It's time to found a U.S. Cyber Force.
BY JAMES STAVRIDIS | JUNE 20, 2013
Throughout the long decades of my military career, the backbone of U.S. national security was the "strategic triad" of delivery systems for nuclear weapons: ballistic-missile submarines and their associated nuclear-tipped missiles, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles operated from silos deep in the earth, and long-range manned bombers, which could deliver nuclear bombs and eventually nuclear-tipped cruise missiles.
America's reliance on this Cold War triad continues through the present day, though the systems have changed somewhat as a result of both advances in technology and changes in treaty limits, most recently reflected in the New START treaty.
As we sail more deeply into the turbulent 21st century, however, there is another triad that bears considering that will be a critical part of U.S. security in the decades to come. This new triad will be far less abstract and hidden-away than the Cold War strategic triad and much more frequently employed -- often in kinetic ways.
This "New Triad" consists of special operations forces, unmanned vehicles, and cybercapabilities. Each has an important individual role to play, but taken together, the sum of their impacts will be far greater than that of each of the parts when used alone.
First, consider special operations forces, or SOF. They have become a tool of choice in a wide variety of actions in today's world, from the spectacular mission that finally killed Osama bin Laden to training African partners to thwart the brutal Lord's Resistance Army in Africa, and from helping Colombian forces fight the FARC insurgency in Latin America to providing security for disaster relief operations in Pakistan.
Today's SOF are capable of operating across the entire spectrum of operations, from soft power and training to the ultimate "red dots on foreheads" missions epitomized by the killing of bin Laden and popularized by film and television.
Because they are trained in languages, cultural mores, high-tech communications, medicine, concealment, and many other discrete skills, they can operate in the widest imaginable variety of geographical settings. They are also small in number, highly motivated, and relatively cost-effective. They are generally precision-guided in their approach, can limit collateral damage, and blend in when needed.
The second capability in the New Triad is unmanned vehicles and sensors.
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