Steal, Copy, Emulate

Potential adversaries are going to school on the Air Force, and unless the service invests thought and resources into staying ahead, it will meet its military match. That was the message Tuesday from Lt. Gen. David Deptula, deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. Deptula said rising military powers want USAF’s technological prowess, so are looking to “steal it, copy it, emulate it” and are likely to field in significant numbers what they develop with such short cuts. Increasingly, through cyber intrusions, these adversaries can get what they want “without leaving the safety of their intelligence facility,” which is why USAF has put such an urgent priority on cyber defenses. Deptula said the threat picture has changed radically, for instance, because adversaries can, with a credit card, get access to commercial satellite imagery of a resolution that was once classified. The consequences if the US doesn’t stay ahead of these threats “can be catastrophic,” Deptula noted. “We can’t assume we will keep our advantages,” he said. “Our adversaries are … attentive students,” and the US is becoming “increasingly vulnerable on the ground.”