Last week, Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander was confirmed as the head of U.S. Cyber Command, which will be responsible for protecting Department of Defense networks. Alexander, who was nominated back in October 2009, was confirmed by the Senate on May 11.
“I think that Gen. Alexander is a great choice to be the first Cyber Commander,” said Maj. Gen. Dale Meyerrose, vice president and general manager, Cyber Integrated Solutions at Harris Corporation. “He understands this business and he is uniquely positioned to be somebody to set some of the initial precedents and work through the myriad of planning and execution issues that confront the Department of Defense.”
CYBERCOM will be responsible for defense of the “dot-mil” space, and while it may provide support to other agencies and departments, it does not have a lead role in any other domain.
“It is an arm of the Department of Defense,” Meyerrose said. “It may assist other departments but it is the Department of Defense.”
The stand-up of CYBERCOM is unlikely to have much of an impact on Department of Defense contracts for cyber, according to Gen. Meyerrose.
“I don’t think it’s going to have much of an impact,” he said. “We have to understand how the Department of Defense works. This is a sub-Combatant Command underneath a Strategic Command. That means Cyber Command will primarily be responsible for operational control, planning and requirements.”
That structure means that CYBERCOM will not be the principle buyer for cyber technologies and services. Instead, each branch of the military will remain the main buyers, according to Meyerrose.
“Cyber Command may only have a couple hundred people assigned to headquarters,” he said. “And then they get forces assigned to them that they have control over but they don’t own. The services and the joint agencies remain the buyers.”
However, CYBERCOM could influence what types of products and services the different services will buy in the future, according to Gen. Meyerrose.
“Cyber Command will be heavy in operations planning and requirements,” he said. “There may need to be broader coordination of what gets bought by the services.”
The money Combatant Commands receive is significantly smaller than what the services are able to bring to bear. According to Meyerrose, Alexander is unlikely to have a significant budget, as Combatant Commands tend to use their funds for running headquarters, while paying salaries, etc. is still the responsibility of the various services.
Combatant Commands do provide the opportunity for some contracting, according to Meyerrose. The major acquisitions and buying of goods and services remains within the purview of each service rather than with Commands like CYBERCOM, he said.