U.S. Strategic Command

 

Speeches

2011 USSTRATCOM Cyber and Space Symposium - Opening Remarks

By General C. Robert Kehler | Omaha, Neb. | November 15, 2011

Thank you, John. Good morning everyone and welcome. It's a real pleasure to have all of you in Omaha with us. I think you heard the Lieutenant Governor say that we have had a very very nice warm autumn and we're going to have good weather here, I'm sure, for the rest of this week and even if it rains or gets colder that's good weather in Omaha and we're delighted you could all be here with us.

I would like to recognize the Presentation of the Colors and the singing of the National Anthem as well. Of course the Colors were presented by Bellview West High School Junior ROTC, and the National Anthem was sung by the Omaha Central High School Choir. I don't know about you, but every time we have an opportunity to invite our young people to come and participate in sessions like this it's an energizing event for me. So I would ask you to join in one more round of applause for all of those folks that were here.

[Applause].

Let me also thank the sponsors, AFCEA and our commercial partners. Let me thank Jerry Gandy and the J9 Staff. This is not an easy or trivial event to try to put on. Just look around the room and this is the largest of the sessions that we have had to date. So I know that's been a very difficult thing. And then of course, let me say thank you one more time to Lieutenant Governor Rick Sheehy.

The CEO of a big IT company needed to call one of its employees about an urgent problem with one of the main computers. So he dials the employee's home phone number and a young boy answers the phone in a whisper, "Hello." When the CEO asked to speak to his father the boy replies in a whisper, "He can't come to the phone right now." So the CEO asked to speak to his mother and the boy says, "She's busy, she can't come to the phone either." The CEO is taken aback and asks if anyone else is at the house with the boy. "Yes," whispers the kid, "a policeman." Wondering what a cop is doing at the employee's home, the CEO asks, "May I speak with the policeman?" "No," says the boy, "he's busy." "Busy? Doing what," asks the CEO. "Talking to daddy and mommy and the fireman," whispers the boy. Growing impatient the CEO asks the boy what his father, mother, the police and the fire department are so busy doing that they can't come to the phone. And the boy whispers back, "I'm not sure, but I think they're looking for me."

[Laughter].

So looking at this crowd that we've gathered here today, there's no question where you look if you want to find the leaders in space and cyberspace. They're right here this morning. Right here at the Century Link Center in Omaha.

So it's our pleasure to be here with all of you this morning, especially as we're addressing the theme of new challenges and new opportunities.

Now I took command at STRATCOM at the end of January of this year and as Commander I've made it a practice to try to repeat some consistent and overarching themes within the command. In my testimony before Congressional Committees and in public conversations I have been repeating a theme that I think defines the context and provides the framework for the discussion we'll have over the next couple of days. And of course what I'm referring to is this dynamic and demanding operating environment we find ourselves in today. And the theme that I keep repeating is:

We have never seen an operating environment like the one that we have today. And that operating environment that we face today is affecting and stressing our decision-making processes, our plans and our capabilities.

We live in a time when this national security landscape that we're trying to maneuver in is marked by persistent conflict, constant change, and enormous complexity. The future holds uncertainty, financial stress, increasing natural resource competition, demographic changes, continued violent extremism, and the potential for proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Recognizing U.S. conventional dominance, adversaries are seeking ways to negate key elements of U.S. power asymmetrically in all domains and surprise remains an attractive objective, especially where surprise can be strategically decisive in areas like cyberspace and space.

The battle space from our perspective has expanded beyond traditional geographic boundaries as our world becomes increasingly interconnected through space and cyberspace. Potential adversaries can wield hybrid combinations of strategies, tactics, and capabilities and will operate in the shadows to present us with ambiguous indications and situations. Taken together, these factors compress our decision times, stress our strategies, potentially negate our plans and disrupt our capabilities. These factors are not confined only to the battle space, they also have significant impact on our financial, our economic, and our communications sectors. These stresses can threaten us not only in a military sense, but in a broader national security sense.

Space and cyber capabilities provide the U.S., our allies, and our partners with unprecedented advantages in national decision-making and military operations, in homeland security, in economic strength, and in scientific discovery. Friend and foe alike are tapping into those benefits, sometimes maliciously, at times driven by profit-seeking motives to their own advantages.

