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Gen. Paul Nakasone on Influence Operations; VADM Robert Sharp Quoted

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Gen. Paul Nakasone, director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and a 2020 Wash100 Award recipient, said information warfare in the form of influence operations will be the next major disrupter facing the intelligence community, Federal News Network reported Thursday.

“We’ve seen it now in our democratic processes. I think we’re going to see it in our diplomatic processes. We’re going to see it in warfare. We’re going to see it in sowing civil distrust in different countries,” Gen. Nakasone said of influence operations during the Intelligence and National Security Summit on Wednesday.

Nakasone, also commander of U.S. Cyber Command, discussed how technology enables threat actors to spread fake messages, sow doubt or question authority.

“I think influence operations just in general will be for us, one of the things that we’ll be dealing with not just every two or four years, but this is the competitive space that we’re going to be in as intelligence agencies and as our nation,” he added.

VADM Robert Sharp
VADM Robert Sharp

Vice Adm. Robert Sharp, director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and fellow 2020 Wash100 Award recipient, concurred with Nakasone’s views and noted that the strategic environment is going through revolutionary and evolutionary changes.

“How do you have confidence in the ones and zeros that you’re using for making decisions based off of?” Sharp asked. “So that revolutionary side is really, I think, our challenge and our opportunity and our competition space. It’s going to define our investments and how we operate over the next decade,” Sharp explained.