Federal Allies Institute Interview: Kevin D. Freeman, New York Times Best-Selling Author on Economic Warfare and Cyber

March 17, 2014

Federal Allies  Recently, the Russia invasion of the Crimean peninsula utilized both conventional and cyber attacks.  In your latest book Game Plan, you outline the potential threats against the U.S. economy and how Americans can be prepared to protect their savings and investments.  In other words, what Americans see as the marketplace, our enemies now view as the battle space to include cyber economic attacks for a global economic war.  You have written several books on the subject.  Can you enlighten us on your federal agency meetings and what has been their response to the potential for economic warfare and cyber attacks?

Freeman  It is important to understand that the critical issue is economic warfare and cyber is a powerful way to conduct that war. Without understanding that the war is economic, cyber becomes a catch-up battle with malware, viruses, and hacking—something for which you might install some good defensive software but not create a threat doctrine.

Most of my meetings have been with Defense and Intelligence agencies. Initially, the meetings were based on curiosity as the concept of economic warfare and financial terrorism was viewed as outside the mainstream of discussion. In one case, a group was convened to determine how offensive weapons could be deployed using financial strategies.

In most cases, after the meeting, there was a general acknowledgment of the threat but little willingness to address it. “It’s not in our lane,” was a common response. In other cases, there seemed to be a denial of the entire concept. “No one would be able to do that,” and “why would anyone harm our economy when they would be hurt in the process,” were typical responses. Since 2008, I have met with a dozen or so different Pentagon-related offices, top leadership (past or present) from three different intelligence agencies, various appropriators, Federally-funded research labs, and others.

Over time, with further revelations, however, the idea of economic attacks, especially cyber in nature have gained critical acceptance. I recall a meeting at the FBI, for example, where the whole idea of attacking our financial system was ridiculed. A couple of weeks later, the NASDAQ was hacked and it was acknowledged that the resources behind the breach leaned more to nation state that criminal organization. And, there have been directed threats by Putin against our markets and currency, the flash crashes, and other incidents that support my general thesis that the next war is economic with cyber weaponry. Then, there were the revelations from Juan Zarate in his book, Treasury’s War that acknowledged not only that we had developed economic weaponry to use against terrorists but also that we were vulnerable to a host of financial attacks.

Unfortunately, the problem remains that the broad issue of economic warfare and financial terrorism, despite its serious nature, doesn’t “belong” in any one location and may not reside anywhere. We are looking at cyber, but unless we see it in the context of economic warfare we won’t address it properly. Outgoing head of the NSA, General Keith Alexander acknowledged our vulnerability in a 60 Minutes interview (as excerpted from Forbes December 15, 2013):

“On the CBS program 60 Minutes tonight, National Security Agency (NSA) director Gen. Keith Alexander admitted that ‘a foreign national could impact and destroy a major portion of our financial system’ by placing a virus in our computer systems ‘and literally take down the U.S. economy’ if the virus was spread around … While mentioning known attacks by China, Deborah Plunkett, another NSA official spokesperson, told CBS: ‘Don’t be fooled. There are absolutely nation states who have the capability and the intention to do just that,’ i.e. ‘literally take down the U.S. economy.’”

Federal Allies  How big of an issue is cyber in comparison to all other concerns?

Freeman  Our potential enemies have cyber as the #1 means of future warfare.  That says something. It is likely that all future conflicts will have at least a cyber component. The risk is, with cyber or EMP or other attacks that Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima could be combined into a single event. There are sovereignty ending risks if the electric grid is wiped out, or the financial system completely collapses. Consider this from Wired Magazine in 2010:

“Cyberspace has become the fifth domain of warfare, after land, sea, air and space. Some scenarios imagine the almost instantaneous failure of the systems that keep the modern world turning. As computer networks collapse, factories and chemical plants explode, satellites spin out of control and the financial and power grids fail.”

The Russians used cyber attacks both in Georgia and more recently the Ukraine. China, Iran, and North Korea, and multiple terror groups/international criminal organizations have all developed sophisticated cyber units as a primary means of war fighting. They are testing and probing our systems daily.

Federal Allies  The Defense Department named cyberspace a new domain of warfare in 2011. Today, U.S. Cyber Command, the services, and U.S. partners and allies are working together to make that inherently collaborative, adaptable environment a suitable place for military command and control.  Which federal agencies are leaders on cyber?

Freeman  DoD through Cyber Command and NSA and Homeland Security are key leaders, with significant cyber efforts at FBI and throughout the Intelligence Community. I am concerned, however, that the effort isn’t fully integrated as would be required to develop an economic war footing. It’s a little like pre-9/11 when anti-terrorism was split across a variety of efforts with little coordination or cooperation.

