United States Cyber Command

United States Cyber Command
United States Cyber Command
2010-05-14-USCYBERCOM Logo.jpg
U.S. Cyber Command emblem
Active 2009–current
Country United States of America
Type sub-unified command
Role Administration
Part of U.S. Strategic Command
Garrison/HQ Fort Meade, Maryland
General Keith B. Alexander, USA

United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) is an armed forces sub-unified command subordinate to United States Strategic Command. The command is located in Fort Meade, Maryland and led by General Keith B. Alexander.[1] USCYBERCOM centralizes command of cyberspace operations, organizes existing cyber resources and synchronizes defense of U.S. military networks.



"USCYBERCOM plans, coordinates, integrates, synchronizes and conducts activities to: direct the operations and defense of specified Department of Defense information networks and; prepare to, and when directed, conduct full spectrum military cyberspace operations in order to enable actions in all domains, ensure US/Allied freedom of action in cyberspace and deny the same to our adversaries."[2]

The text "9ec4c12949a4f31474f299058ce2b22a", which is located in the command's emblem, is the MD5 hash of their mission statement.[3]

The command is charged with pulling together existing cyberspace resources, creating synergy and synchronizing war-fighting effects to defend the information security environment. USCYBERCOM is tasked with centralizing command of cyberspace operations, strengthening DoD cyberspace capabilities, and integrating and bolstering DoD’s cyber expertise.[4]


USCYBERCOM is an armed forces sub-unified command subordinate to United States Strategic Command.

Service components

U.S. Cyber Command is composed of several service components, units from military services who will provide Joint services to Cyber Command.


On 23 June 2009, the Secretary of Defense directed the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) to establish USCYBERCOM. In May 2010, General Keith Alexander outlined his views in a report for the United States House Committee on Armed Services subcommittee:[13][14][15][16][17]

"My own view is that the only way to counteract both criminal and espionage activity online is to be proactive. If the U.S. is taking a formal approach to this, then that has to be a good thing. The Chinese are viewed as the source of a great many attacks on western infrastructure and just recently, the U.S. electrical grid. If that is determined to be an organized attack, I would want to go and take down the source of those attacks. The only problem is that the Internet, by its very nature, has no borders and if the U.S. takes on the mantle of the world's police; that might not go down so well."

Initial operational capability was attained on 21 May 2010. General Alexander was promoted to General and took charge of U.S. Cyber Command in a ceremony at Fort Meade that was attended by Commander of U.S. Central Command GEN David Petraeus, and Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates.[18][19][20][21] USCYBERCOM reached full operational capability on 31 October 2010.[22]

The command assumed responsibility for several existing organizations. The Joint Task Force for Global Network Operations (JTF-GNO) and the Joint Functional Component Command for Network Warfare (JFCC-NW) were absorbed by the command. The Defense Information Systems Agency, where JTF-GNO operated, provides technical assistance for network and information assurance to USCYBERCOM, and is moving its headquarters to Ft. Meade.[23]


There are concerns that the Pentagon and NSA will overshadow any civilian cyber defense efforts.[24] There are also concerns on whether the command will assist in civilian cyber defense efforts.[25] According to Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn, the command "will lead day-to-day defense and protection of all DOD networks. It will be responsible for DOD's networks – the dot-mil world. Responsibility for federal civilian networks – dot-gov – stays with the Department of Homeland Security, and that's exactly how it should be."[26] Alexander notes, however, that if faced with cyber hostilities an executive order could expand Cyber Command's spectrum of operations to include, for instance, assisting the Department of Homeland Security defend their networks.[27]

Some military leaders claim that the existing cultures of the Army, Navy and Air Force are fundamentally incompatible with that of cyber warfare,[28] and have suggested a fourth branch of the military, a cyber-warfare branch.[29][30] LTC Gregory Conti and COL John "Buck" Surdu (chief of staff of the United States Army Research, Development and Engineering Command) stated that the three major services are "properly positioned to fight kinetic wars, and they value skills such as marksmanship, physical strength, the ability to leap out of airplanes and lead combat units under enemy fire. "Unfortunately," the two officers write, "these skills are irrelevant in cyber warfare. Technical expertise isn't highly valued in the three services. Just look at military uniforms: no decorations or badges honoring technical expertise", the officers point out. These officers suggest that "Ultimately, the role of fighting and winning in cyberspace is a military mission, which demands a military organization – one that can recruit, train and retain highly qualified cyber-warfare combatants."

