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United States The Internet

The New Air Force Mission? 444

Posted by Cliff
from the flying-too-high? dept.
mvnicosia asks: "The US Air Force has released its new mission statement, which reads 'The mission of the United States Air Force is to deliver sovereign options for the defense of the United States of America and its global interests -- to fly and fight in Air, Space, and Cyberspace.' With the recent rows over US Internet governance, what do you think is the impact of a US government overtly practicing cyberspace warfare? And what are the US's legal limitations?"
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The New Air Force Mission?

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  • Chairforce! (Score:2, Funny)

    by ZiakII (829432)
    to fly and fight in Air, Space, and Cyberspace

    And people wonder why there called the chairforce.....
    • by RITMaloney (928883) on Friday December 09, 2005 @10:29AM (#14219075)
      "US's legal limitations?"

      Traditional Geneva Conventions apply to air. There are few practical constraints here.

      There are separate treaties outlawing militarization of space. How prohibitive the treaties will be in practice is yet to be seen. Regardless the US will always act to defend itself, particularly in regards to its satellite system which is today's "high ground" that facilities military dominance. Certainly the US will deploy defensive systems to protect satellites. Whether it will deploy systems designed to disable enemy satellites is uncertain, but likely.

      There are no legal treaties explicitly controlling cyber wars. There may be some older international law that could be applied to this new arena. Such would be similar to the desire of some to apply the international laws allowing nations the right to attack and capture pirates to the current war on terrorism -treating terrorists as pirates. If legal scholars can see parallels here, they'll surely see them in cyber warfare.

      Today many would consider carpet bombing an entire city filled with civilians in an attempt to destroy a radar tower as a practical violation of the Geneva Conventions' rule against targeting civilians because the same tower could be destroyed with other means that would not endanger a whole city of noncombatants.

      Would targeting an entire ISP to take out one terrorist website be similar? If that ISP refused to take down the website, how careful does the US have to be if it chooses to electronically attack it? Can it wipe out the data on all the ISP's servers, thus affecting "noncombatant websites?" Or must it be more careful and try to affect only the enemy's website? Probably not because the collateral damage is not that serious... loss of a website, eh... he'll live.

      But what if the US is at war with an entire country, how careful must it be in attacking entire networks in that country? In that case, there may be some serious considerations. Taking out a major ISP may disrupt not only government and military networks of the enemy but also hospital networks or networks that control municipal water systems, etc, etc, which would knowingly endanger civilian lives and possibly affect third party nations. In war a country must differ to saving its citizen's lives over those of the enemy when it has no other options. So, I suppose the legal limitations are such that the US has to decided, what options it has that will likely defeat/incapacitate the enemy and then choose the ones that least endanger civilians (lives and property). Maybe it will be that cruise missiles are safer to civilians than a cyber war.

      • I hope they (or someone) is working hard on the cyber-war front. Maybe I'm wrong, but the US seems to be the most vulnerable country in the world to that type of attack.

        And personally, if the choice is drop some bonbs or take out electronically take out an ISP, I'd say take out the ISP. I'd much rather have the collateral damage be disrupting a few businesses than the nightime cleaning crew at some government installation.

        You make some good points. I see it as adding to the list of options that can be used
  • by dan dan the dna man (461768) on Friday December 09, 2005 @09:31AM (#14218535) Homepage Journal
    Is this a mission statement from the early 1990's or something?
    • I think it just means they like to play Halo alot.
    • by the_pooh_experience (596177) on Friday December 09, 2005 @09:50AM (#14218696)
      Is this a mission statement from the early 1990's or something?

      In all likelyhood, yes... it is from the early 90's. You see the US government is not quick in doing anything, and especially not something as serious as coming up with a new "mission statement." You see, a committee was initiated to accomplish a new USAF mission statement in October, 1989 (beginning of the 1990 fiscal year). After a two year fact-finding period, a new mission statement was proposed without the words "sovereign" and "global interest." Strangely, there were references to the contries economy ("in defense of the nation's economy" - i'm paraphrasing).

