What is Happening in Cyber Security?

Thus far, things have been pretty quiet this year in cyber security, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The president’s fiscal 2015 budget includes a huge increase to cyber-security operations at the Pentagon, an impressive $5.1 billion in total funding.

Last year, Gen. Keith Alexander, chief of USCYBERCOM, told Congress “the Guard can play a huge role. There’s two key things they can do. First…it gives us additional capacity that we may need in a cyber conflict. The second part is, it also provides us an ability to work with the states.”

And USCYBERCOM, as well as the active components, have moved forward in utilizing the reserve component, tasking the Air and Army Guard to create cyber-protection teams. Yet, the final construct and applicability continue to be worked out.

But, sad to say, not all the officials in charge see the role of the Guard.

Last month, Eric Rosenbach, nominee for the position of assistant secretary for defense for homeland defense, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee. As part of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s policy restructure, the assistant secretary for defense for homeland defense added oversight of cyber-security policy.

In his response to advance questions, Mr. Rosenbach was asked at length about cyber security. In the 13 pages of response to cyber questions, not once was the Guard mentioned, which is alarming as Mr. Rosenbach, if confirmed, will be the head of cyber policy and has primary responsibility for Defense Support of Civil Authorities.

And finally, what about the Cyber Warrior Act of 2013? So far, it did what it was meant to do, drive the discussion.

Congress took a stand, telling DoD it needed to be inclusive of the Guard in cyber operations, using the Cyber Warrior Act as a means to put in extensive reporting requirement in the fiscal year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.

This mission analysis report requires the Pentagon to look at manpower needs to include both active and reserve requirements, the concept of operations and employment of cyber forces, recruiting and retention, an evaluation of the potential roles of the reserve component, consultation with the governors and states, and an inventory of existing cyber skills in the reserve component, to name a few.

While waiting for this report, efforts are far from over. Already this year governors and local governments are taking the message to the hill, emphasizing the importance of state government’s growing role, working to illustrate to the federal government the tools and resources available to help better protect critical infrastructure and assets, both in the states and federally.

Let’s just say, Guard cyber is moving forward at the very least.

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