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7 June 1999. Thanks to D.

A Mouse That Roars? 
By William M. Arkin
Special to 
Monday, June 7, 1999

Last week, Newsweek reported that President Clinton approved a covert
operation in May to find an electronic silver bullet to do what the White
House at the time believed the air war couldn't. According to the report,
the CIA would conduct a cyberwar against Milosevic, specifically going after
his financial assets in banks throughout Europe.

Is the keyboard mightier than the sword?

Before Allied Force, the intelligence agencies held a cyberwar exercise to
answer this very question.

At center stage was the Information Operations Technology Center (IOTC),
activated last year and made up of the best cyberwarriors of the U.S.
government. Housed at National Security Agency headquarters at Fort Meade,
Md., IOTC brings together highly secret capabilities: NSA's P42 information
warfare cell, the CIA's Critical Defense Technologies Division, the
Pentagon's "special technology operations."

  "The only cyberwar raging is inside the U.S. government ..."


Military sources familiar with the March demonstration say there is no
question that the keyboard covert operators wowed the Joint Staff with their
computer attack capabilities. But they are adamant in insisting that
cyberbombs are more laboratory technologies than usable weapons. In fact,
the sources point out, the only cyberwar raging is inside the U.S.
government where Washington lawyers and policymakers, military leaders, and
official hackers battle over the value and legality of network attack.

Where's The Bits? 


The day bombs started falling on Yugoslavia, the Air Force Association
convened a high-level symposium in San Antonio, Tex., to address the status
of information warfare. has obtained a transcript of the
two-day proceeding.

Gen. John Jumper, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, joined the
closed-door session via satellite from his headquarters in Germany. "I have
not had much sleep over the last 48 hours, and I am probably not as sharp or
prepared as I would like to be," he apologized.

Tired or not, the senior air force officer in Europe wasted no time blasting
the bias of information warriors to fight battles solely at the "strategic
level." He was referring to the very sort of effort Newsweek would speculate
about two months later.

"When we hear talk of information warfare," Jumper said, "the mind conjures
up notions of taking some country's piece of sacred infrastructure in a way
that is hardly relevant to the commander at the operational and tactical level."

"I would submit that we are not there with information warfare," he concluded.

Networking Network Attack 


Brig. Gen. John B. Baker, commander of the Air Intelligence Agency and head
of the Pentagon's Joint Command and Control Warfare Center, followed Jumper.

"In my hat as the air force component commander for NSA," he warned, "I  
spend a lot of time working ... on how to exploit what is going on out there
in computer networks." But when it comes to going beyond collecting computer
transmissions as raw intelligence to actually manipulating and exploiting
the "zeroes and ones" for military value, Baker said, "we have a ways to go."


  "Effects-based warfare lacks the visually pleasing destruction from an armed

  ­ Brig. Gen. John B. Baker


Despite all the new information warfare organizations that have been
established of late, he lamented that cyberwarriors did not yet have the
stature of other warriors: "Effects-based warfare," that is, methods geared
to achieve an outcome and not cause traditional damage lacks the "visually
pleasing destruction from an armed bomb."

Baker stressed that part of the problem in any kind of computer network
attack is the concerns on the part of policy-makers in Washington with
regard to legality and "traceability."

Jumper described his experience: "I picture myself around that same
targeting table where you have the fighter pilot, the bomber pilot, the
special operations people and the information warriors. As you go down the
target list, each one takes a turn raising his or her hand saying, I can
take that target.' When you get to the info warrior, the info warrior says,
"I can take the target, but first I have to go back to Washington and get a

Seeking permission invariably results in artificial restrictions and
hesitations in attacking targets, Jumper stressed. From a field perspective,
he said, the process of seeking the "special" operation cedes too much
decision-making to inside the Beltway.

Finding The Way 

The unusually candid discussions of the institutional and military stumbling
blocks to an information warfare future contrasts with the Hollywood vision
of cyberwar so common in the mainstream media these days.

Still, Maj. Gen. Bruce A. "Orville" Wright told the symposium that "Within
the area of computer network exploitation, there is tremendous investment,
which, with a little bit of fine tuning, can be turned into a computer
network attack capability."

The IOTC, Wright said, "is a great organization that has a bright future."
He should know. As Deputy Director for Information Operations for the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, he is the military head of the interagency center and the
top cyber-warrior in the U.S. military.

But the key word is future.

With the shooting war against Yugoslavia over, it should be crystal clear to
anyone that exotic American cyberbombs have not aided the effort in any way.