      After six years of berrating from the Department of the Treasury, this last line was taken out. At this time, the democratic party held the commander in chief position and the Air Force Secratary was forced to add a more global impact to the mission statement. Quite frankly, the only reason it wasn't released in FY99 was that it was sitting on a civil servant's desk awaiting a rubber stamp. A month ago, the Air Force had a clean-up "down day" which allowed this employee to clean their desk and find the mission statement paperwork.

    • by pmancini (20121) <{pmancini} {at} {yahoo.com}> on Friday December 09, 2005 @12:45PM (#14220502) Homepage
      Infrastructure is seen as more and more important. People here can't already have forgotten the problems when the switches in the basement of the World Trade Center were taken out 4 years ago, have they?

      The best defense is a good offense.

      Also, there already was a Sino-American cyberwar. Here is just one link that you may find interesting: http://infosecuritymag.techtarget.com/2002/nov/new s.shtml [techtarget.com]

      Cyberwarfare is happening in the current conflict in Iraq and Afganistan. Radical Islam groups uses internet technology to coordinate - but then again so does my mother's sewing club so thats not too surprising. Open Source Intelligence Gathering is useful against such efforts as is direct manipulation of the same technologies.

      The war in Kosovo also involved a limited amount of cyberwarfare. That is easy enough to google up.

      So, yeah, the US may have claimed to be interested in this in the 1990's and I know for a fact that Tiger Teams were in place at least as far back as 1989 but its definiately gotten much more sophisticated and important in 2005.
  • Coool! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Moby Cock (771358)
    fight in Air, Space, and Cyberspace

    I'm thinking Tron light cycles in the skies above Iraq. How cool is that?
  • Damn, they even have a 'Flight Sim' department.

    Really though, what the hell has the internet got to do with the wingflapping guys?
    • Really though, what the hell has the internet got to do with the wingflapping guys?

      Well see, we have these places where all the planes and bombs are... they are called "air force bases", and at these bases, they do alot of research on, ya know, planes and bombs... and alot of these secrets are very important and held on computers in varying levels of connectivity... and see... these secrets would be most easily accessed by an outsider via, say, an inter-network of computers... which Al Gore shortened to
      • Really though, what the hell has the internet got to do with the wingflapping guys?

        Well see, we have these places where all the planes and bombs are... they are called "air force bases", and at these bases, they do alot of research on, ya know, planes and bombs... and alot of these secrets are very important and held on computers in varying levels of connectivity

        And this differentiates the air force from the army or navy--how? I think the original point was that there's no clear reason for this to be an ai

  • My guess (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bwd (936324) on Friday December 09, 2005 @09:33AM (#14218552) Homepage
    My guess is that if the U.S. government felt a threat was so grave that it would resort "cyberwarfare" as well as conventional warfare (knowing the consequences), then I think we'd all have a more serious problem than just worrying about internet governance.

    Just like anything, the U.S. has the power to abuse it. But I feel, as with many others, that the U.S. is less likely to abuse it due to its economic reliance upon it. The U.S. would only resort to "cyberwarfar" as one of the last resorts, it would seem.
    • Re:My guess (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Savage-Rabbit (308260)
      Just like anything, the U.S. has the power to abuse it. But I feel, as with many others, that the U.S. is less likely to abuse it due to its economic reliance upon it. The U.S. would only resort to "cyberwarfar" as one of the last resorts, it would seem.

      The road to debacle is littered with examples of politicians of all nationalities acting without thinking. In view of the fact that US politicians seem to have had a partickularly virulent spate of acting without thinking recently and doing so on a grander s
    • The Answer.... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by RITMaloney (928883)
      Well what do you consider cyber warfare? Shutting down the whole internet? Or simply attacking an ISP or military network in a hostile country? Or even more simply launching a Denial of Service attack against a terrorist propaganda website? (This is likely to be going on soon if not already).

      And where do you draw the line between POLICE ACTION on the internet and CYBERWARFARE? Is monitoring internet traffic for terrorist communications a POLICE ACTION or CYBERWAREFARE? What if you more from passive

      • Re:The Answer.... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot.kadin@x[ ].net ['oxy' in gap]> on Friday December 09, 2005 @10:13AM (#14218900) Homepage Journal
        I think that the USAF tossed in "cyber warfare" into their mission statement because it's a great way to get in at the ground level of something that they think might be big in the future, even though they're not really sure what it is. However, I think it's fair to say that some bunch of generals somewhere though that in the future, this might have a lot of money and responsibility associated with it, and maybe by putting it into their mission statement, they could corner the market.

