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Cyber Command Advocates Cyber Intel Center

The Defense Intelligence Agency helped review the mission.
U.S. Cyber Command is exploring the creation of a cyber intelligence center within the Defense Department to provide intelligence on foreign cyber forces. Credit: bbkayatr/Shutterstock

U.S. Cyber Command is exploring the creation of a cyber intelligence center within the Defense Department to provide intelligence on foreign cyber forces. Credit: bbkayatr/Shutterstock

 

Working with the Defense Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Cyber Command’s director of intelligence Brig. Gen. Matteo Martemucci, USAF, recently completed a 30-day mission analysis indicating a need for a foundational cyber intelligence center to provide insights into foreign force cyber capabilities.

Gen. Martemucci discussed the concept on the record November 8 with AFCEA’s Cyber Committee. The 30-day analysis was designed to work out details such as what types and numbers of intelligence products such a center would provide. Gen. Martemucci estimated officials are 18 months into their initial assessment. He also reported that both Gen. Paul Nakasone, USA, who commands U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, and Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, USA, commander of the Defense Intelligence Agency, “agree in principle on the need” for such a center.

The next step, he indicated, is to define the requirements, such as the budget, number of personnel and the amount of office space needed. “We are in the stage of defining the actual requirement to allow for the resourcing discussions to happen. This is probably, I would say maybe the 18-month point of the initial campaign, if you want to call it that, from a requirement standpoint as a combat command. And we are now at the point where there is, I believe, a collective recognition for the need.”

Congress, he added, is “very much aware” and asking about needed resources.

The general compared a cyber intelligence center to existing science and technology intelligence centers, which include the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC), the Office of Naval Intelligence, the National Ground Intelligence Center and the newly-created National Space Intelligence Center.

 

 

 

The new cyber-centric intelligence organization would complement existing organizations and provide intelligence products that they do not. He noted, for example, that NASIC produces intelligence on cyber threats to, and vulnerabilities of, U.S. aircraft and weapons.

“But this is only a small part of the foundational intelligence necessary to enable global operations in the cyber domain. None of these service centers that I've mentioned are producing the sort of foundational adversary cyber order of battle, for example,” Gen. Martemucci said. “A large and capable cyber force—like China or Russia or the forces of violent extremist organizations—need to be assessed and cataloged and tracked in the way we assess, catalog, track and measure adversary armies, navies and air forces.”

Some might argue that the cyber domain is not yet mature enough to warrant a dedicated intelligence center, he noted. “The data prove this argument false both in terms of bottom-up growth and top-down demand, and we've got the empirical data to prove it.”

He cited several data points, including:

  • U.S. cyber forces have been operating in enemy cyberspace for more than 20 years.
  • Today, there are 133 Cyber Mission Forces and that will grow to 147 in the next five years.
  • Cyber Mission Forces conduct more than 400 discrete cyber operations in adversary cyberspace each month.
  • U.S. Cyber Command has deployed more than 600 cyber warriors to 16 countries to conduct forward operations.
  • Hundreds of cyber operators have spent tens of thousands of hours interacting with adversaries in cyberspace.

Gen. Martemucci also made the case that Cyber Command is not the only command in need of such cyber-related intelligence. “Functional geographic combatant commands are more frequently turning to cyber domain operations to achieve military objectives below the level of armed conflict, and those operations require increasingly tailored intelligence. That is where Cyber Command, in my opinion, holds great sway and has some of its greatest effects. That's the area where, again, foundational intelligence is lacking to enable the kind of influence that we seek to have in competition.”

As a practical example, he added, all 11 combatant commands have cyber intelligence requirements for their respective areas of responsibility. Collectively they produce hundreds of target systems analyses, all of which may consider full-spectrum cyber effects, not just kinetic solutions.

Anticipating an explosion in requests for cyber intelligence, U.S. Cyber Command alone has submitted more than 600 unique requirements in the Defense Intelligence Agency’s automated system for reporting intelligence production requirements known as Community On-Line Intelligence System for End-Users and Managers (COLISEUM). “Of these requirements, only about 270 have been validated by the Defense Cyber Intelligence Committee as of about a month ago.

“By any reasonable measure, our adversaries are building cyber armies. And so, for all those reasons that I've just laid out, the time is now for a defense cyber intelligence center. It needs to exist,” Gen. Martemucci declared.