In the first five parts of this topic, I insisted we can’t take “cyber-war” or “cyber-terrorism” seriously until certain people agree to take on pivotal roles … and until the world’s militaries develop a brevity code for their cyberspace weapon systems … and until society erects a military cyberspace museum … and until we consecrate cemeteries for all the brave souls and hapless children who perish in a horrific network battle.
But we need more than just role models and compressed speech and indoor dioramas and graveyards. Put simply: we can’t take “cyber-war” or “cyber-terrorism” seriously until we establish specific criteria for a cyber kill credit.
The world’s militaries award & track various types of deathly merits, particularly when it involves a kill chain. Armies and marine corps award “kill credits” to snipers; navies award “sinking credits” to captains; air forces award “aerial victory credits” to pilots. Likewise, we can imagine the militaries’ presence in orbit means they’ve established criteria for a “satellite kill credit” and even, someday, a “space victory credit.”
How important are these kill credits to the militaries that award them and to the men who earn them? Believe it or not, veterans will sue in federal court to correct the official record of their kills. That’s how important it is to a military, folks.
The photo shown above is a perfect example of its importance. The U.S. Air Force recently lauded Lt. Gen. Charles G. Cleveland, a pilot who waited decades to be named an “ace” with five or more confirmed kills. The photo’s caption reads:
General Cleveland has been recognized by the Air Force as a jet fighter ace 55 years after the end of the Korean War. Newly discovered documentation by the Russian air force as well as eyewitness accounts by General Cleveland’s wingmen proved evidence to support converting two probable kills into confirmed kills from dog fights over “Mig Alley” during the Korean War. General Cleveland was deployed to South Korea in March 1952, where he flew F-86s as a flight commander with the 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing at Kimpo Air Base.
In this example, USAF’s desire to award aerial victory credits led them to consult decades-old classified records from an enemy nation — just to give a pilot the fatality accolades he earned. This type of recognition garners so much attention that even the aircraft may be put on display. That’s how important it is to a military, folks.
We can’t take “cyber-war” seriously until someone can say “I earned two virus victory credits in Operation Buckshot Yankee…”
Now the Air Force trumpets its new “cyberspace” mission. Read USAF’s sales brochures and you’ll learn cyberspace is ultra-important and it must be exploited before Cyber-War v1.0 kicks off. USAF needs money & authority to attack & defend cyberspace from Osama’s über-hackers who are at this very moment plotting a major cyber-terror event, blah blah blah.
The problem is, USAF’s own historians don’t care to document “cyber victory credits” like they would an aerial victory credit. Not at all.
If you ask the Air Force Historical Research Agency, they’ll tell you “cyberspace” is a support role, not an operational role. You won’t earn a “virus kill credit” for installing McAfee HBSS on 10,000 military computers in Iraq during Operation Buckshot Yankee.
Folks, I’ll repeat myself. We can’t take “cyber-war” or “cyber-terrorism” seriously until we and our enemies establish criteria for a “confirmed kill” in cyberspace. It’s just that simple.