On Cyber Warfare, the American Public Is Constantly Being Played by the Pentagon

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REUTERS / Rick Wilking

Personnel work at the Air Force Space Command Network Operations and Security Center at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

From a Washington Post piece describing “Plan X,” the Pentagon’s new push to develop cutting-edge offensive cyber weapons:

It makes sense “to take this on right now,” said Richard M. George, a former National Security Agency cyberdefense official. “Other countries are preparing for a cyberwar. If we’re not pushing the envelope in cyber, somebody else will.”

Let’s be clear here:  Our military has been aggressively seeking cyber warfare capabilities from Day One.  We’ve never waited on anybody to “push the envelope.”  We’ve always been there, pushing away.

We’re not waiting on “somebody else.”

We are “somebody else” and always have been.

Ask the Iranians.  Ask the Chinese.  Ask anybody.

Washington likes to play the American public into believing this is all being pursued in response to a rising threat.  But no one stands above the threat we represent — and no one ever will.  Cyber warfare is the hot-button budget item in the Pentagon right now, and the amounts of cash we will toss at this problem will dwarf any efforts mounted by anyone else.

And yeah, more money equals more capabilities. Skip all that “flat world” nonsense about how just a few über-cheap hackers can take down the world. Bodies and bucks and equipment matter, the Post reports, to wit:

Cyberwarfare conjures images of smoking servers, downed electrical systems and exploding industrial plants, but military officials say cyberweapons are unlikely to be used on their own. Instead, they would support conventional attacks, by blinding an enemy to an impending airstrike, for example, or disabling a foe’s communications system during battle.

This is not the Pentagon “catching up.”  This is the Pentagon maintaining its usual dominant lead in an emerging adjacent market.

The sales job here is the usual stuff you see when the budgetary floor is dropping. We are meant to “Be very afraid!”