As cyberspace will change how America fights in the next two decades, leaders at all levels need to understand the threats and help the military deal with them, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told graduates at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Calling cyberspace “a global common in which we do not enjoy unmatched advantage, where international norms are the easiest to flout without consequence, and upon which our entire way of life depends,” the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff urged the new officers to have an open mind to new ideas within the cyber realm and to help shape and lead the military as he confronts this growing challenge.
Mullen repeated the same message to about 500 service members at a town-hall session at nearby Peterson Air Force Base, telling them he expects warfighting requirements in space and cyberspace “will grow exponentially” in coming years.
“We will have great opportunities and great challenges in those two areas, particularly those areas where we are not dominant [and] we don’t have the advantage,” he said.
Cyberspace is far broader than intelligence and cryptologic operations, and it will affect every leader in every warfare area in the future, Mullen said. Leaders at all levels need to understand the issues and the threat, he told reporters following the session, with being trained and prepared.
“So that’s what I am encouraging them to do with that,” he said. “Don’t just turn it over to the chief or turn it over to the sergeant major. We can’t do it. It’s too lethal and too potent, and there are adversaries in the cyber world that we don’t understand yet.”
Citing the lack of boundaries, rules and authorities regarding cyberspace, Mullen said he foresees a day when the international community comes together to agree to a common set of standards about its use.
Mullen said he already has experienced some crises related to computer hacking, and lauds investments already made and continuing efforts to prevent these threats.
“It’s pretty scary stuff,” he said of the cyber threat. “And it needs to continue to be addressed very, very rapidly.”