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News Tip: Military Expert on Pentagon Expanding its Cybersecurity Force
Charlie Dunlap Jr.
Professor of the practice, Duke Law School, and associate director of Duke's Center on Law, Ethics and National Security
Dunlap specializes in warfare policy and strategy, cyber-warfare, military commissions, counterinsurgency, nuclear issues and air power; former deputy judge advocate general of the U.S. Air Force; retired from military in June 2010 as a major general.
"The decision to expand U.S. Cyber Command is a good one, even in an era of declining military budgets. While I believe it is mistaken to engage in apocalyptic rhetoric about the nature of the cyber threat, it is very real, and does need to be confronted. Relatively speaking, this is a modest increase in military resources.
"That said, we need to watch carefully as to how the cyber responsibilities are distributed among military and civilian organizations. Unlike many past security threats, the conduit for cyber warfare is civilian infrastructure, and the target may well be a civilian entity, so it is a challenge to ensure that the military does not intrude unnecessarily into civilian society.
"Many cyber incidents we hear about appear to be simply criminal operations, so we want to be leery about too much military involvement in what may be essentially a civilian law enforcement matter. Instead, the military's focus ought to be on those nation-states aiming to wage cyber war on a grand scale.
"Sure, cyber terrorists can be disruptive and costly, but I believe that the increasingly sophisticated efforts of both law enforcement and private sector can thwart many of them, so we ought to ensure that their capabilities also continue to expand. Nation-states are another matter, and that is why this growth in military capability is so important.
"Still, it won't be easy to keep the military segregated from involvement in the cyberspace activities of private actors, including American citizens, simply because the nature of cyber threats transcends traditional physical and even conceptual boundaries. Nevertheless, it is vitally important that anything the military does in the name of cyber security not unduly infringe upon the civil liberty and privacy rights of Americans. If it does infringe upon those rights, the respect and confidence of the American people that the armed forces want and need is put in jeopardy."