Pentagon deploys cyber warfare units to Balkans, Ukraine to “protect” elections
U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) recently deployed units to the Balkan nations of Montenegro and North Macedonia, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s two newest members, and to Ukraine, according to Nikolai Murashov, deputy director of the Russian National Coordination Center for Computer Incidents. The USCYBERCOM website hasn’t posted any information on the deployments yet.
The Interfax news agency quotes Murashov as affirming:
“American cyber units are now being deployed around the world under the pretext of protecting elections and the infrastructure of allies. According to official data from military agencies, the U.S. Cyber Command has deployed specialists in Montenegro, Macedonia, and Ukraine.”
When the U.S. was launching full operational capability for CYBERCOM in 2010, the first cyber warfare command in the world, its first commander, General Keith Alexander, revealed that the “cyber domain…is as important as the land, sea, air and space domains to the U.S. military,” and that “the cyber command would be prepared to wage offensive operations as well….” Cyber warfare is the Pentagon’s Fifth Battlefield in its own terminology.
The Russian official cited above also stated, in line with the last quote from CYBERCOM’s first chief, “The U.S. Cyber Command acknowledges that these units have sufficient forces and equipment to stage cyberattacks, which are used against any information infrastructure they believe poses a threat.”
But of course. No one would expect the U.S. Defense Department to enter a strategic battlefield in any other than a primarily if not entirely offensive capacity.
The current commander of CYBERCOM, General Paul Nakasone, revealed to the House Armed Services Committee in 2019 that CYBERCOM had dispatched personnel to the same above-mentioned nations, North Macedonia (the name it was forced to adopt to join NATO), Montenegro and Ukraine, ostensibly out of concern for the 2018 American congressional elections. Anyone experiencing difficulty trying to make that connection will not be alone in his perplexity.
Last year CYBERCOM returned to Montenegro, and according to the Associated Press its personnel were buried deep “inside the sprawling communist-era army command headquarters” in the nation’s capital. Therein ensconced, “an elite team of U.S. military cyber experts [were] plotting strategy in a fight against potential Russian and other cyberattacks ahead of the 2020 American and Montenegrin elections.”
Russia, always Russia.
In developments that should make the Russian military and security establishments yet more apprehensive, in recent weeks the Pentagon has expanded its cyber warfare activities in Russia’s neighbor Estonia.
CYBERCOM, NATO, national elections and being “prepared to wage offensive operations as well.” Not a difficult equation to complete.