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American Forces Press Service

Vice Chairman Cites Need for Cyber Warfare Experimentation

By Air Force Master Sgt. Adam M. Stump
Special to American Forces Press Service

MARLBOROUGH, Mass., June 20, 2008 – The services need to experiment in cyberwarfare to figure out how to use technology effectively on the battlefield, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here yesterday.

Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright spoke at the Air Force Cyberspace Symposium, covering a broad range of topics on the global use of cyber warfare.

One of the major cyber warfare challenges the military faces is integrating with the Homeland Security and Justice departments, Cartwright said.

The Defense Department has authority for cyber activities overseas, along with bases and stations that are stateside, he explained, while Homeland Security has responsibility for the U.S. cyber realm, which consists of many of the “dot com” sites. Justice has authority in both the United States and overseas. Because of the different responsibilities, the vice chairman said, the organizations have experimented to find out how best to work together.

“We need a common awareness of what’s happening in the United States in order to understand the threats that we’re going to face,” he said. “As we extend offshore, we have to tell the guys onshore what’s coming. [We] have to figure out how to do real-time integrated activities.”

Part of the reason the organizations need to work together is the quick nature of such attacks. Cartwright said when a target appears, the organizations have a period between microseconds and minutes to make a decision on whose authority it is to respond.

Another challenge the United States faces is with allies. The general said different countries have different policies on responding to a cyber attack.

“The United States has a way of handling that: basically, keep it as quiet as possible until we can figure out how to fix it, then we fix it,” he said. “Many of our closest allies do it just the opposite. They announce it publicly right away and then work on a solution. If we don’t come to some common way of handling this on an international basis, we will be stepping on each other just by doing what our laws tell us to do.”

Part of working toward a common goal involves the individual services, Cartwright said. Instead of operating independently and each developing separate strategy and doctrine on cyber warfare, the services must work together to form commonalities.

“We don’t fight as services, we fight as joint, interagency, combined task forces,” he said. If each service develops its own unique strategy, he said, it will hurt the United States because “consolidating will cut off innovation.” He said the Air Force is heading in the right direction with the creation of a major command dedicated to cyber warfare.

“Things like Air Force Cyber Command are in the right mold to prevent that from happening,” he said.

The general said that cyber organizations must be integrated into an air operations center, just like a bomber or fighter unit, even though it’s inherently different because, unlike an air or ground war, “we invented this battlespace.”

The vice chairman said the military is making progress on quickly adapting to ever-changing cyber technology, but nowhere near fast enough.

“We build an application the same way we build an aircraft carrier and about as fast,” Cartwright said. “We have to figure out a way to change that.”

He said the problem is based upon a “Napoleonic command and control” structure that makes the cyber organizations fight over who’s in charge. “The technology is not what paces us, it is the culture,” he said.

One of the other challenges is building a force of cyber warriors, Cartwright said. He said the military has to figure out the appropriate skills, schools and rank structure to build a force capable of both the “defend and operate skills” and the “exploit and attack skills.”

Once those forces are determined, the organizations will have to be built in such a way that they can present those forces to combatant commanders for employment. He said the backbone of the cyber warfare force needs people who are able to use constant innovation and adapt to constant change.

(Air Force Master Sgt. Adam M. Stump is assigned to the Joint Chiefs of Staff Public Affairs Office.)

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