TechNet Asia-Pacific 2009 Day 3—SIGNAL's Online Show Daily

Tuesday, November 02, 2010
by Robert K. Ackerman
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Quote of the Day:
“You can’t bolt on security after the fact.”—Mike Guzelian, vice president for secure voice and data products, General Dynamics C4 Systems

Wednesday’s speakers and panelists at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2009 included assessments of needs and methods for information systems and cybersecurity. Leading off this march was Brig. Gen. Alan R. Lynn, USA, commander, 311th Signal Command, who gave the breakfast address.

After describing the challenges faced and advances achieved by the command over the vast Pacific region, Gen. Allen outlined the items high on the command’s wish list: less expensive, lighter, energy-efficient and less-manpower-intensive integrated systems; a smart network that automatically mitigates and or corrects workstations’ information assurance issues or problems; a cross domain solution for multilevel security; and plug-and-play software that enables disparate networks to communicate without information assurance problems.


Brig. Gen. Alan R. Lynn, USA, commander, 311th Signal Command, gives the Wednesday breakfast address at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2009.

Gen. Lynn also called for better communications on-the-move—both in terms of bandwidth and in terms of hardware. Currently, vehicles are equipped with large dome antennas that scream “shoot me,” he said. He called upon industry to develop higher bandwidth systems that use phased array antennas.

The commercial perspective on network security was offered by plenary session speaker Diana Gowen, senior vice president and general manager of Qwest Government Services Division. She emphasized that telecommunication companies are partners with the Defense Department in network security, as the department’s global presence is built on the commercial sector.

Gowen called upon the Defense Department to share information so that industry, the department and coalition partners can plan together for better network defense. All types of communications and networking systems—such as cell phones, computers and routers—have some element of vulnerability. Because everyone is connected, everyone is affected by these vulnerabilities.

A panel on cybersecurity discussed just what was needed to attain effective security—and left many issues unresolved. Zalmal Azmi, senior vice president, CACI International, stated that most efforts have been spent on solving tomorrow’s problem, not on fixing today’s problems. He asked if it were possible to develop hardened hardware as well as software that does not have holes.

Mike Guzelian, vice president for secure voice and data products, General Dynamics C4 Systems, called for the right balance of mission and security. Security requirements should be put together the same time as systems requirements. “You can’t bolt on security after the fact,” he stated.

And, innovation should be the security strategy for managing risk, offered Don Proctor, senior vice president, Software Group, Cisco. The threat is dynamic, not static, and taking an innovation-based course is necessary to deal with the technology transitions that he described as tectonic shifts. Proctor warned of an “innovation gap” caused by obsolete processes that hold back new security technology as much as three years.

Government’s role in cybersecurity remains a topic of debate both within and outside of government. Panel moderator Robert J. Giesler, vice president and corporate executive agent for cyber programs, SAIC, called for government to “think flat’ and create a cybersecurity architecture that emphasizes a peering structure rather than a vertical architecture. Any vertical architecture would stifle improvements by adding new layers of decision making and latency, he warned.

As these panelists and speakers focused on specific challenges and needs, another panel took an overview of the Asia-Pacific region. Much of that discussion focused on China, and divergent opinions emerged on what that country’s rise will mean to the region and the United States.

Asia-Pacific expert. Dr. Denny Roy, senior fellow and supervisor of POSCO Fellowship Program, East-West Center, warned that China and the United States are constantly redefining their relationship in a dynamic that could lead to conflict if both sides are not careful. He cited the concept of hegemonic transition in which one superpower is overtaken and replaced by another, and the evolution of the U.S.-China relationship matches past patterns that have led to confrontation.

This transition can be dangerous, he said, because the older hegemonic power has the incentive to start a war so that it does not lose its power. Conversely, the rising power has the incentive to start a war so that it can realize the fruits of its efforts sooner.

China does agree with the United States on many global issues, such as free trade. However, it disagrees on the spread of democracy throughout Asia as well as U.S. security alliances.

Panel moderator Capt. George Galdorisi, USN (Ret.), related how he participated in negotiations with the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) on sea rights several years ago. The Chinese delivered a set of preconditions, and the United States had to meet every one or there would be no agreement. Many of these ran contrary to long-standing U.S. positions as well as basic maritime laws. The United States responded by saying, “instead, let’s discuss the issues we both see as important that don’t involve your territorial waters.” The PLAN agreed, and both sides sat down to productive discussions.

That is a basic approach Chinese negotiators take, Capt. Galdorisi said. They offered up the points that they needed to, and then they addressed the areas that involved common ground.

Former U.S. Pacific Command head Adm. Thomas B. Fargo, USN (Ret.), warned of other challenges facing the United States. Adm. Fargo offered that the security situation in the Asia-Pacific region is improving and does not offer any immediate threats. However the potential for conflict or upheaval is present. North Korea’s leader Kim Jung Il will not give up nuclear weaponry because he believes that is the key to remaining in power.

However, smaller Asian nations are worried about U.S. economic power fading. Adm. Fargo offered that they are concerned about the U.S. debt. They fear that the belt-tightening forced by debt service will reduce the U.S. ability to deal with them on a continuing basis. They worry that the United States may not be able to maintain its interests in Asia, he related.

China’s economic rise may imperil the U.S. economy by nature of its success, suggested Dr. Roy. China, with its fast-growing economy, soon will diversify its investments and its markets so it will not have to rely on the U.S. market as much as it does now. That will give it economic and political flexibility. Currently, China would be harmed if it were to sever the economic relationship between the two economic superpowers. That becomes less of a problem with global diversification.

And, one day, major world economies no longer will use the dollar as the basis for international transactions. When the U.S. dollar no longer is the global currency of choice, the United States will have to enter a period of severe frugality.  

On Thursday: Addresses by the commander of the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific and the deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, along with two panel discussions.

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