Just a month and a half ago the US Air Force's Cyber Command faced competition from a sister service with the announcement of the US Army's Network Warfare Battalion. Now the USAF appears to have had their efforts to stand up the Cyber Command placed on ice.
Last week it was announced that an effective halt has been placed on all activities related to the establishment of Cyber Command, including assignment of resources, personnel, and units.
It seems that with a changing of the guard in the top ranks of the USAF, Cyber Command may have lost some of its best supporters. It is facing the risk of being severely hamstrung following a review of the scope and mission for the Command by the new senior Air Force leadership.
Despite widespread media coverage of the USAF's attempt to establish the Command by October, it seems that there may be some inter-service rivalry as the US Navy and the US Army apparently have similar expertise already.
Some of the reports are suggesting that the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a USN Admiral, is pressing for the US Navy to take on a greater role in any military cyber warfare and defense operations through their existing Network Warfare Command.
Others are suggesting that the reason why the Cyber Command might be headed for early retirement is the heavy media blitz that the USAF engaged in, well before the Command was fully stood up. A reduced capability and mission would be seen as a justified response to the unnecessary (for military purposes) media blitz.
Those complaints aside, the USAF's ownership of Space Command and their historical close ties to the Intelligence Community would make them the logical choice for ownership of any future Cyber Command, though there is nothing stopping the other services from having their own equivalent units.
Perhaps a better environment would be the US Strategic Command, which apparently already has the responsibility for cyberspace across all of the US military and associated agencies.
Another argument is that there may be better equipped agencies and groups outside of the military to handle and operate the systems, and there may be those that already do, if the conspiracy theorists are to be believed. They claim the recent USAF announcement is only a misdirection and cover for the Command being setup in secrecy.
With economic pressures sure to impact the military sooner or later, it would be financially prudent to limit the Cyber Command to the size and scope of the existing US Navy and US Army equivalents and allow the US Strategic Command to take on the role that they have been delegated, at least until the USAF is ready to make another push at making themselves the premier cyber warfare and defence agency.