U.S. Can’t Wait Any Longer for a Cyber Force

NDIA Policy Points: U.S. Can’t Wait Any Longer for a Cyber Force

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In 1947, the United States acknowledged that air power had fundamentally changed warfare by creating the Department of the Air Force.

Lawmakers saw the need for a service that could independently train, equip and prepare for the full spectrum of air operations.

They foresaw that controlling the air domain had become one of the ends of war, not just a means of controlling land and sea. Despite the “Revolt of the Admirals” — prompted in part by the planned creation of the department — the re-organization succeeded. Today, the lack of an independent air domain service would be unthinkable to most policymakers.

And yet, war changed again as space became a key area of operation. Congress authorized the “Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management and Organization” to investigate the military’s posture in space in 2000. When its own report was released in 2001, the idea of an independent space force gained new traction.

However, policymakers did not establish the Space Force until 2019. The 2000 space commission’s predictions had finally become a reality.

The work required to prepare the nation for future conflicts remains incomplete. The cyber realm has rapidly morphed from an auxiliary theater of operations into a constantly shifting domain of warfare that requires its own offensive and defensive capabilities. The United States faces threats to its public, military and private infrastructure that can emerge instantaneously, far before warfare ever materializes in a traditional domain. Future geopolitical events, especially during this era of growing great power conflict and advanced threats, may very well be influenced by cyber actions — or by the leverage produced by cyber threats.

Against that backdrop, policymakers should urgently consider designing a more robust cyber infrastructure such as a “Cyber Force” or “Cyber Guard” that can join the existing roster of…