        Frankly I think it's ridiculously outside of their mission. Cyberwarfare ought to be the domain of one of the intelligence agencies, since they're basically the ones with the signals interception, encryption, and intelligence analysis capabilities already. Neither the technical capabilities nor institutional culture of the Air Force really lend themselves to this mission.
        • Re:The Answer.... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) on Friday December 09, 2005 @10:44AM (#14219247) Journal
          I was thinking the same thing. It seems the NSA would probably be the ideal choice for this. I wonder if this is some legal issue. Does the NSA mandate allow for it to "wage war" or is it limited to inteligence/signals intercept/etc work? I'm really guessing here, but I think this may be more an issue of who's mandate allows some of the planned activities than who is most suited for the job.
        • Re:The Answer.... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by budgenator (254554) on Friday December 09, 2005 @11:45AM (#14219903) Journal
          The Air Force has had specialised a unit for about twenty years that deals with cyberwarfare, at least the computer/network security aspects of cyberwarfare.
          Neither the technical capabilities nor institutional culture of the Air Force really lend themselves to this mission. Given the mega-tonnage of stratigic nuclear weapons in the Air Force invetory, the entire world hopes you are wrong about that.
        • Re:The Answer.... (Score:4, Informative)

          by michaelconnor (925973) on Friday December 09, 2005 @01:58PM (#14221230)
          The mission statement's use of "cyberspace" is likely a bit misleading, as it is more often used in reference to the internet (by people who don't know the correct terms to use). Actually, however, the Air Force has been deeply involved in electronic warfare since before the cold war.

          Today, aircraft like the AWACS [wikipedia.org] and JSTARS [wikipedia.org] are integral to controlling theater level communication and are often used for intel gathering.

          Other dedicated surveillance aircraft like the Rivet Joint [wikipedia.org] are packed full of sensory equipment to intercept, block, and manipulate wireless communication transmittions(cellular, 802.11, 900MHz).

          After Vietnam, the Prowler [wikipedia.org] was repurposed for radar jamming and surveillance in support of combat operations.

          In the last few American wars, the EC-130E [wikipedia.org] was used quite a bit to broadcast radio and TV content for PsycOps.

          These days, it could be argued, the Air Force is used for electronic warfare more than it is as an "ordinance taxi service". Either way, this role certainly disserves mentioning in its mission statement.
    • But I feel, as with many others, that the U.S. is less likely to abuse it due to its economic reliance upon it.

      Which is exactly why there exists a small but growing minority in this country who feel that our economic reliance on other nations has become too great, and is becoming a danger to national security.
      • You mean like our reliance on oil?

        In a word: DUH
        • And yet- I keep being called a racist for saying that we need an immediate 60% reduction in our oil usage by rationing, and begin treason trials against multinational corporations that manufacture overseas.
  • Don't Worry (Score:5, Funny)

    by scottennis (225462) on Friday December 09, 2005 @09:35AM (#14218564) Homepage
    All of their equipment was made by the lowest bidder.
    • Re:Don't Worry (Score:2, Informative)

      by Ride Jib (879374)
      Not true. I used to work for Lockheed Martin (Aircraft Center to be exact), and there were many times we had plans for less costly than Boeing, but they would get the bid.
    • Re:Don't Worry (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Actually, it's worse than being made by the lowest bidder. At one time in my life, I was a computer programmer for the Air Force. I have since escaped to the private sector, but as late as 1991 or 1992, where I worked was STILL USING PUNCH CARDS on one particular computer system. I was just amazed. When I was in college in the 1980s, punch cards were old, antiquated technology. I talked to a guy who maintained the punch card system and he told me that it was the only punch card system still in operatio
  • The term cyberspace includes network security, data transmission and the sharing of information.

