Data You Can Trust

America’s military continues its wait for network-centric warfare (NCW) breakthroughs to deliver technological leadership and war-fighting advances that revolutionize the American way of battle. Instead, in the past decade the US military got artifacts: Internet access, laptop computing, the introduction of smartphones, and so forth. The artifacts of technological advancement are often misidentified as the anticipated NCW breakthroughs. At their core, those artifacts are iterative device and machine productivity improvements. If NCW has an insidious weakness, it is its hardware orientation. The focus on artifacts begs a question: what about the data that is transported within the hardware, devices, networks, and associated infrastructure? Despite advancements in technologies and processes, today’s software and hardware shells—the things that surround and distribute data—remain chronically vulnerable. Among history’s recurring insights is that a military’s vulnerabilities— hidden or acknowledged—can become linchpins in an opponent’s campaign of surprise. However, surprise need not be strategic to impede the American way of battle. What is to be done?

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