West 2010 Online Show Daily:The More Things Change, The More They Really Change

February 2, 2010
Robert K. Ackerman
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Every type of sociological, economic and military transformation is creating exponentially greater uncertainties.

The information revolution that is sweeping the globe is forcing radical changes in the national security arena. Previous notions of strategic and tactical military planning are being swept away as both time and power have new definitions. And, that information technology realm itself is a major player in the concept of national security. 


That was just one message delivered on Day 1 of West 2010, presented by AFCEA International and USNI February 2-4, 2010 in San Diego. Titled “Smart Power: Does the QDR Get It Right?” the program is focusing on the new quadrennial defense review (QDR) and what it portends in this era of terrorism and asymmetrical warfare.

The QDR represents overdue changes in the defense structure, but this year’s version is unusual because it comes in with a new presidential administration but a holdover secretary of defense. Thus, it maintains an unusual degree of continuity, but it does signal a new direction for the military.



Gen. James E. Cartwright, USMC, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, describes the changes driving the new Quadrennial Defense Review at West 2010.

Gen. James E. Cartwright, USMC, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, led off West 2010 by citing that perspective and predicting greater changes next year. Gen. Cartwright explained why the QDR abandons the concept of fighting two conventional wars along with lesser conflicts simultaneously. Simply put, the lesser conflicts are proving much more difficult than imagined, while the major wars seem less likely. It is more important to focus on the wars the United States actually finds itself in rather than in the wars it hopes it will define conflict.

““Whatever it is that we think we’ll do next, whomever it is we think we’ll fight next, we’ll be wrong,” he stated.


A healthy economy is important to national security, he stated. “We’re in a major economic crisis. Economics is a big part of warfare. If you ignore it, you’ll do it at your nation’s peril,” the general declared.

And this economic element also touches upon the change that is sweeping business. “We’re moving from an industrial construct in an industrial age into one that looks more like Moore’s law with a change cycle as long,” Gen. Cartwright said. “How do we build carriers to last 50 years in this cycle? An IED [improvised explosive device] cycle runs about 30 days. The fights that we’re really in—IEDs, cyber, you name it—have a duty cycle of about 30 days.


“The QDR is helping us, along with the budget, to align our forces according to the fight we’re in.”


One of the most important elements in the new defense construct is the standup of the U.S. Cyber Command, he continued. Unlike some other commands, it will be kept in line with the warfighter, he emphasized. In the civilian realm, cyberspace security is a key element of national security. Military officials are trying to develop a way to defend cyberspace amid cultural and legal challenges.


“We have no authority in the Wild Wild West called .com, but we still operate there,” he explained. “We are working very hard to find a construct in which it is appropriate for the average American to go on the network and elect to have higher protection levels that allow us to protect them. We want to be able to separate these networks, creating DMZs [demilitarized zones ]around these networks that allow higher security.”


 Adm. James G. Stavridis, USN, commander of the U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, warns of cyberthreats at the West 2010 keynote luncheon.


The cyber threat concerns the head of the U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe. Adm. James G. Stavridis, USN, told Tuesday’s overflow luncheon audience that “the dramatic increase in the use of cyber by terrorists worries me.” He stated that the world has seen a 1000-fold increase in the number of jihadist and terrorist Web sites over the past 10 years. And, they also are using the Web for recruiting.


This cyberthreat is more than just another problem. It well could be the opening shot of a future war. Adm. Stavridis noted that Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Georgia all were victims of foreign cyberattacks within the past four years. And, in the case of Georgia, the attack coincided with a conventional military attack using kinetic weapons. This changes the metric for warfare.

The admiral noted that NATO’s Article V provides for the common defense in the event of an attack on any one member. Article VI defines an attack. He said that NATO needs to re-consider the definition of an attack in light of the emergence of cyberspace, which did not exist when NATO was formed.


“I believe that it’s more likely that an attack will come from not a bomb off a bomb rack, but instead electrons in cyberspace,” Adm. Stavridis declared.


 Vice Adm. Nancy Brown, USN (Ret.), former J-6, the Joint Staff (r), leads a discussion about priorities in the cyber domain. The panel comprised (l-r) Robert J. Carey, DON CIO; Dr. Norman Friedman, author; Terry Roberts, executive director at Carnegie Mellon's Software Engineering Institute; and Vice Adm. Carl V. Mauney, USN, deputy commander, STRATCOM. 

Cyber issues were the focus of an entire panel discussion. Vice Adm. Nancy Brown, USN (Ret.), former J-6, the Joint Staff, led off her panel session by challenging the members to offer their solutions to a number of problems in the cyber domain. She asked them to answer the questions: How do you ensure that software is secure? With so many partners—both national and international—how do you acquire situational awareness of networks? How can partners share information horizontally? What’s the best way to develop cyber tactics, techniques and procedures? While panelists couldn’t address all these issues, they did speak candidly about the overall state of cyber—from security to resiliency.

Panel member Robert Carey, CIO, USN, pointed out that dangers lurk from all sides of cyberspace. Not only does the U.S. dependence on technology become an Achilles' Heel, but commanders on the front lines now receive so much information that they are drowning in it. As shared with Carey by a commander in Fallujah talking about the endless amount of info that now flows into operations, "I don't want ALL of it; I want IT."


Vice Adm. Carl V. Mauney, USN, deputy commander, STRATCOM, emphasized the importance of the confirming the truth of all the information that's gathered and shared. "Commanders rely on IT for C2 -- to move information, to make decisions -- and we must be able to believe in that information. That is the real problem with the Internet. You can't always count on the validity of the info," he said. "We need to continue to identify and resolve vulnerabilities in our networks. We have not done that very well, and we need to fix that."

Terry Roberts, an executive director with Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute and former deputy director of naval intelligence, said that when it comes to cyber defense, the U.S. Defense Department and other federal agencies have been chasing its tails because everyone looked to STRATCOM as the leader for cyber defense but has not had the authority to do what needed to be done. With the establishment of U.S. Cyber Command, a sub-unified command under STRATCOM, the best of the best personnel from each service has the leadership it needs to be truly effective. 


Coming up on Day 2: Adm. David J. “Jack” Dorsett, USN, N2/N6; panels on pirates and North Korea; and a breakfast discussion hosted by David Hartman on the future of the U.S. Navy.

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