By Brandon O'ConnorMarch 29, 2019
As the Army prepares to fight the wars of tomorrow, the Army Cyber Institute at West Point is at the forefront of making sure American forces are ready to fight and win in a changing world.
ACI took a major step toward using every resource at its disposal March 27 with the signing of a memorandum of agreement with the 335th Signal Command. The signing of the MOA formalizes a partnership that began in January and adds 10 reserve Soldiers to the ACI team to assist with cyber research during their reserve drills.
The MOA was signed by Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, superintendent, U.S. Military Academy, and Maj. Gen. Peter Bosse, commanding general, 335th Signal Command. The agreement enables ACI to tap into the diverse experience of the reserve Soldiers, who are the top cyber experts in the reserve force.
"Our chief, Gen. (Mark A.) Milley, has said the first shots of the next war will likely be fired in cyber and likely with devastating effect," Williams said. "This partnership will ensure that when those shots are fired, the United States Army is ready to fight and win thanks to the incredible work of the warriors assembled here today."
The 10 reserve Soldiers involved in the partnership have years of civilian cyber experience including time spent working in the energy sector, at the Pentagon, for large tech companies and as cyber security consultants. Their civilian experience is expected to provide ACI with unique perspectives and experiences that can't be gained through a career spent serving solely on active duty.
"A lot of times if you look at the way people are trained, they are trained to think a certain way," Chief Warrant Officer 4 Christopher Manuel, ACI research fellow, said. "Schools do that, and it is very hard to get outside of that box. We are out of that box. We may have learned to do things a certain way within the military, but what we do in our civilian jobs sometimes is far outside what we do in the military. I think it really is going to help the Army."
The research teams will be working on projects including preparing cities to withstand cyberattacks to their power grids, making sure the Army is mission ready in the cyber realm and more. The current agreement is for two years, with work already underway.
"For the Army Cyber Institute, we are getting a level of expertise that we would not otherwise have," Lt. Col. Erica Mitchell, chief of Strategy and Policy at the Army Cyber Institute, said. "Our people have been active duty since day one and continued through the Army, so we haven't had people out working in the energy industry … It is a huge boon for my team to bring in that level of expertise."
Bosse said the reserve Soldiers who were selected to participate in the partnership are, "The top two percent of the more than 700 cyber warriors we have in the Army Reserve."