OPERATIONALIZING CYBER IS NEW COMMANDER’S BIGGEST CHALLENGE
By Cheryl Pellerin, American Forces Press Service
02 Jun 14. U.S. Cyber Command’s greatest challenge is to operationalize cyberspace to turn the electro-digital network of networks into a command-and-control environment where warriors can see the adversary and whose operations defense leaders can integrate into options for commanders and policymakers, the new director of the National Security Agency and commander of U.S. Cyber Command said here last week.
Navy Adm. Michael S. Rogers was a keynote speaker May 28 at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association 2014 Cyber Summit.
The admiral told a large audience that he and his team are working to develop a set of five capabilities that will enable the teams of Cybercom to fight, if that becomes necessary, in cyberspace, which became a military domain in 2010 with the stand-up of Cybercom as a subunified command under U.S. Strategic Command.
Rogers also shared the early stages of an idea his team is working through to make part of the Defense Information Systems Agency, or DISA, a partner with Cybercom in defending DOD networks.
“At U.S. Cyber Command, as the new guy, I’ve said we need to focus on what a subunified command should be doing and not doing. We’ve got to optimize, focus and prioritize, so let’s ask ourselves what we’re doing that we shouldn’t be doing,” Rogers said.
The admiral concluded that if Cybercom intimately focuses on tactical-level details of defending the network, it would not accomplish much more, and he turned to DISA. In its current role, he said, DISA is largely an acquisition and engineering organization.
“I believe that for DISA to achieve what it needs to do with respect to how it’s going to operate and help us defend the networks, a portion of DISA [must] become an operationalized entity focused on maneuvering and defending the networks,” he said. “We have to give DISA the ability to come up with a command-and-control node that can coordinate with others in defending the DOD information networks.”
The Cybercom commander said that in this role, DISA “could enable U.S. Cyber Command to function at the operational level of war. That’s our niche and that’s where I think we generate the best return and the best outcome.”
Cybercom teammates, including combatant commanders and service chiefs, eventually will discuss a more fleshed-out version of the idea, he added.
On Cybercom’s greatest challenge, Rogers offered five capabilities that must exist if cyberspace is to become viable as a military domain.
The first capability is a truly defensible network.
“Today we are … working with a series of networks in which redundancy, resiliency and defensibility were never core design characteristics,” Rogers explained. “We often treat defensive capability as something that is literally bolted onto a system after we’ve done everything else.”
The effort to create a defensible architecture is leading Cybercom to reduce its number of networks and to focus on areas where the networks have continuous public interfaces — a source of particular vulnerability, Rogers added.
OD’s fledgling Joint Information Environment, or JIE, is a framework for modernizing DOD information technology systems and making them more secure. The system includes overarching architectures, standards and specifications; common ways of operating and defending DOD networks; and common engineered-solution designs.
“We’ve already created a JIE structure in Europe as a test. We’re moving into the Pacific arena next and we’ll continue to expand around the world,” Rogers said. “We’re trying to create a network in which defensibility, redundancy and resiliency are core design characteristics from the ground up.”
The second capability is common, shared situational awareness in cyberspace.
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