Army to Relax Information Controls to Keep Pace with Cyberspace
By Kristen Noel
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 9, 2008 Cumbersome controls over information flow in the Army soon may be a thing of the past, as the service works to deliver its messages proactively in the fast-paced cyber world.
Instead of worrying about controlling what soldiers are saying, the Army needs to focus on rapidly getting their messages out into cyberspace, Army Col. Wayne Parks, director of computer network operations and electronic warfare at the Combined Arms Center in Fort Leavenworth, Kan., said in a teleconference with online journalists and “bloggers” yesterday.
In today’s electronic-warfare environment, Parks said, the Army needs to be able “to get the message out either before the enemy gets the message out, or be able to respond to the enemy as they’re putting the message out.”
The Army has a tendency to be reactive, he said, but the service now is looking at how it engages people with information differently from in the past.
Parks explained that, rather than trying to control what soldiers say, the Army is focusing on keeping the force informed with the facts. “We’re just looking to inform our folks well enough that when they say something, … they’re going to state the facts,” he said.
He estimated that 80 percent of the time the information soldiers provide directly is correct. So, the 20 percent risk of inaccuracies is worthwhile to maintain a proactive approach to online messaging, he said.
“As long as you’re aware of what’s being said, you can always correct the record,” Parks said, “or you can always inform people adequately to ensure that we … don’t stay on this reactive mode and don’t look at our soldiers and our leaders out there and mistrust them.”
Parks also said defending against cyber attacks on computer networks and systems is another key element of electronic warfare.
“There are attacks being made on our networks and our computer systems -- whether it be hardware or software -- from across the globe,” he said.
The Combined Arms Center is studying lessons learned from past attacks and is building new capabilities to defend against future attacks, Parks said.
(Kristen Noel works for the New Media branch of the American Forces Information Service.)