The Department of Defense’s budget process makes it difficult, if not impossible, to determine specifically how combatant commands request to spend their money.
Cyber Command requested approximately $647 million for fiscal 2018, due mostly to additional funding need for Cyber Command’s elevation to a unified combatant command.
But a comparable figure for fiscal 2019 is not yet available.
Still, clues remain. For example, careful readers can decipher that Cyber Command will continue its offensive cyber effort against the Islamic State, as well as develop an offensive tool that appears as several different attacks, but is actually the same tool.
In the case of Cyber Command, the Air Force purchases certain programs for the organization as the executive agent for the command. And because the Air Force’s budget documents are publicly available, certain programs become evident.
Within the Air Force’s recently released research and development budget documents, are two program elements dedicated to procurement for Cyber Command: one titled Cyber Operations Technology Development – totaling $253.8 million for the entire program element – and Enabled Cyber Activities – totaling $16.3 million for the entire program element.
Then, nested within the first program are four projects that cover cyber capabilities, platforms and tools.
“USCYBERCOM in conjunction with the Services and Defense Agencies will develop and expand infrastructure architectures and cyber tools and capabilities to support Cyber Mission Forces (CMF) to ‘fight tonight’ with lethality, resiliency, and innovative deterrence against key threats in the strategic environment,” the budget documents read. “Focus is on four broad program areas: Joint Common Services, Joint Access Platforms, Joint Tools, and Joint Analytics.”
Here’s an explanation of Cyber Command’s wishlist for fiscal 2019:
Joint Common Services
Request: $52.4 million for FY19
This part of the program seeks to support capabilities that will be used by the cyber misston force to conduct cyber operations.
- continued development of the military cyber operations platform (MCOP), which will eventually serve as the overarching architecture joint cyber forces will conduct their Title 10 military cyber operations
- deployment of CENTROPY, a cyber C2 system that provides oversight and management of operational readiness, in three domains
- continued development of and expansion of the Cyber Analysis Portal (UCAP), a tool that provides a comprehensive solution for malware triage
- continued development of the Big Data Platform, which enables CMF teams to identify anomalous behavior of the DoD Information Network
- transition of Joint Cyber Command and Control, a capability that provides combatant commanders, with enhanced situational awareness and battle management for cyberspace operations missions and forces, to the Air Force. Under a separate program element in the Air Force’s budget, the service asked for a total of $13 million in FY19 for Joint Cyber Command and Control.
Joint Access Platforms
Request: $83.7 million for FY19
This item supports capabilities used in cyber mission force operations to access targets and retrieve data.
Plans include continued development and deployment of on-net operations infrastructure and continued development of operational systems that deliver distributed denial of service capabilities on the DoDIN.
Request: $107.4 million for FY19
This item supports CMF capabilities to exploit targets during operations.
FY19 plans include:
- the implementation of a signature diversity capability that will enable the manipulation of tools code so a single tool can look like multiple tools providing a means to minimize risk of discovery
- development of tools to provide operational agility for the cyber mission force.
- development of specialized tools for the cyber mission force that are targeted to specific adversary targets to enable specific cyber operations
- continued support for Joint Task Force Ares, the offensive effort against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria
Request: $10.2 million for FY19
This item provides funding for analytics support for capabilities used in cyber mission force operations to correlate data collected from multiple sources to garner insight and enable decision making.
Plans include continued development and sustainment of advanced data analytics for cyber operations.
Separately, under a different program element – Enabled Cyber Activities – the budget documents list another project titled Cyber Technology Development, asking for $16.3 million in FY19.
This item will seek to demonstrate, develop and evaluate prototype electronic warfare and cyber capabilities.
FY19 plans include continued adaptation of electronic warfare technology and cyber-peculiar capabilities to gain access to targeted enemy forces.
For both program elements, the documents state that both Fixed Price and Cost Plus contracting vehicles will be used and managed by Cyber Command acquisition authority, various service component contracting offices, combatant command contracting offices and NSA contracting offices.
Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.