The growing possibility of future electronic conflicts has touched off debates among U.S. defense experts over how to train and utilize American computer warfare specialists. Some have advocated creating offensive capabilities, allowing the U.S. to develop the ability to intrude into the networks of other countries.
But most top leaders believe the U.S. emphasis in cyberspace should be on improving defenses and gathering intelligence, particularly about potential threats.
On Tuesday, Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, Air Force chief of staff, received a specialized briefing about the malware attack. Officers from the Air Force Network Operations Center at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana outlined their efforts to halt the spread of the malware and to protect military computers from further attack.
Schwartz, praising those efforts, said that the attack and the military's response were being closely monitored by senior military leaders.
The offending program has been cleansed from a number of military networks. But officials said they did not believe they had removed every bit of infection from all Defense Department computers.
"There are lots of people working hard to remove the threat and put in preventive measures to protect the grid," said the defense official. "We have taken a number of corrective measures, but I would be overstating it if I said we were through this."