    Watch out for unmanned drones in your peer2peer networks.
  • War? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by verbnoun (920657)
    Could this be the beginnings of the first ever war that takes place over the Internet?
  • Read It Differenty (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Comatose51 (687974) on Friday December 09, 2005 @09:35AM (#14218570) Homepage
    "'The mission of the United States Air Force is to deliver sovereign options for the defense of the United States of America and its global interests -- to fly and fight in Air, Space, and Cyberspace.' "

    You could be worried about it but if you read it more narrowly and in context, it's not that scary. The USAF will fight in space, air, and cyberspace as it relates to warfare. Given how dependent the US miliary and other militaries are on information, it's reasonable to expect them to practice techniques for attacking and defend networks. Put it another way, while the air force practices gaining air superiority, we rarely ever see them go around downing civilian aircraft in times of peace (though there have been mistakes). Just because they're developing the ability it doesn't mean they're going to recklessly use it on everyone. The military needs to be prepared for things that might happen.

  • by BiloxiGeek (872377) * on Friday December 09, 2005 @09:35AM (#14218571)
    After spending 22 years wearing the USAF uniform I think I can be confident in saying that the new mission statement has been looked over and discussed by many General officers, public affairs officers and lawyers both civilian and blue-suiters. They don't often post public statements like that without knowing exactly what ramifications might pop up.
    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday December 09, 2005 @10:45AM (#14219256) Journal
      After spending 22 years wearing the USAF uniform

      Wow, no wonder people think /. readers smell...

    • by fbg111 (529550)
      I think I can be confident in saying that the new mission statement has been looked over and discussed by many General officers, public affairs officers and lawyers both civilian and blue-suiters. They don't often post public statements like that without knowing exactly what ramifications might pop up.

      With all due respect, these are some of the same people who brought us the highly tactful "shock and awe", applied to a civilian city interspersed with military and Baath party apparatus. A wiser choice w
  • Legal limitations (Score:4, Insightful)

    by theonetruekeebler (60888) on Friday December 09, 2005 @09:36AM (#14218573) Homepage Journal
    And what are the US's legal limitations

    Bluntly speaking, the US's legal limitations are whatever it decides they are.

    AFAICT there are no international treaties about cybercrime and information warfare---except those involving copyrights. The U.S. seems happy to prosecute or cause to be prosecuted anybody who is electonically inconvenient to U.S. companies.

    • OK, but aren't there treaties covering space?

      "...to fly and fight in Air, Space, and Cyberspace."
      • OK, but aren't there treaties covering space?

        "...to fly and fight in Air, Space, and Cyberspace."

        Yes, there are treaties covering space - and George W. can/will step unilaterally outside these treaties, as he already did with other treaties.
  • by Oniron (251942) * on Friday December 09, 2005 @09:36AM (#14218580)
    Reading Paul Wolfowitz & co. in Rebuilding America's Defenses [newamericancentury.org] from September 2000, it looks like the past 5 years have been right on target. This particular development is the subject of pages 54 to 57 concluding with the following paragraph.
    Taken together, the prospects for space war or "cyberspace war" represent the truly revolutionary potential inherent in the notion of military transformation. These future forms of warfare are technologically immature, to be sure. But, it is also clear that for the U.S. armed forces to remain preeminent and avoid an Achilles Heel in the exercise of its power they must be sure that these potential future forms of warfare favor America just as today's air, land and sea warfare reflect United States military dominance.
    Happy 21st century!
  • Lest we forget (Score:3, Insightful)

    by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Friday December 09, 2005 @09:38AM (#14218591)
    The different branches of the U.S. military spend far more time competing with each other for budgetary dollars than against foriegn powers. Witness the Air Force vs the Navy for fighter plane designs. This new mission statement is from the Secrtary of the Air Force and the Air Force Chief of Staff - no higher. I'm guessing it represents a turf grab on the part of the Air Force - cyberspace is ours!
  • Legal limitations? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Big Nothing (229456)
    "what are the US's legal limitations?"

    Maybe I'm being a troll here (mod me down if you wish), but the current administration has pretty much made it clear that any "legal limitations" that may have previously existed are now void.

    • because no government operates under any true constraint except those which ends its dominance. If anything the Bush people are just to blunt. Perhaps its the nature of Texans, but subterfuge isn't always the best method either.
  • Someone at the top's thought. OK, we'll add Space to our mission statement, and someone lower's just grepped for .*space.* ...

    The airforce in cyberspace... You couldn't make it up... Well, maybe Pratchet could.

