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Sunday, 06 March 2016 07:31

US National Guard may join cyber offense against ISIL: Carter

US National Guard may join cyber offense against ISIL: Carter
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter says the National Guard's cyber unit may join the fight against the ISIL Takfiri terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.

"Units like this can also participate in offensive cyber operations of the kind that I have stressed we are conducting, and actually accelerating, in Iraq and Syria, to secure the prompt defeat of ISIL, which we need to do and will do," Carter said at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Washington late on Friday. "We're looking for ways to accelerate that, and cyber is one of them."

The National Guard's cyber unit, a 101-person team that includes employees of Microsoft Corp and Alphabet Inc's Google, is "famous throughout the country" for several high profile vulnerability assessments, Carter said.

He noted that the squadron was not currently engaging in offensive cyber missions but could be in the future.

According to Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth Borchers, Deputy Commander of the cyber unit, the squadron is the only National Guard group that currently assesses industrial control systems, but it is now looking to train others. It is also studying the security of big weapons programs, such as the B-52 bomber.

“Using National Guard units for such work made sense because it allowed the military to benefit from private sector cyber experts,” Carter said.

"It brings in the high-tech sector in a very direct way to the mission of protecting the country," he added. "And we're absolutely going to do more of it."

In a separate report published on Friday, the US military announced it could begin using its massive B-52 long-range strategic bombers against the Takfiri group in April.

Each aircraft is capable of carrying up to 70,000 pounds of payload, the officials said.


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