USA — Mullen Presses for Cyber Leadership at All Levels

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Cyber­space “will change how we fight” in the next 20 years, the nation’s top mil­i­tary offi­cer said here yes­ter­day as he chal­lenged lead­ers at all lev­els to under­stand the threats and help to pos­ture the mil­i­tary to deal with them.

“I am par­tic­u­lar­ly con­cerned about cyber­space,” Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Class of 2010 grad­u­ates at the U.S. Air Force Acad­e­my.

Mullen called cyber­space “a glob­al com­mon in which we do not enjoy unmatched advan­tage, where inter­na­tion­al norms are the eas­i­est to flout with­out con­se­quence, and upon which our entire way of life depends.”

Rec­og­niz­ing its strate­gic impact, and how it will affect mil­i­tary oper­a­tions, Mullen called on the new offi­cers to “stay open to new ideas” with­in the cyber realm and to help in shap­ing and lead­ing the mil­i­tary as he con­fronts this grow­ing chal­lenge.

Mullen echoed that mes­sage to about 500 ser­vice­mem­bers at a town hall ses­sion at near­by Peter­son Air Force Base, telling them he expects warfight­ing require­ments in space and cyber­space “will grow expo­nen­tial­ly” in the years ahead.

“We will have great oppor­tu­ni­ties and great chal­lenges in those two areas, par­tic­u­lar­ly those areas where we are not dom­i­nant [and] we don’t have the advan­tage,” he said. Mullen called the recent stand-up of U.S. Cyber Com­mand, which reached ini­tial oper­a­tional capa­bil­i­ty last week, “a sig­nif­i­cant step for­ward” that will help “get our arms around what this means.”

Cyber­space is far broad­er than intel­li­gence and cryp­to­log­ic oper­a­tions, the chair­man said. “It’s going to affect every sin­gle leader that is here, in every sin­gle war­fare area … in the future. So we are all going to have to be a whole lot smarter and bet­ter in those areas.”

Gone are the days when the mil­i­tary could sim­ply rel­e­gate the issue in the “Six World” – the staff ele­ments respon­si­ble for com­mand, con­trol, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and com­put­er sys­tems, he told the group. “Lead­ers can no longer do that,” he said. “Lead­ers have to know more about it. Lead­ers have to get engaged.”

Lead­ers at all lev­els need to under­stand the issues and the threat, he told reporters fol­low­ing the ses­sion. “They have to be trained in it, and they have to make sure their peo­ple are pre­pared in it,” he said. “So that’s what I am encour­ag­ing them to do with that. Don’t just turn it over to the chief or turn it over to the sergeant major.” “We can’t do it,” he said. “It’s too lethal and too potent, and there are adver­saries in the cyber world that we don’t under­stand yet.”

Cit­ing the lack of bound­aries, rules and author­i­ties regard­ing cyber­space, Mullen said he fore­sees a day when the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty comes togeth­er to agree to a com­mon set of stan­dards about its use.

Mullen said he already has expe­ri­enced some crises relat­ed to com­put­er hack­ing, and lauds invest­ments already made and con­tin­u­ing efforts to pre­vent these threats. “It’s pret­ty scary stuff,” he said of the cyber threat. “And it needs to con­tin­ue to be addressed very, very rapid­ly.”

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)