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February 10, 2007—Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright, head of US Strategic Command, says the cyberspace arena is one that the US cannot let “go uncontested.” During his presentation at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla., Thursday afternoon, Cartwright talked about various challenges involved with missions that encompass cyberspace, space, nukes, and information operations.  

The reality of cyber operations, he said, is that more than 90 percent of American businesses interface with the cyber world. Unfortunately, continued Cartwright, the system is “ad hoc,” built for terminal defense. “We’ve got to change the architecture of the system,” he said, explaining that for a warfighter to be forced to wait two or three weeks to be able to defend a key node from an attack is unacceptable.

Cartwright asserted: “We’ve got to get out of the mindset that it’s purely a defensive activity. As we do that, we’ve got to start to understand integration of offense, defense, and exploitation.”

The STRATCOM boss also wants to change the current “reactive way of handling problems in space,” which he said is “getting crowded.” His approach would be to focus more on “defensive measures.” However, Cartwright does not believe every solution for space has to be accomplished in space.

“We do not need an arms race,” he said.

Cartwright does think the US needs nuclear weapons, but he advocates modernization and a minimal stockpile. He believes new nukes must be the “safest, most secure, and most reliable weapons we have.”

In STRATCOM’s information operations realm, Cartwright is pushing to change the current technical information architecture to one that offers “plug-and-play” features for new platforms. “We have got to start to think about a different architectural structure inside our closed platforms,” he said, adding that the need exists to be able to invent capabilities “on the fly.”

Cartwright maintains that the US military “cannot afford to wait for upgrades and [operation flight program changes] for two or three years, along with $2 or $3 billion worth of expenses.”