Senate eyes Guard for info security

The Senate this month urged the Pentagon to study how it might use the Army

National Guard to make up for the shortage of computer programmers and information

security specialists.

"The reserve component, especially the National Guard, is well-positioned"

to carry out the mission of securing the nation's critical computer systems,

the Senate Appropriations Committee said in its report on the fiscal 2001

Defense Appropriations bill.

The committee urged the Defense Department "to examine the role of the

reserves in the carrying out [of] information operations, information assurance

and information systems security missions."

The bill, approved by the committee May 18, still must pass the full

House and Senate and work its way through a joint House/Senate conference.

The language in the Senate report comes almost one year after a major

Defense Department study recommended an unprecedented expansion in the role

the reserves play in national defense, including the formation of a virtual

cyberdefense unit to protect the nation's critical infrastructure.

That study, known as the Reserve Component Employment Study 2005, concluded

that the reserves are "particularly well-suited to homeland defense missions"

and called for the formation of a "joint [reserve component] virtual information

operations organization."

The committee approved more than $3 billion in overall operations and

maintenance funding for the Army National Guard, including $65.7 million

for expansion of the Guard's Distributed Learning project and electronic

courseware development to bolster the Guard's Homeland Defense mission aimed

at federal, state and local responses to terrorist attacks involving weapons

of mass destruction.

The committee also added $16 million to the Army's research and development

budget for an information operations warfare vulnerability assessment and

$2.1 million for a threat information operations simulator.

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