WASHINGTON -- When consumers purchase smartphones, they don't come with bulky instruction manuals, said Lt. Gen. Paul A. Ostrowski.

There's a reason for that, said Ostrowski, principal military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology). Smartphones are designed to be used intuitively.

Besides being intuitive, smartphones can be used across states and even across the world without having to be adjusted for location, he said.

Army networks still have a ways to go before they are as easy to use in an expeditionary manner as smartphones, he said.

Ostrowski spoke Thursday at the Association of the United States Army's Hot Topics seminar on "Army Networks."

Besides being intuitive and expeditionary, the network must be secure and must be able to be integrated with each of the services as well as with coalition partners, he said.

Additionally, networks must be maintained and operated by Soldiers on the battlefield, he added.

In the future fight, the Army will not have the luxury of field service representatives running around the battlefield, he said.

Brig. Gen. Joseph "JP" McGee, deputy commander for Operations, U.S. Army Cyber Command, said another goal for the future network is to simply identify and catalog everything that's attached to it, from computers to printers.

This Internet of things needs to be made as invulnerable as possible. McGee added that there are still a number of weaknesses to be addressed, but he declined to go into detail on any of them due to operational security.

NETWORKS NEED STEM EXPERTISE

Air Force Maj. Gen. Burke "Ed" Wilson, deputy principal cyber advisor to the secretary of Defense and senior military advisor for cyber, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Office of the Secretary of Defense, said that on a national level, more science, technology, engineering and math needs to be taught to children at younger ages, even in elementary school.

Having a good base of STEM knowledge, he said, is important to the military's accessions mission.

He added that he thinks the services are doing a surprisingly good job at recruiting and retaining this talent.

Gary Wang, acting Army chief information officer, G-6, said that those who defend the networks need to have more blended training.

By blended, he explained getting Soldiers in electronic warfare, intelligence, information technology and other specialties trained together to operate effectively together instead of being stove-piped. That approach is now being applied throughout the Army, he said.

Wang added that the pace of hostile cyberattacks has accelerated recently. Instead of single viruses, hackers have devised "a mashup of viruses" that offer more sophisticated attacks.

TAPPING INDUSTRY FOR SOLUTIONS

To counter these threats, Wang said the Army will need to tap industry to automate responses to cyberattacks using cognitive networks, artificial intelligence, neural networks, pattern recognition, automation and big data.

Brig. Gen. Maria B. Barrett, deputy director of Current Operations, J-3, U.S. Cyber Command, said the Army is tapping into industry solutions through participation in the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, or DIUx.

DIUx has military representatives in Silicon Valley, California, and other high-tech centers in the U.S., to stay abreast of innovative technologies that can be applied to network protection.

Maj. Gen. Garrett S. Yee, military deputy/Cyber Security Office of the Chief Information Officer/G-6, said that additionally, Fort Gordon, Georgia, hosted a Cyber Quest last month, in which 27 industries showed interests in providing the latest technologies in cyber and electronic warfare.

Cyber Quest is a cyber/electronic warfare experimentation and collaboration between Soldiers, industry and Army researchers together. Yee predicted that more industries will show interest in future Cyber Quests.

Ostrowski said that the Army is investing a lot of money in cybersecurity. It's currently second in dollars spent after aviation.

The Army has also been reaching out to numerous industry partners and will soon have a second roundtable discussion with them. All ideas are welcome from industry, he added. "This is a call to action. Failure is unacceptable.

"If we fail to achieve that vision of the network, we fail as a nation," Ostrowski said. "This is serious stuff. We have to get on with next-generation capability."

(Follow David Vergun on Twitter: @vergunARNEWS)