U.S. military plans to outsource cyberwar support to private companies

glitched image of a computer

FHKZ / flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Max Fleishman

The U.S. plans to pay out $460 million in contracts.

United States military leaders are looking to the private sector to build the next generation of cyberweapons, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

The DoD has already spent over $390 million on cyberwar contracts in 2015 alone, military records show. In addition, the U.S. is gearing up to award multiple $460 million contracts “for proposals to outsource Cybercom mission support,” according to the Defense Department.

Navy Admiral Mike Rogers, commander of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, argued in a recent speech that private companies are already a driving force behind America’s military technology, so it makes sense to expand their involvement to the newest domain of war: the Internet.

 “Who develops the kinetic munitions that we drop? Who builds those [Joint Direct Attack Munitions], those [Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles]?,” Rogers said, speaking at the recent Reagan National Defense Forum. “We turn to the private sector to harness the abilities and their capabilities to generate the tools DoD needs to execute its broad mission to defend the nation and protect our interests.”

Rogers’ goals, as explained at Defense.gov, signal an effort to make big private investments in both new, powerful cyberweapons, as well as consolidating American cyberwar assets. As Cheryl Pellerin of the DoD News service outlines Rogers’ plans: 

  • Unify cyberspace resources, create synergy and synchronize warfighting effects to defend the information-security environment.
  • Centralize command of cyberspace operations to strengthen DoD cyberspace capabilities and integrate and bolster DoD cyber expertise.
  • Improve DoD capabilities to ensure resilient, reliable information and communication networks, counter cyberspace threats and assure access to cyberspace.
  • Support the armed services’ ability to confidently conduct high-tempo, effective operations, and protect command-and-control systems and the cyberspace infrastructure supporting weapons system platforms from disruptions, intrusions and attacks.

The U.S. is also recruiting thousands of new troops for cyberspace, a move widely seen as a response to the vast resources countries like China have already invested into the arena.

Photo via FHKZ / flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Max Fleishman

Patrick Howell O'Neill

Patrick Howell O'Neill

Patrick Howell O'Neill is a notable cybersecurity reporter whose work has focused on the dark net, national security, and law enforcement. A former senior writer at the Daily Dot, O'Neill joined CyberScoop in October 2016. I am a cybersecurity journalist at CyberScoop. I cover the security industry, national security and law enforcement.