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I’m a logistician. When did cyber warrior become part of my job description?

By Steve Geary | 12/06/2014 | 3:27 PM

When you go into the deployed environment, you pay attention to the threat environment.  As we continue to see in Iraq and Afghanistan, there are a ton of threat vectors.  It’s an asynchronous environment so concepts like “the rear,” some sort of notional safe haven, are at best quaint and at worst lethal if you think the really exists.

If you think you are safe anywhere in Afghanistan because you are in the rear, you are deluded.  Think about it:  the rear is that part of the deployed footprint of a military deployment usually farthest from the fighting front.  Even in the heart of the capital, Kabul, there are persistent threats.  Low probability threats, but persistent and lethal threats nonetheless.

As is my habit, I attending WBR’s Defense Logistics even this week, and was honored to be the Conference Chair for two days.  The agenda covered a lot of ground, learned a lot, plus I had the opportunity to network with old and new friends. 

Then a couple of cyber warriors rattled my cage.  Lieutenant General Kevin McLaughlin, the Deputy Commander of US Cyber Command, and Dr. Rocky Young, in the Office of the DoD Chief Information Officer, both brought forward the idea of the information space of our global supply chain as a battlespace.

Now, we’ve written about the topic before in DC Velocity, on a couple of occasions.  PC World has hit on it, too.  A website called the Second Line of Defense (SLD) has also done a nice exploration.

SLD writes,  “In 1999 two Chinese officers published a study called ‘Unrestricted Warfare,’ arguing that war itself had changed and that it had ‘morphed’ into a phenomenon where the principles of war were no longer Clausewitzian, i.e. the use of armed force to compel the enemy to submit to one’s will.  Instead those principles now were ‘using all means, including armed force or non-armed force, military and non-military, and lethal and non-lethal means to compel the enemy to accept one’s interests.’”

What General McLaughlin and Dr. Young did for me was take it a step further and provide some perspective on the cyber threat.  Just like with the deployed environment, there is no rear for the information space in the supply chain.  It’s global, it’s interconnected, and it is a target.

We’re going to have to do battle in commercial cyberspace, not just the military physical space.  Are we ready?

Logistics is the foundation of expeditionary warfare, and the biggest strength the United States military has is the ability to project force.  We know how to leverage the commercial sector, and put together an expeditionary package that is unmatched, blending together the best of the commercial sector and the best of the military. 

Our ability to project force relies on an unbroken chain of assets and information, leading all the way to the point of the spear.  The commercial supply chain’s information space is the soft underbelly of the military supply chain, and I’m not sure that commercial participants in military logistics have embraced that truth.

Chains are only as strong as their weakest link, and the commercial supply chain is a target around the world.  We are vulnerable, and that is unsettling.



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About Mike Rudolph

Mike Rudolph

Mike Rudolph is a recently retired Marine Colonel with over 30 years of operational experience, proven leadership, and management success in the logistics and supply chain management fields. He is an executive consultant with ROSE Solutions and the Supply Chain Visions family of companies - consultancies that work throughout the government sector. Mike led the Marine Corps Supply Chain and Life Cycle Management Center at Marine Corps Logistics Command - responsible for supply chain and life cycle management of all ground weapon systems, equipment, and reparable components, the depot maintenance program, and equipment prepositioning program. During 2004-2008, he served two tours of duty in Anbar Province, Iraq as the G-4 for Multi-National Force – West, supporting all combat operations and coalition efforts to revitalize Iraqi economic development and stability. Mike's efforts were recognized with the Bronze Star for his first tour and the Legion of Merit for his second. He was widely recognized as a visionary and innovator in the Marine Corps logistics community.


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