Issues & Advocacy

Issue: Fund Guard Cyber Force

The National Guard is perfectly suited to expand our nation's cyber security capabilities by leveraging the unique information technology talents within its ranks.

Issue Overview 

Cyber security is an increasingly important mission area, impacting both public and private sectors. With modern society’s increased reliance on computer technology, we are left exceptionally vulnerable to cyber espionage, intellectual property theft, advanced persistent threats and exploitation of vulnerabilities in our critical infrastructure. As citizen-soldiers, the National Guard can easily be utilized in the cyber domain with its unique access to a wealth of information technology talents within its ranks, including Guardsmen working as network defenders at top information technology, banking, medical and defense companies.

What's At Stake

U.S. Cyber Command, along with the active Air Force and Army, has already turned to the Guard for help in developing an operational cyber force. Retired Gen. Keith B. Alexander, the former commander of U.S. Cyber Command, stated that “it is our intent to have Guard forces align regionally to help in prevention, protection and recovery operations. This will be a key inter-government partnership.”

In the National Defense Authorization Act for FY14, Congress required the Defense Department to report a concept of operations and concept of employment for cyber operations forces, including an evaluation of the potential roles of the reserve components. The report also required that the Council of Governors have an opportunity to provide an independent evaluation of state cyber capabilities, and assess whether the National Guard, when activated in a state status (State Active Duty or in Title 32) can operate under unique and useful authorities to support domestic cyber missions and requirements of the Defense Department.

In October 2014, the Defense Department submitted its report to Congress. The Army plan would include one full-time Army Guard CPT, and 10 part-time Cyber Protection Teams (CPTs) to provide “surge capacity.” These CPTs would conduct defensive cyberspace operations for under-resourced Army cyber requirements, and if available could support DoD Defense Support of Civil Authorities or homeland defense missions in Title 10 or Title 32 status and support other appropriate state missions determined by the governor in state active-duty status. The Air Force plans to use the ANG to staff two part-time CPTs with leadership, operational, and maintenance support generated from 12 ANG squadrons. Unlike the Army, the Air Force has made these ANG CPTs part of their main cyber force. NGAUS will work to ensure that these teams are trained and funded in a proportional and concurrent manner with the active component.

The National Governors Association and the Council of Governors are actively addressing cyber security as the responsibility of governors within their states, and are working closely with the departments of Homeland Security and Defense. Preventing, mitigating and responding to cyber events outside federal domains and especially when federally identified critical infrastructure is involved require the federal government to coordinate and work closely with governors and other local entities. NGAUS supports the governors and their leadership role in cyber operations within their states and will work with them to ensure that the National Guard is prepared to assist them in any way.

NGAUS supports:

  • Championing the Guard’s unique and diverse capacities and capabilities as an effective and proper cyber-security workforce, and working closely with Congress to ensure the Guard is part of the solution to our nation’s cyber security needs
  • Continued integration of the National Guard within Title 10 Defense Department and service cyber units, emphasizing concurrent and proportional training, equipping and funding
  • Clarifying federal statutes, roles and authorities to address cyber incident response, focusing on federal and state coordination and partnerships at the state level
  • Expanding the National Guard’s relationship with Department of Homeland Security and FBI within states
  • Creation of a DoD general fund transfer account for all DoD cyber activities to alleviate inconsistent and moving baselines that mask real annual changes in budget and execution levels for training and equipping DoD cyber mission forces, and to allow accountability for funding, especially for the National Guard in total and for use of the Guard in Title 32 status