OTTAWA — U.S. and Canadian servicemembers are working side by side in defense of North America and fighting side by side in defense of freedom in Afghanistan. Now officials want to expand that cooperation to the cyberworld.
|Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III meets with National Security Advisor Marie-Lucie Morin in Ottawa, June 14, 2010.
DoD photo by Cherie Cullen
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Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III is in the Canadian capital to discuss ways the two nations – already the closest of allies – can cooperate to defend critical computer networks and cyber infrastructure.
Lynn said the cyber threat to the United States and Canada is real and growing, and affects national and economic security.
“For most of our history, we have been shielded by geography – shielded by our oceans from attack,” he said. “Those natural geographic defenses are of no use when it comes to cyberattack. The Internet can transmit malicious code in the blink of an eye.”
And intrusions are growing more frequent. More than 100 foreign intelligence organizations are trying to hack into various aspects of the U.S. information technology infrastructure, Lynn said.
“Foreign militaries are developing offensive cyber capabilities, and some governments have the capacity to disrupt elements of the U.S. information grid,” he said.
Lynn stressed that cyber attacks are not just military threats, but threats to the critical infrastructure and economic well-being.
“A shared approach, an alliance approach to cybersecurity is critical,” he said.
The speed of attacks – measured in milliseconds – will require quick decisions and even quicker responses, the deputy secretary noted.
“To have the highest levels of protection, you want the widest set of allies so you understand and anticipate the broadest set of threats,” he said. “In the cyber arena, knowing who your adversary is, and what they’ve done, is a key part of mounting an effective response.”
Yet determining where an attack originates is tough. The U.S.-Canadian cooperation during the Cold War is a model for how to move forward, he said.
“It is always best when searching for markers of intrusions and attacks to cast the widest net possible,” he said.“International cooperation is imperative for establishing the chain of events for an intrusion, and for quickly and decisively responding. The reality is that we cannot defend our networks by ourselves. We need a shared defense.”
And that defense must include moré than just military networks, Lynn noted. “We need to develop a shared cyber doctrine that allows us to work fluidly with each other and with our other allies,” he said.
The secretary also discussed challenges facing both nations in the 21st century during a speech to the Conference of Defence Associations Institute.
The U.S.-Canadian alliance has changed since the end of the Cold War, Lynn noted. The alliance works together on maritime surveillance and infrastructure protection. The United States worked with Canada on security for the Vancouver Olympics and in providing relief to Haiti.
“Our enduring collaboration has risen to meet challenges that frankly our predecessors could not have foreseen,” Lynn said.
The secretary particularly praised the role of Canadian servicemembers in Regional Command South in Afghanistan.
“Your soldiers are on the front lines in the south where we face some of the most severe threats,” he said. “They are in a campaign to restore governance to regions where the Taliban has long held sway.”
Canada has paid a high price, with 147 Canadian servicemembers killed in Afghanistan.
“I want to say on behalf of the president and the American people that we recognize and honor the sacrifice and commitment that the Canadian people and armed forces have made to the fight,” he said.
The deputy secretary said the last decade has led both Canada and the United States to a new understanding of what threats they face, and what must be done to combat them. “Seen from a broader perspective, the conflict in Afghanistan reflects important changes that are under way in the nature of warfare,” he said. “These changes have important implications for our defense planning.”
The first and most prominent change in the nature of warfare has to do with lethality, Lynn said. In the past, the more sophisticated an adversary, the more lethal the threat. The Soviets had nuclear weapons and sophisticated conventional capabilities. Rogue states, terrorists and insurgents did not.
But this has changed. “Terrorist organizations and rogue states seek weapons of mass destruction,” he said. “Insurgents are armed with improvised explosive devices that are capable of penetrating even the most advanced armored vehicles. We even see criminal organizations that possess world-class cyber capabilities.”
To combat this, the military force must become more agile, and more capable through the spectrum of conflict.
“We need to be as proficient at waging a counterinsurgency campaign as we are at waging high-end conventional campaigns,” the deputy secretary said.
The duration of conflicts also has changed. U.S. military planning has been based on fighting two near-simultaneous wars.
“Planners anticipated that these conflicts could be quite intense, but they also anticipated that they would be rather short,” he said. “This construct no longer fits our reality.” In the two current wars, it was not the intensity of the initial combat phase that was most challenging, it’s the length of time the United States has been involved.
“These wars have now lasted longer than the United States’ participation in World War I and World War II combined,” Lynn said.
Repeated deployments exact a high cost on troops and their families. The United States has added numbers to the Army and Marine Corps and is halting reductions in the Navy and Air Force. And defense planners also are giving the possible duration of conflicts more attention, Lynn said.
The third change in the global security environment is the move toward foes using asymmetric warfare. The conventional dominance that NATO enjoys “has led potential adversaries to seek asymmetric tactics, to seek out vulnerabilities in our conventional forces rather than face those forces head-to-head,” he said.
They use IEDs and guerilla tactics, or they launch cyber attacks to disrupt global command and control, logistics and transport. Some countries also are investing in anti-access weapons such as surface-to-surface missiles, cyber capabilities and anti-satellite technologies to force the United States and its allies away from the battlefield.
“We have irrevocably entered an era of new threats,” the deputy secretary said. “But we have done so together, each committed to the collective defense, and each sure that whatever the future brings, we will face it standing shoulder-to-shoulder.”
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)