Time is running out for the U.S. military.
Reports indicate China conducts a vast majority of the world's online espionage, while the Defense Department's service branches are still determining which pieces of the cybersecurity pie they will control as a part of the country's over-arching efforts.
A top official in the U.S. Air Force says this process is "being born joint" as airmen learn to turn their attention from incoming missiles to the Internet.
"There is no question in my mind all of the services will have individual roles to play," says Michael Donley, secretary of the Air Force.
"What airmen will bring is what airmen often bring to this work," he said while speaking at a breakfast meeting with reporters on Tuesday. "That is a holistic, joint, global perspective and ability to integrate airspace and cyber work together."
Each of the service branches will have its own subdivision of U.S. Cyber Command, a joint organization.
The Marine Corps launched MarForCyber in 2010, and commanders already know those warriors likely won't participate in cyber attacks on their own.
This comes at a time when China tries to solidify itself as the world's cyber superpower. A new report indicates the Asian nation carried out 96 percent of 120 incidents of government cyber-espionage in 2012, reports the Washington Post.
"The development of all this is ongoing," says Donley. The Air Force is still creating its education and training programs for entry level cyber security roles up to "masters level" work, and fleshing out its defensive and offensive cyber roles.
It is also roughly 60 percent finished consolidating its digital operations into one Air Force network. What had been roughly 120 points of entry is now down to 16, Donley says.
Developing the capability to defend these networks is "foundational work" that all of the services must perform, he adds.