Army cyber unit guards computer networks

New command houses service's resources under one roof

The Army launched the Army Cyber Command (ARCYBER), the service's component of the U.S. Cyber Command, this month, centralizing existing resources in the Army's efforts to protect its global computer networks.

The new command brings a number of the Army's cyber resources under one roof. That will ensure that the service’s policy, force structure, capabilities development, resources and personnel can securely and effectively work together in cyberspace at the tactical, strategic and national levels, said Army spokesman John Cummings.

The new command, which incorporates Army organizations such as the Army Network Enterprise Technology Command/9th Signal Command and parts of the 1st Information Operations Command/Land, will be incorporated into ARCYBER. ARCYBER also will oversee the cyber operations of the Army Intelligence and Security Command.

Cummings said ARCYBER's personnel level will exceed 21,000 soldiers and civilians. The Army added that there will be no new growth or effect on the number of active-duty military and civilian personnel in the Army, and existing Army funding will cover the cost of the command.

The cyber command achieved an initial operating capability Oct. 1, 2009, by using the Army Space and Missile Defense Command and Army Forces Strategic Command as an interim headquarters. During that period, it was supported by the Army Network Enterprise Technology Command/9th Signal Command, 1st Information Operations Command and Intelligence and Security Command.

ARCYBER is adding personnel from other Army commands. Cummings said the Army is reassigning specialists from the Intelligence and Security Command and Fort Huachuca, Ariz., to the new command. When ARCYBER transitioned to becoming fully operational, its interim commander, Lt. Gen. Kevin Campbell, handed over the organization to Maj. Gen. Rhett Hernandez, who will be its commander. 

The command's location remained uncertain at press time. Army officials have indicated that it will be in the U.S. capital region, and potential sites for the headquarters include Fort Belvoir, Va., and Fort Meade, Md., which is home to the National Security Agency. Earlier reports placed the command at Fort Belvoir, but Army officials said that was not a final decision.

The new command gives the Army an organization that can plan, coordinate, integrate, synchronize and conduct cyberspace operations. Cummings said ARCYBER will be the service’s single point of contact for external entities, such as the joint Cyber Command, for reporting, assessments, recommendations, synchronization and integration of cyberspace activity. ARCYBER also will help focus the Army’s cyber research and development in areas such as new applications and combat development. The command will work with the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command on issues such as cyber doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership, personnel and facilities.

However, as ARCYBER becomes fully operational, the roles of the individual services’ cyber commands in the joint Cyber Command will be examined, said Martin Libiki, senior management scientist at Rand. In conventional operations, the services provide units to support specific missions. But with cyber operations, there is no service-specific specialty, he said.

Libiki noted that the Defense Department is asking for entire cyber warfare units. For example, the Air Force just established the 659th Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance group, half of which will serve the 24th Air Force and the other half will support the U.S. Cyber Command. “It’s not inherently obvious that that’s the way you want these guys to operate,” he said.

The common element is that the military services are working to understand their core competencies for cyber operations. Regarding the relationship between the joint Cyber Command and each service's networks, Libiki noted that the network is departmentwide, with each of the service’s bases wired into the infrastructure. Although the services can defend their base networks, operations must be managed at a higher authority to sufficiently protect the entire DOD network. That might provide adequate mission areas for service commands such as ARCYBER, he said.

Libiki said he believes that many operational strategic issues regarding the combat aspect of cyber warfare must still be resolved. “Do we have a coherent offensive cyber war policy, as we have a coherent air war and naval war policy? I don’t know. I’d like to believe that we do. But I’d be very surprised if they’ve identified and answered all the questions.”

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