23 Aug 2017

Department of Defence to strengthen cyberspace operations

The Department of Defence (DOD) plans to elevate US Cyber Command under bold new proposals authorised by the President of the United States, Donald Trump.

The measures acknowledge cyberspace as a new digital front line, with the DOD now looking to shore up online defences, reassure allied nations and deter any would-be adversaries.

Crucially, the elevation will also streamline command and control of time-sensitive cyberspace operations, consolidating them under a single commander with authority equivalent to the importance of the operation.

In a written statement, President Donald Trump said: “This new unified combatant command will strengthen our cyberspace operations and create more opportunities to improve our nation’s defence.”

Since it’s formation in 2009, US Cyber Command or CYBERCOM has grown significantly – in line with both the DOD’s evolving cyber strategy and a number of key investment boosts. The command reached full operational capability in 2010, but it continues to grow and develop even now.

Today, CYBERCOM is concentrating on building up its Cyber Mission Force, due for completion at the end of the 2017/18 financial year. It is thought that the force will consist of around 6,200 personnel, organized into 133 separate groups. Each group has already reached initial operational capability, and many are actively engaged in ongoing operations. The force incorporates reserve component personnel and leverages key cyber talent from the civilian sector.

Kenneth Rapuano, Assistant Secretary of Defence for Homeland Defence and Global Security, commented: “This decision means that Cyber Command will play an even more strategic role in synchronizing cyber forces and training, conducting and coordinating military cyberspace operations, and advocating for and prioritizing cyber investments within the department.,”

Following the announcement, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis intends to explore the possibility of separating US Cyber Command from the National Security Agency. He is due to make his recommendation at a later date.

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