Lead Story – Preventing “A Cyber Pearl Harbor”

Lead Story – Preventing “A Cyber Pearl Harbor”

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Group photo of Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone with his parents in 2016.

Three-star Army General with Hawai‘i Roots is Leading the Charge

Headshot photo of Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone

“I became interested in the military when I was in high school and started learning about the 442nd (Regimental Combat Team).” — Lt. Gen. Paul
Nakasone

Gregg K. Kakesako
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

Gregg Kakesako worked for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Gannett News Service and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser for more than four decades as a government, political and military affairs reporter and assistant city editor.

In her working days, Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone’s grandmother cooked and cleaned as a live-in maid for several Army officers at Wheeler Army Airfield and Schofield Barracks. Today, nearly a century later, Nakasone is one of the U.S. Army’s top officers, leading the national charge to prevent “a cyber Pearl Harbor” — in other words, a malicious attack on the Army’s computer systems.

The 53-year-old sansei assumed command of U.S. Army’s Cyber Command and Second Army last October at Fort Belvoir in Virginia, where he also received his third star. The Army Cyber Command is the Army’s headquarters within the United States Cyber Command. While the FBI is charged with protecting civilian networks and infrastructure, the job of the Army Cyber Command is to defend the Department of Defense Information Network. Nakasone is responsible for overseeing the defense and protection of the Army’s data, networks and information systems.

A 1995 family photo of Mary and Edwin “Bud” Nakasone with their two sons, Paul (standing between them) and John behind Paul. (Photos courtesy Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone)

A 1995 family photo of Mary and Edwin “Bud” Nakasone with their two sons, Paul (standing between them) and John behind Paul. (Photos courtesy Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone)

According to a survey by the Japanese American Veterans Association, Paul Nakasone is one of 46 Japanese Americans who have been promoted to generals or admirals. Three have obtained four-star-ranking: Army Gen. John Campbell, who served as the commander of U.S. Forces – Afghanistan; Gen. Eric Shinseki, U.S. Army chief of staff from 1999 to 2003 and secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs from 2009 to 2014; and Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., who heads the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Command.

THE MISSION

Nakasone, whose Army career spans more than three decades, said the biggest threat today are “nation-state actors that are looking for ways to get into our networks to steal our data or to impact our operations. We do everything on our network — our operations, our logistics and our defensive support,” he said. “If we don’t have confidence in our network, we can’t accomplish our mission.”

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