Carter details DOD's push for more special cyber operations teams

Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter spoke at the July 18 Aspen Security Forum where he stressed the need to invest in cybersecurity in the context of the sequestration and the military's pivot toward Asia.

Carter remarked that the Pacific is the biggest priority for the United States right now. The Defense Department needs to move away from Iraq and Afghanistan, Carter said, and towards the theater that "is going to more than any other define the American future."

"And you'll see that happening now," he said. "You'll see that in terms of troops there. You'll see it in terms of aircraft there. You'll see it in terms of ships there, investments made of particular importance to that theater... new electronic warfare things, and some -- some space and other things that we don't talk about, because we hope they take people by surprise."

The strategic transition will be closely affected by the consequences of sequestration, Carter said. Cybersecurity, however, is an area that will continue to see investment. "This is an area that we are protecting even as other military capabilities will be cut," he said.

In his remarks, Carter divided cybersecurity operations into three parts: defending the nation's networks, nullifying the cyber advantage of adversaries, and supporting the National Security Agency. To that end, he spoke of the 40 new teams that are currently being added to the NSA workforce. While the NSA is primarily oriented to cyber intelligence collection, the teams' mission focuses on the support of all three components.

"What we're trying to do is create another set of people, also associated with NSA and CYBERCOM, whose mission is defense, development of capabilities for the U.S. military [and] playing our role in the defense of the nation."

About 4,000 cyber specialists will be spread across the 40 teams, recruited from services the Defense Department already has. Carter said this would allow for a fast start-up with little cost, and that the teams are expected to be operational soon.

About the Author

Nicole Grim is an editorial fellow at Defense Systems. Connect with her on Twitter: @nicole_grim.

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