Cyber Czar: Long Overdue

Friday’s announcement by President Obama concerning his appointment of a national director for cyber security is appropriate. But it would be a mistake to assume that this new announcement from the White House somehow implies that nobody in the federal government has been concerned with cyber security. On the contrary, several organizations have engaged in various forms of cyber defensive maneuvers and more. It’s this splintering of responsibility that makes the President’s announcement very welcome and intriguing.

Less than a year ago, I attended a briefing presented by USAF Major General William Lord, commander of the provisional Air Force Cyber Command. His presentation was bold and visionary, declaring the international networks to be a battlefield comparable to any other, in which battles were fought and real casualties realized. The conclusion was a bold plan for establish a comprehensive approach to establishing a clear military presence in cyber space. In doing this, Maj. Gen. Lord declared the USAF to be the leader of this charge.


The presentation was impressive. And the Air Force commitment is consistent, and at the highest levels. In April, 2009, a new course titled “Cyberspace Operations Executive Course” was made available at Maxwell Air Force Base, for three- and four-star generals. And in May of this year, Gen. Lord was promoted to be the new CIO for the USAF, replacing Lt. Gen. William Shelton. With the CIO title, Lord has also been nominated for the new rank of Lt. General. Elevating Lord to CIO underscores the significance of the role that cyber security will play in the USAF going forward.
Meanwhile, however, NSA has been very busy. There’s an interesting statement released at the NSA website’s official news section, by Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, Commander of the Joint Functional Component Command for Network Warfare, and reportedly slated to lead the military’s efforts under President Obama’s new cyber security initiatives. In that statement, Lt. Gen. Alexander reports that USSTRATCOM has moved the Joint Task Force – Global Network Operations (JTF-GNO) under Alexander’s authority.
His statement goes on to state that “DoD is considering the establishment of a new sub-unified command for Cyber, under USSTRATCOM, that would be headquartered at Fort Meade.”
It’s worth noting that DISA is already scheduled to relocate to Fort Meade in 2010.
This convergence of organizations is timely and critical to the future operations that will work to protect the nation’s cyber resources.


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