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Pentagon Partners With NATO To Create Global Cyber Warfare System

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Pentagon Partners With NATO To Create Global Cyber Warfare System
Rick Rozoff

U.S. Cyber Command is scheduled to be activated this month, in the words of a Reuters dispatch "ready to go to war in cyberspace" with full operational capability.

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The launching of the world's first multi-service - with the involvement of all major branches of the U.S. armed forces: Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy - military command is being coordinated with a complementary initiative by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Europe, the joint effort striving toward a worldwide cyber warfare system.

Last month the U.S. Defense Department's Joint Task Force Global Network Operations command was deactivated and absorbed into U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) after a decade-long existence.

In describing the transition, the Pentagon's press service recounted that the task force had worked on "the best ways to operate on the cyber battlefield" with "a dual mission to conduct offensive and defensive cyber operations." In 2003 it was assigned to U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), under whose sponsorship CYBERCOM is also being inaugurated. The next year Joint Task Force Global Network Operations was reconfigured "to assume the offensive role" of the above-mentioned shield-and-sword function.

Air Force General Kevin Chilton, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, presided over the September 7 turnover ceremony. Army Lieutenant General Carroll Pollett, head of the Task Force Global Network Operations since 2008, is now reduced to remaining director of the Defense Information Systems Agency, at whose Arlington, Virginia site the ceremony was held, though the Pentagon's Defense Information Systems Agency is slated to follow CYBERCOM to Fort Meade, Maryland.

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General Pollett's comments at the event included: "(Information) has become an operational imperative in our ability to deliver decisive capabilities to warfighters and our national leaders.

"Cyberspace has evolved into a new warfighter domain.

"Cyberspace has proven equal and just as important as air, sea, land and space as a domain. It's clear that it must be defended and operationalized." [1]

His characterization of cyber space as the fifth military domain is consistent with the standard use of that trope by Pentagon officials, a variant of which is fifth battlespace. [2] When the leaders of the mightiest military in the history of the world discuss adding a new dimension to the traditional ones of infantry, air force, navy, marine, and satellite and missile operations, they are planning not only for an extension of warfare preparations to a new realm but into one which is related to and in many ways dominates the others.

The first commander of CYBERCOM, General Keith Alexander, said two weeks after his appointment and CYBERCOM's launching on May 21 that the Pentagon "depends on its networks for command and control, communications, intelligence, operations and logistics" and that the mission of his command is to "deter, detect and defend against emerging threats against our nation in cyberspace."

The general, who is simultaneously head of the Defense Department's National Security Agency, also said that "clear rules of engagement" need to be defined for cyber warfare and that "We have to look at it in two different venues - what we're doing in peacetime and in wartime." [3]

In his first public comments since assuming his new command, Alexander was already speaking of its role within a war context.

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A few days before, Strategic Command chief Chilton and Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn also asserted that CYBERCOM's next priority is "to develop the rules of engagement of cyber warfare." [4]

On the rare occasions when the Pentagon's establishing an unprecedented military command for cyber operations is mentioned in the news media at all, the preferred word in defining its purpose is defense. When military and Defense Department personnel speak among themselves more direct terms are employed: Warfare, warfighting, wartime, rules of engagement, battlefield, battlespace.

Regarding Washington's use of the word defense in general, when the U.S. changed the name of the Department of War to the Department of Defense in 1949 it achieved one thing: The name was changed. A year later the Defense Department was embroiled in the Korean War.

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Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Is the manager of the Stop NATO international email list at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato/

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