Pentagon still reviewing command's 'full operating' status

The military has had since June 2009 to get U.S. Cyber Command up and running at “full operating capability” by October, its self-imposed deadline.But Friday morning, a Cybercom spokesman released a statement saying that senior Defense Department leaders are still figuring out what they need to do to reach that goal, and what they’ve already done.

“DoD senior leadership is currently evaluating the criteria for "Full Operating Capability (FOC)" and reviewing the milestones that U.S. Cyber Command has already met in order to determine its FOC status," said a statement from CYCBERCOM spokesman Col. Rivers Johnson. Johnson appeared to push back at the notion that their deadline was the first day of October, writing, “October 2010 is the month identified" in a June 2009 memo from Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

The memo says the command “will reach…full operating capability (FOC) not later than October 2010.”

But the 24th Air Force, which houses that service's cyber component, proudly declared it reached "full operating capacity" in its own statement released Friday. "Declaration of FOC means 24th Air Force is now a full operational partner on the joint cyber team," said Gen. C. Robert Kehler, Air Force Space Command commander.

It’s not the first deadline fudge for the Cyber Command. That same memo required “initial operating capacity” by October 2009, but that milestone was not reached until this May, when Gen. Keith Alexander was installed as commander.

“There was a delay in the very beginning with getting the commander confirmed and in place in reaching ‘initial operating capability’. That delay has led to a delay in getting FOC,” Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan told reporters Friday morning.

Johnson said earlier in the week that the command would lay out what they felt they had achieved and what still was needed -- in other words, what does "full operating capability" actually mean -- but that explanation never came. [See update, below.]

“Cyber Command is doing what they’re doing today. Tomorrow they will be doing the same thing,” he said. But Lapan was unsure what exactly that meant, or what FOC approval would trigger to happen differently. “I will see if I can find out,” he said.

CYBERCOM was created to unify the Defense Department's cybersecurity elements, including Joint Task Force-Global Network Operations and the Joint Functional Component Command-Network Warfare offices, as well as sub-unified service components.

In Congressional testimony last week, Alexander said his command staff was in place but there were 1,000 Cybercom positions still to be filled. Meanwhile, each service’s own cyber units are still organizing and staffing thousands more personnel across the country. The Army is swearing in Maj. Gen. Rhett Hernandez on Friday as commander of U.S. Army Cyber Command, or ARCYBER, at their Fort Belvoir, Va., headquarters.

UPDATED: Late Friday, after Pentagon reporters pressed for an explanation, the Defense Department released a statement saying it would be up to the U.S. Strategic Command commaner -- Gen. Kevin Chilton -- to verify that the new U.S. Cyber Command had reached its “milestones.”

Those include setting up office space, equipment and personnel and more. “This includes the appointment and/or hiring of leaders, staff, and civilians required to man the command positions, and conduct the operation, planning and execution of the security of the Defense information networks,” the statement said.

“Other milestones include establishing an operation center to ensure that command and control for the organization, developing the roles for the Service components, and developing the standard operating procedures that will be used.”

"There is no mystery," a Cyber Command official told Stars and Stripes, "the FOC tasks were identified and U.S. Cyber Command is working to ensure we accomplish the tasks, many of which we have already completed..."


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