Network Visibility May Be the Miltary's Achilles' Heel

October 26, 2010
By Robert K. Ackerman
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The medium literally is the message in Pacific Command operations, as network situational awareness may be the determining factor in the success of future operations. Adm. Robert F. Willard, USN, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, warned that U.S. military capabilities in this area are strongly lacking. "In command and control, you can't control what you can't see, and you must be able to control everything in these domains," Adm. Willard said. Speaking at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2010, Adm. Willard related that recent Pacific rim exercises illustrated the problem. The cyber element was set up weeks in advance, and it was supported to an unprecedented level by personnel from the newly established U.S. Cyber Command and from other organizations and industry. Yet, at best, experts had visibility into only 50 percent of cyberspace. Worse, leadership had the ability to sense and command in only 10 percent. "You can't command and control that domain unless you can see into it, sense inside it and control it," the admiral reiterated. Often the challenges of network situational awareness overwhelm those tasked with managing it, he continued. "Many people have such a profound sense of complexity about it that they almost give up. But we can't give up," he emphasized.

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