     
  • by jurt1235 (834677) on Friday December 09, 2005 @09:39AM (#14218605) Homepage
    US surrenders to Fatal1ty

    The US airforce today acknowledged defeat in cyberspace after being challenged by 1 individual, Johnathan Wendel, aka Fatal1ty.
    The chief of staff confirmed that after hurling 20 marines at Fatal1ty, they discovered that they were not able to defeat him. Extrapolating this knowledge to the rest of the airforce, they surrendered the complete airforce to him.
    There has not been any news yet from other defenses until now. The expectation of this news agency is however, that by the end of the month, the US will have a new president for live.

    Note: This news agency is in no way forced to support either party because of continuing cyber attacks. We are not under attack, serious, we mean it.

    Backroom noise: Aaahhh, he fragged me for the 10th time this hour. PUBLISH THE ITEM, PUBLISH THE ITEM!
  • by MECC (8478)
    Maybe they should target a few cruise missles at Sony, for their second DRM snafu [arstechnica.com].

    After all, a rootkit is a tactic that would be attractive to some terrorist organizations...

    Of course, I don't missles fired at me for running MythTV. Maybe its just a bad idea.
  • *sigh* (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Guppy06 (410832)
    "the United States of America and its global interests"

    Once upon a time those two were considered mutuall exclusive.
  • Enemy 'Command and control' was the first and most important target in the Gulf Wars. Cyberwarfare is another rapid means of attacking it out, along with jamming, and good old iron bombs. I for one welcome our new Air Force overlords.

  • by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Friday December 09, 2005 @09:45AM (#14218655)
    "seeking out new life" and "exploring strange, new worlds"

    Optimists surrender.
  • The wars of the future will not be fought on the battlefield or at sea. They will be fought in space, or possibly on top of a very tall mountain. In either case, most of the actual fighting will be done by small robots. And as you go forth today remember always your duty is clear: To build and maintain those robots. Thank you.
  • Maybe they'll be able to outsource most of the work to GeekSquad! They're already skilled in paratroopoing down into residential neighborhoods to fix up Joe Sixpack's computer. ;)
  • I'm deeply concerned about not only the motives of the U.S. military engaging in 'cyberspace warfare' in terms of whether it would be kept within legal limitations (if that's even possible), but also about the competence of the people who would be carrying it out to make appropriate decisions with respect to the legality of what they are doing. Take a look at this article [hackcanada.com] to see what I mean.

  • What worries me most in this new mission statement is the reference to space combat.

    How dangerous would space combat be to the US? How much of our economy relies on communications satellites?

    It seems to me that a relatively 'backwater' countries that had ICBM missles could do a lot of damage to the US economy (and thus war machine) by shooting down our satellites, even if they posed little challenge on the battlefield.
    • The U.S. has signed treaties to treat space like the Antarctic and pursue only peaceful exploration:

      http://www.state.gov/t/ac/trt/5181.htm [state.gov]

      "The substance of the arms control provisions is in Article IV. This article restricts activities in two ways:
      First, it contains an undertaking not to place in orbit around the Earth, install on the moon or any other celestial body, or otherwise station in outer space, nuclear or any other weapons of mass destruction.
      Second, it limits the use of the moon and ot
  • TAF (Score:5, Funny)

    by XO (250276) <blade DOT eric AT gmail DOT com> on Friday December 09, 2005 @09:56AM (#14218759) Homepage Journal
    An Army grunt stands in the rain after marching 12 miles with 35-pound pack on his back and says, "God, this is shit."

    An Army Airborne recruit stands in the rain after jumping from an airplane and marching 18 miles with a 45-pound pack on his back and says with a smile, "God, this is the shit."

    An Army Airborne Ranger lies in the mud after jumping from a plane into a swamp and marching 25 miles at night past the enemy with a 55-pound pack on his back and says with a grin, "God, I love this shit!"

    A Green Beret kneels in the stinking mud of a swamp with a 65-pound pack on his back after jumping from an airplane into the ocean, swimming ten miles to the swamp and crawling 30 miles through the brush to assault the enemy camp and says with a passionate snarl, "God, give me some more of this shit!"

    An Air Force recruit sits in an easy chair in his air-conditioned, carpeted quarters and says, "The internet connection's out? What kind of shit is this?"
    • Re:TAF (Score:5, Funny)

      by stanmann (602645) on Friday December 09, 2005 @10:54AM (#14219359) Journal
      Which Service Has the Smartest Enlisted Force?

