Come One - Come All

By Kevin Coleman

Defense Tech Cyber War correspondent

Both experts and DOD officials believe the military should organize our nation’s cyber defensive and offensive capabilities under a single commander. Yet, it seems that the direction is set and a single operational unit is not in the cards. The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and National Guard are all now developing their own cyber capabilities and defenses.

Now, include defense contractors and the multiple black-on-black operational cyber units and the number of active participants in the cyber domain could easily top 100. Even the Civil Air Patrol (auxiliary to the Air Force) is developing future cyber soldiers. Their Cyber Patriot exercise is a cyber defense competition that tests the ability of students to defend a simulated corporate network from external hostile attacks.

Some are surprised to learn that the Coast Guard stood up a cyber command in 2009 when Rear Adm. Robert Day assumed the duties of the Director, Coast Guard Cyber Command. While details are limited on this relatively new group, it is said to be operational and tightly coupled to their Intelligence Program that is one of the service's fastest growing programs.

Many believe that achieving efficiencies and operational integration with this number of participants is highly unlikely. Recent hearings highlighted the lack of operational integration within the intel community as the fundamental failure in the case of the underwear bomber. Could a similar failure await all these participants in the cyber domain? Only time will tell.

Integrating these valuable cyber assets into a cohesive operational force that meets current and future cyber needs of the United States is perhaps the second most challenging task that faces our military leaders. The first most challenging is obviously the threat from acts of cyber aggression that are dramatically increasing in sophistication, frequency and impact.

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