U.S. Cyber Command not ready for prime time

Command misses self-imposed Oct. 1 deadline for full operational capacity

The new U.S. Cyber Command failed to meet an Oct. 1 deadline for full operational capability, but is continuing to work toward that goal, according to Defense Department officials.

In an October 2009 memorandum, Defense Secretary Robert Gates predicted that the command "will reach...full operational capability no later than October 2010," and today had been the target date set for becoming fully operational in many discussions by DOD.

But as the deadline passed, there have been no announcements from the command such as those that came when it was officially established and reached initial operating capacity in May -- a date much later than the previously projected October 2009.

That delay was widely blamed on lengthy congressional hearings that focused on the command's commander, Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, and a backlog on Capitol Hill that pushed back Alexander's hearings. The previous delay in Alexander's Senate confirmation hearing appears to have bled into the command's timeline for reaching full operational capability.


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“There was a delay in the very beginning with getting the commander confirmed and in place, [as well as] in reaching initial operating capability. That delay has led to a delay in getting FOC,” DOD spokesman Col. David Lapan told reporters this morning.

“DOD senior leadership is currently evaluating the criteria for full operating capability and reviewing the milestones that U.S. Cyber Command has already met in order to determine its FOC status," according to a statement from command spokesman Col. Rivers Johnson, as quoted by Stars and Stripes.

In recent congressional testimony, Alexander said 1,000-plus positions at the command are still vacant.

"We have a big job in front of us, not only in terms of accomplishing our mission but also in terms of ensuring that our nation understands just what it is that you [Congress], and the White House and the Department of Defense have charged us to do," Alexander said.

Army, Air Force move forward on respective cyber components

Meanwhile, the Army today installed the commander of its own cyber component. Maj. Gen. Rhett Hernandez has assumed command of the Army Cyber Command during a ceremony held at Fort Belvoir, Va.

The Air Force also announced full operational capability of its own cyber component today. The 24th Air Force is headquartered at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

"Declaration of FOC means 24th Air Force is now a full operational partner on the joint cyber team," said Gen. Robert Kehler in an Air Force release. "Cyberspace is critical to today's joint military operations and 24th Air Force is proud to be the Air Force's component to U.S. Cyber Command."

 

About the Author

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

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