Last year, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned of a "cyber Pearl Harbor"; now, the Pentagon is preparing for a digital battlefield. It's ballooning its Cyber Command from 900 people to a 4,900-strong combination of troops and civilians, the Washington Post reports—even as the government plans defense spending cuts. The expanded force will be divided into "national mission forces" to defend infrastructure; "combat mission forces," which will take an offensive role abroad; and "cyber protection forces," which will guard the Pentagon's own computers.
"There’s little doubt that some adversary is going to attempt a significant cyberattack on the United States at some point," says a former defense official involved in the expansion. "The only question is whether we’re going to take the necessary steps" or "read about the steps we should have taken in some post-attack commission report." Big questions remain, however: For instance, how will the military recruit and train the needed forces? And with Cyber Command head Gen. Keith Alexander also running the National Security Agency, how will the teams work together—or apart?