Japanese admiral in charge of “The Matrix”

  Paul Nakasone has a modest office in Fort Meade, USA. His workplace layout eschews the plaques, flags and photographs that typically hang in the offices of U.S. generals. Behind the secret door in the corner of the office, there is something special. Take a short elevator down and you can reach the war room of the US military network force under his command.
  On November 8, 2016, as the polling day for the fifty-eighth presidential election of the United States approached, there was a big drama in that war room. Nakasone directed the Ares cyber operations unit to launch a digital attack targeting ISIS networks and communication channels.
  In the hidden war room, screens and standing desks surround, and mechanical keyboards crackle. Suddenly, the U.S. hackers encountered an unexpected obstacle. When trying to hack into the target account, the security question pops up: “What’s your pet’s name?” The keyboard sound suddenly stops. Until an analyst suddenly turned around and yelled at the person behind him: “1-2-5-7.” He couldn’t wait to explain: “I’ve been watching this guy for a year, and all his passwords are numbers!” Sure enough , the password works. The cyber attack, codenamed “Symphony of Lights,” has officially started.
  In the first hours of the first day, Ares blocked accounts, deleted files, and reset systems one by one. Nakasone later told an American reporter in an interview: “As soon as the operation started 60 minutes ago, I knew we would be successful.” His eyes could not hide the pride.
  The winner of that election was Trump. In 2018, Nakasone was appointed by Trump as the commander of U.S. Cyber ​​Command and as director of the National Security Agency. Since then, he has been in charge of the entire US cyber army “The Matrix”.
  The United States is the first country in the world to establish a cyber army. The U.S. Cyber ​​Army is huge and has an “unparalleled” control over global Internet resources. Under Nakasone’s order, the cyber warrior presses the mouse and turns on the monitoring and blocking technology, which can paralyze the opponent’s national network and fall into crisis.
  For a long time, like the commander of Cyber ​​Command, Nakasone kept a low profile and rarely showed up. Few Americans would recognize him, even on a crowded street. However, on June 1, 2022, Nakasone made an uncharacteristically high-profile appearance and issued a statement: “During this round of Ukraine crisis, the United States has launched multiple rounds of cyber attacks on Russia.”
“Forward hunting” targets the Russian army

  In Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, Nakasone accepted an interview with the British media “Sky News”. He made no secret: in December 2021, the US sent a cyber army to Ukraine and stayed there for 3 months to support Ukraine. But when it comes to the specifics, Nakasone is secretive: “My mission is to provide a series of options for the President of the United States and the Department of Defense.”
  This high-profile statement reminds people of the conspiracy against Russian generals since February this year.
  On March 8, the chief of staff of the Russian 41st Army Group, Vitaly Gerasimov, was said to be “killed”. Gerasimov experienced many battles and participated in the Second Chechnya War, Russia’s military operations in Syria, etc. It was such a fierce general who fell at the beginning of the conflict? The Ukrainian media was the first to come forward to publish the news of his “death in action”. In order to confirm this source of information, the Ukrainian army even admitted that it intercepted the Russian army’s Internet phone and eavesdropped on the soldiers’ conversations with the support of the United States. However, this news was later proved to be false by the Russian side.
  Another top Russian general killed in battle has sparked more speculation. Russian media said that in early June, near a road in Donbass, Ukraine, 53-year-old Russian Major General Roman Kutuzov was leading his subordinates to launch an attack on a location held by the Ukrainian army. He picked up the layered encrypted walkie-talkie and connected to the rear. Without saying a few words, the Ukrainian artillery hit “accurately”. Kutuzov was still clutching the walkie-talkie when he fell to the ground. Since then, the Ukrainian side has once again disclosed that the Russian military information system is being attacked by the U.S. military, and the Russian military general is locked by the U.S. military satellite. The Ukrainian army has also repeatedly expressed its gratitude to the United States for its digital intelligence support.
  In addition to the frontal battlefield, hidden battlefields such as people’s livelihood are also “smoke everywhere”. On June 9, the director of the International Information Security Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Krutskikh, said in response to a reporter’s question: Russian state institutions, infrastructure, and the storage of personal data of Russian citizens are under cyber attacks. He pointed to Ukraine and the U.S. officials behind it as “responsible for this.”
  In fact, before the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the Russian national grid system had been implanted with malicious code by the US cyber army. In 2019, The New York Times broke the breaking news. The then-President Trump hurriedly denied this, angrily slamming the report as “simply treasonous”. Some experts said that the White House’s embarrassment turned into anger, isn’t it trying to hide it?

