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News | April 8, 2009

Official Cites Value of Cyberspace to Warfighting Operations

By Gerry Gilmore Defense Link

Maintaining and protecting the U.S. military's worldwide computer network is a vital component of national security, a senior official said here today.

"For the United States military, cyberspace is a warfighting domain and it is critical to our operations," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters. "And so, we do have to aggressively protect our networks and our ability to work in cyberspace. "

It also is important, Whitman said, that the Defense Department dedicate the resources necessary to maintain its cyberspace capabilities. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has indicated he'd like to bolster the Pentagon's cyberspace capability, he noted.

During an April 6 Pentagon news conference in which he discussed the proposed fiscal 2010 defense budget, Gates told reporters he wants to increase the number of cyber experts who can be trained for departmental service from 80 students per year to 250 per year in fiscal 2011.

Maintaining cyberspace assets is increasingly important to warfighters, Air Force Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, told members of the House Armed Services Committee's subcommittee on strategic forces March 17. Chilton also told the House legislators he's concerned about growing threats against military computer networks.

Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pointed out that times have changed, as he sat at Gates' side during the April 6 Pentagon news conference. In the past, Cartwright said, conventional-warfare adversaries "knew exactly" who they were fighting and where the threat emanated.

However, "that's not the case anymore in cyber warfare and weapons of mass destruction," Cartwright said, "because there are venues without attribution that we have to deal with as we move to the future. "