Cartwright: Cyber warfare strategy ‘dysfunctional’

The U.S. cyber warfare strategy is divided among three fiefdoms, resulting in a passive, disjointed approach that undermines the military's cyberspace operations, according to U.S. Strategic Commander General James Cartwright.

Cartwright detailed his issues with DOD’s current cyberspace approach Feb. 8 at the Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla., hosted by the Air Force Association.

Under this approach, Net Warfare is responsible for attack and reconnaissance, the Joint Task Force for Global Network Operations manages network defense and operations, and the Joint Information Operations Warfare Center oversees electronic warfare, Cartwright explained. These groups operate independently and don‘t effectively share information on their activities, he said.

“It’s a complete secret to everybody in the loop, and it’s dysfunctional,” said Cartwright.

The current DOD cyberspace approach was developed ad-hoc and is based on terminal defense, Cartwright said. Under that system, action is taken only after an attack, and then a response takes weeks, he said. “For a warfighter, two or three weeks is just unacceptable to defend a key node from an attack.”

DOD must move away from a network defense-oriented cyber architecture; cyber reconnaissance, offensive, and defensive capabilities must be integrated and leveraged for maximum effect, he said.

The current cyber threat is divided into three tiers: hackers, criminals, and nation-states, Cartwright said, with increasing levels of resources and investment in cyber capabilities. The U.S. isn’t developing the intellectual capital at the needed rate to keep pace, he added.

Also, the military services must develop training to give a new generation of warfighters the right skills for the cyber fight, said Cartwright. Integrity of the cyber world is crucial for American business and commerce, he said. “We cannot let that space go uncontested.”

Air Force leaders, speaking at the conference, underscored the need to fight effectively inside the networks.

“There is no longer a sanctuary in cyberspace,” said Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne. The Air Force needs to develop strong fighting options for cyberspace, he said, “Cyberspace is a fighting domain where the principles of war do apply and we need true warfighters in this domain.”

The Air Force is in the process of standing up a Cyber Command, based on the infrastructure of the 8th Air Force at Barksdale AFB, La. Lt. General Robert Elder, commander of the 8th Air Force, will head up the new command. Cyber Command will be evolved into a major 4-star command, Air Force officials have said.

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