Yes, the potential battle space has expanded to encompass areas and domains that previously didn't figure in our calculations. It wasn't too long ago that operationally we in the U.S. military believed that space was something of a sanctuary for our operations. That is certainly not true today.

I mentioned before that the current operating environment is dynamic. Consider the enormous changes and advances that have occurred -- really leaps, if you want to look at it that way -- over the last 10 years in both space and cyberspace. And in Cyber, just think, 10 years ago we were tapping into the power of the Internet as we traded in our dial-up capability to discover the speeds of broadband. Now we're accustomed to video streaming in support of real-time operations.

Ten years ago we were wowed by the increased computing power we gained by upgrading our PCs from 486 to Pentium chips with a whopping 80 MGs of disc memory. Now memory is measured in Terabytes and beyond that will be in Petabyes and Exabytes and beyond that will be in who knows how many bytes as we just store things out somewhere in the cloud.

With each generation of chip, we had colossal computing power that we used to associate only with super computers. Ten years ago the PC was king. Now the PC is only one tool and maybe not the preferred tool, especially of people who are in generations that are behind ours. Those folks like iPads and Smartphones and laptops that are as fast and powerful as a PC with the added benefit of portability.

We've made similar advances in space. What used to be reserved for only the most technically advanced nations is now available to the general public, like one meter satellite imaging of our neighborhood or of distant travel destinations. And that's now a reality just a couple of clicks away from where you happen to sit today.

The advent of GPS has dramatically changed our lives for the better, I would argue, from facilitating global financial transactions to fostering marital harmony by eliminating those arguments, of course, over whether to stop and ask for directions. [Laughter]. Now, by the way, I argue with that thing in my car. [Laughter]. It tells me to go left and I say no I don't want to do that. [Laughter]. I'm not sure that's helped marital harmony in my house at all.

[Laughter].

But think about as well how space and cyber have contributed to dramatic changes in areas from politics to humanitarian aid. This past year we saw many examples of dramatic and unexpected change around the globe. Who would have imagined a year ago that Global Strike air assets would assist in a NATO air operation against Libya, leading to the downfall of an oppressive régime of more than 40 years? Or that we would be using satellite assets to assist our Japanese friends in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami?

And then consider how the impact of cyber and space have helped influence and shape the dramatic turn of events like the upheaval we saw in the Arab Spring in the Middle East. The accompanying political changes enabled and accelerated by social media was a spectacular thing to watch as flash mobs became a catalyst for régime change. Think of the social upheaval of the summer as flash mobs turned into flash robs in London.

Social media now have an enormous impact in shaping and defining the public discussion. Not so long ago, someone on my staff said, "The individual has now taken control of the narrative." I think that's a phenomenal state of events and what that will mean for us as we go forward, I think is not yet well understood. And as Americans, I think we should like that, that the individual has a stronger voice in the narrative.

Technology has given the common person that powerful voice, whether expressing an opinion on a blog or making a lasting political impact of some kind. So why do I mention all this? I mention it because it's apparent to me that cyber and space are common touch points in enabling technology, ensuring the rapid flow of information, expanding the reach and power of public discussion, contributing to our economic welfare, and providing for and ensuring our national security.

In short, in my view, making our lives better. And that reality, the nexus of cyber and space, explains and certainly answers the question why we decided this year to merge our cyber and space symposia into one single combined symposium.

At STRATCOM we've been assigned global responsibilities in space and cyber where there are no boundaries, and we're very conscious of the interrelated nature of space and cyber. And with their convergence the discussion of one requires consideration and discussion of the other.

So our symposium this year is deliberately organized to merge these issues and you'll find we specifically added sessions to address this. Sessions such as Cyber in Space, Merging into the Future, and Alternative Futures for Cyber and Space. And to provide the proper context for those discussions, I'd like to use the current national cyber and space policies as a starting point.

In June of 2010, the President's National Space Policy was released, followed in January of 2011 by the National Security Space Strategy. Then in May the White House released the President's International Strategy for Cyberspace. They're well worth reading as they provide a good deal of context for our discussion of space and cyber.

