Sean Gallagher

Editor's Note | Overtaken by events

I began writing this Editor’s Note a week before the presidential election.

With no idea of the outcome at the time and the changes it might trigger, I realized no matter what I wrote would be overtaken by events.

And even now, with Barack Obama the clear victor, uncertainty remains.

That’s a problem many of you might be familiar with. With only two months remaining before a major transition and almost everything on the table with the upcoming quadrennial defense review, defense community leaders are facing a shifting target. The uncertainty is almost palpable — the only certain thing is the Defense Department will face some form of radical change early in the new year.

Several major network-centric initiatives, such as the Transformational Satellite program, have hazy futures. It looks like TSAT will be delayed, and the Future Combat Systems program depends on TSAT for some capabilities.

With funding and program direction in doubt, it’s understandable that the Air Force scaled back its Cyber Command efforts and instead is organizing its cyber operations as part of the Space Command, as contributing editor Kevin Fogarty reported (see Data Packets, Page 10).

But the changes won’t alter the military services’ challenges in finding, training and arming the personnel needed to help secure the cyber domain and defend the United States from cyberattacks. As Maj. Gen. John Maluda said in our discussion (see Director View, Page 42), cyber warfare is not intrinsically new — it’s just information warfare as it has been waged since the beginning of warfare.

What is new is the reliance on the rapid delivery of information and the systems that make that possible. DOD will need to reach beyond traditional command structures to meet the demands of the cyber domain.

The Air Force is trying several approaches to bring in the talent it needs to take on these challenges, including its Chief Technical Officer Program, which will “bring in highly skilled folks, for anywhere from two to five years because they’re current, utilize them and then ship them back out to industry and bring some more folks in,” Maluda said.

Perhaps it’s time to centralize those efforts at DOD, as Chief Information Officer John Grimes (see Interview, Page 20) has been trying to do by unifying and normalizing information technology across the branches. Pairing the Air Force’s cyber efforts with Space Command might be a step in that direction because it mirrors the joint organization under Strategic Command.

Stratcom maintains mission authority over cyber operations through Joint Task Force-Global Network Operations, the Defense Information Systems Agency and the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center. As resources get tighter and needs increase, it might be time to “put all the wood behind one arrow,” as former Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy used to say, and work together to face cyber demands for all the services.

About the Author

Sean Gallagher is senior contributing editor for Defense Systems.

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