• tags: cyberwar

    • The cyber attacks that hit Georgian government websites as Russian tanks rolled into South Ossetia in August may have heralded
      the coming of age of a new dimension of warfare.
      • I would have expected, indeed did expect, better from Janes. This is at least the third conlfict that has supposedly “heralded the coming of age of a new dimension of warfare.” If denial of service and defacing attacks constitute the “coming of age” of cyberwarfare then 1) that coming of age happened long ago and 2) I’m not sure we have much to worry about. – post by TransTracker
    • one of the first examples of a military campaign being supported by a series of cyber attacks on opposition websites –
      albeit indirectly
      • Yes, “one of the first”…that is, if you exclude all the other “firsts” that have occured over the last ten years, including Kosovo 1999 and cyber-intifada 2001. – post by TransTracker
    • While the attacks had little or no impact on the outcome of the overall conflict, they are indicative of a wider trend and
      one that has the US, NATO and other Western armed forces and governments moving to reshape their force structures to defend
      • While I’m willing to take the threat of cyberwarfare seriously, this kind of statement, seen again and again, is not convincing. It raises a very obvious question that no one is asking: If these attacks had “little or no impact” on the conflict, then why the move to “reshape force structures to defend against” attacks that have little or no impact? – post by TransTracker
    • Gen Elder said that, while denial of service and the loss of confidential data was what most people thought of when it came
      to the cyber threat, the manipulation of data was of key concern.

      “We are particularly concerned with data manipulation – for example the global positioning system we currently use to make
      our bombs more accurate. If you can spoof those co-ordinates so that the bomb is going to hit the wrong place, the system
      integrity loss means if we lose faith in that system then everything just bogs down. So this idea of maintaining the integrity
      of the system is very important to us.”

      Certainly the military’s own threat assessments and the various Internet security threat reports from industry reinforce the
      need for further cyber defence development – both on the organisational and technological side.

      • Maybe those threat assessments do warrant further work on cyber defense. But, for me anyway, this continued rhetoric of “firstness” focused primarily on DDoS actually undermines that argument. It sounds too much like the little boy crying wolf. – post by TransTracker
    • DDOS attacks, as experienced by Estonia and Georgia, are more of an annoyance in nature and are unlikely to seriously harm
      a NATO country’s military infrastructure – although it may take one to two days to get the attack under control. Such attacks
      are far more effective against countries with poor telecommunications infrastructure that is not as extensive/well duplicated
      as ‘first world’ countries.

      To probe the networks of Western governments and militaries, attackers have to adopt far more sophisticated methods than simple
      denial of service.

      • Yes, but even in the case of Georgia, a non-“first-world” country, the DDoS attacks did not appear to have a significant impact on the outcome of the conflict. Unless the websites being targeted are being used for some specific purpose that is integral to conduct during a conflict, a DDoS attack will not have an significant impact. – post by TransTracker
    • The president and CEO of the Institute for Defense Analyses, retired USAF general Larry Welch, said that, while the first
      step must be to “lock the door” by making the latest network security measures mandatory for government and contractors, the
      US had to “incrementally raise the cost and lower the potential benefit to those that would harm us in or through cyberspace”.

      Welch said the US should lead work in establishing not just a set of international standards for connection to the Internet,
      but also an international set of acceptable behaviours in cyberspace.

      “We have international norms and sanctions for behaviour in land, air or sea space. As cyberspace becomes an environment ever
      more vital to national interests, we need a set of norms and standards at least as powerful. … At the moment international
      actors know that we will tolerate cyberspace incursions when the equivalent land, air or sea incursion would trigger an immediate,
      perhaps devastating response,” Welch said.

      For deterrence to work, Welch argues, the US needs a cyber attack response plan not dissimilar from Cold War plans that underwrote
      strategic deterrence so that potential adversaries clearly understood the response.

      • Yes, but an ir incursion doesn’t just provoke and air response, a ground incursion a ground response, etc. Would the same go for a cyber-attack/incursion? Could a cyber attack provoke a traditional military response? Under what conditions? – post by TransTracker
    • However, others argue that, with much of the US national strategy towards cyberspace hidden in the murky world of the classified,
      strategic deterrence is not playing a full part in the nation’s cyber defence.
      • Agreed. A certain degree of openness is required for deterrence to work. A potential attacker needs to know something about what you are capable of in response. But, over classification and secrecy can also hurt the ability to make an effective case for large-scale cyber defense initiatives. And it certainly hinders the case that cyber attacks should be considered acts of war. – post by TransTracker
    • There will always be trade-offs between the military’s simultaneous quest for both net-centricity and information assurance.

      However, as the Internet becomes an increasingly important part of how the military does business, many in the Internet security
      sector are concerned that the threat could move beyond the lone hacker or criminal network seeking profit and towards the
      state-sponsored act of war.

