TRANSCOM Head: Contested Environments Becoming a Reality

USAF Gen. Darren McDew, head of US Transportation Command, spoke at an AFA-sponsored, Air Force breakfast on Capitol Hill on Nov. 15, 2017. Staff photo by McKinnon Pearse.

The threat of contested operations is becoming a reality, chipping away at the US military’s “decisive advantage” in its ability to rapidly deploy globally, the head of US Transportation Command said Wednesday.

Cyber threats are real and are the biggest threat facing US lift across the globe, where “adversaries don’t have to stop us, they just have to slow us down,” USAF Gen. Darren McDew said Wednesday at an Air Force Association event on Capitol Hill.

McDew specifically mentioned an incident on June 22, in the Black Sea. A US ship noticed a malfunction with its GPS system, which instead of accurately showing its position near the coast of Novorossiysk, Russia, showed it on land at an airport. Its GPS system said the ship was safe, with no threats near by.

“They had been spoofed,” McDew said.

McDew did not specify who was responsible for this incident. However, the Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation reported several ships had reported similar incidents and Russia has been testing their ability to jam or interfere with US systems, according to a report by the foundation in the Maritime Executive journal.

In a military situation, spoofing or other interference like this could have an impact because an adversary would just need to slow down US lift. No “bombs or bullets” are needed to have an impact on the battlefield, just “ones and zeros,” he said.