Navy commissions cyber defense command

Near-term goal is detecting and blocking attempts at network intrusion

The Navy today launched its presence in the cyber realm with the institution of the U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet, making the Navy the third military service, behind the Air Force and Marine Corps, to establish a cyber organization that will eventually report to the U.S. Cyber Command.

The new Navy command is headquartered at Ft. Meade, Md., alongside the National Security Agency, with by Vice Adm. Bernard J. McCullough III at the helm.

“My near-term goal is to get the right tools and displays for real-time detection of potential" intruders in Defense Department computer networks, McCullough said. “The combined objective of the separate service cyber commands is to conduct network operations in real-time, with a dynamic defense that ensures the network is physically put together."

McCullough said one of the biggest hurdles he faces as the Navy cyber commander is defending the network as an event occurs, rather than reacting after the fact. “It’s easy to see if someone has gotten into the network and then do the forensics to trace it back. The challenge is to see in real-time what is happening on the network," he said.

Officials at the ceremony commemorating the new command called it a historic day and pledged to take on the challenges of cyberspace.

“The cyber domain is different – it’s fast-paced and evolving. Any enemy can meet you on the battlefield, big or small, young or old, rich or poor,” said Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of Naval Operations. He said the Navy's presence is cyber defense is particularly important because the Navy provides a large portion of DOD electronic capabilities.

Roughead added that unlike traditional military operations, the cyber command must operate on both offense and defense at all times. “It’s time to re-imagine the future and think anew about how we train, man and operate,” he said.

The 10th Fleet was originally established during World War II to combat German U-Boats, and Roughead compared navigation of the cyber domain to the Battle of the Atlantic.

“It’s similar today – we’re in a domain, a sea if you will, where we are under duress,” Roughead said. “Cyberspace is a unique domain with different requirements, and the Navy must think differently to meet this new kind of challenge.”

For more on this topic, see "New Threats Compel DOD to Rethink Cyber Strategy."

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a staff writer covering military networks for Defense Systems.

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