      • This notion of cyber attack as an “act of war” needs much more serious thought and discussion. With so much about the supposed threat remaining classified, it is diffcult or impossible to make a convincing public case, based almost entirely on cases of DDoS attacks, that cyber attacks should be considered “acts of war” justifying the use of traditional military force and the inevitable loss of life. – post by TransTracker
  • An opinion piece from Janes Defence Weekly from early September written by two Boyd acolytes and 1980s “reformers,” Pierre Sprey and Winslow Wheeler. The two trot out the typical “reformer” arguments used against every system they dislike: It’s too expensive; it doesn’t work now; it will never work; smaller, cheaper, low-tech is inherently and inevitably better; etc. Their piece is followed by a reply from those invovled in the F-35 program. Again, as usual, they make it clear that Sprey and Wheeler’s arguments are based on inaccuracies, distortions, and over simplifications, basically the same tactics they used in the “reform” debates of the 1970s and 1980s.

    tags: airpower, air_force, F-35

  • tags: airpower, air_force, coin

    • the USAF has been criticised for spending its strained budget on programmes that have little or no relevance
      to events on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq. Lockheed Martin’s costly F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft has often been used
      as an example of this procurement strategy with the number to be acquired reduced from 381 to 183 as a result of political
      and budgetary pressures.

      Opponents of the programme suggest that this advanced air superiority fighter is a legacy of the Cold War and a classic example
      of a military propensity to prepare for the last war. It has been argued in Washington that money could be better spent on
      platforms with more immediate applications, particularly with regard to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets.

      However, Russia’s invasion of Georgia in support of the breakaway region of South Ossetia may have strengthened the position
      of those advocating a renewed emphasis on preparing to fight future conventional wars. The case for extending the procurement
      of the F-22 has seemingly been strengthened by events in the Caucasus, even if conflict in Georgia may not establish a firm
      requirement for additional Raptors.

    • The F-22
      represents the technological pinnacle of the USAF’s air-to-air combat capability; the F-35 does not.
    • at present the USAF has a ratio of one air superiority fighter (Boeing F-15 Eagles and F-22s) for every 3.5 multirole or strike
      aircraft; by 2025 this ratio will be down to one for every 10.6 F-35s.
    • However, events have conspired to lend a stronger voice to those advocates of the need for more
      expensive, advanced aircraft. The war in the Caucasus may lead to a re-evaluation of the prudence of shutting down the only
      active and planned air superiority fighter production line before potential threats are fully understood. It is entirely plausible
      that in 2020 the USAF will be accused of having focused too much on providing counterinsurgency capabilities if it finds itself
      facing a near peer in conventional warfare.

      A new multi-year contract for the F-22 is far from certain, although a small supplemental order to keep the production line
      active seems not only likely but prudent.

      • I think Janes is correct on both counts. The F-22 line should be kept open because we cannot assume that what we are doing today (i.e. counterinsurgency) is all that we will do in the future. Additionally, if and when the next state-on-state conflict occurs for the U.S., if we have not procured enough F-22s at that time, I guarantee that the Air Force will be criticized for having focused too much on counterinsurgency. At that point in time, I think the criticism will be correct. But, even if it were not correct, it is inevitable nonetheless. Why? Because U.S. military thought is dominated by whiggish, presentist thinking. Current “luminaries” criticize the U.S. military of the 1970s and 1980s for focusing too much on the Soviets and not enough on counterinsurgency, for not learning the supposed lessons of Vietnam. Of course, what they are doing is projecting present concerns into the past and criticizing historical actors for not being able to see the future. In fact, the U.S. military of the 1970s and 1980s did learn the right lesson from Vietnam: Don’t get distracted; stay focused on the main threat–i.e. the Soviets! So, future criticism if the USAF does not purchase enough F-22s is almost guaranteed, whether or not that criticism is warranted (which I think it will be). – post by TransTracker
    • The decision to extend the F-22’s line will need to be based upon known unknowns: the possibility for future advanced state-on-state
      war and the potential of the Russian and Chinese fifth-generation fighter programmes.
  • For all those who think airpower is irrelevant to counterinsurgency and to the current war, if it’s so irrelevant to the “boots on the grund,” why are the boots on the ground making so much use of it?

    tags: airpower, air_force, coin

    • The US Air Force (USAF) has seen a huge increase in the number of bombing missions it has carried out over Iraq since the
      United States’ troop ‘surge’ began. The service’s role is poised to expand even as ground forces withdraw, according to current
      and former defence officials.

      Former Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne said that the USAF’s breakthroughs in targeting technology and tactics have
      led to a 400 per cent increase in the amount of ordnance being dropped by the service’s aircraft in Iraq since the surge was
      launched in February 2007.

    • One key technology breakthrough in close air support has been the USAF-developed ROVER (Remotely Operated Video Enhanced Receiver),
      a laptop that can exchange live video imagery with pilots in the cockpit.

      The system can be linked to targeting pods on fighter aircraft so that everyone in the targeting loop can see the same things
      at the same time.

    • Since 2001, more than 4,000 of the units have been delivered to US forces and 14 other NATO members.
    • To make his point about the effectiveness of close-air-support operations, the senior defence official related to Jane’s a
      recently declassified conversation between two Taliban militants. “Tanks and armour are not a big deal; the planes are the
      killer. I can handle everything but the jet fighters,” the defence official recounted.

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