Senate Eyes Guard for Info Security

WASHINGTON (05/31/2000) - The U.S. 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 U.S. Department of Defense "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 US$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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