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Department of Defense creates new cyberunit in Silicon Valley

Billy Steele
04.24.15
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In order to better combat cyberthreats to national security, the US Department of Defense is setting up shop in Silicon Valley. At a lecture today at Stanford University, Defense Secretary Ash Carter outlined the department's new focus on cyberdefense, including tapping into the ecosystem of Silicon Valley to drive innovation against cyber attacks against "US interests." Carter announced that he's setting up the Defense Innovation Unit X (X stands for Experimental) inside the DOD, staffed by active-duty and military personnel alongside reservists. "They'll strengthen existing relationships and build new ones; help scout for new technologies; and help function as a local interface for the department," Carter explained. "Down the road, they could help startups find new work to do with DOD."

"But in addition to dangers, there are also really great opportunities to be seized through a new level of partnership between the Pentagon and Silicon Valley -- opportunities that we can only realize together," Carter continued. He went on to cite projects like Google's self-driving car and Apple's Siri that have roots in government-backed projects.

By 2018, the DOD wants to have a Cyber Mission Force of 133 teams in place

By 2018, the DOD wants to have a Cyber Mission Force of 133 teams in place. The teams are divided into four groups: National Mission, Cyber Protection, Combat Mission and Support. National Mission teams will "defend the United States and its interests against cyberattacks of significant consequence" while Cyber Protection keeps close watch on the DOD systems and networks. As you might expect, Combat Mission teams support those in combat on the internet front, and Support teams lend a hand to both National and Combat mission teams as needed.

If you'll recall, the Department of Homeland Security announced this week that it would set up a satellite office in Silicon Valley, too. It, like the DOD, is looking to strengthen relationships with tech companies in the area and recruit new talent. For the Department of Defense, attracting said talent means expanding its Fellows Program to allow one year of work in the government and a second in the private sector at companies like Oracle and Cisco.

What's more, the DOD is creating its own branch of the US Digital Service. Carter says that this office will "help solve some of our most intractable IT and data problems in DOD." In fact, one team is already working at the Pentagon to transfer electronic medical records to Veterans Affairs. This new office will also be a means of recruitment, as Carter was quick to follow the announcement with an invitation for those in attendance to join the cause.

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