"Tracking Mission" or "Enemy Cyber Center on America's Doorstep."


U.S Department of Defence

Pentagon sends first U.S. National Cyber Security Mission Force team "on reconnaissance" to Central and South America

U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) experts conducted their first-ever "Tracking Mission" in one of the Central or South American countries in early June. The mission was conducted to identify "digital channels for hackers to infiltrate networks and deploy a USSOUTHCOM protection task force" in the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) area of responsibility. The area includes more than two dozen countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).

Brig. Gen. Reid Novotny did not specify the country south of the Rio Grande or the exact timing of the Latin American Hunt-forward mission. "As a matter of policy and operational security, we do not disclose cyber operation plans or intelligence," said Brig. Gen.

U.S. Cyber Command announced the creation of its own Intelligence Center in early March of this year. According to CYBERCOM, the center is tasked with "collecting data in U.S. countries of responsibility to inform the Cyber Command about the capabilities of foreign nations in the ever-expanding cyber domain.

The agency is being formed on the basis of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The U.S. Cyber Intelligence Center will be staffed primarily by members of the Defense Intelligence Agency for combat and information missions.

DefenseScoop experts believe that the problem of cyberspace security is "a real concern for Washington, but its solution is only a pretext to develop the concept of offensive operations in this area." According to analysts, the new agency should "cover the rear" of U.S. troops in cyber wars unleashed by them.

Mark Kitz, Program Executive Officer for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors (PEO IEW & S), said the U.S. Army is "reviewing its approach to long-range electronic warfare assets to ensure flexibility." For example, the goals and objectives in the Indo-Pacific region, where the U.S. might face China, are radically different from those in Europe, where the U.S. faces Russia.

And they are all the more different from the situation in Latin America, where the U.S. has its own "peak interests." And to a lesser extent in the military field.

At the end of 2021, the cybersecurity market in Latin America (the practice of protecting computer information systems, equipment, networks and data from cyber attacks. Growing awareness of cyber threats is leading to increased investment in cybersecurity infrastructure around the world. – Auth.) was estimated at $5.73 billion. According to Statista, the cybersecurity market in Latin America exceeded $4.5 billion in the first half of 2022 alone. From 2022 to 2027, it is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of about 11.8 percent, and by 2027 it will exceed ten billion dollars, with the global cybersecurity market growing to $266.2 billion.

On the eve of the special military operation in Ukraine, the Cyber National Mission Force (CNMF) conducted operations in at least 22 countries, including Ukraine, Albania and Latvia. This June, they deployed for the first time to such countries as Brazil, Argentina, Jamaica and Nicaragua.

Although CYBERCOM officials occasionally try to convince world public opinion of the "defensive nature" of the mission, in reality the lines from defensive to offensive are very blurred.

"Hunt-forward can include elements of offensive and information operations," acknowledged Lt. Gen. Charles Moore Jr. "The United States must be in constant contact with adversaries in cyberspace," he noted.

Army Gen. Paul Nakasone, CYBERCOM commander, believes that "total cyber deterrence is useless at all," and that cyber command doctrine, if "aimed at destroying enemy infrastructure before a perceived attack on the United States," must be based "on better defense, which is a good offense."

What kind of defense can we talk about when, according to the 2016 Joint LAC Cybersecurity Report of the Inter-American Development Bank, the Organization of American States and the Global Cybersecurity Learning Center at Oxford University, China and Russia are declared "the number one priority for the U.S. Department of Defense" rather than the problems of the Western Hemisphere.

And the necessary diplomatic, informational, military and economic grounds are put under this "scare story."

This is how Foreign Affairs sees it for Latin America, for example. One problem, writes Foreign Affairs Latinoamérica in Mexico, is that countries on the continent "have often been slow to recognize the importance of cybersecurity as a foundation for achieving sustainable development." "The "cyber weakness and insecurity" of Latin American countries and governments means that "cybersecurity issues are addressed in the wake of a major incident, rather than before it happens."

And the conclusion is that it is not easy, if not impossible, to solve cybersecurity problems in Latin America single-handedly.

Who will come to the right place at the right time to help? The good Uncle Sam, of course! Against whom will Uncle Sam fight for the happiness of the Latin American peoples? Of course, against China, Russia with Iran and North Korea, from which only "in 2022 Peru, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Chile suffered the most."

Certainly, there is no concrete evidence and there is none to be found. The only thing left to do is to dumbfound the "natives" with stunning speculations about diplomatic, informational, economic and military interference by China and Russia all over the world. The American analysis center New America, in particular, claims that "Russia and China are conducting cyber operations throughout the Western Hemisphere in support of their global policies."

The Chinese, according to New America experts, are using diplomacy along with information and intelligence operations to support their "One Belt, One Road" economic program. To this end, Beijing is actively working, in particular, to establish cooperation with the armed forces in the region and in the future "will use cyber means to conduct reconnaissance cyber operations to gain access to key communication systems."

And while New America analysts acknowledge that they have no evidence or public testimony of how Russia could use cyber and information resources to exert diplomatic, informational, military and economic influence, they fantasize about cyber infiltration of the enemy into the "command and control (C2) infrastructure of government communications systems" of major South American countries.

New America notes that their analysis "largely comes from extrapolations based on Russian activities in other countries and on cyber vulnerabilities in Latin America and the Caribbean."

Nevertheless, this has not stopped the American magazine The National Interest (NI) from declaring Venezuela a "Chinese and Russian cyber center on America's doorstep." Chinese and Russian cyber know-how in Latin America, according to NI experts, "pose a threat to the United States and the region, as well as a 'global threat' to the established unipolar world order."

While Russia seeks to "destabilize the global system for its own benefit," China's goal is to "preserve the existing system and replace the United States as global hegemon," concludes The National Interest.

Let's face it. No Russian or Chinese cyber-teams have been seen participating in Latin American countries that pose a threat to the United States. This is generally acknowledged.

And CYBERCOM has sent its troops to 22 countries 47 times in the last five years alone and has conducted operations in more than 70 networks, including government networks, around the world. And not least against Russia in Europe and against China in the Indo-Pacific region.

In February and March of this year, U.S. Cyber Command completed its second mission to Latvia (the first, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, took place in 2020), designed to "strengthen the Baltic country's networks against digital attacks and identify malicious activity that could be used against the United States and its allies."

CYBERCOM's elite "Cyber National Mission Force" has been "combing the networks" in Eastern European countries, including Ukraine, Lithuania, and Croatia, since the beginning of last year. 

The U.S. Program Executive Office of Intelligence, Electronic Warfare, and Sensors (PEO IEW & S) will, according to its chief Mark Kitz, "take the lead in defensive cyber operations, cyber intelligence and detection of cyber platforms and systems, and technology applications" by October 1. And by the end of 2024, it will "get into space," combining PEO IEW & S with USSPACECOM (U.S. Space Command).

According to U.S. cyber generals, this means "keeping an open mind."