David Kirkpatrick

December 18, 2010

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell enters the dustbin of history

Filed under: et.al., Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:34 pm

And couldn’t come any sooner. We need willing and able soldiers of any stripe, and anyone who thinks the sexual orientation  of any one soldier is going to affect the performance of any other soldier ought to check in with the many, many militaries around the world that allow openly homosexual soldiers serve and ask them how that exercise is going (hint: pretty damn good.)

Here’s my favorite quote on the topic from a special operations soldier:

We have a gay guy [in the unit]. He’s big, he’s mean, and he kills lots of bad guys. No one cared that he was gay.

(Hat tip on the quote: the Daily Dish)

April 8, 2010

Cyberwar food for thought

The CIO.com daily newsletter had a lot of cyberwar coverage today, and there’s plenty to think about when contemplating the future of national security.

Here’s highlights from three articles.

First up, is the U.S. the most at-risk nation in the world vis-a-vis cyber attack? Facts on the ground ought to give a little pause.

From the link:

Although the United States likely has the best cyberwar capabilities in the world, “that offensive prowess cannot make up for the weaknesses in our defensive position,” one-time presidential advisor Richard Clarke argues in his forthcoming book Cyber War.

Clarke — who served as special advisor to the president for cybersecurity in 2001 and now teaches at Harvard’s Kennedy School for Government and works at Good Harbor Consulting — fears that any outbreak of cyber warfare would spill over into more violent conflict.

“Far from being an alternative to conventional war, cyber war may actually increase the likelihood of the more traditional combat with explosives, bullets and missiles,” Clarke writes in his book, which is due out April 20.

Next up, when the cyber attack happens here, what’s the chain-of-command and other protocols? Not as easy to answer as I’d like because of the widespread nature of cyber attack and the likely integral involvement of private enterprise. It’s akin to bombing a factory without the obvious military-based response.

From the link:

Because possible return fire could come from traditional military, intelligence, diplomatic or economic agencies — and perhaps even from private business — the United States needs a set of policies and procedures for cyberwarfare that are still in the making, experts say.

The president’s top cyber adviser, Howard Schmidt, has said in interviews that the responsibility for cybersecurity is a shared responsibility between public and private sectors. And within the government it will be shared among government agencies but not in a well-defined way. “Who’s in charge?” asks Jamie Sanbower, the director of security for Force 3, an integrator that works with the federal government. “That’s the number-one challenge we’re facing right now.”

And finally more analysis of the Google/China issue, and does it signal the beginning of a public cyberwarefare age? If nothing else, with a very concrete example to turn to, expect a lot more mainstream coverage of cyberwar issues

From the final link:

Many see the attacks as evidence that the U.S. is already in the midst of an undeclared cyberwar, with attacks against government targets estimated to have more than doubled in the past two years. Just last week, a top FBI official called cyberattacks an “existential threat” to the U.S. On Friday, two U.S. senators now pushing cybersecurity legislation in Congress reiterated those sentiments.

And Mike McConnell the former director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and director of national intelligence during the Bush administration, recently said in a Washington Post (WPO) column that the U.S is not only fighting such a war, it’s also losing the battle.

November 7, 2009

My deepest condolences and sympathy go out …

Filed under: et.al., Media — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:24 pm

… to the victims, family and loved ones of everyone affected by the tragic Fort Hood shooting.

Now that more sober details are coming to light it’s clear the gunman was very disturbed, and his religious beliefs were a factor in the rampage. And there were many heroes — not unexpected among our armed forces — that day, particularly Sgt. Kimberly Denise Munley, a member of the SWAT team for Fort Hood’s civilian police department, who in a tactical move charged the still firing Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, taking rounds herself while ending his shooting spree.

Update 11/12/09 — Another law enforcement hero from that day — Senior Sgt. Mark Todd. Todd actually fired the shots that subdued Hasan.

October 9, 2009

RAND Corporation — defense is the best cyberattck offense

Cybersecurity news from the RAND Corporation:

U.S. Must Focus on Protecting Critical Computer Networks from Cyber Attack

Because it will be difficult to prevent cyber attacks on critical civilian and military computer networks by threatening to punish attackers, the United States must focus its efforts on defending these networks from cyber attack, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

The study finds that the United States and other nations that rely on externally accessible computer networks—such as ones used for electric power, telephone service, banking, and military command and control—as a foundation for their military and economic power are subject to cyber attack.

“Adversaries in future wars are likely to go after each other’s information systems using computer hacking,” said Martin C. Libicki, the report’s lead author and senior management scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. “The lessons from traditional warfare cannot be adapted to apply to attacks on computer networks. Cyberspace must be addressed in its own terms.”

Working against connected but weakly protected computer systems, hackers can steal information, make the systems malfunction by sending them false commands and corrupt the systems with bogus information.

In most instances, the damage from cyber attacks is temporary and repeated attacks lead the victim to develop systems that are more difficult to penetrate. The RAND study finds that military cyber attacks are most effective when part of a specific combat operation—such as silencing a surface-to-air missile system protecting an important target—rather than as part of a core element in a long, drawn out military or strategic campaign.

