Cyberwar can yield tangible results

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George P. Lampe, the Accidental Consultant

Technology consultant George P. Lampe began his Air Force service in 1967 and retired from active duty in 1998 with the rank of major general.

In his last military job, Lampe served concurrently as deputy director of communications and information at the Air Force's Pentagon headquarters and as vice commander of the Air Force Communications and Information Center. He managed strategic plans, policies, architecture and standards for more than $16 billion in IT resources.

Lampe said he 'fell into the consulting business' when his family decided to leave the Washington area for Texas. Now president of Lampe Consulting in San Antonio, he assists several clients, including Kasten Chase Applied Research of Mississauga, Ontario, in understanding the requirements of the Defense Department and other federal agencies.

Lampe has a bachelor's degree in social science from Pittsburg State University and a master's in management from Webster University. He graduated from the Air Force's Squadron Officer School and Air Command.

A life member of the Air Force Association, Lampe has served several terms on the board of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association. He has also received AFCEA's Meritorious Service Award.

GCN associate editor Patricia Daukantas interviewed Lampe by telephone.

GCN: How would you define network-centric warfare?

LAMPE: If you asked 10 people what they thought network-centric warfare meant, they would all tell you different things. It all boils down to acquiring and providing information in context to the right guy in the right place at the right time.

GCN: Analysts say that true interoperable systems for real-time awareness during battle are a decade or more from reality. Do you agree?

LAMPE: That's unnecessarily pessimistic. I think we're better than that. How will we know when we have achieved the perfect end state? I think it defies an answer right now.

GCN: Is the U.S. military becoming too dependent on technology?

LAMPE: It's an enabler, not a solution in and of itself. It still boils down to people. I would say that our greatest advantage is a combination of superior technology and almost perfectly trained young soldiers, sailors, fliers and Marines. One is not effective without the other.

GCN: What rules should govern cyberattacks against enemy networks?

LAMPE: To destroy an enemy's will or ability to wage war is the objective. It's not to kill people. Sometimes that's the only way that you win.

We probably don't have a potential adversary out there that even approaches our dependency on IT or networks. Nonetheless, there are levels of dependency. If I can disrupt or destroy the enemy's ability to pass information from one air defense site to another or from one intelligence source to another, I can accomplish a tremendous amount, and I haven't killed anybody.

Morally, I would think that people would be pushing for almost an unlimited, unfettered approach to offensive information warfare. I've heard people opine that if you could go in and turn off the enemy's computer networks, you can go back in and turn them on again when peace is achieved.
And won't the cost of reparations go down significantly if it's just a matter of turning something off and turning it on? I don't see any limitations on this, other than our ability to do what we're trying to do.

GCN: How would cyberattacks be carried out?

LAMPE: I listened to a presentation the other day about an electromagnetic pulse-generation munition'an altitude burst that could effectively fry all integrated circuitry within a given range. That offers some interesting possibilities, as long as you're careful not to let it affect you.

The U.S. military and the Defense Department are defending against cyberattacks. They're not all motivated similarly, but nonetheless they are there every single day in some form. As we get clever about defending, we get clever about offending as well.

I used to say'and I have no particular empirical evidence to back me up'that about 75 percent of our information warfare efforts should be on the defensive side because we depend on systems so much. We need to tighten up our defenses a lot more than we need to generate exotic ways to attack enemy networks that are not that critical to anything they do to resist us.

It doesn't take a tremendous amount of effort to disrupt a network, especially one that's not well guarded. Some forms of attack are probably more effective than others. I don't like offensive uses of viruses because viruses have a way of turning on you.

If you can disrupt a network without the enemy even knowing, the enemy depends on information that is now contaminated. There are bright people working on this, and I suspect there are ways to go on the offensive in cyberspace that I haven't even contemplated. Our defense establishment is exceptionally prepared. I don't expect us to have a tremendous ramp-up in readiness for cyberdefense simply because of the hits or attempted hits we take every day. That has us in a pretty high state of readiness.

GCN: How has DOD's relationship with researchers and industry changed over the past 10 years?

LAMPE: I perceive that it's not the same, but part of that may be due to my change in perspective, now that I've had a chance to look at that equation from the other side.

I sense at the same time that the relationship between defense and the defense industry, and particularly the R&D aspects, has gotten more tightly coupled. Quite frankly, I felt in the military that we often tried to define requirements when we really didn't have a good enough understanding of what technology might let us do. So, the more dialogue there was, the more light bulbs went on.

GCN: What do you think of the technological changes over the past decade?
LAMPE: In my love-hate relationship with the Internet, I think it is the single most revolutionary research tool in my lifetime.

In 1993, when I moved to U.S. Transportation Command, not every workstation had an Internet browser, and the browser of choice at the time was Mosaic. We couldn't have foreseen where we are today in terms of the ubiquity of information and the ease with which we can access it.

There's a fine balance between convenience and accessibility on one side and protecting information that shouldn't be conveniently accessible on the other side.

I think information overload is possible, and we've already been there in some cases. Probably not in critical situations, but I can recall thinking that I've got more here than I need, and it's hard to separate the wheat from the chaff.

I think of a kid with an M-16 coming over a sand dune in the Middle East and staring face to face with a guy on the other side, also with a firearm. I don't think he needs to go through a lot of analysis. His decision cycle is probably to try to shoot before he gets shot.

If you look at pictures of the cybersoldier of the future, he's got electronics hanging off his body and you can't imagine how he can walk around that heavily equipped.

GCN: How can companies more effectively meet the needs of agencies for secure systems?

LAMPE: I'm reassured that a lot of that's happening today. I'm aware of companies that have close partnerships and work literally hand in hand with the defense establishment.

Companies need to understand the customer and the customer's requirement. If you don't understand, it's hard to put the requirement in context. Companies don't spend enough time studying the customer's vocabulary and mission. Also, it's important that companies understand the federal acquisition process, and it's not a pretty thing to understand either. It is a source, I am sure, of constant frustration for anybody doing business with the government. But that's the system that we have to work within, and it is always in need of improvement.

GCN: What's your view of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Total Information Awareness terrorist-tracking program?

LAMPE: I think the TIA program is a good idea. I think its total worth is yet to be proved. Any program that, at least on the surface, offers resources to fight terrorism is worth every penny.

I am confident that there are checks and balances for TIA within DOD and DARPA and in other elements of the federal government. Frankly, I don't have a phobia about Big Brother watching me. I want Big Brother watching everybody. I don't see this as risky. I do not share the opinions that this is an invasion of our privacy; that is absolute hogwash.

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