The overarching question imparting urgency to this exploration is: Can U.S.-Russian contention in cyberspace cause the two nuclear superpowers to stumble into war? In considering this question we were constantly reminded of recent comments by a prominent U.S. arms control expert: At least as dangerous as the risk of an actual cyberattack, he observed, is cyber operations’ “blurring of the line between peace and war.” Or, as Nye wrote, “in the cyber realm, the difference between a weapon and a non-weapon may come down to a single line of code, or simply the intent of a computer program’s user.”
Admiral James A. "Sandy" Winnefeld, Jr., retired, was a non-resident senior fellow at the Belfer Center's Cyber Project.
Admiral Winnefeld, Jr. graduated with High Honor from Georgia Tech in Aerospace Engineering and was commissioned through the NROTC program. He began his naval service as a fighter pilot, flying the F-14 Tomcat, and serving as an instructor at the Navy Fighter Weapons School, also known as Topgun. During this period he also was senior aide to General Colin Powell.
In the next phase of his career, he graduated first in his class at the Navy’s nuclear power school and subsequently commanded USS CLEVELAND and then USS ENTERPRISE during our nation’s response to the terror attacks of 9/11. Later he simultaneously commanded NATO Joint Command Lisbon, Striking and Support Forces NATO, and the United States SIXTH Fleet. After serving as the Joint Staff Director of Strategic Plans and Policy, he assumed command of United States NORTHERN Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, also known as NORAD.
He most recently retired as the 9th Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, where as the nation’s number 2 ranking military officer his portfolios included investment, personnel, intelligence, and strategy, policy, and operations, which included participation as a member of the Deputies Committee of the National Security Council process.
A frequently published author, he currently serves as Distinguished Professor at the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at Georgia Tech, where he is also a member of the Engineering Hall of Fame.Last Updated: