Air Force seeks cyberwar edge

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Air Force officials plan to award contracts worth up to $25 million for computer warfare technologies, according to a solicitation issued today.

Officials in the Air Force's Research Laboratory in Rome, N.Y., want industry officials to submit papers explaining their ideas and capabilities through 2008. They will review them and award contracts as they receive them, according to the "Cyber Defensive & Offensive Operations Technology" document published today on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site.

Industry officials can submit white papers no longer than 10 pages in five computer warfare areas. They include: assured infostructure support; complex systems; covert cyber operations; threat evaluation, attack recognition and diagnosis; and wireless information assurance, the document states.

Defense Department and military services officials do not like to discuss the country's computer warfare capabilities. George Tenet, former CIA director, abruptly but politely ended a question-and-answer session last month at the FCW Events' Homeland Security and Information Assurance Conference and Exhibition 2004 when someone asked if the military could disrupt or destroy information on Web sites operated by al Qaeda.

DOD officials announced plans last year to create an organization that attacks computer networks. The new group would be under U.S. Strategic Command, one of the department's nine unified combatant commands that oversee the use of combat forces in a geographic region or provide a capability and develop doctrine for them, manages the operation and protection of the military's networks and information operations to include psychological operations and computer network defense and attack.

Industry officials said the military's computer network attack capability originated in the National Security Agency. They said DOD officials moved it a few years ago to the former Joint Task Force-Computer Network Operations until they made the computer network attack organization announcement last year and formed the Joint Task Force-Global Network Operations, devoted entirely to computer network defense, in June.

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