Army Wants Ability to Fight in Cyberspace by 2020

11/8/2011
By Stew Magnuson
The Army wants to deploy a new arsenal of cyberwarfare weapons by 2020.
Lt. Gen. Rhett Hernandez, the commander of Army Cyber Command/Second Army, said the plan is to acquire both defensive and offensive capabilities -- including tools to conduct network damage assessments and ensure that there is no collateral harm done to nonmilitary entities.
Commanders in the field should have a "full range of cyberspace capabilities" at their hands including the ability to "seize, retain and exploit" enemy networks, he said Nov. 8 at the Milcom conference in Baltimore, Md.
The Army "seeks the same level of freedom to operate in cyberspace domain as we have in the land domain," he said. The command, which became operational in October 2010, is in its infancy.
There is a long wish list that must be filled before that can happen, he said. One of the main problems when defending and conducting offensive operations in the network domain is knowing who is attacking. The Army needs to first improve its situational awareness so it knows when it is being attacked. Then it will require accurate attribution and forensic capabilities to quickly ascertain who the adversary is, he said.
Unlike traditional weapon systems employed by the Army that take years to develop and acquire, it will also need rapid tool development to operate in the new domain. Once inside an adversary's computer domain, the Army needs to be able to use these tools to hold its ground. He likened it to soldiers breaking down an insurgent's door in Iraq, and then telling him that they don't have the right weapon with them and they will return later. That door will be closed when they return, he added.
"Metrics" is the battlefield damage assessment part of the equation. Commanders will want to know if their attacks are having an effect. The Army will also have to act with enough precision to not cause collateral damage and unintentionally destroy parts of the network that it did not target.
The Army will not be able to carry out any of these operations without the right kind of people, he added. The Army will have to recruit differently than it does now to attract warriors willing to operate in cyberspace.
He admitted that the Army is competing with the other services, other government agencies and the private sector to attract the highly skilled personnel that can do these complex operations.
First and foremost, that is a national issue, he said. The United States needs to bolster its ability to educate students in science, technology, mathematics and engineering. Meanwhile, the Army can look within its own ranks, its civilian work force and the National Guard and Reserves to find qualified recruits. The command recently had a two-day conference looking at these issues. The problem is that there is no mechanism in place to find people with the desired skills, he said.  
Cyber Command is joining Green Pages, a pilot program in the Army that asks soldiers to build a personal profile page that lists their skills and life experiences, he said. Army leaders can access the profiles and look for personnel with attributes they are looking for, according to the Green Pages website.

Topics: C4ISR, Cybersecurity

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