Cyber Command Combines Offense, Defense in Planning; Pentagon's Newest Division on Front Line of Cyberspace

By Waterman, Shaun | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 23, 2012 | Go to article overview

Cyber Command Combines Offense, Defense in Planning; Pentagon's Newest Division on Front Line of Cyberspace


Waterman, Shaun, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Byline: Shaun Waterman, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Pentagon's newest unified command is marshaling troops for a future war that some say already is being fought in the global communication and information networks that make up cyberspace.

U.S. Cyber Command is housed within the headquarters of the National Security Agency on the Army's sprawling base at Fort Meade, Md.

The command's headquarters has 800 or so personnel, about equal parts civilian and military, plus a number of contractors.

But it has troops scattered across the globe, members of each of the four armed services. For instance, the Marine Forces Cyber Command - the smallest of the four - also is headquartered at Fort Meade and is about 800 troops strong, said Capt. Kevin Schultz, a Marine spokesman.

Then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates ordered the creation of Cyber Command in June 2009 after Pentagon brass had wrestled for several years over who should be in charge of military operations in cyberspace.

Because many of the military's information networks rely on systems that are owned and operated by private corporations, the Pentagon's cybersecurity measures must involve the private sector, to some extent.

The Air Force in 2007 announced plans for a cybercommand with a broad mandate, a move widely interpreted as a Pentagon turf grab. The Air Force dropped its plans after a 2008 leadership shake-up under Mr. Gates led to the departure of the service's top military and civilian leaders.

Mr. Gates' decision the following year to establish a multiforce Cyber Command under the director of the National Security Agency put the head of the nation's super-secret electronic espionage effort in charge of the military's activities in cyberspace.

The command became active in May 2010 and was fully operating by the end of October that year, its head, Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, told Congress last year.

Despite federal budget constraints, cybersecurity is one of the areas where government spending continued to grow this year, and the military is no exception. …

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