Information Warfare: Halloween Surprise

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November 17, 2010: On Halloween (October 31st) the U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) went live ("achieved full operational capability" in milspeak). Headquartered in Fort Meade (outside Washington, DC), most of the manpower, and capabilities, come from the Cyber War operations the services have already established. U.S. Cyber Command has some smaller organizations that coordinate Cyber War activities among the service operations, as well as with other branches of the government and commercial organizations that are involved in network security.

Of the four services, the U.S. Air Force is the most experienced in Cyber War matters. It was two years ago that the air force officially scrapped its own planned Cyber Command, which was supposed to operate more like USCYBERCOM. That new air force organization was supposed to officially begin operating by the end of 2008. Instead, many of the personnel that were sent to staff the new command were sent to the new Nuclear Command. This change was made in response to growing (over the last few years) problems with the management of air force nuclear weapons. Despite that, for several years now, the air force has been planning to establish some kind of new Cyber War operation and use it to gain overall control for all Department of Defense Cyber War activities. The other services were not keen on this. That resistance, plus the nuclear weapons problems, led to the Cyber Command operation being scaled back to being the 24th Air Force. This organization will handle electronic and Internet based warfare.

While the air force Cyber Command did not become reality, work continued on building a Cyber Control System. This is a hardware and software system that enables the 24th Air Force to monitor, in real time, the security state of all air force (or Department of Defense) networks. If any of these networks were attacked, the Cyber Control System software would immediately alert 24th Air Force controllers, and recommend a course of action. Think of this as a war room for Cyber War. Many people, deluged with TV and movie representations of high tech military command centers, believe such a Cyber War center already exists. It didn't, until the air force recently built it. This is now used as the main USCYBERCOM operations center.

What the air force wanted to do was be in charge of security for the 11 million Internet users, seven million PCs and 15,000 networks belonging to the Department of Defense (which is the largest Internet user on the planet). All the services are scrambling to get their Cyber War defenses strengthened, but the air force wanted to be in charge. This effort was successfully opposed by the other services.

The U.S. Army, following the example of the air force, has established a Cyber War operation. Some 21,000 soldiers were pulled from a large variety of signal and intelligence outfits, to form Cyber War units. ARFORCYBER (Army Forces Cyber Command) will be fully operational by the end of the year, with its headquarters at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia.

A year ago, the U.S. Navy created an "Information Domination Corps", in the form of a new headquarters (the 10th Fleet), with over 40,000 people reassigned to staff it. While the new Cyber War command will mainly deal with intelligence and network security, it will also include meteorology and oceanography. These last two items are very important for deep water navies, especially since a lot of the information about oceans, and the weather, is kept secret. The fleet will call upon the talents of 45,000 sailors and civilians. Most (44,000) of these personnel will be reorganized into 10th Fleet jobs, or will contribute from within other organizations. A thousand new positions will be created, mainly for 10th Fleet. All this is for giving the navy a more powerful, and secure, position in cyberspace. The navy does not want to repeat the mistakes of the air force in this area.

The U.S. Marine Corps has established a Forces Cyberspace Command, with about 800 personnel, to help provide network security for marine units. The marines are accustomed to doing more with less.

 

 


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