Following the trend of the US military, US Cyber Command is repurposing a counterterrorism task force to focus on so-called “great power competition” with China in the Indo-Pacific region.
The Joint Task Force-Ares was created in 2016 to go after ISIS online and was expanded in 2018 to focus on other groups and global counterterrorism as a whole.
Gen. Paul Nakasone, the head of US Cyber Command, told Congress in written testimony in March that the command is “shifting JTF-Ares’ focus (though not all of its missions) from counterterrorism toward heightened support to great power competition, particularly in USINDOPACOM’s [Indo-Pacific Command’s] area of responsibility.”
A Cyber Command spokesperson told C4ISRNET that the command “internally realigned selected offensive forces and shifted focus from just counterterrorism operations to strategic competition.”
The Pentagon recently identified China as the top “pacing threat” facing the US military, so it’s no surprise that Cyber Command is looking to get in on the action. The task force could complement US information warfare in Asia.
In March, the head of US Special Operations Command told Congress that the command launched a new information warfare task force to counter China in Asia. The task force, known as the Joint Task Force Indo-Pacific team, was created to focus on information and influence operations in the region.