U.S. Army Working to Integrate Cyber Operations Capabilities

Anthony Freed
By | October 30, 2012

Posted in: Network Security Trends

The U.S. Army is seeking to transform itself in order to strategically address new challenges presented by the addition of cyberspace as a field of operations, making the shift to a joint-information environment with a focus on both defensive and offensive cyber capabilities, according to Lt. Gen. Rhett A. Hernandez, commanding general for the Army Cyber Command, also known as ARCYBER.

General Hernandez discussed the changes he envisions at the recent "Cyber Domain and LandWarNet: Powering the Army" panel held last week at the Association of the United States Army's annual meeting.

Hernandez said that cyber threats have created an environment that is both "dynamic and dangerous" for Army operations, and the goal is to alter the current mindset in the nation's largest branch of the military to ensure the force remains agile and versatile in their mission to "prevent, shape and win" when engaged in a conflict.

"In cyberspace, the significant advantage will go to the side that can protect and secure critical information as well as gain and exploit advantages," Hernandez said.

Hernandez believes the focus should first be on developing a force in the cyber domain that serves to prevent conflicts by readily demonstrating to potential adversaries that the Army is capable of advanced tactical operations, and if deterrence fails the Army needs to be able respond with combined operations in all realms, including the virtual.

"Two very important aspects are discussed that represents a changing mindset regarding cyberspace operations. First, Lt. Gen. Hernandez mentions the importance of protecting critical infrastructure but also in exploiting advantages. The nation's military forces cannot shy away from speaking about offensive cyber capabilities and the role they play in conflict; military leaders have taken point in showing an understanding of its importance," Robert M. Lee, a Cyberspace Operations Officer in the USAF, told Security Bistro.

During the panel, Lt. Gen. Richard P. Formica explained how strategies for operating in both space and cyberspace are interconnected in that they are both "information-centric and information-enabled" theaters which present global warfighting domains with their own individual characteristics.

Formica went on to tell the attendees that while he does not "envision a cyber war, or a space war," as many security experts have warned about, he does envision ARCYBER being able to deliver "both space and cyber effects in support of joint and unified land operations."

Lee agrees, noting that the many of the disagreements among cybersecurity exerts today that concern the concept of cyberwar are rooted in definitional differences of opinion and the use of specific terminologies. War is war, Lee says, regardless of the addition of a new theater of operations.

"The statement that from Lt. Gen. Formica concerning cyber war is entirely on target; there will not be a cyber war just as there will not be a space war. Conflict and war stretches across a variety of domains where relevant capabilities will be used in synergy and not by themselves.

There have been multiple statements recently from high ranking military leaders discussing the ability to leverage the full scope of the military's cyber capabilities. The focus must principally be on defense, Lee says, but our nation's military must be allowed to keep all options available to them in the pursuit of national security.

"The joint environment is where the cyberspace domain will be secured. Best practices, training, and battlefield situational awareness must be shared not only between the military services but throughout the government and Intelligence Community to achieve successful unified cyberspace operations.  ARCYBER represents another great step towards the securing of the cyberspace domain," Lee said.

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