Above: Russian Major General Kutuzov (first from left). Bottom: U.S. Cyber ​​Operations Forces. (Data map)

  ”Nakasone’s statement this time is the first time since the Russian-Ukrainian conflict that the U.S. government has admitted to launching a cyber attack. The U.S. had previously insisted that it would not directly intervene in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Armistice.” Sun Chenghao, a scholar at the Center for Strategic and Security Studies at Tsinghua University, told Global People. When Sone took office in mid-2018, he proposed a “going out hunting” operation. The so-called “hunting ahead” refers to the purpose of deterrence by dispatching elite cyber warfare troops overseas for targeted protection and active pursuit. “The main purpose of Nakasone’s personal ‘end’ this time is to ‘deter’ Russia: in my war toolbox, there are still secret weapons to be used. The ambiguity in the specific deployment is to let Russia take the To resist the pressure of international public opinion by producing evidence.”
  Russia’s reaction to the high-profile admission of the United States to launch a cyber attack was very intense. In a statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry, Krutskikh wrote: “Please rest assured that Russia will not ignore provocative actions. We will measure and take targeted measures in accordance with our country’s law and international law.”
Handwriting notes with pencil

  Nakasone, who had a bad track record, stood in the spotlight this time.
  He is a third generation Japanese American. In 1905, Nakasone’s grandfather emigrated from Japan to Hawaii, USA. In 1927, Nakasone’s father Edwin was born.
  In 1941, 14-year-old Edwin faced war for the first time on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. In the early morning of December 7, he was holding a bowl of milk soaked in corn flakes and eating large pieces when suddenly there was the roar of warplanes outside the window. Edwin looked up suddenly and saw the Japanese Zero fighter jet flying over the roof of his house. He stood up curiously, looked out the door, and glanced at a pilot inside the fighter plane. “The man was wearing a headband and goggles.” Not long after, there was a “boom” explosion from the military airfield on Oahu, and Pearl Harbor, the base of the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet in Hawaii, was indiscriminately bombed by the Japanese. Thus began the Pacific War.

  Years later, Edwin became a U.S. Army intelligence officer and married a white girl. Edwin often recalled to Nakasone the Japanese pilot he had seen that morning. It is not difficult to imagine that Edwin’s most troubled part in the American officialdom is probably his Japanese identity – he is always suspected of being unfaithful.
  History is always strikingly similar. Nakasone grew up to become a US military intelligence officer. On a fine Tuesday, September 11, 2001, he was doing paperwork in the Pentagon after returning home from overseas service. American Airlines Flight 77 suddenly crashed into the Pentagon. An hour later, Nakasone evacuated. Walking out of the Pentagon, he stopped and looked back, watching the billowing black smoke in the air, and realized: “Digital intelligence work is too important.”
  Nakasone became an “American cyber warrior”. In 2013, he served as deputy commander of U.S. Army Cyber ​​Command. At the time, Fort Meade (the home of the NSA headquarters) was facing the darkest page in its history. The NSA’s terrifying wiretapping scandal, and the leaked documents of former employee Snowden, are updated every week. In a confidential conference room without a window, Nakasone and his colleagues conducted a strategic review together, reflecting not on the US cyber hegemony behind the eavesdropping, but on “how to rectify this team”.

Nakasone, right, speaks at a hearing before the U.S. House Intelligence Committee on March 8, 2022.

On August 2, 2018, Nakasone (second from right) and other senior officials of US intelligence agencies attended the White House press conference and spoke on the issue of “foreign interference in US elections”.

  Smooth sailing all the way back. In 2018, Nakasone took the position of the head of the U.S. Cyber ​​Command and became one of only a few minority members among the more than 40 highest-ranking commanders in the U.S. military.
  The hidden war room in the office, Nakasone will appear from time to time. When the team reported the latest situation, or proposed attack methods, he always listened carefully and pouted slightly when thinking.
  Like Nakazono himself, the “Matrix” behind him rarely shows up. Since the establishment of the Cyber ​​Command, most of the U.S. military’s cyber operations have been kept secret, and a few have been reported publicly or with only a few words, or have been packaged as “just actions”. For example, in June 2019, Iran shot down a U.S. drone in the Strait of Hormuz. In response, U.S. Cyber ​​Command attacked the Iranian military communications network.
  Under the whitewash of the U.S. military, everything is “peaceful”, but behind the scenes there are crazy attacks one after another. The New York Times has repeatedly disclosed that Nakasone has secretly sent American hackers to countries such as Russia, Iran, Montenegro, Estonia, Lithuania, Macedonia and Ukraine. There are also U.S. media reports that in just a few years in office, he has launched more cyberattacks on U.S. opponents than all previous cyberattacks combined. In 2019, a concerned official said in an anonymous interview: “We no longer ask the president, ‘Should there be two or three cyberattacks [in a certain period of time]?’ but simply, ‘Add 10 times the amount? , is it okay?'” After Trump listened, he “nods his head and shows a satisfied expression.”
  Fanatical allegiance to the U.S. government helped Nakasone dissolve the identity stigma of his Japanese background. In his first few weeks in the White House, Trump angrily named U.S. Cyber ​​Command on Twitter, suspecting a leak. However, within half a year, after receiving Nakasone’s transcripts, Trump began to treat them differently. Trump continued to be stubborn on Twitter without restraint, and fired the “squid” of the U.S. Defense Secretary, but he was very satisfied with Nakasone’s always “certainty”.
  Nakasone, who is well-received by the White House, came to the forefront on behalf of the U.S. Open Army in this Russia-Ukraine conflict. Behind the naked strategic expansion of the US Open Army, he is still “low-key”. Probably because he was in cyberspace and well aware of the insecurity of the digital world, Nakasone insisted on recording with a pencil. Nakasone carries a large yellow pencil wherever he goes. The assistants around him are also familiar with his preference, and as long as they follow him, they will prepare a sharpened pencil.

