Cyber for the Middleweight Fighter: Recommendations for Cyberspace Capabilities for the United States Marine Corps
Air War College Air University Maxwell AFB United States
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One of the issues that the senior leadership of the Marine Corps is wrestling with is the future of cyberspace operations and the degree to which the Marine Corps invests in cyber forces. The Marine Corps is drawing down from 202,000 Marines to 182,100 as Operation Enduring Freedom comes to a close. At the same time, nations around the world are arming for operations in cyberspace, non-state actors are increasingly threatening, and U.S. forces are becoming dependent on computer technology and their associated networks. The Marine Corps of the future must be prepared not only to defend its networks and to add offensive cyberspace operations to its combined arms fight but, to do so in a way that supports it expeditionary nature and its reputation for being frugal. The Marine Corps needs to determine the extent of its involvement in cyberspace operations. Because of the highly technical nature of certain aspects of both defensive and offensive cyberspace operations, as well as the global and near instantaneous nature of cyber operations, the Marine Corps can forgo a heavy cyber workforce and structure by making use of deployed planners and liaisons to U.S. Cyber Command. However, due to the its expeditionary nature, the Marine Corps must have forward deployed Marines trained to support the cyber requirements of the MAGTF in order to have reliable networks as well as the ability to restore network access following a disruption,. The efficiencies gained by using support from U.S. Cyber Command and the need to have robust access to the global information grid requires that the Marine Corps take a middle weight approach to its cyber future neither to heavy nor to light.