When discussing how best to leverage cyber technologies to the military’s strategic and tactical advantage, cyber professionals tend to think in one of two realms: offensive and defensive. In the defensive realm, we take for granted that software functional managers look for security holes and network administrators patch them. We expect the offensive experts to build and refine digital weapons and carry out secret data intrusions to prepare the battle space.
Offensive cyber swords and defensive cyber shields provide immense strategic value, and that work must continue. But to really make a warfighting unit more effective, we need to put more effort into a third area: cyber support.
Rarely talked about and frequently neglected, this Cinderella of the cyber world permeates everything and has significant impact on day-to-day missions.
In 2015, I deployed on a submarine under U.S. Central Command in the Middle East. What exhausted me on this deployment more than constant danger at periscope depth, reactor casualty drills, and never-ending training were the far more subtle frustrations.
1. D. Goldman, “Navy Pays Microsoft $9 Million a Year for Windows XP,” 26 June 2015, https://money.cnn.com/2015/06/26/technology/microsoft-windows-xp-navy-contract/index.html.
2. Reuters, “Microsoft to Discontinue Encarta,” 31 March 2009, www.reuters.com/article/us-microsoft-encarta/microsoft-to-discontinue-encarta-idUSTRE52U1WA20090331.
3. E. Protalinski, “Facebook Now Updates Its Code Twice Every Day,” 3 August 2012, www.cnet.com/news/facebook-now-updates-its-code-twice-every-day/.
1. J. Zimmerman, “Lessons in Innovation: The SSBN Tactical Control System Upgrade” (2016), www.secnav.navy.mil/innovation/Pages/2016/10/SSNTCSUpgrade.aspx.