"Now, in many ways, technology has been democratised," Marine Corps Lt. Gen. George J. Flynn said at the sixth annual 2012 Joint Warfighting Conference at Virginia Beach Tuesday.
Referring to the greater availability of information potentially empowering conventional and non-traditional state actors, he cited a Harvard Business Review article detailing the November 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack as an example.
"All the mission planning was done via Google Earth," he said. "There was no investment in technology of [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] platforms or anything like that."
Flynn said the terrorists used cellular phone networks as command and control and social media to track and thwart the efforts of Indian commandos.
"How much technology or how much investment was made to create that terrorist capability?" he asked.
The future operating environment -- both the technology and the threat -- will continue to increase at greater rates of change due to the accessibility of information, Flynn said.
"Space and cyber will continue to play an increased role in events, with each becoming increasingly contested domains -- so it's a new domain that we're going to have to contest."
"Security challenges will have both local and global aspects, we think, with events occurring across the globe," he said. "So the bottom line [is that] if you liked the past challenges of the past 11 years, you will like the future."
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