– Military officials historically have considered the ground, sea and air vital domains for military operations and in recent years some senior leaders have added space to that mix. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Jon M. Davis believes cyberspace should be included as well.
Davis, who serves as the deputy commander of the U.S. Strategic Command’s Joint Functional Component Command for Network Warfare (JFCC-NW), says the Pentagon’s computer networks are under constant attack. In addition to helping defend those networks,
‘ organization is charged with finding ways to disrupt enemy information systems.
“We look at cyber as a domain,”
said during a recent interview. “It’s clearly emerging as a domain on par with air, land, sea and space, and we need to learn to operate in it. It’s an exciting mission area.”
JFCC-NW is led by U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, who also serves as director of the National Security Agency (NSA). The JFCC is co-located with the NSA at
Having the JFCC co-located with the NSA gives network warfare officials closer access to the intelligence gathered by the NSA,
U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright created the JFCC-NW in 2005, along with similar organizations for space, global strike, missile defense, intelligence, and combating weapons of mass destruction as part of an effort to address the various new missions assigned to the Omaha, Neb.-based command since its creation following the September 2001 terrorist attacks on the
The JFCCs are part of an effort to decentralize responsibility at Strategic Command by giving Cartwright’s command-level subordinates responsibility for most day-to-day decision making while Cartwright focuses on strategic-level issues.
Cartwright frequently talks publicly about the need to break with traditional military culture as his command deals with new challenges. In a July article Cartwright penned for Cross Talk, the military’s software journal, he cited network warfare in particular as one area where the status quo will hamper the Defense Department’s ability to keep pace with emerging threats.
“Military and government civilian teams must get used to doing business together rather than remaining in their old, comfortable lanes,” Cartwright wrote. “They must establish new lines of communication and new lines of authority.”
One of the key roles for the JFCC-NW is to foster new lines of communication for network warfare-related activities, bringing together the various organizations within the military that work in this area.
declined to name many of those organizations, particularly those that are part of the military services, but said that key partners for JFCC-NW include Strategic Command’s Joint Task Force for Computer Network Operations, the Pentagon’s lead organization for defending its primary computer network known as the Global Information Grid. By bringing together various military organizations that deal with network warfare, the JFCC can foster communication that might not have previously taken place, and help the Pentagon move more quickly in an arena that requires great speed, Davis said.
The value of the military’s computer networks to the U.S. Defense Department’s success in recent military operations has not gone unnoticed by its enemies,
said. Those networks, including those used to control satellites and access their data, face hundreds of thousands of attacks each day, and protecting them from hacking has become as important as defending U.S. forces and infrastructure from traditional attacks on military forces or infrastructure with weapons like missiles, he said. “It’s continuous, and as real and significant as kinetic threats.”
JFCC-NW’s role also extends to preventing enemies from taking advantage of computer systems for a variety of applications. For example, Pentagon officials have talked about using hacking attacks, rather than kinetic strikes, on the battlefield to take out enemy sensors and weapons.
To that end, JFCC-NW works closely with Strategic Command’s JFCC-Global Strike Integration to offer non-kinetic methods of giving the
global strike capabilities in the information arena,
also declined to discuss specifics about the types of electronic attacks on
adversaries that the JFCC-NW helps make possible. However, he noted that network warfare can extend outside the battlefield as well.
As with every advance in communications technology since the invention of the printing press, extremists have used the Internet as a key tool for spreading their message and gaining new recruits.
“We work hard to counter their ability to spread a hateful message,”
said. While he declined to talk about the measures that JFCC-NW takes with this mission, he noted that there are “lots of things we do out there.”
Another key task for JFCC-NW is to develop standard procedures and doctrine for network warfare activities,
said. While standard procedures have been developed for the use of many military systems such as aircraft, they have not been developed thus far in the network warfare area, he said.
As the JFCC develops procedures and doctrine for network warfare, it needs to be mindful of classic military strategy that has existed since the time of Chinese general Sun Tzu, but aware that it is operating in a realm where adversaries move extremely quickly and are not constrained by geographic boundaries,
JFCC-NW also must ensure that it does not violate
law as it develops the procedures and doctrine for network warfare, he said.
Another area of responsibility for the JFCC-NW is ensuring that
forces have the tools they need to wage network warfare today and in the future,
said. Pentagon leaders thus far have been “very supportive” in meeting the JFCC’s resources needs that will likely grow in the future to keep up with the threats and opportunities in the cyber realm, which are growing at an “exponential” pace, he said.
“This is a growth area for the nation and the military, and we want to posture for the long haul,”
The JFCC-NW’s budget is classified in order to limit adversaries’ insight into the organization’s capabilities,
said. The JFCC had about 125 contractors, civilian and military personnel as of fall 2006, and expects to grow to about 160 in the near future, he said.
While based at Ft. Meade, JFCC-NW has liaison officers assigned to the Office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon, U.S. Strategic Command’s headquarters in Omaha, and deployed with U.S. forces oversees, Davis said. The JFCC-NW also regularly deploys personnel to major military exercises to serve as network warfare advisors, he said.
Joint Functional Component Command – Network Warfare (JFCC-NW)
: Coordinating, planning and executing the
military’s offensive and defensive computer network operations.
Top Official: U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander
Deputy: U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Jon Davis
Year Established: 2005
Current Budget: Classified Personnel: 125