By Michael BickertonThe US is using its newly announced Cyber Command to wage a war on Russia.
Its new chief, Lieutenant General Keith Alexander, was a key figure in the creation of the US Cyber Command and its operations in cyberspace.
His appointment follows the recent decision by the White House to appoint a chief technology officer and a deputy chief technology strategist to its cyber strategy team.
The White House has made the move to “rebrand” the Cyber Command as a cyber warfare capability that can help fight back from Russia’s cyber warfare operations, which the US has labelled as “cyber espionage”.
“The US Cyber command has always been part of the cyber war in the Middle East and the Pacific, but today it is in a different category, as part of our broader strategy to defend our critical infrastructure from cyber attack,” Alexander told reporters.
He described the US cyber operations as a new force that can counter Russian aggression, adding that “we can’t afford to lose the cyber wars.”
Russian media outlets are calling it a “surprise” to see the US military command move away from a cyber war strategy.
In an article published on the Kremlin website, state news agency RIA Novosti claimed that Alexander had decided to take up the role of commander-in-chief in order to help lead the Cyber Army, or cyber army, which has been created by the president to “defend” the US homeland.
The new commander- in-chief will “help build a cyber army that can defend the US, the world and the American people,” it added.
The article was published in the aftermath of US President Donald Trump’s announcement that he was nominating Alexander for the role.
The announcement came as the US Navy’s chief of naval operations, Admiral Harry Harris, resigned from the Pentagon to take the helm of the Cyber Force.
The Cyber Army is described as a “national cyber command”, which means it can work with other nations to tackle cyber threats.
Alexander has previously been called the “world’s top cyber strategist” by the New York Times and one of the “most powerful and influential people in the United States military”, according to US Army magazine.
Russia is believed to be behind the recent attacks against US websites and political organisations, which were blamed on the Russian Government.
The US military is believed also to be responsible for the hacking attacks on the Democratic National Committee and the Office of Personnel Management.
The Pentagon has also claimed that the Russian hacking attack on the Democrats was a direct response to the US President’s call for Moscow to end its cyber attacks against the US.
Alexander, a retired US Army officer and intelligence officer, took over the Cyber Corps in May 2018.
He previously worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), a US military intelligence agency.
The DIA is also the cyber warfare arm of the National Security Agency (NSA), a part of President Donald J. Trump’s intelligence apparatus.
Russia has accused the US of having a cyber offensive on its soil.
Earlier this month, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Russia’s Ministry of Defence has begun to investigate the US attack on its computer systems and infrastructure.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously accused the United Nations of “lying and misleading” over Russia’s alleged cyber attacks on its networks and infrastructure and its efforts to use the Russian government’s cyber capability to undermine the US election.