FORT GORDON, Ga. -- The Cyber Center of Excellence's, or CCOE, Cyber Quest experiment brought together industry, academia and a host of other Army organizations throughout June and July to take aim at defining concepts and capabilities for enabling a commander's situational understanding, or SU, of cyber and electromagnetic activities, or CEMA.CEMA SU describes the commander's need to visualize and understand friendly, enemy and civilian or non-combatant activity within the electromagnetic environment. This understanding is more than the cognitive processing of operational activity, but with CEMA, there is a new toolset needed to sense, integrate and present the "invisible" activity of the electromagnetic spectrum."When we talk SU, we're not just talking bits and bytes. It's all these pieces. It's the electronic magnetic spectrum -- it's the enemy, the red, the blue, the gray… How do you aggregate that in such a manner that you can display it in a timely enough fashion to influence a commander to make a decision," said Col. Timothy D. Presby, Training and Doctrine Command Capability Manager -- Cyber, or TCM-Cyber.Cyber Quest 2016 -- the CCOE's first integrated event, sought to begin answering such questions. Hosted by the Cyber Battle Lab, the goal for Cyber Quest was to conduct experimentation to accelerate capabilities that address Army Warfighting Challenge #7 -- 'Conduct Space, Cyber Electromagnetic Operations and Maintain Communications.'"This is a cross-functional set of requirements that we lead in conjunction with many other stakeholders across the Army. As the Army has looked at this space, they have identified cyber electromagnetic requirements and expeditionary mission command requirements as two of the eight top priorities," said Maj. Gen. Stephen G. Fogarty, commanding general, Cyber Center of Excellence.
In addressing the gaps, Lt. Col. Gary M.L. Lyke, TCM-EW Capabilities Development Branch Chief, says there's still a lot for the TCMs to do in helping shape Cyber Quest. "We have basic concepts in mind, but as far as starting to develop those capability development documents and later on those capability production documents, we still have a lot of questions that need to be answered out there."According to a capability based assessment of both the Army's Mission Command and Cyberspace operational needs, cyber situational understanding was identified as the number one gap for them both, Presby said.Presby emphasized the importance of working with industry and academia in order to leverage their investments in cyber to more rapidly field capability. He provided a technical perspective of situational understanding that illustrates the significance of cyberspace operations across all Army warfighting functions."Cyber SU is taking the warfighting functions and decomposing them into different feeds made up of the different systems and bringing them into a cyber backbone, into the COE, CP CE [Common Operating Environment, Command Post Computing Environment], as a widget," Presby said.
Lt. Col. Heather Levy, commander for Cyber Quest 2016 Infantry brigade combat team from the 25th Infantry Division, described what this decomposition looked like at Cyber Quest among her battle staff working to develop CEMA situational understanding. She said her staff fell into to two primary groups:"The first is those folks who are cyber or EW," Levy said. "Those folks are getting great hands-on experience with new tools that may or may not become part of the Army's arsenal; and getting the opportunity to do current operations and planning in an environment where they're the most important people in the TOC [tactical operations center]. And that happens rarely," she said."The rest of the Soldiers here are part of MOS's [military occupational specialties] that wouldn't ordinarily be that concerned about CEMA," Levy said, counting herself among this group, along with her intelligence officer, operations officer and fires officer."My intel officer is learning, 'hey, this is the information that our cyber tools can bring to the fight and this is what they need from me…to help identify where they need to collect and what they need to do.' My fires guys are learning, 'this is how we need to use those tools to get positive identification of potential enemy targets.' My S3 [operations officer] is learning how to track and integrate CEMA into the maneuver world," Levy said.As part of Cyber Quest, each of these different battle staff elements sought to visualize their particular warfighting function as part of a User Defined Operational Picture, or UDOP, "to provide commanders with a holistic view of the cyberspace and electromagnetic environment that is tailorable to echelon and user, integrated within the broader common operational picture, and designed to be platform agnostic," wrote the 2016 Cyber Quest Request for Information.In response to the Cyber Quest RFI, several vendor-proposed visualization tools were selected as part of the experiment, along with the acquisition program of record Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool, or EW PMT. The "no-fear-of-failure" environment established at Cyber Quest afforded an opportunity for industry to better understand Soldier needs and operational constraints, and for Soldiers to get a look at the state of the art and explore new tactics, techniques and procedures.The hands-on experience with vendors at Cyber Quest proved to be a highlight for the Soldiers, according to Lyke. "To have that one-on-one interaction with the vendors is very difficult to replace.""Developers [were] working at night to fix a capability gap that we identified during the day. I talked to guys who are bringing their products, and they said, 'Hey I spent all last night updating the software, I think it's going to work to bring you the capability you asked for yesterday. That interface between vendors and a tactical brigade TOC is what Cyber Quest brings to the Army. That's what the 25 ID was here to bring -- the ability to use the tool, identify a capability that is useful to us, or a capability that would be even more useful and get real-time feedback from the vendor -- and sometimes real-time improvements on the best way to go forward," Levy said.CCOE released a Broad Agency Announcement for Cyber Quest 2017 July 19 and the center will host a Vendor/Industry Day August 16. CCOE will continue exploring CEMA SU in partnership with the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center through a series of table topic exercises hosted throughout the fall.