Killer Apps was
lucky enough to have a short email Q and A with Air Force General C. Robert
Kehler, chief of U.S. Strategic Command. Remember, in this role he's not only
in charge of the nation's nuclear forces, he's also the military's top cyber
officer since U.S. Cyber Command falls under STRATCOM.
pointing out that he's been dealing with cyber professionally for almost a
decade. Before taking over STRATCOM in 2011, Kehler led Air Force Space Command when
it stood up the service's cyber fighting unit, 24th Air Force, with more than
14,000 airmen in 2009. From 2005 to 2007, he served as deputy commander of U.S.
Strategic Command where he helped oversee, among other things, the U.S.
military's network warfare operations -- the term for what would later be
called cyber operations.
Here's what he
has to say about cyber threats, the idea of cyber deterrence, the cyber budget,
and whether or not Cyber Command will become an independent combatant command:
Killer Apps: What worries you the most in cyber, what
keeps you up at night?
Kehler: The possibilities of disruption or damage to the nation's critical infrastructure,
our economy, and our military capabilities from cyber-attack or cyber-espionage
are of great concern.
cyber threat we face as a nation is the catastrophic failure of systems and
networks supporting critical infrastructure for national security or public
safety. The uncertainties in the full capabilities of potential adversaries
along with the requirement to rapidly characterize an attack when coupled with
the speed at which a potential adversary can carry out that attack concern me.
Killer Apps: How are the sequester, the continuing
resolution, and general budget concerns impacting cyber forces?
Kehler: The continuing resolution will have the largest impact to US Cyber
Command in the areas of workforce growth and cyber situational awareness. The Department was
primed to begin an aggressive increase in the size and training of the
workforce to provide full spectrum cyber capability. The CR impacts this
effort. Compounding this effect, sequestration will result in the furlough of
more than 400 civilian workers at US Cyber Command. One of the key capabilities
required to defend our networks is timely and comprehensive cyber situational
awareness. The FY13 budget provided funds to begin development of a common
operational picture to support cyber situational awareness for all the Services
and Combatant Commands. This effort will also be delayed.
Killer Apps: Is there any update on the decision to
elevate Cyber Command to a full unified
Kehler: The Joint Staff has been examining different command options,
including maintaining the status quo. These different options will be presented
to the Secretary of Defense for review and decision on whether to recommend a change
to the President.
Killer Apps: Is doctrine of cyber deterrence
Kehler: We are working hard to enhance the protection and resilience of our
networks as we increase the capacity and capability of our cyber operational
believe these steps will enhance our overall deterrence posture by convincing
adversaries they cannot achieve their objectives and will run the risk of
unacceptable US response at the time, place, and via the domain of our
choosing. It is in the best interests of all nations to recognize our common
dependence on free access to and use of cyberspace, and to behave accordingly. Finally,
we are working to improve our ability to detect and attribute hostile action in
U.S. Air Force