By Dan Lafontaine, CCDC C5ISR Center Public AffairsSeptember 17, 2019
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Sept. 17, 2019) -- Army Futures Command is exploring new methods that will help commanders incorporate real-time cyber data into the battlefield decision-making cycle.
Mission command is the Army's philosophy of command and a warfighting function that promotes freedom and speed of action. It combines the centralized intent from the commander with the decentralized execution of subordinate commanders, who then decide how best to achieve the commander's objectives.
In executing mission command, commanders must have a broad perspective, understanding and knowledge of activities throughout complex operational environments, including cyber electromagnetic activities, or CEMA.
AFC's subordinate command, the Combat Capabilities Development Command, or CCDC, is building tools to enable cyber situational understanding and present that perspective in a common operational picture, or COP. This is increasingly important as the Army emphasizes Multi-Domain Operations in future conflicts, enabling U.S. forces to outmaneuver adversaries physically and cognitively.
"Cyberspace is challenging because cyber effects can be almost instantaneous. It can be wide-reaching as well, effectively tilting a conflict or battle with no materiel or personnel cost. A successful cyber attack could quickly disable communications or corrupt the data that mission command systems rely on," said Lauren Landrigan, a computer scientist and project lead for CCDC's center for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, or C5ISR.
Army cyber has historically focused on defending and protecting networks against attacks, said Dan O'Neill, a C5ISR Center computer scientist. The High Tempo Data Driven Decision Tools, or HTDDDT, project will enable mission-level decisions by building upon the C5ISR Center's previous CEMA research and translating that expertise into operational terms.
The program is in the initial R&D phase with the goal to transition to acquisition in the coming years.
"We're taking the traditional view of the battlespace for the commander and staff and examining what should be different now that the cyber perspective is integrated. We're researching how to incorporate the cyber domain into mission-command processes for operational impact on Soldiers," O'Neill said.
Helping to automate the collaboration between cyber experts and command staff that determines the mission impact of the cyber domain is a key to dominating in MDO, O'Neill said.
Researching new mission command methods is critical as the Army expands its cyberspace defense and aligns with the service's Modernization priority for Network Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence, or NC3I.
HTDDDT aims to address cyber-related cognitive complexities associated with deciphering this data for quick command decisions. This enables vulnerabilities and opportunities to be more effectively addressed, said Lisa Heidelberg, chief for the C5ISR Center's Mission Command Capabilities Division.
"We're focused on developing software that dynamically populates the COP with visualizations designed for understanding the impact of the cyber domain on missions," Heidelberg said. "The tool is tailored to reflect specific information needs of the commander and staff members.
"We're providing suggestions and recommendations instead of telling the staff exactly what to do in the case of a cyber alert. This will supply automation to allow Soldiers to review data quickly and assess their options."
The team will collaborate with and leverage R&D from another C5ISR Center organization, the Space and Terrestrial Communications Directorate, which has been working for several years supplying tools for the CEMA cell and S-6 signal officers that improve their capabilities to deploy traditional cyber defense tools to address network vulnerabilities.
HTDDDT will build a commander- and operations-centric focus that leverages the network-centric focus of S&TCD work. The Army then plans to incorporate HTDDDT into Army mission- command software such as the Command Post Computing Environment, or CP CE, which collapses legacy warfighting systems, including Maneuver, Intelligence and Fires, into a single COP.
The C5ISR Center plans to establish a long-term relationship with an operational unit to test performance and get feedback from Soldiers.
"The goal is to enable a visual tool for the rapidly evolving invisible domain during battle," O'Neill said. "Cyber situational understanding will develop more quickly and accurately and enhance Soldiers' decision cycles."
The CCDC C5ISR Center is the Army's applied research and advanced technology development center for command, control, communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance -- or C5ISR -- capabilities. As the Army's primary integrator of C5ISR technologies and systems, the center develops and matures capabilities that support all six Army Modernization priorities, enabling information dominance and tactical overmatch for the joint warfighter.
The C5ISR Center is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. Through collaboration across the command's core technical competencies, CCDC leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our Nation's wars and come home safely. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.