Even the Hundred Years War only had eighty or so years of actually fighting. We should be so lucky. The fact is we are now embroiled in a conflict with no end, no ceasefires, no time outs. This war is not a shooting war in one of the world’s hot spots. This unending struggle is in cyber space and will be a raging conflict until the last circuit board is fried.
Over the last two years, we have been inundated with bad news about the state of cybersecurity. The list of concerns is growing and endless: rampant cybercrime, increasing identity theft, sophisticated social engineering techniques, relentless intrusions into government networks, and widespread vulnerabilities continuously exploited by a variety of entities ranging from criminal organizations and entrepreneurial hackers to well-resourced espionage actors. We also are facing the implications of cyberwarfare in light of last year’s cyber attacks against Estonia. In a recent speech on cybersecurity, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff warned, “We’ve entered an era of new threats and vulnerabilities,” and the consequences of failure are exponentially greater.
The war on drugs has lost prominence in recent years to the war on terror, but the two dangers are not entirely separate. Leaders and other members of the anti-drug, anti-terror battles met in October to discuss the connections between illicit substances and insurgents and to emphasize the continued problem in the Americas posed especially by cocaine. And while terrorism may be high in the general public’s mind as people fear another attack, drug use is killing thousands of American citizens, including children, every year.
While information operations has been a priority to at least a small percentage of the global security community, it is becoming a mainstream discipline as part of the cyberwarfare initiatives now gaining precedence throughout government and industry. Recent experiences in Estonia and Georgia have convinced even the most skeptical person that cyberwarfare is a global priority and a significant combat multiplier.
Combatant commands are vital to the protection and preservation of U.S. interests. However, in today’s dynamic, volatile global environment, they may need to evolve their “product” to best suit the environment they intend to shape. In the case of U.S. Africa Command, it may be more relevant and effective for the organization to support the region’s fledging democracies. These nations need assistance in establishing their ability to openly share information with each another and international allies. In doing so, U.S. combatant commands can prove invaluable in helping nations grow and prosper to become better service providers to their people and achieve greater positive outcomes as a result.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has embarked on a quest to develop a soda-can-size robot that can shape shift enough to fit through a hole the diameter of a quarter. Working with industry and academia, the agency’s Chemical Robots program seeks to create a new class of soft, flexible, meso-scale mobile device that can navigate through arbitrarily shaped openings. As envisioned, the robot would then perform tasks related to search and rescue or reconnaissance, depending on the payload.
Heads shake and tongues wag whenever a conversation turns to the topic of the government acquisition process. From agencies that do not know exactly what they want—or do not know how to explain it—to contractors who deliver what they think an agency needs rather than what it asks for, the general consensus is that the system is in serious need of repair. Experts in the acquisition field also agree on some of the key changes that need to occur to put government acquisition back on the right track. Among the top priorities are additional training for the work force, a revamp of requirements approaches and adoption of a logical method for leveraging commercial products.
The U.S. Marine Corps is issuing a new tactical communications system to deployed and expeditionary forces. This equipment provides forward positions such as operating bases, checkpoints and command posts with reliable, high-bandwidth connectivity to receive and send video, voice and data transmissions. This new tool is being used to link widely dispersed units across Iraq.
The U.S. Marine Corps is combining five radars into one and planning to attach the result to the back of a tactical vehicle to haul it around. By using state-of-the-art, active electronically scanned array radar technology, Marines will have a highly mobile, multipurpose tool that will help commanders track threats in the air and on the ground. The device will address multiple asymmetric threats targeted at troops and offer them the capabilities they need to be effective in battle in the 21st century.
The U.S. Marine Corps is laying the foundation for its future command and control needs. The service branch is implementing common, modular and scalable hardware and software solutions at all levels of leadership so commanders have the resources they require to direct their troops. New combat operations centers that offer all the tools Marines need to coordinate in the battlespace have been ordered for the major subordinate command level, extending commonality of operations across all echelons. Both the new centers and their older counterparts will serve as a prototype for open-source software development within the Marine Corps.
Rapidly deploying U.S. forces now can tap expertise directly related to their hastily assigned missions from a new organization formed to address the deployment needs of joint task forces. The group can bring in experts ranging from public affairs specialists to intelligence officers.
U.S. government agencies and private-sector firms must improve communications to better protect vital national infrastructure. Besides the ongoing need to shield both classified and unclassified computer network assets, an industry expert maintains that a vigorous defense has a deeper psychological impact, implying that systems can be trusted.
The danger to the Free World’s information infrastructure has become more sophisticated and widespread, and it now poses a threat to the very economic well-being of the Free World. Economics and national security have become so closely intertwined that both now are facing common threats from global information operations.
U.S. soldiers will soon be planning and executing operations in cyberspace as effectively and efficiently as they do on physical battlefields. These new missions are being outlined in a series of concepts suggesting how ground forces will function in cyberspace. Once they are formally evaluated and approved, the cyberplan is scheduled to become part of the U.S. Army’s overall warfighting and operational doctrine.
Combatant commanders now have a place to test, train, evaluate and develop nonkinetic alternatives to fight in the Global War on Terrorism. The Information Operations Range enables warfighters to explore military deception, electronic warfare, psychological operations, computer network operations and operations security to influence behavior or respond to an event. In conjunction with the range, commands can use Virtual Integrated Support for the Information Operations Environment tools to conduct the planning, assessment and analysis for information operations. The tools also can be employed to create events to assess new technologies and systems integration in the cyber and information operations domains.