CYBERCOM setting up new acquisition office for rapid procurement funds

U.S. Cyber Command will soon be hiring an acquisition expert to handle the $75 million Congress afforded the command in last year’s defense authorization act.

CYBERCOM is looking for a command acquisition executive to field new systems and develop capabilities as quickly as possible, states a Nov. 14, 2016 report from the Defense Department.

The 2016 defense authorization act gives CYBERCOM $75 million to rapidly deliver cyber operations particular equipment, capabilities and services. The money will also be used for the sustainment of cyber operations equipment.

The command will continue to receive $75 million a year until 2021.

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The Pentagon is planning to set up a team of 10 people within CYBERCOM to handle those funds. The acquisition executive leading the team will be a Senior Executive Service employee, who will report directly to the CYBERCOM commander.

The executive will provide oversight for program management, contracting support, logistics support, legal advice and guidance, the report states.

The executive will negotiate with other military departments to procure equipment, capabilities and services.

Under the acquisition office, the report states CYBERCOM will hire a head of contracting, a contract specialist, a warranted contracting officer and a person in charge of acquisition oversight and policy.

The officers will acquire needed materiel solutions and services. The acquisition and policy position “provides the contracting policy structure required to ensure proper contract execution in line with Federal Acquisition Regulations,” the report states.

The team will also hire a project manager to work on acquisition cost, schedule and performance.

A senior legal advisor will be hired, along with someone for acquisition logistics, an inspector general, an acquisition security officer, a systems engineer and a test and evaluation lead.

Now that DoD has delivered the report to Congress, CYBERCOM will focus on developing acquisition authority delegation policy and working out the kinks in the initial negotiations with military departments.

CYBERCOM’s acquisition power is especially salient now it will be elevated to a full combatant command thanks to the 2017 defense authorization bill.

Since 2009, when the command was first created, it has been a subordinate part of U.S. Strategic Command, one of three functional combatant commands in DoD’s unified command plan.

Until now, DoD officials have been reticent to make the case that CYBERCOM should be elevated to a full combatant command, since the department’s cyber capabilities are still in their nascent stages compared to the existing functional commands, which are in charge of coordinating well-understood functions across the military with decades of learning behind them. Those include U.S. Special Operations Command, U.S. Transportation Command and U.S. Strategic Command.

However, this year both Congress and DoD embraced the idea.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter gave CYBERCOM its first wartime assignment last spring.

“We’re going to see how that works out,” Carter said last April. “What that means is interrupting their ability to command and control their forces, their ability to plot against us or our friends and allies, interrupting their ability to pay people. All of those things are things we can do through cyber, but all of those things are happening in U.S. Central Command, the geographic combatant command. That makes things more complicated, because we’re increasingly finding that our problems cross geographical boundaries and the functional boundaries we have now.”

Most of CYBERCOM’s growth to date has come through the three types of offensive and defensive teams the military services have been building on its behalf since 2013.

Eventually, there will be 133 such teams made up of 6,200 people. As of now, 123 are in place, although only 27 have reached full operational capability. Another 68 have been deemed to have attained initial operating capability.

The command is aiming for a workforce made up of about 80 percent uniformed military and 20 percent civilian.