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Raytheon official: Cybercom elevation good news for troops

Executive order 'a key step' in making cyber a mainstream military skill

Air Force cadets undergo cyber operations training. Developing innovative, easy-to-use cyber weapons would allow even the least experienced military personnel to wage effective attacks, according to Raytheon's William Leigher, a former U.S. Navy admiral. (U.S. Air Force photo)

A presidential order that raises the status of the U.S. military's top cyber team is "a key step" in giving front-line troops much-needed cyber tools and training, a retired Navy admiral and top Raytheon official said.

"Cyber warfighting has taken a key step toward becoming a mainstream tactical military capability," said retired Rear Adm. Bill Leigher, director of Government Cyber Solutions for Raytheon.

President Donald J. Trump on Friday issued an executive order that elevates U.S. Cyber Command to a unified combatant command. The order puts CYBERCOM in the same league as the commands responsible for special operations, transportation, nuclear capabilities and regional military operations around the world.

"This new Unified Combatant Command will strengthen our cyberspace operations and create more opportunities to improve our Nation’s defense," the president said in a statement. "The elevation of United States Cyber Command demonstrates our increased resolve against cyberspace threats and will help reassure our allies and partners and deter our adversaries."

Leigher has long advocated for making cyber skills a part of training for every soldier, sailor, airman and marine, rather than a specialty few possess. Conducting a cyber operation should come as easily as using a rifle, he has said.

"Bringing cyber to the front lines requires making the capability scalable and usable by soldiers. This means integrating current keyboard-based tradecraft into cyber weapons systems that soldiers can be trained to use in the battlespace," he said.  "This will put cyber weapons in the hands of those who need them most – soldiers on the front lines.”

U.S. Cyber Command started in 2009 and has operated as part of the National Security Agency. Congress has authorized the two to split, but there has been no final decision. The president's statement said a recommendation from Secretary of Defense James Mattis is forthcoming.

Last Updated: 08/18/2017

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