New Cy­ber­com

The Washington Times Weekly - - National Security -

De­fense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates’ di­rec­tive or­der­ing the cre­ation of a new mil­i­tary cy­ber­com­mand is ex­pected to trig­ger a de­bate over whether U.S. mil­i­tary war fight­ers or the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity will dom­i­nate com­puter war­fare in the fu­ture.

Warn­ing of a “grow­ing ar­ray of cy­ber threats and vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties,” Mr. Gates on June 23 di­rected the U.S. Strate­gic Com­mand to set up the mil­i­tary’s first com­mand de­voted to wag­ing com­puter war­fare and pro­tect­ing mil­i­tary and de­fense net­works from elec­tronic at­tack.

“To ad­dress this risk ef­fec­tively and to se­cure free­dom of action in cy­berspace, the Depart­ment of De­fense re­quires a com­mand that pos­sesses the re­quired tech­ni­cal ca­pa­bil­ity and re­mains fo­cused on the in­te­gra­tion of cy­berspace op­er­a­tions,” Mr. Gates said in a mem­o­ran­dum to top mil­i­tary and de­fense leaders.

“Fur­ther, this com­mand must be ca­pa­ble of syn­chro­niz­ing warfight­ing ef­fects across the global se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment, as well as pro­vid­ing sup­port to civil au­thor­i­ties and in­ter­na­tional part­ners,” Mr. Gates said.

Air Force Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, the cur­rent U.S. Strate­gic Com­mand leader, was charged with set­ting up the new com­mand by Oc­to­ber. Also, in con­nec­tion with re­cent White House cybersecurity ef­forts, Michele A. Flournoy, un­der­sec­re­tary of de­fense for pol­icy, will lead a pol­icy and strat­egy re­view “to de­velop a com­pre­hen­sive ap­proach to DoD cy­berspace op­er­a­tions,” he said.

Cy­ber­war­fare spe­cial­ists said the process of set­ting up the cy­ber­com­mand is likely to trig­ger a vig­or­ous de­bate over whether the com­mand will be a war-fight­ing com­mand or an in­tel­li­gence­gath­er­ing com­mand.

Cur­rently, the U.S. in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity and the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency in par­tic­u­lar dom­i­nate U.S. mil­i­tar y cy­ber­ac­tiv­i­ties and re­ceive most of the nearly $18 bil­lion spent an­nu­ally on cy­ber­op­er­a­tions.

If the com­mand ends up be­ing dom­i­nated by the NSA and the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity, it could dam­age U.S. cy­ber­war-fight­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties, some an­a­lysts warned.

John Wheeler, a spe­cial­ist on cy­ber­war­fare and for­mer spe­cial as­sis­tant to for­mer Air Force Sec­re­tary Michael W. Wynne, said set­ting up the new com­mand is likely to trig­ger a de­bate over how to op­er­ate in the new war-fight­ing do­main, a de­bate sim­i­lar to ear­lier mil­i­tary de­bates about air power and un­der­wa­ter war­fare.

How­ever, Mr. Wheeler said the key will be the new com­man­der, Lt. Gen. Keith B. Alexan­der, di­rec­tor of NSA.

“As long as the pres­i­dent pro­vides an em­pow­ered com­man­der like Eisen­hower, Mar­shall and MacArthur, then it will work,” Mr. Wheeler said. “The good news is Keith Alexan­der op­er­ates in both do­mains. He is a war fighter in his DNA.”

How­ever, Mr. Wheeler stated that plac­ing the new com­mand next to NSA is a bad idea. “In­tel per­sons are not war fight­ers,” he said. “Keith’s head­quar­ters should be in Texas or Cal­i­for­nia or Colorado or North Carolina, for ex­am­ple.”

Ed­ward T. Tim­per­lake, a for­mer di­rec­tor of tech­nol­ogy as­sess­ment in the of­fice of the un­der­sec­re­tary of de­fense for tech­nol­ogy, also said that cy­berspace must re­main “first and fore­most” a warfight­ing bat­tle space, as well as a law en­force­ment do­main.

“The in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity has an im­por­tant role but should not be in com­mand of all things cy­ber,” Mr. Tim­per­lake said.

Kenneth deGraf­fren­reid, a for­mer in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cial, said the new com­mand must be able to do both — se­cu­rity and in­tel­li­gence-re­lated work as well as mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions, de­pend­ing on cir­cum­stances.

“The an­swer is not an ei­ther-or propo­si­tion, but lies in both func­tions, and the new com­mand will only be ef­fec­tive if there is good lead­er­ship,” Mr. deGraf­fen­reid said.

A copy of Mr. Gates’ memo was ob­tained by In­side the Ring and states that the new U.S. Cy­ber Com­mand, dubbed USCYBERCOM in mil­i­tary par­lance, will be a sub­or­di­nate uni­fied com­mand un­der the Ne­braska-based U.S. Strate­gic Com­mand.

