A simulated tank assault by US forces was halted during a training exercise at Fort Irwin’s National Training Center after American cyber and electronic warfare specialists knocked out critical systems.

In a watershed moment for electronic and cyber warfare, the trainers managed to stop a simulated assault at the California-based training center by targeting the tanks’ abilities to communicate with each other.

“These tanks had to stop, dismount, get out of their protection, reduce their mobility,” Capt. George Puryear, an Irregular Operations Officer at Fort Irwin told Defense Systems in the report. The vulnerability allowed the tanks to be easily defeated and will help the US Army better prepare to deal with such attacks.

The Army Rapid Capabilities Office and US Cyber Command are working around the clock to ensure that US troops are more equipped and able to deal with cyber and electronic warfare, which is a signature move of more contemporary enemies such as China and Russia.

In addition to infiltrating and disabling communications networks (which can result in everything from halting communications to passing false information), the demonstration allowed the US military to explore the possibilities of infiltrating civilian networks to subdue the civilian populace or invade territories.

Because of this, some officers say, the US is gaining an edge.

“If we don’t win the cyber and EW fight, then the [next] maneuver may not matter, because we may not get it,” Major General Wilson A. Shoffner, director of operations at the Army RCO, told Defense Systems.

The future of warfare, it seems, will be fought on the front lines with both rifles and keyboards.

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