US Cyberforce reorganized

Saturday, 1 October, 2016 - 09:00

A 5,000-person Pentagon force created to bolster military computer networks and initiate cyber attacks against terror groups should be ready to carry out its mission by the end of the week, a key step in improving the U.S.’s ability to respond to hacks by overseas adversaries.

The Cyber Mission Force will reach "initial operational capability” by Friday, said Colonel Daniel J.W. King, a Cyber Command spokesman, in an e-mail. The group’s 133 teams have met basic criteria on personnel, training, resources and equipment, but all of them aren’t necessarily ready to launch attacks, he said.

The force, which falls under the U.S. Cyber Command created in 2009, likely will focus on the highest priorities, such as risks from Russia, China, Iran and terrorist groups including Islamic State, according to Bob Stasio, a fellow at the Truman National Security Project and former chief of operations at the National Security Agency’s Cyber Operations Center.

Until the force becomes fully operational, which is planned in 2018, the question officials directing it will ask first will be, “What’s the minimum operation I need against the biggest threats that I have today - the closest alligators to the boat," Stasio said.

Previously, cyber operations were scattered in silos across Cyber Command, the NSA and other military branches, according to Stasio. The new centralized force will help cut through the bureaucracy, he added. Officials plan to expand the force by another 1,200 people as part of the process of becoming fully combat ready.

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