By Sean KimmonsNovember 3, 2016
ARLINGTON (Army News Service) -- The Army's newest cyber chief touted the service's recent milestones in the cyber field Thursday, promising more to come in the near future.
Last fiscal year, the Army was the first service to employ all of its 41 cyber mission force teams to guard Department of Defense networks, said Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, who assumed command of Army Cyber Command and Second Army Oct. 14.
The first batch of officers also graduated this past year from a cyber leadership course, he said, and progress was made on ongoing upgrades to fortify Army cyber defenses.
"We have continued momentum in this domain," Nakasone said during an Association of the U.S. Army panel discussion at a day-long "Hot Topic" forum on cyber and future readiness.
This year, about 300 Soldiers are set to go through the first iteration of advanced individual training for cyber, he said. Nearly twice as many Soldiers are expected to attend next year.
The cyber mission force teams are also slated to be fully operationally capable by the end of this year, while a large investment in the reserve component's 21 cyber protection teams, which also provide cyber defense capabilities, continues to build them up.
"That's the future for us," Nakasone said of the protection teams, one of which has already activated and works closely with his command. "We see that as part of our broader force that we will need in the future to ensure the defense of our networks."
Less than a month into his current role, Nakasone spoke about the three priorities for his command.
The top mission is to aggressively defend networks, data and weapons systems. "There's nothing more important," he said.
Soldiers must also be able to deliver cyber effects against enemies from both a defensive and an offensive posture, while the cyber command itself designs and builds integrated capabilities for future fights.
With cyber warfare still in its nascent stages, many of the new ideas to tackle these priorities will likely come from Fort Gordon, Georgia, which is quickly becoming the center of the Army's cyber mission.
Joining the Cyber Center of Excellence, the Cyber Command's headquarters plans to move to Fort Gordon by 2020, Nakasone said.
"This will make Fort Gordon an epicenter for what our nation does in cyberspace," he said. "The Army has done this thoughtfully, it has done this purposefully, and in the coming five years we'll have tremendous benefits from the ideas and decisions that are made by leaders before us."
Across the Army, the Cyber Command is trying to harden networks as it evolves with the ever-changing cyber domain.
Network modernization is underway to improve routers and switches, installing Windows 10 software on computers and establishing endpoint access on more than 1 million devices, he said.
But as with any complex military endeavor, cyber security is sure to present new challenges.
"There's no network that's invulnerable," he said. "As I look into the future, building that resilient network is the most important thing we need to do."
While the Army uses advertisements to entice cyber-minded people to join the force, Nakasone and others also hope to develop a campaign to attract Soldiers in different career fields who have an interest in cyber.
"We have to look for talent across our Army," he said. "There are very, very talented people that perhaps right now are not working cyber on a day-to-day basis, but would like to."