Friday, June 6, 2008

The Wild West: Cyber Warfare Challenge

Brig. Gen. (s) Tony Buntyn, Vice Commander, Air Force Cyber Command (Provisional) was the wrap-up speaker at the annual Pacific Northwest National Security Forum in Tacoma this week.

Pictured with Col. Buntyn are (l to r) Dick Seiber, event chairman, Bill Harrison, event honorary chair, and Doug Adams, event program chair.

Buntyn said 19 states are NOW competing to host the 550 airmen and 275 civilians of the Cyber Command's new headquarters. (Washington State is not among them.) The selection date (NOT MY JOB, Buntyn said), up to Air Staff when the list is reduced to four finalists, is set for October 1, 2008,with full operations by Oct. 1, 2009.

Buntyn noted that the Quadrennial Defense Review included cyberspace, and it was added to the USAF mission statement in 2005. Buntyn said that the 21st Century's capabilities could be paralyzed with cyber attacks. He said that now there is no dominance in cyberspace and the entry into the domain is cheap.

He commented that the private sector has been defensive, not in an attack mode. But, the USAF considers cyberspace to be a warfighting domain and a supportive domain to land, sea and air operations. Plus, it is critical for the global economy.

The USAF is most dependent on cyberspace for cyberops and considers it of strategic importance, he said. The USAF is already conducting missions in cyberspace and have been doing so for several years, he continued. That includes the integration of kinetic (not an option for the private sector) and non-kinetic effects. It's all about effects, not about the tool (used), Buntyn said. Those missions require new competencies in weapons systems and career specialities. Every generation steps-up. The USAF needs IT, Computer and Behavioral Science professionals.

When asked during the Q&A about reported attacks and threats from China, Buntyn said he was unable to talk specifics. But, in general, he said threats are generic, involving nations, criminals or terrorists. The key to understanding the threat, is motivation, Buntyn continued. Motivation differs. It will stop when we find out who and why. Every attack starts as a law enforcement action, whether it is ultimately determined to be anything from an internal error or intentional by source.

The Internet is the Wild West, Buntyn concluded.

1 comment:

  1. One area not fully vetted was about offensive or what the speaker called "kinetic" operations. Of course, most of that would be highly classified.