Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I wonder if he meant to say this

Paul A. Strassmann, in the April issue of SIGNAL magazine, said - 

"The ultimate Defense Department cyber defenses will be found in a cadre of senior executives attracted to the conduct of cyber intelligence, which requires the application of technical aspects initiating cybercountermeasures."

You can read his entire article HERE.

I think it is more likely that the ultimate DoD cyber defenses will be found outside that cadre of senior executives.


Dave McDonald said...


We should be fair here. I know it's occasionally fashionable to observe that seniors are perhaps not as important or as smart as they might think they are, or that the "real work" gets done by deck-plate technicians. But, without rallying passionately in the defense of community senior executives (who don't need my help anyway), I would say I tend to get Mr. Strassmann's central point. There are indeed some key top-level leaders, including (and, yes, especially) the DoD CIO, but probably more notably the folks - both uniformed and civilian - in the main decision-making positions vis-à-vis DoD and IC systems acquisition, who will certainly have a lot to do with whether we field more defensible C4I architectures, build better cyber exploits and attack tools and techniques, and whether we can in a broad and sustained way stay technologically ahead of our more sophisticated cyber adversaries - across the entire spectrum of cyber defense, exploit and attack missions. And then there are the executives that make long-term strategic decisions, and have the tenacity and know-how to get the PPBE process to shape holistic man/train/equip capacity in this new set of warfighting disciplines. In this context, that Mr. Halvorsen might enjoy a more direct dialogue with Mr. Carter and Mr. Work, I think is a good thing - and likely to lead to some really smart and profoundly impacting structural, doctrinal and programmatic changes. I hope Mr. Halvorsen is thinking about the job this way, and suspect he is, having heard him speak about these things recently in various public fora. All good. I think the only intellectual beef I might have with Strassman's piece here is that he confines his analysis to the DoD CIO role and positioning, and he could have gone further, outlining key responsibilities various other officials on the acquisition side of the equation - for all Services, the Joint community and the IC, have to invest in vastly improved cyber capabilities. I think Strassmann might over-estimate the singular power of the DoD CIO, or any of the Service CIOs. But his basic idea is right; we'll certainly need powerful, smart and cyber-savvy executives with at least a bit of longevity to shape the needed investments to really drive cyber superiority.

Mike Lambert said...


I get your point and I am being critical of his word choices in the article. There are several spots where his choice of adjectives are clearly off the mark.

He may have just been anticipating RADM Filipowski's move to OSD as the senior military advisor on policy.

Dave McDonald said...


Yes-- and to the degree that RADM Filipowski is likewise a "senior executive" (sort of), I would wager a month's pay that he's going to make a HUGE difference at levels in the DoD where really big things happen. Call me old-fashioned, but I still tend to give benefit of the doubt to seniors -- both uniformed and civilian -- in this community. From my experience, a lot of them are given the huge responsibilities because they've proven over years that they do indeed make a difference when they think, act and lead. I've learned from being wrong a lot that criticizing from down here at my low perch, or (worse), from the sidelines, may make for some good fun occasionally, but it's often done without having nearly all the facts. V/r, Dave