Does the United States need a cyber force?

Does the United States need a Cyber ​​Force? Did he need a Space Force? Why does the Department of Homeland Security persist? Although the creation of a new institution may seem prudent in practice, each represents a knee-jerk response from Washington DC to complicated future challenges and more bureaucracy.

At the recent Black Hat Cybersecurity Conference in Las Vegas, former Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Chris Krebs implored the audience: “We need to create an agency that is focused on improving digital risk management services. He also suggested that CISA could be separated from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to create a new agency.

The Cyberspace Solarium Commission considered the need for a new cabinet-level organization and ultimately decided to support the idea of ​​a National Cyber ​​Director instead. Someone was needed to be the point of contact for cybersecurity operations within the US government outside of the Department of Defense (DoD). Yet creating a new agency would be fraught with pitfalls, including competing mission sets, bureaucratic bloat, and short-sighted failures in creating the last two major bureaucracies, Space Force and DHS.

Past failures of bureaucracy

The most recent new ministerial organization put in place by the United States is revealing. The cumulative failures of DHS are hard to ignore. Created in 2002 in response to the mistakes of 9/11, the department quickly rose to prominence for typical airport theater security, now through the Transportation Security Agency (TSA), a sub-unit of DHS. An organization remarkably hated by both left and right, DHS has failed to prosecute immigration cases while simultaneously creating a human rights catastrophe known as the Family Separation Policy based on the idea of ​​border deterrence. DHS also completely missed the January 6 danger while being complicit in avoiding accountability.

Space Force, apparently now the US Army’s 6th uniformed force, didn’t fare much better. Founded in 2019 by President Donald Trump to “reopen NASA and go to space,” the organization has been littered with controversy and overlapping missions with the Air Force and NASA. Gen. Jay Raymond recently sat down with Comedy Central’s Daily Show to promote the new military branch and clear up some confusion.

When asked what the Space Force actually does, General Raymond remarked, “We operate the GPS constellation for free to the world that provides global navigation…most people don’t know that’s provided free.” GPS management is a job the DOD and Air Force have long handled without incident, making it doubtful that this is a win for the new organization.

When harassed by comedian Ronny Chieng about threats farther than near Earth orbit, General Raymond noted, “So again, our mission is a little bit closer to home… we don’t focus on extraterrestrials.” Chieng ended his segment by saying, “So while I’m still not sure what it does, Space Force represents what the U.S. government does best: finding new ways to donate billions of dollars to the military complex. -American industrialist.

While the idea of ​​creating a force to fight aliens is ludicrous, if we’re going to have a space force, it might be prudent to think about long-term earth defense and the viability of controlling any threats that might come in. in Earth’s orbit, including falling satellites and other debris. Dealing with future extreme challenges that may arise could be a logical Space Force mission. Yet the American military and bureaucracy generally have a remarkable lack of imagination.

Face the future

There is an urgent need to consider future developments and anticipate long-term threats. The aim should be to build a strategy on realistic analyzes and scenarios, not fictional information based on science fiction. Such a foundation would help Space Force create a unique set of missions that could serve humanity long into the future. With respect to a cyberforce, it is necessary to consider the evolving need to control, manage and protect digital information as a future imperative largely divorced from modern conceptions of cyberwarfare.

There is probably an eventual need for an entire organization that will manage digital infrastructure, cybersecurity and information warfare. Unfortunately, the community cannot imagine how modern actors will use cyber capabilities during war, let alone create an organization that will manage the flow of digital information long after war. While it may seem prudent to create a new government organization to help manage misinformation, studies show that the government is trying to tackle misinformation.

If and when the United States creates a new bureaucratic organization, it must seek to avoid past mistakes and short-sighted bureaucratic thinking. The digital future needs more than a cyber agency or digital agency to deal with disinformation threats or catalog vulnerabilities. The United States needs a whole-of-government approach to managing and controlling information that respects privacy and the Constitution. Without it, as The Daily Show suggests, the US government will fall back on its typical solution of handing out massive sums to entrepreneurs to create a new cyber-industrial complex.

Brandon Valeriano is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a distinguished senior fellow at Marine Corps University.

Image: DVIDS.

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