Time for a U.S. Cyber Force: Op-Ed by Dean Stavridis

Proceedings Magazine

Dean Stavridis The Fletcher School

Instead of each armed service having its own version of a cyber command, why not create a separate entity altogether that would serve all branches?

In November 1918, U.S. Army Brigadier General Billy Mitchell made the following observation: “The day has passed when armies of the ground or navies of the sea can be the arbiter of a nation’s destiny in war.” General Mitchell’s comments came in the context of a vigorous debate involving a then-new domain of warfare: the skies. Nearly a century later, we are confronted with yet another contested domain. Cyberspace, like airspace, constitutes a vital operational venue for the U.S. military. Accordingly, it warrants what the sea, air, and land each have—an independent branch of the armed services.

Eight months before Mitchell’s clairvoyant statement, President Woodrow Wilson had signed two executive orders to establish the U.S. Army Air Service, replacing the Aviation Section of the U.S. Signal Corps as the military’s aerial warfare unit. This small force served as a temporary branch of the War Department during World War I and looked much like the Pentagon’s joint task forces of today. It was relatively small and consisted of personnel on assignment from the different services. In 1920, the Air Service’s personnel were recommissioned into the Army. The decision was backed by the popular belief that aviation existed exclusively to support ground troops.

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