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U.S. Military’s Cyber Capabilities Provide Strength, Challenges, Official Says

WASHINGTON, June 22, 2016 — There is hardly a military mission that doesn’t incorporate cyber capabilities, and that is both a great strength of the U.S. military and a possible weakness, Air Force Brig. Gen. Charles L. Moore Jr. told the House Armed Services Committee today.

Moore, the Joint Staff’s deputy director of global operations, said the inherent global nature of cyberspace operations and threats creates numerous challenges for the Defense Department.

American warfighting capabilities “are increasingly reliant on the cyber domain, and it is integral to the advantages we enjoy in everything from our high-tech weaponry and communications systems, to our ability to rapidly deploy forces around the globe,” the general said.

And Moore’s Law -- no relation to the general -- predicts the increasing pace of change in the field will continue, and that, too, causes challenges for DoD, the general said.

“Trying to keep up with the rate at which technology is advancing in this rapidly changing environment is extremely challenging,” he said. “It is important to note that while our adversaries and potential adversaries continue to increase their capabilities, they also share these challenges.”

However, DoD is making progress, including in building the Cyber Mission Force, challenging an adversary’s ability to operate freely in cyberspace and continuing to more effectively defend networks, information and weapon systems from malicious actors, Moore said.

Cyber Mission Force teams support combatant command requirements to defend the nation against cyberattack and to protect Defense Department information networks, the general said.

“While significant progress in all these areas has been made in the last year, significant challenges do remain, to include equipping the force, establishing a persistent training environment that is responsive to the many layers of required training, recruiting and retaining a professional force and finalizing the command-and-control structure for the Cyber Mission Force,” he told the committee.

Fighting ISIL in Cyberspace

Moore discussed U.S. Cyber Command’s continuing effort against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. “In this area, Cybercom has not only challenged ISIL, as the president and the secretary of defense have publicly stated, but they have also built on our lessons-learned to date, establishing a solid foundation on which to expand the scale and effectiveness of our operations,” he said.

The cyber domain is attractive to potential adversaries because the cost of entry is low, Moore said. Many believe the United States cannot identify where an attack originates from. They see the domain as their asymmetric advantage,” the general said.

“Because of these threats from both state and non-state actors, we work vigorously to harden our networks and weapon systems while educating the Total Force to create a climate of constant vigilance,” he said.

There cannot be a weak link in the national defense, the general said. DoD engages and works with private-sector companies, other federal agencies, state and local governments and with foreign partners to strengthen network defense, said Moore, noting there is tremendous interest in expanding those cyber relationships.

Cyber warriors are also needed tactically, he said. “As our capabilities continue to grow, we continually engage all of the combatant commands to ensure cyber-enabled effects are being considered for incorporation in their planning processes and to benefit all current and future operations,” the general said.

While Cybercom battles ISIL, Moore said, “We also recognize that there are other threats in cyberspace that must be planned for and addressed. The Joint Staff, he said, is working closely with Cybercom to … “continue to bring cyber related options to the table for consideration to support all of our global operations.”

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)
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