. Many state election systems are still vulnerable to Russian cyber penetration. The $700 billion defense bill protects Americans against conventional military attacks. However, President Vladimir Putin, by using cyber warfare, can destroy us by spending pennies on the dollar. When Americans begin to mistrust each other and their government more than our enemies, the foundations of our institutions begin to crumble. Our Constitution was based on a bundle of compromises built on a foundation of trust. When the trust is gone, the Constitution becomes meaningless.