3/13/2008
11:28 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary

Air Force Sheds (Some) Light On A Strategic Cyberspace Vision

But after reading the Air Force Cyber Command Strategic Vision, I'm still not clear on what the strategy actually is ... or if it's just PR posturing.



But after reading the Air Force Cyber Command Strategic Vision, I'm still not clear on what the strategy actually is ... or if it's just PR posturing.From provisional Commander, Air Force Cyber Command, Major General, USAF, William T. Lord's introduction to the vision

Mastery of cyberspace is essential to America's national security. Controlling cyberspace is the prerequisite to effective operations across all strategic and operational domains -- securing freedom from attack and freedom to attack. We will develop and implement plans for maturing and expanding cyberspace operations as an Air Force core competency.

We certainly need the defensive capability to defend our critical IT infrastructure from adversaries, and we should have the capability to ensure the communication facilities of our adversaries go dark during times of hostilities.

Here's more:

We will provide decision makers flexible options to deter, deny, disrupt, deceive, dissuade, and defeat adversaries through a variety of destructive and nondestructive, and lethal and nonlethal means. Finally, we will do this in friendly cooperation with our professional partners and teammates in other MAJCOMs, Services, COCOMs, and U.S. government agencies.

What's written here gives me hope that the Air Force, or at least one of the armed services, is finally starting to take cybersecurity seriously.

But it's what's not found anywhere in the document is how this is going to be achieved. Most of the Strategic Vision made public reads like government gobbledygook that was filtered through 187 layers of bureaucrats and legal and PR departments.

Which concerns me. Is this document the beginning of a real, holistic plan, or a PR move designed to help the Air Force acquire lead position as the defender of cyberspace from the Army or the NSA?

I hope not. I hope it's more than just jockeying for position. But I don't think it's a coincidence that this plan surfaced around the same time as those U.S. Air Force "Above All" TV spots you may have seen.

There is little talk of how the Air Force will cooperate with the owners and operators of our critical infrastructure. If an enemy were to attack our electronic infrastructure, they'll likely try to disrupt or destroy the financial and telecommunication networks, and even those of utility companies.

Any serious plan to secure cyberspace needs to include these, and other, stakeholders.

This mission is so critical, maybe it shouldn't be left to any single agency. Rather, it needs to be a cross-agency, cross private-public sector effort that involves Defense, DHS, Army, and Air Force, as well as members of private industry, certainly for information sharing. Perhaps a new agency needs to be created to protect cyberspace, so the best of all of these agencies could be put to swift use when needed.

Many of this nation's best and brightest IT minds are currently in the armed forces, and other agencies. Let's figure a way to ensure they're given the organization they need to succeed.

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