Federal Allies  Which published government reports do you recommend would bolster our readers?

Freeman  All of my work has been through existing contractors. I recommend my DoD reports, my books, and blogs with info at http://secretweapon.org.

Federal Allies  As you look across the agencies, who is leading the most important initiatives underway?

Freeman  From my limited vantage point, DoD has shown the most interest which is appropriate as this is an economic war with a cyber dimension.

Federal Allies  What would you like to leave our readership thinking about?

Freeman  I believe we are potentially facing a third World War fought primarily through economic means. Most prospective enemies of the United States would prefer not to match our kinetic weapon systems. But, they view our underlying strength coming from our economy and our economy appearing vulnerable. Unfortunately, our nation tends to prepare for the next war based on the weapons from the last war. This is a mistake. It is critical that we develop a complete economic warfare doctrine and build integration for key cyber efforts to that doctrine.

Federal Allies  Thank you.

 

Read Federal Allies News March 2014 edition: Economic Warfare and the Use of Cyber. An in-depth interview of New York Times Best-Selling Author Kevin D. Freeman. www.FederalAllies.org  Interview conducted at CPAC and online.

@FederalAllies Interview with Kevin Freeman (March, 2014 Issue): secretweapon.org/federal-allies… #GamePlan


Register for Washington Days Conference, May 6-7, 2013

April 1, 2013

By Ralph E. Winnie, Jr.

As a national non-profit dedicated to small business and federal acquisition best practices, Federal Allies Institute is proud to host its annual Washington Days Conference from May 6th-7th, 2013 in the heart of our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.

Federal Allies recognizes that business development and relationship building go hand in hand, especially for small and medium size enterprises.  Washington Days Conference is your opportunity to develop and maintain close personal relationships with DoD, the Agencies and Congress.

On May 6th we will focus on the Business Development opportunities important to you, plus will provide registrants with a tool kit to effectively understand and navigate current and pending changes to Mentor Protégé programs resulting from the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2013.  If you would like a plain English explanation about Mentor Protégé, from this nation’s top experts, then attend Washington Days Conference on May 6.  We’ve got it covered.

A wide spectrum of people from diverse socio and economic backgrounds help to shape the conference agenda to ensure the event highlights their business sectors and objectives.   The results?  “Many discussions will be tailor-made, one-on-one education planned, and match-making sessions where informal question and answer sessions will explain the intricacies of federal contracting,” said David T. Boddie, Executive Director, Federal Allies Institute.

On May 7th Federal Allies extends those relationship building opportunities to Capitol Hill to your members of Congress and their staffs and to relevant committees of both Senate and House that impact how you do business.

On May 7th Federal Allies once again “marches” on Capitol Hill and carries with it banners for continuous improvement to Mentor Protégé and the many other small business issues Federal Allies is known to represent and champion such as Veterans Entrepreneurial Transition Act.  This is an excellent opportunity for all involved, and for those who would like to learn how to conduct your own pro-business Congressional Office Visits, to walk with us and underscore the year round work accomplished by FAI’s highly effective Government Relations Program.   Previous advocacy work on the Hill and with the Agencies, represent our calling card, and is the foundation on which we can offer you opportunity to advance your legislative and rulemaking agenda.  FAI’s relationship building plan for freshmen Senators and House representatives of the 113th Congress is best voiced by U.S. Representative Markwayne Mullin (OK-2).  “Thank you for all the work that you do. As a businessman myself, I know the difficulties businesses are faced with over regulation from the state and federal government. I hope that you enjoy your time in Washington and look forward to seeing you,” said Congressman Markwayne Mullin, (OK -2).

 
That said, the goal is for every registrant to come away from Washington Days Conference 2013 with a keener perspective of the inter-relationship between government and business and with a foundation for growth and business development in this challenging economy.

Federal Allies will actively encourage all registrants at Washington Days Conference 2013 to
establish and build personal and professional relationships to ensure your success in the future.  If you have not already done so, register now to attend Washington Days Conference 2013 by visiting FederalAllies.org.  Should you have any questions, please call (571) 217-0823.


Government Connections Network: Washington Days Conference, May 6-7, 2013 in D.C.

March 24, 2013

Government Connections & Network

How to sell to the federal government, large and small businesses nationwide.

 May 6-7, 2013 Holiday Inn Capitol, 550 C Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024

 www.FederalAllies.org

 

The 4th National Small Business Conference known as Washington Days Conference is for Federal agencies, DoD, Corporations, Small Businesses.

Government, Corporations, Small Businesses & Mentor Protégé Programs

Featuring Federal Agencies Matchmaking, Mentor-Protégé, National Defense Authorization Act, and Vetted SME Expertise.
For all Small Businesses including 8(a), HUBZone, SDVOB, SDB, WOSB, DBE, & MBE.

