U.S. needs ‘cyber JSOC’ so it can strike harder, faster in event of conflict: Experts

(Cyberwar.news) Backers of elevating U.S. Cyber Command to a full-fledged unified command with the same status as the other COCOM’s (combatant commands) at the Pentagon is vital if the Defense Department is to ensure it has the speed, agility and power to strike during a cyber emergency.

As reported by Defense One, the Pentagon’s top leaders are already contemplating the elevation of CYBERCOM, but outside experts also believe that the Defense Department would benefit from the cyber-equivalent of the Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC, a “model which would help execute CYBERCOM’s new anti-ISIS mission – and the many other joint operations that lie ahead.”

JSOC is better known for its man-hunting operations, as it synchronizes and marries military and intelligence assets to both learn and then strike quickly. In Iraq, for instance, JSOC’s special operators were able to skillfully execute a “decapitation strategy” whereby al Qaeda’s top leaders and facilitators were identified and the eliminated without delay. In Afghanistan, JSOC also utilized drones and attack helicopters, as well as manpower assets.

“In essence, the JSOC way is to plan and exercise, meticulously and realistically; to resource the mission appropriately, with a range of tools and equipment at the ready; and to refresh and inject intelligence continuously, placing it in the hands of operators on the ground,” Defense One reported. “The decision-making process is nimble yet expansive.”

A cyber JSOC could operate in much the same way. Indeed, the rapid pace at which cyberwar is conducted makes such a capability even more vital.

This is especially true as the exploitation of computer networks is rapidly merging into computer network attacks. As such, the U.S. must become better and quicker at detecting and then responding to cyber attacks, especially when those attacks target critical U.S. infrastructure in both the military/government and private industry realms.

“A cyber JSOC would help realize that goal, as well as the intent of Cyber Command’s new mission of identifying, undermining, and destroying ISIS online as part of a combined-arms operation that includes kinetic efforts in the physical world,” Defense One reported. “In general, as the offensive dimension looms larger in U.S. cyber planning and execution, the need for a cyber JSOC becomes more urgent.”

Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter suggested that he may be moving toward boosting CYBERCOM to a full unified command, noting that in the age of cyber, the Defense Department should “consider changes to cyber’s role in DoD’s Unified Command Plan.”

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