Conti and Surdu reason: "Adding an efficient and effective cyber branch alongside the Army, Navy and Air Force would provide our nation with the capability to defend our technological infrastructure and conduct offensive operations. Perhaps more important, the existence of this capability would serve as a strong deterrent for our nation's enemies."[31]

In response to concerns about the military's right to respond to cyber attacks, GEN Alexander stated "The U.S. must fire back against cyber attacks swiftly and strongly and should act to counter or disable a threat even when the identity of the attacker is unknown" prior to his confirmation hearings before the United States Congress. This came in response to incidents such as a 2008 operation to take down a government run extremist honeypot in Saudi Arabia. "Elite U.S. military computer specialists, over the objections of the CIA, mounted a cyberattack that dismantled the online forum".[32]

"The new U.S. Cyber Command needs to strike a balance between protecting military assets and personal privacy." stated Alexander, in a Defense Department release. If confirmed, Alexander said, his main focus will be on building capacity and capability to secure the networks and educating the public on the command's intent.

"This command is not about an effort to militarize cyber space," he said. "Rather, it's about safeguarding our military assets."[33]

In July 2011 Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn announced in a conference that “We have, within Cyber Command, a full spectrum of capabilities, but the thrust of the strategy is defensive.” “The strategy rests on five pillars, he said: treat cyber as a domain; employ more active defenses; support the Department of Homeland Security in protecting critical infrastructure networks; practice collective defense with allies and international partners; and reduce the advantages attackers have on the Internet.” [34]

International effects and reactions

The creation of U.S. Cyber Command appears to have motivated other countries in this arena. In December 2009, South Korea announced the creation of a Cyber Warfare command. Reportedly this is in response to North Korea's creation of a cyber warfare unit.[35] In addition, the British GCHQ has begun preparing a cyber force.[36] In addition, Recent shift in military interest in Cyber warfare has motivated the creation of the first U.S. Cyber Warfare Intelligence Center.[37] In 2010, China introduced its first department dedicated to defensive cyber war and information security, in response to the creation of USCYBERCOM.[38]

