WASHINGTON: Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, reflecting on lessons learned and the way ahead as the outgoing top commander in Iraq, voiced concerns today about how the ease of Internet communications sometimes undermine military operations.
“One of the things we have continued to work hard at is the change in global communications and its impact on warfare,” Odierno said during a Pentagon press briefing. “It’s absolutely essential that we take a hard look at how we’re going to address this issue.”
Odierno, who commanded the Army’s 3rd Corps in Iraq from May 2006 until taking over U.S. Forces Iraq in September 2008, is not the first military leader to voice concerns about how the unregulated and ubiquitous nature of Internet communications undermine security efforts. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multinational Force Iraq before becoming commander of U.S. Central Command in October 2008, voiced similar concerns during budget hearings on Capitol Hill earier this year.
Odierno and others have raised concerns about al-Qaida and other terrorist groups’ recruiting and public relations efforts on the Internet. Even as military operations chip away at the groups’ insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan – killing or capturing 34 of 42 al-Qaida in Iraq leaders in the past three months – militant websites don’t reflect that.
“What they’re telling people on their website is completely different than what is happening on the ground,” the general said.
Odierno, whom President Barack Obama has nominated to head the Norfolk, Va.-based U.S. Joint Forces Command after rotating out of Iraq at the end of summer, endorsed the Defense Department’s new Cyber Command to work on such Internet issues.
The U.S. military has been the target of numerous e-mail scams, Odierno said, including the social networking site, Facebook. His own Facebook site has been used in schemes to extort money, he said.
“These are real challenges to us that we really have to get after,” he said.
Army Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin has been chosen to replace Odierno as commander of U.S. Forces Iraq.