World War III: Nuclear or Cyber?

DQW Bureau
New Update


US announcement to setup a Cyber Command aimed at gaining military

supremacy in cyber space, might trigger a new arms race, said Peng Guangqian, a

Beijing-based strategist to China Daily.

Recently US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had announced that the US has

established the world's first comprehensive, multi-service military cyber

operation, called CYBERCOM, which could provide US forces a lead in new emerging

strategic fields like space and outer space.

The announcement comes in the backdrop of the reports of cyber attacks

targeting the US. President Barack Obama had also recently highlighted the

importance of cyber security as part of national security.


The Background

The US Cyber Command is led by National Security Agency/Central Security

Service Director General Keith B Alexander. The command will assume

responsibility for several existing organizations. The Joint Task Force for

Global Network Operations (JTF-GNO) and the Joint Functional Component Command

for Network Warfare (JFCC-NW) will be dissolved by October 2010. The Defense

Information Systems Agency, where JTF-GNO now operates, will provide technical

assistance for network and information assurance to CYBERCOM, and will be moving

its headquarters to Ft Meade USCYBERCOM will centralize command of cyberspace

operations, strengthen DoD cyberspace capabilities, and integrate and bolster

DoD's cyber expertise.

Consequently, USCYBERCOM will improve DoD's capabilities to ensure resilient,

reliable information and communication networks, counter cyberspace threats, and

assure access to cyberspace. USCYBERCOM's efforts will also support the Armed

Services' ability to confidently conduct high-tempo, effective operations as

well as protect command and control systems and the cyberspace infrastructure

supporting weapons system platforms from disruptions, intrusions and attacks.

The US military operates 7 mn computers and 15,000 computer networks and has

virtually 'no situational awareness' that would enable it to know when a cyber

attack is underway, the new head of the US Cyber Command said on June 3.


“We have no situational awareness, it's very limited,” Alexander said in an

address at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

That puts the military at risk because it depends increasingly on computer

networks for maintaining command and control, for communicating, for

intelligence operations and for logistics, he said.

Military computer networks are “probed 250,000 times an hour and 6 mn times a

day,” he added.


And too often, the military discovers through forensics that network probes

have been successful. As a consequence, response becomes “policing up after the

fact versus mitigating it real-time,” Alexander said.

Mixed Reactions

In response to the US move, Meng Xiangqing, a professor with the National

Defence University in Beijing, said there is a very thin line between a

defensive and an offensive act when it comes to cyber space.

“CYBERCOM ranks high in the US military, reporting directly to the US

Strategic Command, and the US is the most advanced state in cyber technology.

This absolute advantage may trigger a new type of arms race,” Meng told China



Song Xiaojun, a Beijing based military strategist, told Chinese newspaper

World News Journal that even if other countries join in the cyber arms race,

they are not capable of competing with the US since it possesses the core

technologies of the Internet.

Placing computer security, including in the civilian sector, under a military

command is yet another step in the direction of militarizing the treatment of

what are properly criminal or even merely proprietary and commercial matters.

And preparing responses of a decidedly non-virtual nature in return.

The Pentagon and the National Security Agency will not be alone in the

endeavor to establish and operate the world's first national cyber warfare

command. As usual, Washington is receiving unconditional support from NATO.


NATO not only provides the US with twenty-seven additional voices and votes

in the UN and as many countries through which to transit and in which to base

troops and military equipment, it also allows for American military deployments

and creates the pretext for armed confrontation in alleged defense of other

member states.

Stating that “The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of

them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all,”

Article 5 is in large part the foundation of and the impetus for the Pentagon's

Cyber Command.

The clamor for a cyber warfare capacity began among leading American and NATO

officials during and immediately after attacks on computer systems in Estonia in

late April and early May of 2007. The small country, a neighbor of Russia which

had been inducted into NATO three years earlier, accused Russian hackers of the

attacks on both government and private networks, and the charge was echoed in

the West with the additional insinuation that the government of then Russian

President Vladimir Putin was behind the campaign.


Three years later the accusations have not been substantiated, but they have

served their purpose nonetheless: NATO dispatched cyber warfare experts to

Estonia shortly after the events of 2007 and on May 14, 2008 the military bloc

established what it calls the Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCD

COE) in the nation's capital of Tallin. The bloc's Article 5 has been

repeatedly-and given its nature ominously-evoked in reference to alleged cyber

crimes and attacks, and Estonia has been portrayed as both the model victim of

such assaults and the rallying point for a global cyber warfare response to


From the genesis of the drive for US-NATO cyber warfare operations Russia has

been the clearly implied if not always openly acknowledged target.

This January US based Google accused Chinese hackers of “sophisticated

cyberattacks” and since then Beijing has joined Moscow as the most frequently

cited antagonist in future cyber conflict scenarios, intimately linked to

comparable disputes in space over military and civilian satellites.

The British House of Lords issued a report in mid-March of this year that

explicitly asserted, “Britain needs to work more closely with NATO to fend off

'cyber warfare' on critical national infrastructure from former cold war enemies

such as Russia and China,” and which “highlight the dangers of attacks on

the internet, banking and mobile phone networks by the Russians in Estonia three

years ago.”

Cyber defense and its inevitable correlate, cyber warfare, are integral

components of Pentagon and NATO warfighting doctrine, embodied as such in the

US's new Quadrennial Defense Review and in NATO's latest Strategic Concept to be

formally adopted at the bloc's summit in Lisbon, Portugal this November.

Cyber warfare as an element of military operations in the other four

spheres-land, air, sea and space, especially in the last and in its own right.

With the most advanced computer networks in the world and the most capable corps

of cyber specialists in all realms, the world's military superpower has launched

the first military cyber command.

CIOL Bureau

(Source: DQ)