• Leaders for all three maritime services—the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard—participate in a town hall forum at West 2019. Photo by Michael Carpenter
     Leaders for all three maritime services—the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard—participate in a town hall forum at West 2019. Photo by Michael Carpenter

Kinetic Weapons Remain a Priority as Cyber War Rages

The Cyber Edge
February 15, 2019
By George I. Seffers
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Martime services balance cyber and kinetic weaponry.


The maritime services continue to maintain a balance between cyber and kinetic weapons even while engaged in a daily cyber conflict.

Leaders for all three maritime services—the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard—participated in a town hall forum during the AFCEA-USNI West 2019 Conference in San Diego, and they agreed that cyber conflict rages on.

“If you’re asking me if I think we’re at war, I think I’d say yes,” Gen. Robert Neller, USMC, Marine Corps commandant, told one audience member. “We’re at war right now in cyberspace. We’ve been at war for maybe a decade. They’re pouring oil over the castle walls every day.”

He added, though, that a war in cyberspace cannot be fought just by the military. “It’s not just the uniformed people in here. It’s all of you too, because you’ve got intellectual property to protect. We’ve all got to do a better job. We don’t need to give anybody out there any more of an advantage than they’ve already gained,” Gen. Neller said.

He went on to warn that a cyber attack could affect the more traditional warfighting domains. “I’m not a cyber person. I’m not a programmer. I don’t write code. I’m an operations guy,” Gen. Neller states. “But I’ve watched enough of this stuff to understand … the war could end before it begins. If you lose your ability to do position, navigation and timing, your ability to deliver precision munitions, if you’re denied that capability, you’re hugely disadvantaged.”

In fact, whoever wins the cyber battle may win the war. “Whoever can defend their network or bring it back in the fastest manner—because it’s going to get attacked, it’s going to get degraded—whoever can defend and be more resilient is probably going to win,” the general offered.

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