The U.S. military prides itself on being one of the most powerful militaries on the face of the earth. The best trained, the best equipped with the latest wartech, the most mobile, with a power projection around the world. It’s why, sadly, as the Bureau of Investigative Journalism—which tracks U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Somalia—maintains that the American military has killed as many as over 12,000 people in targeted strikes since 2004. Of those numbers, close to 1,800 are civilians and up to nearly 400 of that number, are kids.
There’s even been consideration on whether or not the U.S. military could have at on point taken on the entire world in the kinetic reality of ground, air, and sea war.
But in 2019, the American war machine doesn’t simply need soldiers,helicopters, or F-22s. It needs hackers to infiltrate secure networks, to spy, or disrupt critical infrastructure of an enemy during any given military operation.
In order to professionalize and certify its importance within the military, the Department of Defense officially elevated “Cyber Command” as its cyberspace force in 2018 to do just that, giving it the distinction of being one of its eleven “unified combatant commands.”
In other words, USCYBERCOM (as its known for short) joins other permanent forces that are designated across DoD with a broad mandate during times of peace and war. For example, the special forces has its own Special Forces Command, while AFRICOM looks after African centric military operations.
According to its mission statement, USCYBERCOM first defends DoD assets, then it’s responsible for “providing support to combatant commanders for execution of their missions around the world, and strengthening our nation's ability to withstand and respond to cyber attack.”
Already there are media reports showing USCYBERCOM coordinating hacking operations against ISIS with the help of the NSA and carrying out a top secret “strike” on Iranian government propaganda wings in response to Tehran’s attacks on a Saudi oil field.
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.