In a previous post, I posed the somewhat rhetorical question, Is Cryptology Dead? At the time, it appeared that cryptology and Signals Intelligence were not quite dead, but were certainly being under-valued. It appears that is all about to change.
A 23Jul09 Chief of Naval Operations memo titled Fleet Cyber Command/Commander Tenth Fleet Implementation Plan (pdf) directs the formulation of a plan to stand up these two new commands. This new organization will “serve as the Naval Component Commander to [U.S. Cyber Command]” and as the Navy Service Cryptologic Commander. As background, USCYBERCOM is also a new agency, its own formation directed only a month ago by SECDEF memo (pdf).
FLTCYBERCOM is interesting in many ways, but it cannot go unnoticed that this will be a kind of trip back to the future. The purpose and structure will not be unlike the former Naval Security Group Command, one of the organizations absorbed by NETWARCOM just four years ago. Ironically, under the construct described in the CNO memo, NETWARCOM will be subordinate to FLTCYBERCOM. It will also lose an echelon and a star…moving from echelon two to three and its command billet going from three stars to two.
The known plans for FLTCYBERCOM allow limited analysis and lots of conjecture (and I encourage both, especially from folks who really understand naval organization). The implementation plan will provide a lot more information if it’s made public. Two important decisions are location and commander. Because of the relationship with USCYBERCOM (proposed location Ft. Meade) and the National Security Agency (Ft. Meade), FLTCYBERCOM should reestablish the Navy flag officer presence on the Fort. The future commander will likely be an intel officer…or will the information warfare/cryptologic community get a vice admiral?
The final analysis will not be possible until some time after the command reaches full operational capablility, but this is a step toward reinvigorating SIGINT and achieving true excellence in the other functions FLTCYBERCOM will dominate. What is already clear is the CNO’s imperative for change. The implementation plan is due by 31 August and the command will be operational on 1 October. That’s light speed in any bureaucracy.
[For those who might remember, I wasn’t happy about NETWARCOM’s plan to rename to Cyber Command. Well, I still don’t love the name, but you could call it Frank if you wanted, just as long as cryptology is no longer ignored.]