Information Warfare: Army Forces Cyber Command


May 25, 2010: The U.S. Army, following the example of the air force and navy, has established a Cyber War operation. Some 21,000 soldiers are being pulled from a large variety of signal and intelligence outfits, to form Cyber War units. ARFORCYBER (Army Forces Cyber Command) will be in operation by the end of the year, with its headquarters at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia. The army, navy and air force Cyber War commands are part of the larger U.S. CYBERCOM, which the Department of Defense is using to defend against network based threats.

Late last year, the U.S. Navy created an "Information Domination Corps", in the form of a new headquarters (the 10th Fleet), with over 40,000 people getting 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.

It was two years ago that the air force officially scrapped its own planned Cyber Command. That new organization was supposed to officially begin operating by the end of 2008. Instead, many of the personnel that were going 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 will enable the 24th Air Force to monitor, in real time, the security state of all air force 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 doesn't, and the air force is building it. If the Cyber Control System can prove itself, the air force hopes to use it run the show for all Department of Defense networks.

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 not appreciated by the other services.

The U.S. Air Force is still advocating more Cyber War attacks by American Cyber War organizations. Apparently there has already been some offensive operations, but no one is giving out any details about when, how, and who the target(s) were. The air force has long been in the lead when it comes to Cyber War operations and security. Until recently, the other services have not regarded this as a call to compete. Everyone is scrambling to defend their networks, and if the air force can come up with better tools, everyone is eager to make use of them. The Cyber Control System, however, is different, in that it would be air force generals calling the shots, and determining how a Cyber War should be fought. This might cause some inter-service friction, but if the air force is able to demonstrate some real skill in this area, they will have a better chance of being allowed to run the show.



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