Washington Post: Pentagon to build 4900-member Cyber security force

January 28, 2013

The US Department of Defense has approved a fivefold expansion of its cyber security force over the coming years in a bid to increase its ability to defend critical computer networks according to a report published by The Washington Post reported few moments ago. Citing officials, the newspaper reported the Defense Department’s Cyber Command, which currently has a staff of about 900, will expand to about 4,900 troops and civilians. The decision to expand the Cyber Command was made by senior Pentagon officials late last year in recognition of a growing threat in cyberspace, the report said. The seriousness of the threat has been underscored by a string of sabotage attacks, including one in which a virus was used to wipe data from more than 30,000 computers at a Saudi Arabian state oil company last summer, The Washington Post pointed out.

According to the Washington Post, the plan calls for the creation of three types of forces under the Cyber Command. The “national mission forces” will protect computer systems that handle electrical grids, power plants and other infrastructure deemed critical, the paper said. “Combat mission forces” will help commanders abroad plan and execute attacks or other offensive operations, The Washington Post said. Meanwhile, the task of “cyber protection forces” will be to shield the Defense Department’s own networks, the paper noted.The paper has added that any changes to the combatant command structure would be made based on strategic and operational needs, and take into account the need for efficient use of taxpayer dollars, said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly.

The Pentagon was working closely with US Cyber Command and the major military commands to develop “the optimum force structure for successfully operating in cyberspace,” the official said. The official confirmed that Cyber Command planned to expand its force significantly, but said the specific numbers cited by the Post were “pre-decisional.The newspaper added that senior Pentagon officials had agreed to increase the force late last year amid a string of attacks, including one that wiped out more than 30,000 computers at a Saudi Arabian state oil company.. The plan calls for creating three types of force under the Cyber Command, said the defense official. “National mission forces,” would protect computer systems that undergird electrical grids and other kinds of infrastructure. “Combat mission forces,” would help commanders abroad execute attacks or other offensive operations, while “cyber protection forces,” would focus on protecting the Defense Department’s own systems. Details were still being worked out, the official said.

Contador Harrison