Oct 18 2010

TenSix Things Every Airman Must Know About Cyberspacethe Internet, part 2

Does a "starving artists" factory churn out USAF doctrine?
[Continued from part 1] No Gravatar

It stunned me when I deduced no one vetted Appendix A in USAF’s new cyberspace doctrine. I hold Major General David S. Fadok personally responsible for such an amateurish oversight.

Did everyone behind this doctrine treat the appendix as gospel just because the Chief of Staff put his name to it?

We need to ask ourselves why this vetting failure occurred. Did everyone at the LeMay Center for Doctrine treat the appendix as gospel just because General Norton Schwartz put his name to it? If so, then it would mean Fadok & Co. got snookered by the groupthink mentality. I’ll take it at face value if the doctrine dawgs admit “we all assumed it got vetted before it reached the Chief of Staff’s desk.”

Or — worst-case scenario — did the groupthink mentality infect the cyber cadre at the LeMay Center? If this proves true, then airmen must die needlessly, twice, before we can ever hope to correct a flawed doctrine. This leads me to quote Senator John Kerry’s famous line: “how do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”

“Why would the Air Force do such poor work on something so important, Rob?” First, let’s realize the fact our aerial defenders boast a deadly history of doctrinal failures, all which led to the needless deaths of airmen. Why should cyberspace doctrine be any different? I’ll quote from one such example (highlight added):

“America’s lack of effective long–range escort for strategic bom­bard­ment was the Army Air Force’s worst failure of World War II. The basic cause for peace­time negligence of long–range escort develop­ment was that air power decisions were influenced more by budget consi­der­a­tions and less by sound doctrine.”

I related to this in a previous column: “the Air Force ‘cyberspace’ mission has grown (devolved?) from a hot project that has attracted the best career-minded officers, the best on-verge-of-retirement senior NCOs, and of course the best entrenched civilians. That’s the real problem. When it comes to things like the F-117 and SR-71, bureaucrats end up serving the needs of the hot project. But when it comes to cyberspace, the hot project ends up serving the needs of the bureaucrats.”

We know flawed doctrine kills airmen. How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?

Second, let’s acknowledge the fact cyberspace doctrine doesn’t really mean anything right now. Military doctrine requires sovereignty as a foundational concept. These days, writing doctrine only qualifies as a bullet point for a medal or a performance appraisal: “Captain Snuffy’s keen insight into cyberspace proved instrumental in the composition of Air Force Doctrine Document 3-12…”

When we finally do clarify what sovereignty means in cyberspace, then we’ll lose airmen twice and then we’ll regret the flawed doctrine. Until then, we can argue the newly formed 24th Air Force qualifies as a terrorist group since they hail from no sovereign territory in cyberspaceNah, I’ll save this for its own column.

Third, let’s accept the fact USAF wants to win a race between the services to codify a DoD-centric cyberspace mission. Among other things, they built a “starving artists” sweatshop factory to churn out all the (subpar) documents they’ll need to win the race. Doctrine would fall into this category in a worst-case scenario. Air Force Secretary Michael Donley would probably offer it up to Defense Secretary Robert Gates as follows:

…Annnd that means I’ll need one of the services to lead our new U.S. Cyber Command. Who is most qualified?
We are! Air Force! Pick us! USAF! We’re the most qualified!
Okay, Mike, what makes you so qualified?
We’ve got cyber­space doctrine! Plenty of it, too! Look!
You call this “doctrine”? Based on the grammar & punctu­a­tion, I’d say you slapped together a bunch of Power­Point slides. I saw better pretend-work than this during Vietnam. If rap star Xzibit were here, he’d say “you ain’t a killer you a doctrine filler, you ain’t a soldier you a cyber promoter.”
Yeah, okay, you got me there. But we’ve got so much cyber­space doctrine! Look at all the tree guts it takes to print it! Navy & Army combined doesn’t consume as much paper as ours does.
The Navy CIO ponders deeply on what little doctrine they have. In fact, it looks like the Navy learned from your mistakes in this area. Don’t make me quote Jay-Z on you.
Well, see, there you go then! You just said we’re leading the way in cyber­space doctrine. Air Force is by far the most qualified…

“You seem to like the Defense Secretary a lot, Rob.” He obtained his bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. all in fields of history, so, yeah, I do feel a special kinship…

USAF built a “starving artists” sweat­shop factory to churn out (subpar) cyber­space docu­ments. Doctrine would fall into this category in a worst-case scenario.

As a joke, I’ll do something "in accordance with” Air Force Doctrine Document 3-12 Appendix A item #9. I’ll personally encrypt a CD-ROM with the contents of the Pentagon’s secret “Afghan War Diaries” that I tor’d from computers at McAfee & Symantec (no joke). I’ll put the encrypted classified CD-ROM in the pocket behind my driver’s seat, hidden by a seat cover.

I’ll even LightScribe a photo of Lady Gaga on the CD-ROM just for fun.

The 441-character password to decrypt my personal classified CD-ROM (without the quotes) will be “Your Honor, the lead prosecutor is an AIDS-infected homosexual and a known Al Qaeda sympathizer who was convicted in July 2004 for selling meth within 1,000 feet of a high school. The prosecution’s encryption expert suffers from a bipolar condition due to inbreeding and was featured in a ‘Dateline’ episode on pedophiles that aired in May 2006. Neither of them has any sense of humor whatsoever. On that note, Your Honor, the defense rests!”

I wrote another joke for yesterday’s column but I couldn’t find a spot for it. I’ll stick it here for your amusement:

Item #2 confirms my long-held belief that Hewlett-Packard employs terrorists who place malicious software on the printers they sell to the U.S. military. That innocent-looking LaserJet hooked up to SIPRNET in the USCENTCOM Air Operations Center is actually a terrorist weapon! Ha ha, of course I’m kidding about the “LaserJet terrorist weapon.” Every schoolboy knows Al Qaeda infiltrated the after-market printer cartridge refill industry that HP despises so much…

Man, I can’t wait to block an entry lane with my huge RV when I pull into a military base. “Do you have any weapons or contraband to declare?” I’ll shut off the engine, look him straight in the eye, and tell him I’ve got a contraband Lady Gaga CD-ROM filled with classified data. “Holster your gun, dude! I encrypted it in accordance with Air Force Doctrine Document 3-12 Appendix A item #9…”