By Maj. Lisa Beum
Army Cyber Institute
A very young organization in comparison to most of West Point, the Army Cyber Institute was founded in 2012 and has been conducting research, advisement and education in the cyber domain with the ultimate purpose of enabling effective Army cyber defense and cyber operations. Why? Because cyber has rapidly become a part of everyday life and expanding that knowledge of cyber competition to prevent a strategic surprise is critical to the nation.
ACI helps shape and advance Army priorities by working closely with the operational force through units like Army Cyber Command and with the institutional force through the Cyber Center of Excellence. Those organizations are heavily vested in current operations, however, the ACI’s role is to have its head “up and out,” looking to the horizon about five to 10 years in the future. ACI is a think tank that seeks to answer the questions of: Where is technology going? How is this going to impact or enable the Army in the future? How could this technology be used against us?
“The Army Cyber Institute has done some phenomenal work from the tactical to the national level,” said Col. Jeffrey Erickson, ACI director and simulations officer by trade. “We are going to continue that tradition of excellence while focusing it on Army gaps and problems as well as increasing awareness across the Army Cyber Enterprise as to what ACI provides.”
The ACI is adopting a “technology scouts” mindset where they find the thought leaders in academia and industry, develop partnerships with them and then find ways to apply that technology and knowledge.
Erickson joined ACI as director May 28. Prior to coming to the Army Cyber Institute, he previously served in the Joint Staff J7, responsible for providing technical enablers to combatant command training events.
While in that position, he noticed a common issue was an increasing demand for more replication of cyber effects in training exercises. When he heard about ACI, he saw the chance to be a part of a team that worked to solve the problems not only for training but across the larger cyber enterprise.
“I think it’s the people that make the Army Cyber Institute unique. We are a unique blend of military and civilian team members from across many disciplines and branches,” Erickson said. “We leverage this diversity to look at cyberspace-related problems from many perspectives.”
He continued to say that ACI also engages senior and key leaders from across the Army cyber community on a regular basis.
So why is the Army’s cyber institute located at West Point and not a different Army post? West Point was selected as the home for ACI due to the depth of academic experience and the academy’s strategic impact on future leaders. As part of the mission to develop cyber leaders, the Army Cyber Institute provides instructors that work in nine of the academic departments, influencing curriculum development. Additionally, ACI is constantly looking for opportunities to partner with research centers at West Point to further efforts in support of the Army enterprise.