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


Federal Allies News October 2013

October 11, 2013

Letter from the Executive Director

Fort Meade, Maryland is Growing Tremendously. 

With tight budgets and collaboration common issues among many governments worldwide, the U.S.A. sequester has left the surge in Cyber Command and Cyber Domain at Fort Meade including National Security Agency alone.  The size and strategic importance and scope and complexity of Fort Meade’s 54,000 military and civilian employees, 116 tenant organizations, post-BRAC includes 16 major construction projects counting NSA as a single project.

Bound for Maryland is between $900 million (U.S. House) and $1 billion (U.S. Senate) in military construction according to U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski, Md., Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.  Construction is the fifth largest employment segment in the Maryland economy.

At the recent Air Force Association conference, “We are experiencing a short term fiscal crush,” said, Gen. Mike Hostage, Commander, Air Combat Command, U.S. Air Force who seeks a 5th generation fleet of 1,763.  With reduction in budgets worldwide, collaboration among allies is more and more necessary.  Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Air Force Chief of Staff, says that we must “Hug them a little closer”.

Federal Allies institute

Growing a partnering culture with agencies and industry includes a membership at Federal Allies Institute.  Opportunity for collaboration can be found among our members.   Developing a relationship at the time of bidding on a contract with someone you have never met before is not possible.  You can’t surge trust.  Trust has to be built over time.  Trust and capabilities sharing partnerships can be developed at FAI.  And this includes preparation, hard work, and learning from failure, training, and education to make you fully capable.

EAGLE II

Congratulations to Brandon LaBonte and Michael Matechak of Ardent Management Consulting, Inc. (ArdentMC) and Pan America Computers, Inc. (PCITec) joint venture Ardent Eagle, JV, LLC, recipient of the prime contract number HSHQDC-13-D-E2042.

In This Edition

We welcome the first article by a FAI Chapter Chair, of Texas.  Interviewed is Gary Lindner of PeopleFund.

Ralph E. Winnie, Jr. begins a series on health care and the Affordable Care Act just as Challenger, Gray & Christmas reports the highest CEO turnover of health care executives during the third quarter.  The series promises to be informative and useful to small business.

Emerging Leadership

On behalf of the Board of Directors I would like to welcome new members: SBC Global, Front Rowe, Inc., SINTEL Group, Inc., and Distinctive Health Care.

As we celebrate our first five years and a growing membership, FAI Membership Committee Chairperson Patricia Driscoll plans additional meetings, receptions, and even golf outings to identify new members and members who seek volunteer leadership roles at FAI including positions on the Federal Allies Institute Board of Directors.

Prior to 2014 a member of the FAI Board may have been called upon to perform in a wide variety of capacities including policy, working, and advisory.  Beginning January 1, 2014 the board will concern itself only with policy decisions and will meet in January, March, September, and December.

As the original strategist, founder and now Executive Director of what was once a small cadre of early believers, it is a privilege for me to now be able to involve more members in a process so vital to FAI’s future.   The following have been enlisted to review candidates to lead the 2014 Federal Allies Institute Board of Directors: 2013 FAI Board Chair Frank Clay, Jr., FAI Board Chair Emeritus Mary Fae Kamm, strategic planning committee members Raymond F. Goodrich, Michael Matechak, and the Executive Director.

Nominations for 2014 Chairman of the Board, Federal Allies Institute

Following an extensive meeting at Gaylord National Resort and Conference Center, National Harbor, Maryland nominations are sought for 2014 Chairman of the Board.

Membership Elections to Expand the Federal Allies Institute Board of Directors November 4, 2013

The 10 day membership voting process is to begin November 4, 2013 and end November 13, 2013.  All member firms in good standing will each be asked to complete and return an election ballot.  The ballot will include space for write-in candidates.

David T. Boddie, Executive Director


Pentagram: DC Metro Expo at Fort Myer

June 18, 2009

Business Conference Held At Spates

By Michael Norris, Pentagram Assistant Editor

The second annual Washington, D.C. Metro Expo, a forum for small companies hoping to do business with the federal government, was held at Spates Community Club Wednesday.

David T. Boddie of Federal Allies Institute, the sponsor of the event, said 350 to 400 attendees signed up for the forum, with participants coming from 16 different states.

The expo had a convention-like atmosphere as 37 companies who already do work for the government, as well as government agencies, set up tables in Spates and interacted with companies hoping to find government work.

Technology-oriented companies specializing in construction, communications, contaminated waste disposal and security were readily visible at the expo, but so were some unexpected entities. Landsdowne, a resort eight miles west of Dulles Airport in Virginia was there marketing its facility as a place for organizational retreats and troop vacation packages, and a salsa company that does business at Fort Belvoir and Quantico was looking to further expand distribution of its product.

Even the non-profit USO Metro was there, looking for volunteers and soliciting sponsorship for its programs which benefit uniformed personnel.

‘‘It’s kind of like speed dating for government contractors,” said Boddie. ‘‘It’s a matter of streamlining and outsourcing the federal government to the widest extent possible.”

In addition to the casual networking in the ballroom, participants could also sign up for one-on-one sessions with local government contracting offices, such as the Small Business Administration and other federal agencies, seeking specifics in terms of bidding, contract requirements, eligibility, certifications and other issues.

There were also presentations on ‘‘Small Business Strategic Planning,” ‘‘Construction and BRAC,” and ‘‘Prime and Subcontractor Relationships” held throughout the day in rooms adjacent the ballroom.

‘‘If you want to see what’s out there, click on contracting opportunities,” Stacy Copeland of the Fort Myer Contracting Office told audience members in a breakaway session, supplementing a power point presentation on opportunities in the Army. ‘‘If you know that something’s on Fort Myer, click on Fort Myer and it’ll open up.”

Wesley Stith of Clark Construction, co-led the session on Contracting and BRAC. While the Base Realignment and Closure act has meant the loss of jobs for some, he said it can be an opportunity for others. Stith said companies have to be agile to quickly adapt to changing economic circumstances.

‘‘We’re in a new world,” he said. ‘‘Who would have believed that GM would be where it is today? People can’t keep doing the same old thing that worked before.”

Kenneth Mitchell, director of contracting for the Fort Myer Military Community, said the conference included participation by the Internal Revenue Service, the Air Force and other organizations, which provided budding entrepreneurs with a wide breadth of information. He said it also afforded an opportunity for Fort Myer contracting officials to meet face-to-face with their counterparts in other agencies.

‘‘It was a whopping success,” Mitchell said. ‘‘We had twice as many people as last year.” He said Fort Myer served as the unofficial host of the event.

Looking around at the buzz of activity, Boddie said, ‘‘We’re bringing the economy back right here at Fort Myer.”

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