See also


  1. ^ Hsu, Jeremy (5 Oct 2009). "U.S. Cyber Command Now Fully Online, and Seeking a Few Good Geeks". Popular Science. http://www.popsci.com/military-aviation-amp-space/article/2009-10/us-cyber-command-now-online-and-seeking-few-good-geeks. Retrieved 18 April 2010. 
  2. ^ U.S. Department of Defense, Cyber Command Fact Sheet, 21 May 2010 http://www.stratcom.mil/factsheets/Cyber_Command/
  3. ^ Jelinek, Pauline (8 July 2010). "A code you can hack: On CYBERCOM’s logo". Associated Press. Marine Corps Times. http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/ap_military_cyber_command_logo_070810/. Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  4. ^ U.S. Department of Defense, Cyber Command Fact Sheet, 21 May 2010
  5. ^ 20091203 IO Newsletter v10 no 03
  6. ^ Patrick Jackson (2010-03-15). "Meet USCybercom: Why the US is fielding a cyber army". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8511711.stm. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  7. ^ "News Release: Army Forces Cyber Command Headquarters Standup Plan Announced". Defense.gov. http://www.defense.gov//releases/release.aspx?releaseid=13549. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  8. ^ Chief of Naval Operations, 'Fleet Cyber Command/Commander Tenth Fleet Implementation Plan,' Memorandum, United States Navy, 2009
  9. ^ Communication, Mass (2010-01-29). "Cryptologists in Monterey Preview Navy's Newest Numbered Fleet". Navy.mil. http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=50098. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  10. ^ http://www.24af.af.mil/
  11. ^ http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123233993
  12. ^ "Fort Mead News: USMC Cyber Command". Ftmeade.army.mil. 2010-01-28. http://www.ftmeade.army.mil/pages/news/stories/2010/jan/cyber.html. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  13. ^ BBC News: US needs 'digital warfare force'
  14. ^ "Homeland Security Today - preparedness and security news - DC Summit Convenes Military 'Cyber Warriors'". Hstoday.us. 2009-11-18. http://www.hstoday.us/content/view/11125/152/. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  15. ^ "News Release: Flag and General Officer Announcements". Defense.gov. 2009-03-12. http://www.defense.gov/releases/release.aspx?releaseid=13051. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  16. ^ Previous post Next post. "Cyberwar Commander Survives Senate Hearing , Threat Level". Wired.com. http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/04/cyberwar-commander/. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  17. ^ "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Nominations Confirmed (Non-Civilian)". Senate.gov. http://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/legislative/one_item_and_teasers/noms_confn.htm. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  18. ^ "Photos : News Photo". Defense.gov. 2010-05-21. http://www.defense.gov/photos/newsphoto.aspx?newsphotoid=12630. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  19. ^ DoD Cyber Command is officially online, 21 May 2010, Army Times
  20. ^ "Military Mulls Joint Cyber Defense". Govinfosecurity.com. http://www.govinfosecurity.com/articles.php?art_id=1450&search_keyword=Keith+Alexander&search_method=exact. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  21. ^ "Fort Meade cyber security center sought (www.HometownGlenBurnie.com - The Maryland Gazette)". www.HometownGlenBurnie.com. http://www.hometownglenburnie.com/news/Business/2009/12/09-17/Fort+Meade+cyber+security+center+sought%0A.html. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  22. ^ Cyber Command Achieves Full Operational Capability
  23. ^ Jackson, William (2009-06-24). "DOD creates Cyber Command as U.S. Strategic Command subunit - Federal Computer Week". Fcw.com. http://www.fcw.com/Articles/2009/06/24/DOD-launches-cyber-command.aspx. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  24. ^ Monroe, John S. (2009-07-02). "Cyber Command: So much still to know". Federal Computer Week. 1105 Media, Inc.. http://www.fcw.com/Articles/2009/07/06/buzz-cyber-command.aspx. Retrieved 2009-07-11. 
  25. ^ "U.S Cyber Command Goes Online". democracyarsenal.org. 2009-10-01. http://www.democracyarsenal.org/2009/10/us-cyber-command-goes-online-.html. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  26. ^ "Speech:". Defense.gov. http://www.defense.gov/speeches/speech.aspx?speechid=1399. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  27. ^ Shachtman, Noah. "Military's Cyber Commander Swears: "No Role" in Civilian Networks", The Brookings Institution, 23 September 2010.
  28. ^ G. Conti and J. Easterly; "Recruiting, Development, and Retention of Cyber Warriors Despite an Inhospitable Culture;" Small Wars Journal, July 2010
  29. ^ "Report: Cybersecurity Military Command Coming". Govinfosecurity.com. http://www.govinfosecurity.com/articles.php?art_id=1401&search_keyword=Keith+Alexander&search_method=exact. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  30. ^ G. Conti and B. Surdu; "Army, Navy, Air Force, Cyber: Is it Time for a Cyberwarfare Branch of the Military;" Information Assurance Newsletter, Vol. 12, No. 1, Spring 2009, pp. 14–18.
  31. ^ "New Cyber Warfare Branch Proposed". Blogs.govinfosecurity.com. 2009-03-25. http://blogs.govinfosecurity.com/posts.php?postID=160. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  32. ^ Nakashima, Ellen (2010-03-19). "Dismantling of Saudi-CIA Web site illustrates need for clearer cyberwar policies". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/18/AR2010031805464.html. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  33. ^ "News Article: Nominee Urges Government, Private Sector Cooperation". Defense.gov. http://www.defense.gov/News/NewsArticle.aspx?ID=58772. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  34. ^ "News Article: Lynn: Cyber Strategy’s Thrust is Defensive". Defense.gov. http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=64682. Retrieved 2010-07-14. 
  35. ^ "Cyber Warfare Command to Be Launched in January". Koreatimes.co.kr. http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2009/12/205_56502.html. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  36. ^ Clark, Colin (2009-06-29). "StratCom Plows Ahead on Cyber". DoD Buzz. http://www.dodbuzz.com/2009/06/29/stratcom-plows-ahead-on-cyber/. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  37. ^ "Construction begins on first cyber warfare intelligence center". Af.mil. http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123204543. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  38. ^ Branigan, Tania (2010-07-22). "Chinese army to target cyber war threat". The Guardian (London). http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jul/22/chinese-army-cyber-war-department. Retrieved 25 July 2010. 

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