Lord: 'Wire power is firepower'

Also: 'We have to stop shooting behind the rabbit.'

TAMPA, Fla. — As the number of personnel in the U.S. armed forces dwindles and consolidates over time, the tool that will make up for that shortfall will be the network, which the Pentagon views as a force multiplier due to data sharing capabilities and enhanced situational awareness.

As Lt. Gen William Lord, Air Force chief information officer, puts it, “Wire power is firepower.” Lord, who also serves as Air Force chief of warfighting integration, spoke Aug. 5 at LandWarNet 2010.

An example of how the network can act as a force multiplier is the Air Force’s Gorgon Stare program, where a single Predator or Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle can record surveillance data on 12 individual cameras instead of just one. The data from all those cameras can be shared simultaneously with soldiers and marines on the ground.

The key to ensuring that the network can provide that functionality and is always available is security. Unfortunately, according to Lord, the military addresses the problem in a out-of-date way that is no longer effective.

“Traditionally, those of us in the signal business have watched from a barrier-reef perspective: Stop bad things from getting on the network,” he said. “Guess what … too late. That ship has sailed. Bad things are already on the network. So what are we going to do?”

The attack vector has changed from only protecting the network to also protecting the work of the network. That refers to the data at rest and the applications.

“We’re beginning to change the way we have to get after the software assurance piece of our joint business,” said Lord. “We have the ability to hoover up data, but three weeks from now we study it and say, ‘Oops, the bad guys are in.’ We have to stop shooting behind the rabbit.”

To do that, Lord believes that the nation’s cyber warriors have to learn to predict intrusions, “by following the sun,” as he put it. Much of that type of expertise lies in the commercial world, and the military should take advantage of it “so we can predict and act before bad things happen,” he said.

About the Author

Barry Rosenberg is editor-in-chief of Defense Systems. Follow him on Twitter: @BarryDefense.

Reader Comments

Tue, Aug 10, 2010 snidely731

The "wirepower is firepower" comment is a fine sound byte, however, as is (and has) become abundanly apparent over recent yeare, wirepower is also a huge vulnerability that has not yet been successfully addressed by any of the "no comm no bomb" advocates. The dissemination of information, tactics, procedures and direction via comm systems is a combat enabler and CAN improve overall warfighting efficiency if decision makers do not delay in their responses. Bottom line for me is, I see the potential benefits, but I also see the proven vulnerabilities, and for now at least, these capabilities come at a very high cost vis a vis overhead and vulnerability. Just as 'no comm no bomb" was never true, neither is "wirepower is firepower". Those slogans are not backed up in fact. These capablilites are not essential in combat, they are nice to have and they improve effects and efficiencies, but the battle can still be fought and won without all of the comm bells and whistles. Nice to have, but NOT essential.

Mon, Aug 9, 2010 DVG

LTG Lord gave a very good presentation, but he cannot be credited with the phrase "Wirepower is Firepower". GEN Martin Dempsey coined that phrase in his video presentation that preceded LTG Lord.

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