Defense Secretary Robert Gates has issued an order establishing a cyber command that is supposed to protect military networks from computer attacks.
The command known as CYBERCOM, set to be operational by October 2010, will also be tasked with developing offensive cyber-weapon, according to the Washington Post.
Lieutenant General Keith Alexander, the director of the National Security Agency (NSA) who will head the new command, explained the rationale behind the directive by saying, "Unlike the land, sea, air and space where the laws of physics do not change, cyberspace is a man-made creation that continually changes and evolves," quoted by GovInfoSecurity.com.
"Operating effectively in this kind of environment requires that we leverage the expertise from a wide variety of disciplines," he added.
However, some observers have expressed concerns that the Defense Department and the NSA will dominate efforts to protect the nation’s computer networks.
In particular, skeptics such as DissidentVoice.com, have pointed to, among other things, the opaque process of announcing the project – via a memo – as suggesting the NSA is being set up to become "a ubiquitous and silent gatekeeper answerable to no one."
It added that, "As with other Pentagon schemes, the technological quick fix may prove as deadly as the alleged threat."
CYBERCOM will be part of the U.S. Strategic Command which is responsible for commanding operations in nuclear and computer warfare.