Cybercom Chief: Cyberspace Operations Key to Future Warfare
By Cheryl Pellerin
WASHINGTON, June 16, 2014 – In the cyber domain of 2025, the ability of military formations to operate offensively and defensively will be a core mission set, and commanders will maneuver the capability much as they maneuver ground forces today, the commander of U.S. Cyber Command said recently.
Cybercom Commander Navy Adm. Michael S. Rogers, who also is director of the National Security Agency, was the keynote speaker at a June 12 meeting here at a cyber seminar hosted by the Association of the U.S. Army’s Institute of Land Warfare.
The theme was Army Networks and Cybersecurity in 2025.
“In the world of 2025, I believe the ability of Army formations to operate within the cyber domain, offensively and defensively, will be a core mission set for the U.S. Army and its operational forces,” Rogers told the audience. The Cybercom commander said that by 2025 the military services will have ingrained into their culture the reality that networks and cyber are a commander’s business.
The admiral, who most recently served as commander of the U.S. Fleet Cyber Command and the U.S. 10th Fleet, said this has been a major cultural challenge in the Navy.
“In the year 2025, I believe … Army commanders will maneuver offensive and defensive capability much today as they maneuver ground forces,” Rogers said, adding that command and control, key terrain, commander’s intent, synchronization with the broader commander’s intent, and a broader commander’s operational concept of operations will be cornerstones of Army cyber operations by then.
“In 2025,” he said, “the ability to integrate cyber into a broader operational concept is going to be key. Treating cyber as something so specialized, … so unique — something that resides outside the broader operational framework — I think that is a very flawed concept.”
Between now and 2025, Rogers said, a primary challenge will be integrating cyber and its defensive and offensive capabilities into a broader operational construct that enables commanders to apply another broader set of tools in achieving their operational missions.
When he thinks about how Cybercom and the services will get to 2025, Rogers said, he tries to keep three points in mind.
The first, he said, is that cyber is operations. Commanders must own the cyber mission set, the admiral said, integrating it into the operational vision and becoming knowledgeable about the broad capabilities of a unit, formation or organization and its potential vulnerabilities.
“I think it’s going to be foundational to the warfighting construct of the future,” Rogers said, adding that the challenge is as much cultural as technical.
“To make this work, in the end, it’s about our ability to synchronize the capabilities of a team,” he added, “from our junior-most individuals to our senior-most individuals, from capabilities resident within [the services] and as a department, to the [external] partnerships we’re going to have to form.”
The second point Rogers said he keeps in mind is that requirements of the future include a joint network backbone for all of the Defense Department.
“I never understood why Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and, arguably, our Coast Guard teammates … were spending a lot of time and money [to independently] create, maintain, build and operate a global communications backbone,” Rogers said. Instead, he added, “make the services responsible for the last tactical mile of [a DOD-wide backbone that spans the globe], down to mobile and tactical users, whether they’re in a garrison scenario or whether they’re out maneuvering in the field, on an aircraft, on a ship or in a squadron.”
The third point, Rogers said, is that people and partnerships are key.
“Don’t ever forget that, in the end, [operationalizing cyberspace by 2025] is all about people and partnerships,” the admiral said. “It’s about our ability to create a workforce that understands the vision, has the tools and capabilities they need to execute this vision, and is integrated into the broader effort.”
The partnership piece is a key area, he added, “because we, the Department of Defense, are not the cutting edge when it comes to networks, [communications] or information technology.”
“We are a user of technology that is largely generated by individuals and organizations that reside outside the DOD. … I don’t see that trend changing between now and 2025,” he added.
As Cybercom commander and operational commander for the cyberspace mission set, the admiral said, focusing on five Cyber Command priorities will help military commanders build the joint force for 2025.
The priorities are:
— Building a trained and ready operational cyber force;
— Building a joint defensible network whose architecture has core design characteristics of defensibility, redundancy and resilience;
— Creating shared situational awareness in cyberspace;
— Creating command and control and operational concepts for use in cyberspace; and
— Being mindful of policy and administrative changes needed to operate in cyberspace.
Addressing the department’s ability to compete on the open market for exceptional cyber talent, Rogers said, cyber is no different from any other DOD mission in terms of going after talented individuals.
“If the view is that pay is the primary criteria to get people with cyber expertise to join the department, I don’t think that’s going to work for us,” he added. “We’ll compete because of what makes us different. We will appeal to men and women who have an ethos of service [and] who believe in the idea of being part of something bigger than themselves.”
“We’re going to compete for the same people because, quite frankly, we’re going to give them the opportunity to apply their knowledge in a way that you can’t legally do on the outside,” he added, prompting chuckles from the audience.
“I think we’re going to do well,” the admiral said. “[Over the past 10 years], we have exceeded my wildest expectations in terms of our abilities to recruit and retain a high-end cyber workforce, because we’ve been able to focus on why they want to be with us as opposed to why they don’t want to be with us.”
(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter: @PellerinAFPS)