Feeds

US airforce shifts 30,000 troops to 'cyberwar front lines'

Soon more Yanks in digi-trenches than in Afghanistan

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The US Air Force reports that it has assigned no fewer than 30,000 digital troops to "the front lines of cyber warfare". This is close to a third of the number of US troops deployed in Afghanistan.

The Air Force Times reports that 27,000 enlisted airmen and women are now classified as cyber scufflers, having previously been rated as communications and electronics people. Some 3,000 officers have been shifted out of other trades to become elite "cyber officers", potentially eligible to wear the coveted cyber wings recently established by the USAF.

Only a fraction of these people are actually assigned to the new cyberwar formation, the 24th Air Force, which is now forming up. Most belong, and will continue to belong, to communications sub-units in normal airforce formations with planes and stuff. But USAF cyberwar enthusiasts insist that a major change is happening.

According to the AF Times:

Communications officers often saw themselves as others saw them: airmen who made sure the base computer network worked, said [Brigadier David Cotton, director of cyberspace transformation] who began his career a computer programmer.

Cyberspace officers will continue to provide support but they also will be the go-to experts on how a computer or communication network can improve war-fighting capabilities.

In particular the hundreds of digi-warriors assigned to 24AF's 67th Network Warfare Wing will actively seek to exploit and attack other people's networks, rather than defending and securing their own. And the lightning-winged cyberspace officers, rather than being retread comms types, will henceforth come from a lengthy course lasting 115 training days.

“It’s not just spray paint, it’s a new mindset,” insists Cotton.

With the US Navy also commissioning its 10th [Cyber] Fleet, the US Army keen to get stuck in as well, and a central Cyber Command now forming alongside the NSA (itself a military combat support agency) it is no exaggeration to say that America will soon have more troops on the "front lines of digital warfare" than it does in Afghanistan.

Some will applaud this, others will see it as a comic/tragic misallocation of resources at a time when the US and its allies have a real war to fight. Others, perhaps more accurately, will see it as a barely-controlled bureaucratic and budgetary land grab by the US forces.

But Brigadier Cotton is certainly right that it's no mere can of paint. Whether it's a real can of whup-ass for America's cyber enemies (if any) remains to be seen. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
Delaware pair nabbed for getting saucy atop Mexican eatery
Burrito meets soft taco in alleged rooftop romp outrage
LightSquared backer sues FCC over spectrum shindy
Why, we might as well have been buying AIR
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.