      There is no doubt at all that, of all the Services, the Air Force has the most intelligent enlisted people. This is not just opinion, it's provable fact:

      Take the Army, for instance. When the stuff hits the fan, the young Army private wakes up from a bellow from the First Sergeant. He grabs a set of BDUs out of his foot locker, gets dressed, runs down to the chow-hall for a breakfast on the run, then jumps in his tank. Pretty soon, the Platoon Commander arrives, gives him a big salute, and says, "Give 'em Hell, men."

      Now take the Marines. When the stuff hits the fan, the young Marine recruit is kicked out of bed by his First Sergeant, puts on a muddy set of BDUs because he just got back in from the field three hours before. He gets no breakfast, but is told to feel free to chew on his boots. He runs out and forms up with his rifle. Pretty soon, his platoon commander comes out, Gives his Marines a Sharp Salute, and says, "Give 'em Hell, Marines!"

      Now take the Navy. When the stuff hits the fan, the young Sailor is eating breakfast in the mess room. He walks 20 feet to his battle station, stuffing extra pastries in his pocket as he goes. There he sits, in the middle of a steel target, with nowhere to run, when the Captain comes on the 1MC and says, "Give 'em Hell, Sailors! I salute you!"

      Now the Air Force. When the stuff hits the fan, the Airman receives a phone call in his off-base quarters. He gets up, showers, shaves, and puts on a fresh uniform he had just picked up from the BX cleaners the day before. He jumps in his car, and stops at McDonald's for a McMuffin on his way into work. Once he arrives at work, he signs in on the duty roster and proceeds to his F-16. He spends 30 minutes pre-flighting it, signs off the forms. Pretty soon the Pilot, a young captain, gets out and straps into the Plane. He starts the engines. Our Young Airman stands at attention, gives the Captain a sharp salute, and says, "Give 'em Hell, Sir!"
      • Re:TAF (Score:3, Funny)

        by rjune (123157)
        You got it right. I used to be a KC-135 tanker navigator. It took 3 officers to drive the enlisted man (or woman) to work.
  • by Shivetya (243324) on Friday December 09, 2005 @09:56AM (#14218761) Homepage Journal
    Cyberspace is ours, let the Army, Navy, and Marines sit and spin.

    Justifcation of one's budget usually means jumping the gun and laying ownership claims quickly. Expressing it in your mission statement is one good way of doing it. Now the other branches will have to figure out how to keep the Air Force from getting the sole control of that arena.

    In other words, we want money and here is our justification, after all Cyberspace is so big and scary!
  • by ianscot (591483) on Friday December 09, 2005 @10:04AM (#14218817)
    The Joint Doctrine for Space Operations [dtic.mil] spells out a ton of the (declassified, anyway) options for conducting warfare in outer space.

    Kind of interesting that the document starts with a rationale based on the Iraqis having tried to jam GPS during Gulf War II -- "adversaries will target space capabilities" -- and then quickly moves on to a "We've got to be ready to do that to our opponents" stance that's openly aggressive.

    Lots of interesting details in there. A sidebar says over 80% of US military satellite communications during GW II used commercial satellites.

    Page 49 of the 63 has a scant paragraph about legal considerations. Basically the M.O. is "check with a judge advocate to make sure it's okay."

    • The Iraqis did in fact have ground based GPS jammers in place.

      GPS-jammer contractor plays both sides of war [worldnetdaily.com]

      IIRC, US special forces were sent in to disable them. (Thank you)

      If the Iraqis had the capability to knock out a GPS satellite, and degrade the system upon which their enemy's most effective weapons relied, don't you think they would have done that too? It might not take a lot; just a high powered laser and an accurate tracking device. The Soviet/Russian anti-satelite systems were little more

  • by Johnny Mozzarella (655181) on Friday December 09, 2005 @10:04AM (#14218821)
    Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Cyber Guard

    Each branch is going to end up having it's own "Cyberspace" division duplicating the efforts of other branches and wasting taxpayer dollars.
    I just hope we don't have a cyber-civil war with the branches trying to out hack each other.

