Pentagon: No finalists yet for cyberterrorism HQ

Published 6:14 pm Thursday, January 24, 2008

A U.S. Air Force spokesman said Wednesday that there are misconceptions in a retired general’s description of a proposed Cyberspace Command Headquarters and how many it might employ.

In a story in Wednesday’s edition of The Sun Herald, Air Force Retired Lt. Gen. Clark Griffith reported to the Biloxi Council on Tuesday that Keesler Air Force Base is among the top candidates for the location of the Cyberspace Command.

Air Force spokesman Ed Gulick said there isn’t a final list yet.

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“We hope to release a list of three to four possible locations in February and choose a final location in March,” he said.

Gulick also said the Pentagon’s initial plan for the facility includes 400 to 500 officers, enlisted personnel and civilians.

Griffith contended Tuesday that the command would be “as big as any Nissan plant, Toyota plant” or large casino project. Those large-scale businesses create thousands of jobs.

“Could it grow from that? Probably,” Gulick said. “But nobody knows how much.”

Griffith contends the Cyberspace Command Headquarters would bring up to 10,000 jobs to the city and said Wednesday his description of the job impact on Biloxi included a likely support network of industry and academic and research facilities.

The Cyberspace Command is designed to defend strategic computer systems against electronic warfare.

Fifteen other sites are under consideration, Griffith said. He listed Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, Offutt in Nebraska, Colorado Springs, Col., and Barksdale in Shreveport, La., as Keesler’s top competition.

Griffith said the Keesler proposal will be presented to the chief of staff of the Air Force on Feb. 13 or Feb. 14. He said Gov. Haley Barbour, U.S. Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker, both R-Miss., and U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., and Mississippi State University President Robert Fogelsong, a retired four-star general, were scheduled to attend.

Wherever the new Cyberspace Headquarters is located, Keesler will get a piece of the pie. Air Force personnel who staff the center will be trained at Keesler, Griffith said.