USA — Conference Focuses on Globally Shared Spaces

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Efforts to enable civ­il and mil­i­tary forces in glob­al­ly shared and ungoverned oper­at­ing areas such as out­er space, inter­na­tion­al waters, air­space and cyber­space have been the sub­ject of a con­fer­ence here this week fea­tur­ing insights from key lead­ers of the Defense Depart­ment, U.S. Joint Forces Com­mand and NATO’s Allied Com­mand Trans­for­ma­tion.

The three-day Coop­er­a­tion and Con­flict in the Glob­al Com­mons con­fer­ence, which con­cludes today, is spon­sored by the Naval Post­grad­u­ate School, the Nation­al Defense Uni­ver­si­ty Insti­tute for Nation­al Strate­gic Stud­ies, Joint Forces Command’s Joint Futures Group and the NATO trans­for­ma­tion com­mand.

Kath­leen Hicks, deputy under­sec­re­tary of defense for strat­e­gy, plans and forces, was the conference’s keynote speak­er June 29. She high­light­ed the recent Qua­dren­ni­al Defense Review’s empha­sis on secur­ing the glob­al com­mons, specif­i­cal­ly cyber­space. Attacks there and in the rest of the com­mons are com­plex, she said, and iden­ti­fy­ing the cul­prit often is dif­fi­cult. The speed of cyber attacks neces­si­tates fast, agile respons­es, she added.

“While ear­ly warn­ings against mis­sile attacks or incom­ing air­craft may allow a few min­utes to respond, a com­put­er key­stroke trav­els twice around the world in 300 mil­lisec­onds,” Hicks explained. “Our reac­tion must be even quick­er — as close to instan­ta­neous as pos­si­ble. Attri­bu­tion of attack — know­ing who did what to you — is extreme­ly dif­fi­cult.” Navy Rear Adm. Lawrence S. Rice, Joint Forces Command’s direc­tor of strat­e­gy and pol­i­cy, spoke after Hicks and addressed the fun­da­men­tal need to secure shared spaces, not­ing that their cru­cial role in glob­al trade and infor­ma­tion shar­ing makes them big tar­gets for adver­saries.

“We need to address the enemy’s capa­bil­i­ties as they man­i­fest, specif­i­cal­ly in the com­mons,” Rice said. “If those com­mons are vital con­nec­tive tis­sue for trade, then from the enemy’s per­spec­tive, threats to the com­mons have the poten­tial to dis­rupt the coop­er­a­tion need­ed for life here on Earth. We need to make no mis­take that risks to the order­ly flow of trade and infor­ma­tion com­prise fun­da­men­tal nation­al secu­ri­ty threats.”

Rice detailed the efforts Joint Forces Com­mand and the Defense Depart­ment are mak­ing to improve oper­a­tions in the com­mons, point­ing to the recent stand­ing up of U.S. Cyber Com­mand as an exam­ple. He laid out his expec­ta­tions for the con­fer­ence.

“We can’t fix some­thing if we don’t know what’s wrong, so we need a clear artic­u­la­tion of the prob­lem state­ment,” he said. “Fol­low­ing that, we need prac­ti­cal rec­om­men­da­tions for how to solve that prob­lem.”

James Soli­gan, deputy chief of staff for capa­bil­i­ty devel­op­ment with NATO’s Allied Com­mand Trans­for­ma­tion, focused in his remarks yes­ter­day on NATO’s strengths and how they can help to define and solve the com­plex chal­lenges found in com­mon spaces.

He said NATO’s pow­er is its abil­i­ty to pro­vide stan­dards accept­ed by its 28 mem­ber nations, which are often adopt­ed glob­al­ly. NATO also can influ­ence nation­al deci­sions at a time in which coun­tries have dif­fer­ent pri­or­i­ties and fis­cal restraints.

“The glob­al com­mons are so diverse, but the real pur­pose of the con­fer­ence is to talk about those com­mon inter­face mech­a­nisms that allow us to deal with those ungoverned spaces,” he said. “How do we deal with places in which no one nation has ter­ri­to­r­i­al respon­si­bil­i­ties?”

Results from the con­fer­ence will be col­lect­ed and dis­trib­uted, offi­cials said, to inform for­ward-look­ing doc­u­ments such as Joint Forces Command’s Joint Oper­at­ing Envi­ron­ment and NATO’s Strate­gic Con­cept — as well as oper­a­tions.

U.S. Joint Forces Com­mand
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)