FORT BELVOIR, Va. (Jan. 5, 2016) -- U.S. Army Cyber, or ARCYBER, Command and Second Army hosted more than 90 senior military and civilian representatives of cyber organizations from across the active Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard during the Total Army Cyber Summit here in December.
The summit brought cyber leaders together to share information and resources, discuss mutual concerns, network and explore best practices, and map out the way ahead for achieving shared goals in building the Army's cyber forces, developing the Army Cyber branch and career field, and providing cyber support to operations.
"We believe cyber is a Total Army solution," said ARCYBER commander Lt. Gen. Edward C. Cardon in his welcoming remarks to the assembled leaders. "One force, one solution."
The summit opened with representatives of the Headquarters Department, or HQDA, of the Army Operations and Plans Directorate (G3/5/7) providing participants with a preview of the new Army cyberspace strategy. The soon-to-be-released document is designed to provide the Army with "a coherent methodology to move forward; a strategy for building the cyber workforce, capacity, facilities and partnerships," said Col. Edward E. Hildreth III, deputy director of operations, readiness and mobilization, HQDA, G3/5/7.
"We will organize around the Army Cyberspace Strategy with the chief of staff of the Army and implement an Army management framework around the strategy's lines of effort and supporting major objectives, to include emerging cyber resiliency and network actions," Hildreth said.
Briefings by senior cyber professionals from the Army National Guard, Army Reserve, ARCYBER, the Army Cyber Protection Brigade and the Army Cyber School provided information on current programs, policies, operations, and challenges; presented lessons learned; identified plans and priorities; and shared opportunities and solutions.
Other group sessions over the course of three days looked at the full spectrum of Army cyber and operational topics.
National Guard and Army Reserve representatives led discussions of the key challenges facing the cyber forces of each organization and potential plans, opportunities and solutions to meet them. Those challenges include getting training course allocations for reserve component Soldiers; developing cyber recruiting, reclassification and retention incentives; obtaining funding and resources; expanding methods and programs to identify Soldiers with pre-existing skills needed to perform cyber missions to provide training equivalency for those skills; managing unit transitions, restationing and facilities; maintaining intelligence support to cyberspace operations; and expanding individual and collective cyber training opportunities.
Summit participants acknowledged, as Cardon said, that they "may have to look at radical solutions" to meet some of those challenges, and frequently proposed and discussed novel approaches to key issues.
For example, Brig. Gen. Patricia A. Frost, ARCYBER's deputy commanding general for operations, suggested looking at industry models to develop effective ways of providing Total Army cyber professionals with refresher and certification training.
Guard and Reserve participants said their existing connections with industry - via the direct association of their Soldiers who have civilian careers in information technology fields, and organizational partnership programs - can help get results from those kinds of efforts.
The goal is to achieve solutions that work for all components, such as providing equivalent recruiting and retention incentives for active and reserve cyber Soldiers. It can be a daunting task, given some of the challenges unique to the reserve components. For example, it can be difficult to send National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers to extended Army training or schools due to conflicts with their civilian jobs.
A major theme of the summit was determining the mission focus of Army Guard and Reserve cyber protection teams, or CPTs, and the need to align the training and readiness objectives of the Total Army to that focus, to the requirements of unified land operations, and to cyber professionals' work roles - to the actual needs of the specific units and commanders cyber elements support and the tasks cyber professionals actually perform to meet those needs.
ARCYBER Command Sgt. Maj. Rodney Harris added that work roles, mission focus and capabilities should define what a cyber unit does, not its strict definition or status as a cyber protection team.
Over the course of the summit, participants agreed on several key goals and mapped out the way ahead for reaching mutual objectives. Lt. Col. Eric Hansen, the National Guard advisor to ARCYBER, summarized those objectives:
-- Continuing efforts to have Guard and Reserve CPTs included in the DOD cyber mission force.
-- Guard and Reserve representatives are already meeting with stakeholders from ARCYBER, Army Forces Command and the HQDA 3/5/7 to develop a mobilization model that supports cyber mission requirements.
-- ARCYBER experts are working with Guard and Reserve CPTs to catalog what equipment, facilities and connectivity capabilities those units have on hand, to develop more specific initial requirements.
-- Establishing training requirements that support the formation of cyber elements in the reserve components. Hansen said much of the plan participants discussed - such as using training equivalency to credit new cyber professionals' prior education, and leveraging training resources at the National Guard Professional Education Center, the Army Cyber Center of Excellence and others - is dependent on making reserve component CPTs part of the CMF.
-- Developing command and control, training readiness oversight and authorities for employment of reserve component cyber forces. Hansen said a tabletop exercise tentatively expected to take place in fall 2016 should help further those initiatives.
-- Leveraging the reserve component for intelligence support to CPTs.
-- Cyber talent management was a primary topic across the summit. In addition to looking at ways to develop incentive programs to attract cyber professionals, Hansen said ARCYBER, Guard and Reserve experts are working together to map out building a common talent management database to track the skill sets of active and reserve component cyber personnel to expedite getting skilled professionals for missions.
Cardon stressed that the Total Army cyber force must be relentless in developing innovative solutions and seizing every opportunity to take action on its most pressing concerns.
"If we're truly going to deliver readiness for the Army…we have to get these things down on paper and not shy away from the hard problems," he said.
U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence
U.S. Army Cyber Command and Second Army
Army.mil: Science and Technology News