U.S. Department Homeland Security, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, U.S. Small Business Administration, Social Security Administration, U.S. Agency for International Development, Defense Logistics Agency, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Lockheed Martin MST Undersea Systems, and more.

20 Matchmaking Table Discussions

Many Federal Agencies & DoD

 

The National Defense Authorization Act & Mentor Protégé

Emily Murphy, Senior Counsel, U.S. House Small Business Committee                                        

 

U.S. Small Business Administration & Mentor Protégé Changes

Calvin Jenkins, Deputy Associate Administrator, Office of Government Contracting & Business Development, U.S. SBA

 

Lockheed Martin Mentor Protégé Program & Diversity Program

Robyn H. Snyder, Supplier Diversity Program Manager, Lockheed Martin MST Undersea Systems

 

Mentor Protégé Programs:  A Legal Perspective & Update

Ralph C. Thomas III, Barton Baker Thomas & Tolle, LLP

 

Federal Agency Mentor Protégé Programs Panel Discussion

Anthony “Tony” Eiland, Program Manager, U.S. General Services Administration Mentor Protégé Program

Kevin Boshears, Director, Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, U.S. Department of Homeland Security


National Defense Authorization Act Expands Mentor-Protégé beyond the 8(a) Program

March 4, 2013

By Ralph E. Winnie, Jr., Federal Allies News National Correspondent

On January 3, 2013 President Barack Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (NDAA).  The NDAA provides the US Government with new authority to create a Mentor-Protégé Program targeting thousands of non-8(a) small businesses so they will be able to participate in programs based on the current framework which was limited to businesses that were already accepted into the 8(a) Program.

“Expanding the Mentor Protégé Program beyond the 8(a) Program establishes a new dynamic among small businesses and federal agencies. It is a real investment in the future growth and dependability of small businesses,” said Frank Clay, Jr., Chairman, Federal Allies Institute, and President, The ClayGroup, Olathe, Kansas.

This will mean that more small businesses, including member companies associated with Federal Allies, will be eligible to benefit from the skills, training, and capital of large business mentors while, at the same time, gaining access to prime government contracts that were previously unavailable under the old system. Given that the expansion of the Mentor-Protégé Program is not mandatory its implementation is less that certain.  However, Federal Allies will be monitoring the status of the affiliation rules and the impact on federal contractors over the coming months to gauge its impact on small businesses associated with Federal Allies and make necessary recommendations.

“The good news is the door is open to recognize partnerships with small business that can make a difference. It is not essential that a Mentor Protégé Program be mandatory… what is important is that an opportunity is not missed because a small business is not 8(a),” said Clay.

Although the Act does provide for increased transparency in the sphere of small business contracting, it does not include major incentives for contractors to meet those goals. Construction contracts will be treated separately as SBA is planning to issue additional regulations as specified in the NDAA and these regulations can be difficult to comprehend at times. While the earlier regulations address the “cost of the contract” the new rules discuss the amount to be paid to a small business contractor which is the price and not the cost.

Federal Allies is closely monitoring the changes the NDAA is mandating, that SBA makes to its Women Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program, and the impact this will have on our member companies. Federal Allies will work aggressively to make sure that its women owned small business members will be armed with the requisite knowledge, resources and skills to be able to effectively participate in SBA’s  Women’s Federal Contract Program and compete for and win federal contracts.  Prior to the new law, the anticipated award of a contract for a women-owned and economically disadvantaged women-owned minority small business could not exceed 6.5 million for manufacturing contracts and 4 million for all other contracts. The new law now removes the thresholds and allows women-owned small businesses greater access to federal contracting opportunities without limitations or restrictions as to the value of a contract.

“This one change will allow these best women-owned companies to become better by going after larger contracts that can grow their businesses,” said Clay.

NDAA also requires SBA to conduct another study to identify and report industries underrepresented by women-owned small businesses. Federal Allies applauds the implementation of the NDAA and will closely follow the implementation of this legislation to help women-owned small businesses which are members of Federal Allies get more federal contracts and help the Federal Government meet and exceed its statutory five percent women’s contracting goals.

Finally, the NDAA requires the Small Business Administration to establish a reporting mechanism to allow subcontractors to report issues of bad faith or fraud on the part of prime contractors. As a service to its member companies, Federal Allies, over the next few months, will be closely monitoring how this system will be implemented and what penalties will be used to enforce compliance.  Despite lingering questions, these new rules may increase the amount of money that gets into the hands of small businesses nationwide and also lead to greater diligence in administering plans on the part of prime contractors.

“All small businesses should follow the roll out of programs stemming from this legislation. FAI will do its part to communicate the policy specifics that will enable small businesses to take advantage of these new changes,” said Clay.