The Pentagon is striving to improve the military’s global cyber warfare capabilities — both offensive and defensive abilities — in an effort to prevent an electronic Pearl Harbor.
The Army is interested in leading the cyber war effort through its new Army Cyber Command, according to Defense Tech, a military technology website. The command’s ranks now include 21,000 soldiers, civilian employees and contractors.
Developing cyber war capabilities now is like learning about using space 20 years ago, Lt. Gen. Donald Campbell Jr. said, except the Army must work faster to counter threats.
“It’s got to happen right now. So we got to make sure it is ‘operationalized’ throughout the force from a leader development standpoint,” he noted.
The Army hasn’t yet established its electronic command-and-control structure or decided what commanders will be able to authorize offensive actions. But decisions won’t just come from just high-level headquarters, Army officials told Defense Tech.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has warned that the United States faces a possible cyber Pearl Harbor if it ignores cyber war threats.
“A cyber attack perpetrated by nation states are violent extremists groups could be as destructive as the terrorist attack on 9/11. Such a destructive cyber-terrorist attack could virtually paralyze the nation,” Panetta said recently in a speech in New York.
In fact, the United States is already fighting cyberwar, he said, saying the Defense Department fends off millions of probes daily from hackers.
Cyber attacks could cripple the country’s financial, energy and transportation systems, he warns. The Defense Department has allotted over $3 billion annually, despite spending constraints, to cybersecurity, he says. Potential aggressors should understand that the United States can find out who is launching attacks and hold them accountable.
“Cyber Command has matured into what I believe is a world-class organization,” Panetta said.