    While we are at it, why not redefine the mission of the US Coast Guard to "Border Guard". Give them the resources they need to defend all our Borders.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Anyone who fails to see the strategic military, economic and other importance of comm nets is ... naive.

    A key asset in our comms capability orbits in space: the constellations of comms satellites, along with GPS and other capabilities (including visual surveillance / reconaissance). Those satellites were put there by USAF in most cases and they retain operational responsibility for many of the military ones.

    As far as the announcement goes (and Euro response) well ... Europe has been deliberately trying to
  • by Wicked187 (529065) on Friday December 09, 2005 @10:11AM (#14218873) Homepage
    None.

    People need to realize, there is no such thing as international "law." There certainly are things that are called international law, but it is not actually law. They are parts of treaties and agreements built between nations, and they are broken by all nations when it is in their best interest. The U.S. does it; Canada does it; Mexico does it; Japan does it; China does it; They ALL do it. There are no legal implications, unless the U.S. decides that they will allow some other nation to bring legal charges. I really don't see that happening.

    Of course, that does not mean there are no other implications... like retaliation.
    • On the contrary- when the US enters into a treaty, which ocurrs when the Senate ratifies it, the treaty has the same force as any other law in the United States. We are a nation of laws, and therefore, also a nation of treaties. Treaties do come with clauses allowing nations to leave the treaty if it is in their national security interests, but doing so must be done publically which has an international audience cost.

      I agree that many nations bend agreements when in their interests, but the best treaties

  • I once was at a lecture by Lieutenant Commander Chris Eagle, an instructor at the Naval Postgraduate School, who taught courses on cyber defence and cyber warfare and he made an important point: Only uniform wearing members of the United States Armed Forces can actively engage in warfare of any kind, including 'cyberwarfare'. This is because of laws and treaties governing who is and who is not a combatant. Even though many civillians may be involved in developing 'cyberweapons', just as civillians are very

  • If you're from non-USA country I can understand why you'd like to see the US a less powerful country.

    But if you're an American I don't understand why you wouldn't want the USA to have sovereign military options. Why you'd like to see the fight be a little more fair. WTF would you want a fair fight for? I think it's a huge deterrant to the bad guys knowing that we could eliminate them if they gave us a reason to.

    In addition, there may be agreements between different countries. But it is not a "sin" to
    • Actually, when we sign a treaty and it is ratified by the Senate, the treaty has the same force as a US law. We can, of course, exit a treaty just as we can overturn or rewrite a law. The important point is that more than just being sovereign, we are a nation of laws, which include international treaties. So breaking a treaty is breaking the law, though I admit most countries at least bend treaty obligations all of the time.

      A second point is that a treaty is only agreed to by two or more parties who agre

      • I'd like to add, as well, that treaties hold the same weight as Constitutional Law in the U.S., unless they violate the Constitution. So, unless a treaty is broken, no simple law can be passed that violates those treaties, either, without it being effectively unconstitutional.

    • When the enemy has absolute power there is nothing to lose. The current crop of "bad guys" know all too well that you are unable to eliminate them; they hide in civilian populations, they have no centres of population to hit with air strikes. If you attack other countries because they harbour terrorists unwillingly, you do not just lose trust or credibility. You lose trade. You lose security. Americans are put in danger everywhere because they are seen as oppressors. Making the world a desert and calling it
  • by chiph (523845) on Friday December 09, 2005 @10:23AM (#14219010)
    In the early 1980's, the Air Force Communications Command (AFCC) changed all their flight, squadron, and group names from "Communications" to "Information Systems". So, the 2049 CG (at McClellan AFB, now closed) became the 2049 ISG.

    For about a 10 month period.

    The culture of the rest of the USAF was not ready for this change, and the other major commands essentially forced AFCC to change them all back by refusing to update all their documentation & correspondence to the new names.

    The difference between then and now, is of course 22 calendar years and 60+ internet years. Also, this is the entire USAF, and not a supporting major command. Who knows -- they might actually get this change to stick.

    Chip H.
  • Sweet! (Score:5, Funny)

    by saskboy (600063) on Friday December 09, 2005 @10:33AM (#14219121) Homepage Journal
    If you don't want an air attack from the USA now, all you have to do is block their IP range!