Alexander (second from left), the first commander of U.S. Cyber ​​Command, awarded a star to Nakasone (second from right).

Nakasone talks to his subordinates at U.S. Cyber ​​Command.
Ambitious “blueprint”

  In the 1990s, the United States gave Iraq and the world the first “Internet combat lesson”.
  Before the outbreak of the Gulf War, the U.S. military secretly sent people to implant the virus into chips, and then sought the help of France to sell the computer to the Iraqi air defense system. Before the military air strikes against Iraq, the hidden virus was activated, and Iraq’s early warning command communication and fire control systems were paralyzed. U.S. Tomahawk cruise missiles smashed Iraqi forward positions with little effort.
  After tasting the sweetness, the United States cooperated with Israel to officially open the curtain of modern cyber warfare. In 2010, the Iranians discovered a “Stuxnet” worm in their nuclear hosts. Stuxnet made headlines in the global media for a while. In the face of public criticism, American hackers initially pretended to be deaf. Later, Nakasone participated in the discussion on “how to deal with the aftermath” and agreed to deal with “compromise” by publishing it, but in ambiguity.
  As the world’s first network “super destructive weapon”, “Stuxnet” infected 45,000 network systems around the world, and more than 60% of Iran’s computers were paralyzed. Keith Alexander, then the director of the National Security Agency, came to Obama’s office with this “dazzling” transcript. After the report, he left the White House, triumphant. That conversation probably revolved around the expansion strategy of the U.S. Cyber ​​Army. In the same year, the U.S. Cyber ​​Command was formally established, Alexander was the first commander, and Nakasone was a member of its core think tank. Sun Chenghao analyzed: “For the United States, the establishment of the Cyber ​​Command is a military revolution.” After that, the United States geared up to make further preparations for launching a large-scale cyber attack.
  After Sone took over the main Cyber ​​Command in mid-2018, he outlined a new “strategic blueprint”. In addition to the deterrence-oriented “hunting forward” operation, he also placed an ambitious emphasis on “taking the initiative to attack.” The “Ares” network combat unit commanded by Nakasone was named after the Greek god of war.
  After the establishment of the U.S. Cyber ​​Command, the tone of the U.S. to take active attacks has continued to rise. In 2015, the US Department of Defense publicly announced that it would transform its defensive cyber strategy into an offensive cyber strategy, and at the same time listed countries such as Russia and Iran as potential adversaries. In 2018, the White House granted the Secretary of Defense the authority to conduct offensive cyber operations in cyberspace. The cyber combat force is also expanding. In May 2018, the U.S. cyber mission force expanded to more than 6,000 people. In April of this year, Nakasone announced the construction of more than 10 new network task forces. At the same time, the United States has further expanded the field of cyber attacks. In addition to the frontal battlefield, it is also continuing to improve the deployment of digital battlefields in large-scale civilian areas such as hydropower and nuclear power. “All of the above have exposed its ambition to implement an offensive cyber strategy.” Sun Chenghao said.

U.S. Cyber ​​Command badge.

  In order to justify the cyber attack, the United States has not forgotten to spread the remarks of “being attacked by hackers” all the time. As soon as the scene of “the thief shouts to catch the thief” comes out, the scene is constantly being staged. Arguments without evidence are undoubtedly creating excuses for expanding the strength of the cyber army and exposing America’s ambition to seize the hegemony of the cyber world.
  How destructive can a cyber war be? American experts once gave the answer: the power is no less than that of nuclear weapons. As long as you click the mouse, in an instant, the opponent’s military, electricity, financial, and transportation facilities will suffer a devastating blow. Of course, in the face of reporters’ questions, the White House Press Secretary Carin Jean Pierre’s reply as usual shook his head and denied: “No, we don’t think so.”
  Paul Nakasone, born in Minnesota, USA in 1964, USA Army general, third-generation Japanese-American, current commander of U.S. Cyber ​​Command and director of the U.S. National Security Agency.