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Our maxim: “understanding before action”
Our purpose is to encourage the knowledge and the debate of issues connected with art and military science. Selection of articles attempts to reflect different opinions. Beyond any ideological ascription. In order to impulse critical thought amongst our readers.

miércoles, 13 de noviembre de 2013

El desafío de los ciberguerreros.


 

Making Cyberwarriors a Special Challenge for U.S. Military

By Steven Metz, on        
 
In the shrinking U.S. defense establishment there is one growth area: cyberwarfare. The military's Cyber Command plans to quadruple in size by 2015, adding 4,000 additional personnel, while all of the other combatant commands are likely to become smaller. The Navy is doubling its own cyber force, and the other services are likely to keep pace. This much growth will not be easy—finding, keeping and focusing cyberwarriors will remain challenging for the U.S. military.

States have always needed soldiers and sailors. And while every society has a few people inherently attracted to danger and discomfort, there are never enough of them, particularly for a large, modern military. Hence states must make warriors. For much of history, men were coerced into the military during peacetime by force or desperation, and swept into service by patriotism and peer pressure during war. Since the advent of the all-volunteer military in the 1970s, the U.S. has recruited using patriotism, the desire for adventure and the promise of upward mobility. It retains troops already serving by instilling a sense of belonging and duty and offering material inducements. And it focuses and disciplines its troops by inculcating the warrior ethos, training, education and, most importantly, support from close-knit teams.

But what works for making conventional warriors will not produce cyberwarriors, with their very different mentality, skill set and tolerance for authority. Today the U.S. uses a hybrid approach to this problem. The first part is finding people already in the military with a penchant for cyberwar. While it can be hard to keep them once they develop marketable skills, service members come with a tolerance for discipline and authority. The second part of the hybrid approach is to hire contractors with the skill set for cyberwar but who may not have the same tolerance for discipline and authority. The hope is that blending the two types of people will provide the right mix.

This approach may be sound in theory, but as the recent disasters of Chelsea Manning—formerly known as Bradley—and Edward Snowden show, it is far from perfect in practice. The most talented cyberwarriors are creative, and creativity is, by definition, anti-authoritarian. This is a dangerous quality when attempting to use action and power to advance policy. It can be difficult to convince cutting-edge cyberwarriors, the most talented of the talented, to work within a framework of discipline and order managed by people with less technical expertise than their subordinates. In conventional warfighting, senior noncommissioned and commissioned officers are normally more talented warriors than junior enlisted soldiers and have paid their dues by undergoing what they ask their subordinates to do. This instills a degree of deference, which contributes to discipline. In cyberwar, the distribution of talent is often upside down, with those at the bottom more adept than their leaders. This can cause frustration and even lead to betrayal.

The absence of an overarching legal and ethical framework for cyberwar complicates the problem. There is a well-developed body of law for conventional war that indicates appropriate targets and methods. Conventional warriors know their boundaries and the cost of violating them. But at this point in history, the ethical and legal framework of cyberwar is much less formalized. This ethical and legal vacuum can lead individual cyberwarriors to conclude that they have the right, even the obligation, to define the limits of acceptable action on their own.

Is, then, the U.S. military's hybrid approach to making cyberwarriors adequate? It depends on the opponent. When facing another government or military that has the same challenges as the United States—a sclerotic bureaucracy with little tolerance for creativity and an upside-down structure where leaders are less skilled than subordinates—it may be. In asymmetric conflicts against nonstate opponents, whether cybermilitias, cyberinsurgents or sophisticated criminal organizations, the hybrid approach may prove inadequate.

Unfortunately, other security organizations designed to cultivate unusual skills, such as the military's special operations forces or the intelligence community's espionage service, are too different to serve as models. Both of those organizations need very few people, so the parent organizations can be highly selective, rejecting more candidates than they accept. Such rigid selectivity won't fill the military’s growing demand for cyberwarriors. Special operations forces, while "special," are still a subset of the warrior ethos and subject to the laws and ethics of armed conflict. And operating in small, tightly knit teams reinforces discipline, while facing personal danger encourages respect for authority. Although espionage operatives also work within a team structure, it is more diffused. The rules of the game are less formal and include deliberate deception. This is the reason that espionage services have more problems with control and discipline. Those services are well aware that, as in cyberwar, a rogue individual—a Manning or Snowden—can damage a large espionage organization.

Given all this, the optimal organization to find and keep cyberwarriors remains elusive. It's not even clear what government agency should lead the effort. Critics worry that America's cyber capabilities are dominated by the military. Writers like Martin Libicki (.pdf) and Jason Healy contend that this will lead other nations to follow suit and expand their offensive cyber capabilities. After all, every military understands that offense is the best defense and the best deterrent.

But even if the United States decides that the military should not define and dominate its cyber activities, the Department of Defense will still play a vital role. And it will struggle with the problems of combining creativity and discipline, and attracting and keeping top-tier talent in a realm that is more in the private sector than the public.

In assessing the U.S. military services, the late Carl Builder noted that they, like every individual and organization, have identifiable personalities. So to be both effective and disciplined in the cyber realm, the United States should stop grafting cyberwar onto existing military services, each of which has a personality developed over time that varies from the one needed for success. It must also realize the limitations of transforming conventional warriors into cyberwarriors. What America needs is not only a Cyber Command or even a cyber branch of the military, but a cybersecurity organization closely linked to the private sector yet separate from the Department of Defense. Without this, it will be hard to generate enough cyberwarriors, and the right kind of them, needed to meet the mounting danger.

Steven Metz is a defense analyst and the author of "Iraq and the Evolution of American Strategy." His weekly WPR column, Strategic Horizons, appears every Wednesday.