Schwartz Introduces Bill to Expand National Guard's Cyber Mission

Apr 25, 2013 Issues: Defense

Washington, D.C. U.S. Representative Allyson Y. Schwartz (PA-13) recently introduced the bipartisan Cyber Warrior Act of 2013 to establish Cyber and Computer Network Incident Response Teams (CCNIRT), known as ‘Cyber Guards,’ as part of the National Guard. The legislation would significantly expand the National Guard’s capability to respond to local cyber attacks and computer security emergencies. Rep. Schwartz introduced the Cyber Warrior Act of 2013 (H.R. 1640) with Reps. Steve Israel (D-NY), Richard Hanna (R-NY), William Enyart (D-IL) and Steven Palazzo (R-MS).

“The threat of cyber attacks is one of the most significant challenges facing our nation’s economy, security and way of life,” said Congresswoman Schwartz. “The Cyber Warrior Act is a crucial step in providing the resources urgently needed to defend our computer networks while also helping to recruit and train the next generation of elite cybersecurity experts in Pennsylvania and across the nation.”

The Cyber Warrior Act of 2013 would create cyber teams in every state and the District of Columbia. These teams would combine both active and traditional Guard members, thereby leveraging private sector information technology expertise and experience to strengthen our nation’s cyber defenses.

“The Pennsylvania National Guard units at Horsham Air Guard Station are well-situated and prepared to participate in local, state, national, and even global efforts to secure cyberspace,” said Colonel Howard L. Eissler, Commander of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard’s 111th Fighter Wing. “We are located near key partners such as a FEMA Regional Headquarters and several National Security Agency Academic Centers of Excellence.  Our personnel consist of a mix of highly trained and accomplished professionals who could assume a leadership role in a number of specialties to protect the virtual arena in which we operate.”

The Pennsylvania Air National Guard’s 111th Fighter Wing is located in Horsham Township in the 13th Congressional District. Earlier this month, Congresswoman Schwartz wrote to U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and other senior military officers urging them to support the 111th Fighter Wing's proposal to locate two Network Warfare Squadrons at the Horsham Air Guard Station. These squadrons are part of the National Guard's currently limited cybersecurity mission.

The National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) recently announced its support for the Cyber Warrior Act of 2013. “The teams would rely primarily on part-time soldiers and airmen who already work as cyber experts in the private sector,” said NGAUS President Gus Hargett. “This would enable the U.S. military to tap at minimal cost highly specialized know-how that we cannot pay enough to retain in our ranks full time.”

Under the bill, governors or the secretary of Defense could activate a National Guard cyber team when needed. It also would allow governors to call on the National Guard to help train state and local law enforcement and other cyber responders in cybersecurity, and help them develop best practices the create more cohesive interaction with federal-level responders.

Finally, the legislation would require the Secretary of Defense to report on how to retain members of the regular and reserve components of the Armed Forces, and describe the requirements and physical demands in the field of cyber defense.

The Cyber Warrior Act of 2013 is companion legislation to S. 658, which was introduced in the Senate with bipartisan support last month.