US Army Organizing First Cyber Warfare Combat Team to Fight Future Wars
The U.S. Army is now organizing the first unit in a new cyber warfare force that will be deployed in future combat zones and manned by "cyber soldiers," electronic warfare experts and (for the first time) good, old fashioned hackers.
The army began putting together the pieces of this as yet unnamed "tactical cyber/electronic warfare detachment" this December. It plans to have this unit hold its first experimental exercise overseas in 2017
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The detachment is led by Brig. Gen. Patricia Frost, Director of Cyber, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Army G-3/5/7. In this position, she heads the new Cyber Directorate (which also covers electronic warfare) of the army's headquarters staff in the Pentagon.
Gen. Frost has made her career in military intelligence and cyber warfare and is an acknowledged expert in her field. She's a graduate of the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Officer Basic and Advanced Courses; Combined Arms Services and Staff School; the Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Army War College.
Gen. Frost and her men will meet over the next few months to design a deployable, operational unit, using equipment that's either off-the-shelf or from existing programs of record. She said her first concern is with recruiting and training personnel for her unit.
"I am more concerned about the reorganization and the training of the personnel," said Gen. Frost. "If you don't have the people and the training ... that materiel is just going to sit somewhere in a container."
She considers the human element more important than the legal and policy complexities of who has authority to do what mission in cyberspace, which has long bedeviled cyber operations.
"With the analysis that we're doing over the next three to six months, we'll rack and stack what are the capabilities that exist today that can allow us to experiment," she noted.
Gen. Frost expects the army to make critical decisions affecting her unit in the February to May 2017 timeframe. The actual unit will start to take shape over the summer.
Gen. Frost wants her cyber/EW detachment exercising with one of the geographic Combatant Commands (COCOM) around the world by late 2017 at the earliest.
Both Army and COCOM leaders are pushing for this to happen ASAP, she said. The European Command will likely be the unit chosen for this first exercise.
This will be a real-world mission and a field test of the detachment. The results will influence U.S. Army decisions on how to improve the unit and whether to make more of this cyber combat unit.