Power Projection in the Digital Age: The Only Winning Move is to Play
General Darren W. McDew, USAF, is the Commander of U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), the Command responsible for the transportation for the US Department of Defence. He provides an interesting insight into the importance of cybersecurity to the capabilities of the modern military. Information and Communications Technologies are an essential part of how the military plans and manages the logistics of deploying assets to theatres of operation around the world. Logistics is the difference between victory and defeat in many battles, delivering the right resources at the right time in the right condition is critical.
“if we cannot project power, then it does not matter how much of it we have.”
Consequently, securing the systems that are critical for logistics is of utmost importance for a military that operates over vast distances such as that of the United States. Securing these systems is complex as many components are supplied by external contractors.
“the bulk of the force moves on commercial carriers whose information systems are even more vulnerable to cyber threats than hardened military networks.”
Information security for logistics necessarily involves the securing of the organizations that supply services to the military. An attack that compromises the capacity of suppliers, modifies or interrupts communications with a supplier or leverages a supplier could negatively affect the ability of the military to respond effectively to a situation. Just targeting suppliers could have a significant effect.
“Commercial industry represents roughly 50 percent of USTRANSCOM’s wartime transportation capability, and nearly 90 percent of our traffic flows on unclassified networks to and from our commercial providers.”
USTRANSCOM isn’t standing by idly, they have been working with commercial and academic partners to better secure their networks and move towards resilient systems. They have been conducting holistic cybersecurity assessments called ‘thin line’ assessment, since 2016 to better inform strategy.
The interesting point from this paper is the importance of the security capabilities of a nation as a whole to its military capability. The modern military relies on the capabilities of non-military providers. A resilient and secure cyberspace is required for an effective military.
McDew, D. (2017). Power Projection in the Digital Age: The Only Winning Move is to Play. US Air Force Washington United States.