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The Other Quiet Professionals

The Other Quiet Professionals: Lessons for Future Cyber Forces from the Evolution of Special Forces

Christopher Paul
Isaac R. Porche
Elliot Axelband
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: RAND Corporation
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  • Book Info
    The Other Quiet Professionals
    Book Description:

    With the establishment of U.S. Cyber Command, the cyber force is gaining visibility and authority, but challenges remain, particularly in the areas of acquisition and personnel recruitment and career progression. A review of commonalities, similarities, and differences between the still-nascent U.S. cyber force and early U.S. special operations forces, conducted in 2010, offers salient lessons for the future direction of U.S. cyber forces.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-8802-4
    Subjects: Technology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Figure and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Summary
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  7. Abbreviations
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  8. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    Contemporary U.S. cyber forces face many challenges. Current threats in cyberspace are considerable, and attacks are both continuous and ongoing but wholly unlike conventional military operations in methods, scope, and consequences. As an illustration, the following could serve as a cyber force posture statement:

    Our nation is at war, but this war is unlike any we have ever fought. It is a war fought without formal declaration, without concrete resolution, and against adversaries willing and able to circumvent our military forces by striking directly against the U.S. Homeland. It is a long-term conflict against adversaries determined to use weapons designed...

  9. CHAPTER TWO Special Operations Forces Before U.S. Special Operations Command
    (pp. 5-14)

    The history of SOF and SOF reform substantially precedes the establishment of USSOCOM. Beginning with the early history of SOF “commandos,” this chapter briefly reviews the relevant history and some of the details leading up to the SOF reform movement in the 1980s and the establishment of USSOCOM.

    Elite commandos of one flavor or another date back quite far in history. The occupants of the Trojan horse were no doubt the period SOF equivalent. The United States’ special forces predate the country’s independence; during the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress established ten Ranger companies. Famous Ranger leaders from that era...

  10. CHAPTER THREE The Transition to and Evolution of U.S. Special Operations Command
    (pp. 15-22)

    A major battle had been fought and won, but the war was by no means over. Simply because Congress passed a law did not mean that those opposing the establishment of USSOCOM gave up. Bureaucracy includes an extensive bag of tricks, and the bureaucratic opposition employed many of them in delaying the full implementation of the legislation.

    Many in DoD who had opposed the various congressional reforms not only accepted their passage but also supported the new command and its efforts (Marquis, 1997, pp. 209–212). Many others, however, continued to harbor resentment at the imposition and continued what resistance...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR Cyber Forces and U.S. Cyber Command
    (pp. 23-30)

    Before attempting to make an analogy between pre-USSOCOM SOF and contemporary cyber forces and discerning lessons to be learned from the history of SOF, we need to say something about cyber forces and their current state. It is difficult to explore the activities of cyber forces in detail in an unclassified report. As is the case for SOF, the tactics, techniques, and procedures of cyber warfare are classified. Cyber doctrine, such as it exists, is not available for public release and may well be classified in whole or in part. “In fact, the very termcomputer network attackwas classified...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE Confirming the Analogy: How Alike Are Pre–U.S. Special Operations Command Forces and Contemporary Cyber Forces?
    (pp. 31-46)

    The history leading to the establishment of USSOCOM offers important general lessons, including the noted difficulty of garnering support and funding from the services for elements that they do not consider to be a priority, the acrimony engendered by congressional imposition in areas traditionally seen as the prerogatives of the defense community, the power of bureaucratic resistance from those alienated by the process, and the effectiveness of a new organization with high-level advocacy and budget authority for the community it supports. Further lessons may be drawn from an analogy between SOF and cyber forces, but they would be contingent on...

  13. CHAPTER SIX Lessons for U.S. Cyber Forces from U.S. Special Operations Command Acquisitions
    (pp. 47-54)

    Chapter Five made clear the similarities between SOF and the cyber force’s needs to acquire unique equipment to conduct operations. For SOF, specialized vehicles and weapons may ultimately influence the outcome of a mission. Acquisition communities are dedicated to quickly delivering such equipment to the warfighter when there is an urgent need.

    The speed and agility that marks the SOF acquisition process can benefit cyber acquisition. This chapter reviews the evolution of USSOCOM’s acquisition program. We conclude by summarizing the factors contributing to USSOCOM’s acquisition success that may be especially applicable for the cyber community.

    The formal DoD acquisition process...

  14. CHAPTER SEVEN Conclusions and Recommendations
    (pp. 55-58)

    This monograph described the history of the formation of USSOCOM, discussed similarities and differences between early SOF and contemporary cyber forces, and presented an analogy between the two. Given the similarities between the two communities, the path to and authorities held by USSOCOM suggest several lessons for the growth and evolution of the U.S. cyber force. Specifically, like earlier SOF, the cyber community needs advocacy and a joint organizational home. Similar to pre-USSO-COM SOF, it needsbetter funding supportanda rapid acquisition capability.However, it is much more dependent on technical acquisition choices at the joint force level. In...

  15. References
    (pp. 59-62)