    -/What do you mean there's Internet from satellites now?! Damn!
  • by xs650 (741277)
    Present reality for the Air Force is that its Airmen are getting used to run convoys and pull guard duty for the Army in Iraq. The Army doen't have the man power to keep that fiasco going, so in addition to abusivly overusing the Army National Guard, they are now using a lot of AF and some Navy personnel to do the Army's work.

  • by rwa2 (4391) * on Friday December 09, 2005 @11:01AM (#14219438) Homepage Journal
    *** Disclaimer *** I work for a major defence contractor that sells Sats and stuff

    The Air Force had always launched and maintained most of the military communication satellites. These uplinks usually form the trunk of deployed military networks... after all, it wouldn't be too convenient for the Army to subscribe to the nearest middle east DSL line or for the Navy to spool thousands of miles worth of fiber behind a flotilla. So most of what the military considers the "network" is this wireless communications system, which needs to be heavily secured, defended, etc.

    One of the first things the Air Force is responsible for during an invasion is to take out the enemy's command and control infrastructure - destroying their radar, microwave tranceivers, satcomm, and other network and surveillance equipment. Whether this is done using bombs/missiles, jamming equipment, or perhaps some kind of network attack/exploit, I suppose you could agree that the latter modes could be less destructive and more subtle in terms of offering you counterintelligence options ("no, the invading force is actually over *here*". And the less infrastructure you physically destroy, the less you have to rebuild later, I guess.

    While some of this might be carried on over the internet, I imagine the vast majority would occur over isolated military intranets.

    I'd be pretty surprised if Air Force honeynets and botnets start duking it out with the supposed North Korean hacker army over the normal internet we know and love, playing a game of cat 'n' mouse over the tattered remains of a compromised IIS server... though I wonder who /would/ be doing that kind of thing, among the NSA, CIA, or maybe even the FBI at first.
  • Information Warfare (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dustinbarbour (721795) on Friday December 09, 2005 @11:01AM (#14219439) Homepage

    The Department of Defense realizes that information warfare is a serious business. During Gulf War II we had computers constantly dialing damn near every phone number in Baghdad which overloaded their phone system and forced them to constantly bring it down and back up. The system was practically unusable. The internet has become the communications medium of choice for most everything these days and the Air Force knows this. Thus they realize that they're gonna need a strong ability to conduct warfare in cyberspace if they wish to have every possible advantage when the bullets and bombs start flying. Nothing more, nothing less.

    I don't understand why someone would have a problem with that. What? You're not patriotic?

  • by JaJ_D (652372) on Friday December 09, 2005 @11:04AM (#14219461)
    Well apparently [bbc.co.uk] lying [bbc.co.uk] in [bbc.co.uk] a bloody [bbc.co.uk] pool [worldfreeinternet.net] of denal [hrw.org]

    And also to quote [bbc.co.uk] a US general "He[Bush] made a decision that Geneva [conventions] would in fact govern all but al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda look-alike detainees. Any other prisoners of course would be governed by traditional methods, international law, Geneva and so forth".

    IMHO the US is acting with total disregard for the basic human rights of people. They apear to be hell-bent on total world domination.

    It's a massive shame

    Jaj
  • Due Diligence (Score:3, Informative)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Friday December 09, 2005 @11:04AM (#14219465)
    So the question is why is this a problem? The United States armed forces had damned well better be prepared for military actions in cyberspace, IT IS THEIR JOB. Anything less is gross negligance and dereliction of duty.

    Now you may or may not like the policies of the US government, but that has nothing to do with the military - the military's job is to carry out those policies.

    And as far as the US's legal obligations, well what does the Constitution say about that? Well, the military has a few limits - it can't board soldiers in your house without compensation, it can't use soldiers for law enforcement in the US. But in terms of carrying out warefare, the legal limitations are that it has to follow the orders of the President, who is ultimately accountable for it's actions. And the President is bound by a few restrictions in his role. For example only Congress can declare war, Congress can impeach, etc.

    And WHAT THE HELL does this have to do with the root zone file maintainer? Bupkis, that's what.


  • It all doesn't matter much, the US military is going to have it's ass handed to them soon:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/prweb/20051124/bs_prweb/pr web314382_1 [yahoo.com]

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