There is no doubt that chemical weapons were used in
Syria. There is also no doubt that this should not be
ignored. A response to the action must be swift and debilitating. Although there are a great many good
arguments on both sides of this issue there are methods that many do not
consider. This article is about one of
the methods that can be used that are outside the conventional military
First, what do we know about
Syria? Although Syria has been embroiled in a +2
year civil war it still has certain portions of its infrastructure intact. These include basic communications, power,
and military targeting and guidance systems.
Second, what do we know about these systems? Operations by non-government supported individuals have demonstrated that
Syria has not spent much time or
effort in securing these systems. To be
fair that is true of most computer systems in general, but Syria appears to have many holes
that have been penetrated.
Third, what do we know about the capabilities of the
U.S. and others
who support a retaliatory strike?
Operations that have been conducted in other locations prove the ability
of government supported teams to not only penetrate, but to also take control
of systems within “protected” networks.
A strike directed at the electronic infrastructure of Syria is well
within the capabilities of these groups.
Fourth, what is the potential fallout of this type of strike? This is the complicated part of the equation. No guarantee can be made that this type of attack would not result in non-combatant casualties. However, this type of attack would not result in the numbers of associated casualties that a conventional attack would.
Fifth, would the attack cripple
Syria? That depends on the level
and depth of the attack. It would create
a great deal of havoc that could last weeks, and even months. Of course that is
dependent on the aggressiveness of the attack. It would not keep the Syrians
from launching another chemical attack, but the realization of the damage
caused by a cyber attack would certainly make them hesitant to do so.
Sixth, what dangers exist to our own networks and future cyber attacks? Everyday our enemies are attempting to penetrate our electronic systems. Would an enemy be emboldened to strike back? In this case I am not talking about
they have a very limited capacity to do so.
Other enemies would become more aware of possible vulnerabilities and
learn from the attack, which would allow them to further harden their own
networks. This is true of everyday
The final analysis of using a Cyber Tomahawk to strike Syrian infrastructure would indeed do substantial damage in the short term, and send a clear message to the Syrian’s, it would not cripple the regime in the long term. While the cyber attack would reduce the exposure of
U.S. forces, it would not eliminate the danger
posed to non-combatants in Syria.
As with any attack other enemy forces would learn about our capabilities, but
this is not critical as you may think.
Questions still exist as to the objective of a strike on
objectives must be clearly known by our forces (not our public) before
determining the best course of action.
Given the fact that we have lost the initiative and any chance of
surprise this type of attack may be the only viable option.