Establishment of Cyber Command places DOD at a “historic” moment

Provides Pentagon’s IT managers an opportunity to craft an organization that learns from the lessons of history

Fort Lauderdale—The establishment of USCYBERCOM is a “historic moment” in the history of Signals, said GEN Carter Ham, commanding general of U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army, speaking Tuesday morning at LandWarNet 2009. However, being at the genesis of the command gives the Pentagon’s IT managers an opportunity to craft an organization that learns from the lessons of history and avoids mistakes that can ultimately doom an initiative.

“As you contemplate the structure of Cyber Command,” said Ham, speaking to the audience at the Broward County Convention Center, “consider the strategies of our Cold War adversary. The USSR controlled and firewalled everything so people couldn’t connect, and compartmentalized everything so they could be controlled. (By contrast), the U.S. had a comprehensive approach to information sharing. The Berlin Wall fell because of a systematic collapsing of fire walls that couldn’t be contained, and by people’s natural desire to share information.

“We are at a crossroads. Do we want to build and sustain firewalls between our organizations? Or can we look for an approach that constructs an infrastructure that mirrors the environment in which we find ourselves, which is much more collaborative.”

Hamm said that the myriad firewalls found on networks today are “because of a lack of trust.” Joint task force commanders, in particular, must understand that they don’t need to own the network in order to leverage its capabilities.

Ham continued in that vein: “But that’s not a universally accepted notion across services. As we stand up Cyber Command we should take the opportunity to build a new paradigm and develop a joint vision.

“We have an opportunity with Cyber Command to get it right. But if we perpetuate the firewalls we’ll miss by a generation the opportunities that our adversaries won’t miss.”

About the Author

Barry Rosenberg is editor-in-chief of Defense Systems. Follow him on Twitter: @BarryDefense.

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