As war in Afghanistan winds down, Pentagon defends itself by promoting borderless cyberwarfare

Aviation Week (via Matthew Aid) reports: As it winds down its role in Afghanistan, where strategic rivalry in another era was called “The Great Game,” the U.S. Defense Department has been suiting up for the next big round of conflict: cyberwarfare.

The Pentagon has been racheting up the rhetoric gradually, with former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warning of a cyber-Pearl Harbor and more and more officials publicly acknowledging cyberwarfare.

This year, the Pentagon has firmed up plans to skim approximately 4,000 operational and intelligence experts from the uniformed services to field the now more than 100 teams that will play both digital offense and defense against enemies seeking to attack the U.S. and its vital computer networks.

Some teams are already being fielded, although officials will not say exactly how many or where they are located. A Pentagon press officer said a number of teams are “prioritized” to be operational by the end of September. More will be added in the next few years.

In all, 13 National Mission Teams will conduct “full-spectrum cyber operations” to defend against threats to the nation and its critical infrastructure; 27 Combat Mission Teams will provide support to the nine combatant commands, “and when authorized,” will offer cyber options and capabilities to consider. Commanders then will determine how best to integrate them into contingency plans as targets are assessed and determinations made on how to best defeat or neutralize, said Air Force Lt. Col. Damien Pickart.

Additionally, 68 Cyber Protection Teams will focus on safeguarding Defense Department information networks, Pickart told Aviation Week in an e-mail. When directed, the Cyber Protection Teams, which officials had not previously discussed in public forums, may also support other U.S. government networks and the nation’s critical infrastructure, he added. [Continue reading…]

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