Now I won't take time to go through this in detail, you can go to the Internet and find these and read them for yourself. In fact there are some of you in this room who helped write these so I won't lecture to you about either one of them. But at least let me take you through an exercise that I found useful when considering space and cyber. Because what I did last winter was I took both of these documents, the new Space Policy and the New Cyber Policy, literally took them in hard copy, laid them on the desk side by side and I flipped through them page by page for comparison. And that's not so much to look for the differences but to find the similarities between the two. And you'll find a lot of similarities between the two. So here are some that struck me.

First, both of those policy documents acknowledge that space and cyberspace provide enormous advantages and are there for the benefit of all.

Second, they both acknowledge that it's a shared interest to act responsibly in space and cyberspace. You'll find words that say we seek to dissuade and deter those who would conduct illegal or hostile actions in space and cyberspace. You'll also find words that say but if deterrence fails nations have the inherent right of self-defense in space and cyberspace.

Importantly, there are several practical steps that I think emerge from these two documents and I think that we should consider in a symposium like this, which examines new challenges and new opportunities. In both space and cyberspace we seek to strengthen partnerships, both within our own government, with our civil and our commercial interests, and with allies and friends. And this is a persistent theme that we've heard and continue to hear from policy makers and leaders. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs reminded us of this the other day in his testimony when he said that partners mattered more, not less in this world.

Coalitions and partnerships add capability, capacity, and credibility. So how does this apply to us as we rise to new challenges and look for new opportunities? What it means in practical terms is that we want to pursue additional avenues where we can work more closely with allies and partners consistent with U.S. policy and international agreements, of course, but I am convinced of the need to explore and expand avenues for additional partnerships. I think it means we want to pursue ways to expand situational awareness and shared warning in space and cyberspace. I think it means we want to enhance our ability to work together in space and cyberspace, both in times of peace and in times of crisis. I think it means we want to work to develop the means and methods of collective self-defense in space and cyberspace. I think it means we want to seek to enhance deterrence by finding ways to improve the resilience of our mutual space and cyberspace capabilities. I think it means we want to support development of standards, best practices, and norms of behavior for space and cyberspace. For space, I think it means working together to build coalitions of like-minded space-faring nations, and explore development of such things as combined space doctrine, combined space operations, and combined space activities that enable sharing of space capabilities in crisis and conflict.

In the case of cyber, it means we must form coalitions with like-minded partners to develop resilient networks that will allow us to detect, deter, and defeat a network adversary. It means cooperating and sharing information for early and accurate detection of cyber threats, swift attribution of cyber activities before they can have a catastrophic effect.

And finally, we look to a number of opportunities for improving our partnerships in science and technology, education and professional development.

The last point to remember is that this symposium is designed to be broad in scope. This should not be a military centric discussion. We should focus equally on the central roles played by the commercial sector and academia. That's why we've made a point to invite speakers, panelists, and an audience that are representative of the full spectrum of society from the private sector in business to government and academia. In that regard, we've scheduled two academic breakout sessions for high school and college students so we can reach out to the young people who will form the next generation of space and cyber professionals.

And we recognize the international nature of these issues. We do not have traditional geographic boundaries in space or cyberspace. And so we welcome our international guests to our discussion as well.

Together I hope we can address the issues that affect the use of and access to space and cyberspace by all. And mindful of the considerable talent, expertise, and experience we've attracted here I'd like to take this occasion to raise a few issues for your consideration over the next two days.

For example, what is the offensive component of cyber? To do what? And composed how? How do we treat a cyber attack? What is a cyber attack? And how can we deter it?

Consider a discussion of the doctrine and rules of engagement for space and cyber. Consider discussing the norms of behavior for cyber and space, how do you enforce them? How do we provide incentives for good behavior, and how do we prevent or deter hostile behavior?

So, again, welcome. Please stay engaged and involved in what I hope will be a thought provoking and informative series of discussions that meet the ambitious goal we've set to examine cyber and space, new challenges, and new opportunities.

Again we thank you for participating here with us today. I plan to be at the conference for the entire two-plus days; however, I am going to have to run for the door here and go back to my headquarters to participate in a VTC that I've been invited to attend with our friends from Washington. So I will be leaving for a few moments. I will be back and I look forward to participating in the discussions, interacting with all of you as the symposium unfolds, and in hearing most especially from each of you and your perspectives.

Thank you very much.

[Applause].