Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Answering Some AOFIW Questions

I wanted to answer a few questions that have arrived via various means concerning AOFIW. We have nearly 30 members already and I'm pleased to have Rocky DeStefano and Marc Sachs acting as managers to accept potential candidates.

  • I have never served in the military but I think AOFIW sounds cool. Can I join? A few people have tried to join the group despite having no uniformed military service. We appreciate your interest, but if you have never served in the military of any nation, you are not eligible to join AOFIW.

  • What types of occupational specialties would be relevant (intelligence, sig int/EW, communications, information management, etc)? We use a broad definition for IO/IW that I learned at AIA -- Gain - Exploit - Defend - Attack information. In practical terms that includes generally all Intel and Comm backgrounds. Information management isn't really applicable, unless you can describe how your IM work applied to GEDA.

  • if somebody was InfoOps/PsyOps [in whatever country] back in 70-80s, he might not have touched a computer at all; so are those also your target audience? If you go that far back, but you did IO/IW, you are eligible. People who did electronic warfare in Korea and Vietnam, for example, are definitely welcome.

  • Hello, my name is Staff Sgt X, assigned to unit Y in country Z, writing from email address I don't know anyone in your group but I do (insert various operational IO/IW) in theater. Can I join? Yes. If it is so plainly obvious what you do based on how you identify yourself (basically writing from a .mil address that advertises your name and rank) we will be more lenient with admission. Remember we are trying to ensure that valid IO/IW ex- and current-military join AOFIW, so we are more stringent with the ex- side of the house than we are with the currents.

  • Currents? I thought this was AO Former IW? From the beginning we said "Those no longer in military service are candidates for full membership; those currently serving in uniform are candidates for associate membership." Technically we do not differentiate between the two groups, but at some point we might. If we ever choose to speak as a group, for example, I do not want to be speaking for anyone still wearing the uniform. Politically speaking those in uniform should not be advocating policies. On the outside we have more freedom.

  • AOFIW sounds like a support group. In some ways, AOFIW is. A lot of us struggle to fit in with corporate cultures that clash with the urgency and values we learned in the military. In AOFIW we privately hope to identify ways to influence our commercial surroundings to better improve security where we now serve.

If you have any other questions, please post them here. Thank you.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

How To Join When We Don't Know You

If we do not know you, you must have someone who is known to a member vouch for you. To be a full member, the person vouching for you needs to state you are a former uniformed service member who conducted IO or IW. To be an associate member, the person vouching for you needs to state you are a current uniformed service member who conducted IO or IW.

The easiest way to join when you are not known is to request an introduction using LinkedIn. For example, I received a request from someone who, through LinkedIn, can connect to me. He should search for my name in LinkedIn, select "Get introduced," select the name of a person common to both of us, and then ask for a "Reference Request" introduction.

I can't really explain how to do this from a prospective member's point of view, but I can show how to get introduced to someone. In the following example I want to get introduced to Gadi Evron. (I actually know Gadi, but I'm not currently connected to him on LinkedIn.) Let's pretend Gadi manages a private group I want to join (like AOFIW). First I search for Gadi on LinkedIn because I know he manages some private group.

After clicking Get Introduced, I have to choose someone who knows Gadi to make an introduction. Here I choose Harlan Carvey.

Next i draft two messages. The top message is to the person I want to meet. This is a person who is already a member of AOFIW. The bottom message is to the person who will make the introduction. This is a person who knows someone who is already a member of AOFIW.

In my example I am pretending that I want a reference from Harlan Carvey so I can meet Gadi Evron. (In real life I know both of them.)

For one final example, let me pretend that I am Bradford Hegrat. Bradford wants to join AOFIW and is qualified, but I (Richard) don't know him. However, looking at our LinkedIn connections, I see Bradford and I know 9 people in common. Therefore, Bradford could search for my name on LinkedIn, select Get Introduced, pick someone like Ron Gula, and write something like the following to me:

Hi Richard -- Ron can vouch for my qualifications to join AOFIW.

Bradford could write the following to Ron:

Hi Ron -- I am trying to join AOFIW, which limits membership to people who are former or active uniformed service members who did Information Operations or Information Warfare. I see you know Richard Bejtlich through LinkedIn. Richard is an AOFIW member. Would you vouch for me, based on my service... (and then Bradford could explain his resume.)

So, if you want to join AOFIW, you either need to already know an AOFIW member who can vouch for you, or you need to get a reference through LinkedIn from a person who knows an AOFIW member. When you get a reference, the referrer should vouch that you are a former or active uniformed service member who did IO/IW.

I currently have three people who directly sent me membership requests. However, I do not know any of you. I will ask those who sent me requests directly to request a reference using the procedure I mentioned here.

Please post here if you have any questions. This process will probably become easier as we add members, but I want to be sure those of you who join meet our criteria. I am not doubting any of your qualifications, but I'd like to ensure the integrity of the group as best we can using the methods available. Thank you.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Welcome to the AOFIW Blog

In response to my TaoSecurity Blog post titled Buck Surdu and Greg Conti Ask "Is It Time for a Cyberwarfare Branch?", I decided to create the Association of Former Information Warriors. I set up a LinkedIn Group with the following description:

The Association of Former Information Warriors is a professional networking group for those who once served as military members in information operations (IO) or warfare (IW) units. The mission of the AOFIW is to propose, promote, and debate policies and strategies to preserve, protect, and defend digital national security interests. Candidate members must be referred by current members. Those no longer in military service are candidates for full membership; those currently serving in uniform are candidates for associate membership.

In other words, to join AOFIW you need to know an existing member. This weekend I am going to try kickstarting the membership process by inviting those I personally know and trust to meet these criteria. You must be a LinkedIn user to join the group, since that is the mechanism we will use to vet and accept members.

Thank you for your interest in AOFIW!