BALTIMORE -- U.S. Army engineers addressed the future of cyber communications during a panel discussion at the 35th annual MILCOM conference Nov. 1-3.The Equipping the Cyber Workforce panel looked at both the challenges and opportunities that come with keeping pace with and surpassing cyber threats."You can't manage what you don't understand," said Sidney "Chuck" Smith, U.S. Army Research Laboratory team lead and computer scientist. "In the military, the networks are incredibly complex and it's difficult for leaders to get a clear handle of what's going on."ARL's research themes include supply chain management, agility in cyberspace, insider threat and learning to operate in a contested environment.Smith encouraged academia and industry to work with the ARL, noting the need for big data analytics "to sift through the mountains of data that our security tools generate," he said. "This will provide better situational awareness, which will lead to better security."ARL transitions many technologies to the U.S. Army Materiel Command's Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, or CERDEC, which builds upon them. CERDEC continues the basic research done by ARL and continues to look at multiple layers when responding to cyber including trust, resilience and situational awareness, according to panelist Donald Coulter, a computer scientist and team lead for trusted systems and networks with CERDEC's Space and Terrestrial Communications Directorate."Every Soldier uses some type of cyber technology, but how do we ensure there is trust in those devices," Coulter said. "We have to look at these devices and add assurance capabilities that will adapt and protect the networks."Coulter added that CERDEC is working toward multi-factor authentication, automation and artificial intelligence that will effectively analyze emerging technologies and allow the Army to anticipate what might happen in the future with cyber.Closing out the panel was Giorgio Bertoli, senior scientific technical manager for offensive cyber at CERDEC's Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate.Looking through the offensive cyber lens, Bertoli emphasized the internet's humble beginnings, noting how far we've come in a quarter of a century. That's also what makes it the most challenging."By all measures, the internet is still very young," Bertoli said. "But adoption rates and technology advancements are increasing, which is going to revolutionize the Internet and create a chaotic environment."Bertoli believes the future of warfare will be virtual, which will be interconnected with the physical domain of air, land and sea; however, translation between the virtual and physical spaces is not trivial.There is ambiguity in cyberspace and encryption is becoming prevalent, something Bertoli said is causing issues in keeping pace with the threat."Ideally we want to develop new techniques and keep ahead of emerging technologies, but we also want to leverage common standards in software development framework to minimize starting from scratch," Bertoli said.Various research vehicles across the Army's research community are available to academia and industry as a way of advancing cyber techniques. Current opportunities are listed on FedBizOpps.----The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the joint warfighter and the nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.