As the great power competition between the US and China rages, both superpowers are rapidly modernizing their militaries. Announced this week, a high-ranking US military official has said a new type of soldier, called 'cyber Marines,' could soon be deployed onto the modern battlefield to gain a competitive edge against opponents, according to Defense News.
Colonel Brian Russell, the commander of the II Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group (II MEFIG), told the audience at C4ISRNET's CyberCon that "cyber Marines" could one day be deployed to the battlefield or a hybrid conflict to "adjust the software on sensors and systems in real-time."
Russell explained the ability for military personnel to "reprogram" equipment on the frontlines would ensure operational advantages. He said cyber Marines will help reshape the battlefield, indicating these elite groups of soldiers "could influence the local population, take out enemy networks, disrupt the enemy's kill chain, and much more."
"Whether you like it or not, or realize it or not, all of our Marines are involved in this information environment, and we need to prepare them for that reality.
"The best thing I can do as a commander in support of retention is to give them mission: let them operate in the cyber domain, let them perform those influence functions, let them do what they came in to do," Russell stated.
He cited a recent report by Commandant Gen. David Berger, who said new elite cyber Marines would be able to operate in forward positions and win the daily reconnaissance/counter-reconnaissance battle.
Berger's essay read:
"In a 21st-century reconnaissance/counter-reconnaissance battle, an adaptive adversary will try to change signatures and adjust sensors to defeat the collection efforts of the United States and its partners, and to overcome their deception efforts.
"Marines on the front lines may have to write computer code to adjust the software on sensors and systems in real-time," he continued. "The examples are many, but the implications are clear. Developing future Marines who will operate as SIF demands as much focused attention as any other aspect of the stand-in concept — perhaps more."
Cyber marines will be a great addition to regular forces as the modern battlefield becomes more digitized. The emerging threat of non-kinetic weapons on the battlefield is the task cyber marines will tackle to win the war of tomorrow.