Hagel: Pentagon Developing Elite Force to Fight Cyberattacks

Friday, 28 Mar 2014 10:04 PM

By Cathy Burke

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The Pentagon aims to build an elite force to protect America from cyberattacks that could penetrate military networks and threaten national security, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Friday.

At the retirement ceremony of National Security Agency head Gen. Keith Alexander, Hagel said the Department of Defense hopes to have 6,000 people working on the cybersecurity team by 2016, The Hill reported.

Denying the nation has any plans to "militarize" the Internet, Hagel said the cybersecurity team would expand the president's options with “full-spectrum cyber capabilities that can complement other military assets,” The Hill reported.

He said threats facing the nation are unrelenting, claiming that in the 15 minutes he would take to deliver his remarks, the Pentagon’s systems would have been scanned by outsiders some 50,000 times.

“Our nation confronts the proliferation of destructive malware and a new reality of steady, ongoing, and aggressive efforts to probe, access, or disrupt public and private networks, and the industrial control systems that manage our water, energy, and food supplies,” he said.

“America has always adapted to new threats. But today, a networked world — a world in which oceans are crossed at the speed of light — presents challenges to American security that our nation has never before confronted,” Hagel added.

“Our responsibility, whatever the revolutions in technology, is to guard not only our nation, but also the fundamental character of our open society."

Hagel’s remarks were shown in the first live broadcast from the NSA and Cyber Command headquarters, The Hill reported.

“We will continue to take steps to be open and transparent about our cyber capabilities, doctrine, and forces — with the American people, our allies and partners, and even competitors,” he said, in reference to leaks by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealing the agency's global snooping.

In his final months in office, Alexander argued for new cybersecurity legislation that would expand the NSA and Cyber Command’s authority, the Guardian reported.

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