Transportation Command, the functional combatant command responsible for global military logistics and transportation, is the difference between being a super power and a great power.

Referencing the words of the former deputy secretary of defense during a keynote presentation at DoDIIS 2017 August 14 in St. Louis, Gen. Darren McDew, TRANSCOM’s commander, said that the difference between a super power and a great power is a super power can have influence of the near abroad of another great power.

“That’s why what we do is so important in the cyber realm,” McDew said.

With responsibility for the entire planet, transcending geographic boundaries and working hard to maintain the perspectives and the authorities to benefit the entire joint force, McDew said 90 percent of military logistics and global movement are coordinated on unclassified commercial networks.

“Ignoring cyber is not an option for us,” he said. “Cyber for us is mission critical.”

Cyber leads to mission assurance and isn’t just about protecting the network, it is about protecting data.

McDew noted how potential adversaries don’t even have to really stop TRANSCOM or him; they just have to slow him down. “And they can slow me down the best by introducing doubts in the system,” he said. “If they put doubt in my head, I’ll slow the entire system down.”

What does trust look like once it’s been violated, he asked. What does veracity look like once doubt is sown and how does one know when they have it? “Many times you don’t know when you’ve lost it, let alone when you can get it back,” McDew added. “That’s why cyber remains one of our top four strategic priorities in U.S. Transportation Command.”

McDew explained how, in previous years, TRANSCOM’s IT budget was cut, noting that the command was viewing cyber through the lens of IT and not a domain of warfare.

“Imagine if we had back then reinvested a little bit of that in cyber,” he said. “And now we’re scrambling mightily.”

Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.

More In