Mr. Gates said he is rec­om­mend­ing that Pres­i­dent Obama “re-des­ig­nate” the di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency as both NSA di­rec­tor and the new fourstar com­man­der of the U.S. Cy­ber Com­mand. The pre­ferred lo­ca­tion for the new com­mand will be at Fort Meade, Md., where NSA head­quar­ters is lo­cated, Mr. Gates said.

The rec­om­men­da­tion means Gen. Alexan­der will likely be­come the first Cy­ber­com com­man­der and be pro­moted to fourstar rank, a de­fense of­fi­cial said.

The com­puter war­fare com­mand will take the place of two units cur­rently re­spon­si­ble for of­fen­sive and de­fense mil­i­tary cy­ber ac­tiv­i­ties re­spec­tively, the Joint Task Force-Global Net­work Op­er­a­tions and the Joint Func­tional Com­po­nent Com­mand-Net­work War­fare. Both will be folded into the new com­mand.

The mil­i­tary ser­vices are ex­pected to pro­vide “hun­dreds” of per­son­nel to staff the com­mand, said a de­fense of­fi­cial who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause the de­tails have not been for­mal­ized.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr. Gates, the chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will is­sue plan­ning or­ders for Cy­ber­com that the sec­re­tary will ap­prove by Sept. 1. The com­mand will reach ini­tial op­er­at­ing ca­pa­bil­ity no later than Oc­to­ber and be fully run­ning by Oc­to­ber 2010.

The im­ple­men­ta­tion plan will out­line Cy­ber­com’s roles and mis­sions, com­mand and con­trol, re­port­ing and sup­port re­la­tions with com­bat­ant com­mands, the mil­i­tary ser­vices and U.S. gov­ern­ment agen­cies.

Cy­ber­com’s war-fight­ing guid­ance will be pro­vided un­der the mil­i­tary’s Uni­fied Com­mand Plan.

Pen­tagon spokesman Bryan Whit­man said in an in­ter­view that “the mis­sion of the com­mand will be to lead, in­te­grate and bet­ter co­or­di­nate the pro­tec­tion of DoD net­works.” Mr. Whit­man said the com­mand is part of an in­ter­nal Pen­tagon re­or­ga­ni­za­tion and “is only fo­cused on mil­i­tary net­works.” The Pen­tagon op­er­ates 15,000 net­works and has 7 mil­lion com­put­ers, he said.

“Cy­ber is not some sort of fu­ture threat,” Mr. Whit­man said. “It’s a threat that is with us to­day. There are mil­lions of scans on the global in­for­ma­tion grid, and there are at­tempts made ev­ery day to pen­e­trate our com­puter sys­tems that range from small groups and in­di­vid­u­als, ter­ror­ists, organized crime groups, in­dus­trial spies and hack­ers. We also know that there are for­eign gov­ern­ments out there try­ing to hack into our sys­tems.”

Mr. Gates said cy­berspace “is vi­tal to our na­tion’s se­cu­rity and by ex­ten­sion to all as­pects of mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions.”

“Yet our in­creas­ing de­pen­dency on cy­berspace, along­side a grow­ing ar­ray of cy­ber threats and vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties, add a new el- ement of risk to our na­tional se­cu­rity,” Mr. Gates said.

Cre­ation of the mil­i­tary cy­ber­com­mand comes nearly 10 years af­ter China’s mil­i­tary an­nounced it had es­tab­lished an en­tire branch of the mil­i­tary ded­i­cated to wag­ing cy­ber­war­fare.

China, ac­cord­ing to de­fense of­fi­cials, re­mains among the most ag­gres­sive na­tion states en­gaged in cy­berde­fense and of­fense op­er­a­tions.

The Chi­nese mil­i­tary an­nounced in its of­fi­cial news­pa­per in Novem­ber 1999 that China had plans for “In­ter­net war­fare” against en­emy fi­nance, com­merce, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and mil­i­tary net­works. The ar­ti­cle raised alarms at the De­fense In­tel­li­gence Agency, whose di­rec­tor at the time, Vice Adm. Thomas R. Wil­son, stated in an in­ter­view that “we are clearly in­ter­ested and con­cerned about this whole idea of in­for­ma­tion at­tack.”

The Chi­nese ar­ti­cle stated that “it is “es­sen­tial to have an all­con­quer­ing of­fen­sive tech­nol­ogy and to de­velop soft­ware and tech­nol­ogy for Net of­fen­sives so as to be able to launch at­tacks and coun­ter­mea­sures on the Net, in­clud­ing in­for­ma­tion-par­a­lyz­ing soft­ware, in­for­ma­tion-block­ing soft­ware and in­for­ma­tion-de­cep­tion soft­ware.”

A Chi­nese Em­bassy spokes­woman had no im­me­di­ate com­ment.

De­fense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates

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