Libicki says it is difficult to determine how destructive a cyber attack would be. Damage estimates from recent cyber attacks within the United States range from a few billion dollars to hundreds of billions of dollars a year.

The study indicates that cyber warfare is ambiguous, and that it is rarely clear what attacks can damage deliberately or collaterally, or even determine afterward what damage was done. The identity of the attacker may be little more than guesswork, which makes it hard to know when someone has stopped attacking. The cyber attacker’s motivation, especially outside physical combat, may be equally unclear.

The weapons of cyber war are amorphous, which eliminates using traditional approaches to arms control. Because military networks mostly use the same hardware and software as civilian networks, they have similar vulnerabilities.

“This is not an enterprise where means and ends can be calibrated to one another,” Libicki said. “As a result, it is ill-suited for strategic warfare.”

Because offensive cyber warfare is more useful in bothering, but not disarming, an adversary, Libicki does not recommend the United States make strategic cyber warfare a priority investment. He says similar caution is needed for deterring cyber warfare attacks, as it is difficult to attribute a given attack to a specific adversary, and the lack of an ability to counterattack is a significant barrier.

Instead, Libicki says the United States may first want to pursue diplomatic, economic and prosecutorial efforts against cyber attackers.

The study, “Cyberdeterrence and Cyberwar,” was prepared by RAND Project AIR FORCE, a federally funded research and development center for studies and analysis aimed at providing independent policy alternatives for the U.S. Air Force.

About the RAND Corporation

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit research organization providing objective analysis and effective solutions that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors around the world.

August 5, 2009

DARPA gets into stem cells

Filed under: Politics, Science — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:00 pm

Via Kurzweil.AI.net— One more benefit of ending the outrageously ridiculous ban on using federal money to research stem cells, DARPA is putting its weight and influence on the subject. This can only be a very good thing for stem cell research.

Military Aims for Instant Repair of Wartime Wounds
Wired Danger Room, Aug. 3, 2009

DARPA is asking for a device that can use adult stem cells to regenerate and repair injured body parts, including nerves, bone and skin, using the same (or better) structural and mechanical properties of human tissue.

Read Original Article>>

March 12, 2009

Wireless tasers

Filed under: Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:52 pm

Via KurzweilAI.net — I’m not this latest in Taser tech is all that great an idea given the problems law enforcment already has with Taser usage and the occasional fatal outcome from tazings.

Wireless Tasers extend the long arm of the law
New Scientist Tech, Mar. 11, 2009

The new Taser XREP is an electrically charged dart that can be fired from up to 20 meters away with a 12-gauge shotgun.

Upon impact, its barbed electrodes penetrate a victim’s skin, discharging a 20-second burst of electricity to “distract, disorient and entice the subject to grab the projectile,” which routes the shock through the hand, making it difficult to let go and spreading the pain further.

U.S. police departments and the US military expected to be using the weapons by the end of 2009.

Read Original Article>>

October 24, 2008

Army seeks robotic search unit

From KurzweilAI.net — Matt Yglesias, now blogging at Think Progress, occasionally opines/worries about our robotic future. This Short Sharp Science short on an Army request for a “Multi-Robot Pursuit System” to hunt down humans may give Matt a little pause, and maybe some vindication.

Packs of robots will hunt down uncooperative humans
Short Sharp Science (NewScientist blog), Oct. 22, 2008The Army is looking for contractors to provide a “Multi-Robot Pursuit System” that will let packs of robots “search for and detect a non-cooperative human.”
Read Original Article>>

February 16, 2008

Military blogging

Filed under: Media, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:00 pm

Just a resource for anyone interested who doesn’t know about Milblogging.com. The site is a clearinghouse for blogging military members. Lots of interesting stuff in these blogs. Frontline reports, photos; tales of bravery, heroics and abject fear.

The US DoD has developed an ongoing internal dialog (sometimes positive, sometimes contentious — do a google search on the issue for more) with military blogs, especially from sensitive deployments. The upside is milblogs offer a window into the life of a soldier for their family and friends, and can be great source of PR for the military. For example, Gen. Petraeus is a supporter.

February 11, 2008

Russia flexes its air power

Filed under: et.al., Media, Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:14 pm

Here’s a little reminder we are just one extended hot action away from re-instituting the draft.

From the article:

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. fighter planes intercepted two Russian bombers, including one that buzzed an American aircraft carrier in the western Pacific during the weekend, The Associated Press has learned. A U.S. military official says that one Russian Tupolev 95 flew directly over the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz twice, at a low altitude of about 2,000 feet, while another bomber circled about 58 miles out. The official was speaking on condition of anonymity because the reports on the flights were classified as secret.The Saturday incident, which never escalated beyond the flyover, comes amid heightened tensions between the United States and Russia over U.S. plans for a missile defense system based in Poland and the Czech Republic.Such Russian bomber flights were common during the Cold War, but have been rare since.The bombers were among four Russian Tupolev 95s launched from Ukrainka in the middle of the night, including one that Japanese officials say violated their country’s airspace over an uninhabited island south of Tokyo.

Our military is woefully overextended and armament depleted by the Iraq exercise. It’s not surprising other nations are testing our mettle and response.