NEWS | Nov. 21, 2011

Cyber and Space Symposium explores challenges, opportunities

By Staff Sgt. Daniel Martinez U.S. Strategic Command Public Affairs

2011 Cyber and Space Symposium
Gen. C. Robert Kehler, commander, U.S. Strategic Command, and Gen. Keith Alexander, commander, U.S. Cyber Command, share a lighter moment after General Alexander's speech on cyber related issues during the 2011 USSTRATCOM Cyber and Space Symposium held Nov. 14-17 at the CenturyLink Center in downtown Omaha.

OMAHA, Neb. - The 2011 U.S. Strategic Command Cyber and Space Symposium kicked off Nov. 15 at the CenturyLink Center in downtown Omaha with discussions highlighting the evolving nature of cyber and space capabilities and the rippling effects of their technological advancement through military, industrial and domestic applications.

More than 1,500 senior military leaders, servicemembers, Department of Defense personnel, industry insiders, academic authorities, sponsors and international partners from 13 nations were in attendance as various expert panels and keynote speakers offered a varied and comprehensive information exchange on emerging concepts in cyber and space.

Gen. C. Robert Kehler, commander, USSTRATCOM, said the accessibility and progression in cyber and space realms have led to a new age of unique prospects and concerns as his opening remarks centered on the symposium's theme of “New Challenges, New Opportunities. ”

“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, ” General Kehler said. “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. ”

He later added, “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 general noted how the last decade has seen significant technological changes in both cyber and space landscapes. General Kehler spoke on how computing power has increased, comparably offering super computer-like capability to the average user, and how space is no longer limited to world powers.

“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,” he said.

General Kehler further explained how cyber and space principles coincide with one another, citing similarities in the National Space Policy and the National Cyber Policy. Both documents outline beneficial advantages; mutual interest for acting responsibly in cyber and space domains; facilitating, strengthening and empowering coalitions and partnerships with allies; and how cyber and space initiatives can improve partnerships in science and technology, and education and professional development.

Gen. Keith Alexander, commander, U.S. Cyber Command, also offered his perspective on cyber issues as one of the keynote speakers for the event.

“Cyberspace is ubiquitous, most nation states are creating capabilities and when you look at it, we've got to have our doctrine, our tactics, our techniques and procedures out there. We've got to understand that we've got to be prepared to defend our nation in cyberspace,” General Alexander said. “Our adversaries are going to use asymmetric capabilities against us, look at 9/11. Cyber is one of those asymmetric capabilities. We should not be surprised if someone uses it against us. ”

General Alexander highlighted the vast number of internet users, the proliferation of malware through online applications and web pages, the theft of intellectual property in the cyber realm, and the vital need for trained and ready cyber forces to counter growing cyber threats.

The general further explained statistically how online environments have volumes of exploitative vulnerabilities citing, “AT&T mobile data rates have increased 8,000 percent over the last four years. [There are] over two billion internet users today. Last year there were 107 trillion emails sent - that's 294 million a day. Of that, 89 percent was spam. ”

Other conference speakers included Madelyn Creedon, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs; Lt. Gen. Michael Basla, vice commander, Air Force Space Command; Christopher Painter, Coordinator for Cyber Issues, Department of State; David Thompson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Orbital Sciences Corporation; Frank Rose, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Space and Defense Policy; Adm. James Winnefeld, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and the Honorable Howard Schmidt, White House Cybersecurity Coordinator.

Various panels also covered a wide range of topics including managing risks associated with internet-based networking, the future of cyber and space, international cooperation, diplomacy to strengthen stability in space, as well as other cyber and space related subjects of interest. The International Cyber Collaboration panel consisted of military officers from Brazil, Canada, France and Estonia who discussed their views of cyber-related issues. This year marks the first time the event merged cyber and space themes under one banner as discussions drew parallels to their mutual significance and application. USSTRATCOM sponsored symposiums are noted for creating an open forum environment encouraging further discussion and networking among guests. Videos of the proceedings will soon be available at and under symposiums.