The US Air Force has suspended plans to build a provisional unit designed to make it the dominant service in cyberspace.
According to NextGov, top Air Force officials put an immediate halt to the establishment of a Cyber Command, which had been scheduled to be operational by October. Development will now be delayed until new Air Force leaders have time to decide the scope and mission of the special outfit.
The move comes as the internet is increasingly viewed as key theater of warfare. Ongoing attacks on websites run by the government of Georgia are the latest reminder. The People's Republic of China and terrorist groups have also been said to pose a threat to the US infrastructure.
The Cyber Command was to be headed by Maj. Gen. William Lord and was to be part of the 8th Air Force at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. Until now, Air Force officials have pushed the initiative as key to ensuring national security. One USAF colonel has gone so far as proposing the service build its own botnet to mount massive denial-of-service counterattacks on adversaries that attack US networks first.
NextGov didn't say why officials have put their plans on hold. It speculates the decision may have been forced on them after attempts at publicizing the group backfired. Cyber Command capabilities were hyped in advertisements on TV and online. The campaign may have been viewed as a land grab by the Air Force to take dominant control of cyberspace operations. The US Army and Navy also have groups specializing in computer warfare.
The NextGov article is here. ®