Reply to post 1 & 2 with 150 words each
Of the six strategic challenges our country faces, the threat of Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) is at the forefront of one of the greatest challenges we face as a nation. TCOs facilitate the illegal production and trafficking of narcotics, human trafficking and the sex trade. Mexican TCOs remain the single greatest drug threat to the United States; with no other criminal organizations postured to challenge them. Their sophisticated infrastructure allows them to have all but total control over the illegal trafficking of narcotics from farming, processing, producing and exporting (dea.gov, 2017, p.iv). The second and third order effects of the drug trade have a direct impact our nation’s critical infrastructure and come from the TCOs themselves who have, in the last decade, resorted to extremely brutal violence, trafficking in persons, extortion, kidnapping, oil theft, and utilizing profits from illegal activities to finance corruption (DHS.gov, 2014, p.26).
At this point in our nation’s history, we are seeing the consequences of the drug epidemic not being adequately addressed. The 2017 National Drug Threat Assessment (NDTA) has a trove of data reinforcing the notion that the U.S. is losing the war on drugs. Law enforcement agencies across the U.S. have seen an increase in incidents of violent crime, drug availability and overdoses. Illicit narcotics such as cocaine, methamphetamine and most recently, controlled prescription drugs are surging in large portions of the country as thier availability has increased (dea.gov, 2017, p.145).
The data supports the idea that this risk is not being adequately addressed. Rather, the U.S. has transitioned from a mission of stopping narcotics trafficking to one of mitigating trafficking and the effects of narcotics on the population. The U.S. has placed greater emphasis on rehabilitation and treatment programs to be at the forefront of the domestic and international effort to disrupt the impact of illicit drug abuse and distribution. Strategy has been developed outlining specific measures to reduce illicit drug use to include: early intervention, breaking cycles of crime, incarceration, and drug abuse, disrupting domestic drug trafficking and production and strengthening international partnerships (Obamawhitehouse.gov, 2018, p.1). Additionally, the United States has made funds available to the international community towards drug treatment and recovery to improve health and welfare of individuals but also curb the demand for narcotics.
The specific challenge I reviewed for this week are the growing cyber threats as it relates to the US and critical infrastructure. Cyber threats or cyber warfare is a variety of techniques and activities using information systems as a weapon to gain an advantage by an adversary or opposing force (Chapple, 2015). Cyber Warfare has quickly become the forefront of threats facing the DoD, critical infrastructure, private sector, and overall national security. Based off the Director of National Intelligence strategy on cyber warfare, cyberattacks and cyberespionage are the two specific activities which cyber warfare either participates in or counters based off the mission and/or requirements. Not only can cyber warfare shape and prepare the battlefield for commanders, it can shape the overall US strategy at both the defense and national-level. This translates specifically to homeland security priorities regarding critical infrastructure as the communications and information technology sectors manage most aspects of cyber threats to US critical infrastructure.
Critical infrastructure remains a high priority for our adversaries to target from all aspects but specifically via cyber methods. High-level critical infrastructure targets in the US include power grids or financial targets as a steadfast priority and target for bad cyber actors (Ranger, 2018). The transportation sector being targeted for a cyber-attack would cause a chain reaction that impacts the majority of critical infrastructure and day-to-day activity in the US. Furthermore, cyber-attacks occur on a daily basis targeting the DoD via attempts to penetrate our government networks and illicitly obtain sensitive and controlled information. These attacks can be conducted via denial-of-service attacks, phishing attacks, eavesdropping, SQL injection, viruses, ransomware and a variety of other methods (Melnick, 2018). Future cyber warfare includes cyber being used to target advanced communication technology and equipment, encrypted communication, and additional technology that enables specific technologies and advances (Kim, et al, 2019). With this type of technology impacting the strategic through tactical levels, it is only a matter of time before the same applications are implemented to target critical infrastructure in the US.
Unfortunately, I feel there has been minor progress made against cyber threats targeting critical infrastructure and other areas within the US. This is primarily due to the adversary having more resources to dedicate against cyber activity along with the bureaucratic US legal process preventing certain cyber warfare to be conducted in a timely manner. Overall, the US government is leaning in the right direction to prevent and protect against the future of cyber threats facing the homeland.
Thank you for the time and have a good week.