Unleashing the Power: USSOCOM to Invest in Combating Extremism in Cyberspace and Beyond

With an aim to support counter-violent extremist organisation (C-VEO) operations, US Special Operations Command plans to invest heavily in cyber effects and space-based capabilities

By Girish Linganna

Opinion

Delivering his keynote talk at SOF Week on May 9, General Bryan P. Fenton, Commander of the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) said that the command will “heavily invest” in cyber effects and space-based capabilities to support counter-violent extremist organisation (C-VEO) operations.

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While ISIS and Al Qaeda’s desire for physical caliphate “might be contained today,” Fenton warned that their “extremist ideology is still unconstrained” at SOF Week.

“There is no counterterrorism peace dividend, and we realise that in order to achieve our goal, we must maintain our strategic focus. So we’re not complacent,” he added. Going on further, he said that over the previous 40 years, CT operations had “dramatically evolved.

Fenton talked about a “recent CT effort” to capture a senior ISIS leader, which needed US special operations forces (SOF) to “navigate near-peer air defence systems and integrate cyber effects and space-based capabilities.”

According to Fenton, combining C-VEO and the kinds of capabilities that are usually linked with strategic competition was “unfamiliar to us in the past, but it’s becoming the “norm” on today’s battlefield.”

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Fenton couldn’t say more about the task because of operational security concerns, but he did say, “I’m sure we’ll hear more about that in the future. We’ll be putting a lot of money into all of these areas as we change for the future.”

Fentons comments came after it came out that the US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) was using a “triad” idea to work better with the US Space and Missile Command and the Cyber Command.

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At the Space and Missile Defence Symposium in August 2022, the triad idea was brought up. Service leaders agreed that the three commands wanted to work together better to help with C-VEO operations and missions related to strategic competition.

At the Space and Missile Defence Symposium in August 2022, the triad idea was brought up. Service leaders agreed that the three commands wanted to work together better to help with C-VEO operations and missions related to strategic competition

The US Army’s Project Convergence supports this idea. It looks at how to bring next-generation skills into current and future operating environments.

USSOCOM’s Programme Executive Office-Special Reconnaissance (PEO-SR), which announced last year that it would send a special payload into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) on a Blue Canyon Technologies satellite, also backs this plan.

Even though details about the payload are still secret, the project is part of PEO-SR’s Modular Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (MISR) programme, which allows Special Operations Forces (SOF) operators to do things like watch radio frequency spectrums.

As part of MISR research and development, USSOCOM also runs five Prometheus “cubesats” in LEO. The PEO is also thinking about how to make it possible for workers on land, in the air, and at sea to give LEO satellites direct tasks quickly.

If a user or networked ground point is in direct line of sight, a satellite could send mission data right away. The satellite stores the data, which is then sent to a networked ground station at a later time, PEO-SR papers confirmed.

-The writer is a Defence, Aerospace & Political analyst. The views expressed are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of Raksha Anirveda