ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Brig. Gen. Jeth Rey is building a bridge to how the Army will communicate in the future. But first, he’s here to listen.
Rey began his new role as director of the Army Futures Command Network Cross-Functional Team (CFT) this month. He says the first order of business is to visit the operational force and take in feedback from corps, divisions, schoolhouses, and combat training centers on what they need from the Army’s network.
“That’s going to be my priority — hearing what they want the Network Cross-Functional Team to focus on, in order to improve the environment that they operate in every single day,” Rey said. “I expect to hear about smaller, lighter, more agile capabilities. I expect to hear about crypto modernization. And I expect to hear about data — how do we access, share, and secure data with our mission partners.”
In addition to hearing from a variety of operational formations stationed throughout the United States and overseas, Rey said he will be seeking input from the Department of the Army G6, Army Futures Command leadership, and the seven other CFTs charged with executing the Army’s modernization priorities — from vehicles and aircraft, to fires and missile defense.
“All modernization capabilities touch the network,” Rey said. “The network is the center of gravity, so we need to support them as well.”
This feedback on operational priorities and technical improvements will inform the next steps for the Network CFT as it seeks to enable Army formations to reliably communicate across all domains and environments.
Consisting of a core team of experts, the Network CFT leverages Soldier-centered experimentation to inform requirements, aligns and drives transitions of science and technology efforts into programs of record, synchronizes capability development to keep pace with current and future threats, and develops an optimized future network through the rapid insertion of new technology.
The end goal is to deliver a network that is expeditionary, mobile, hardened and intuitive — especially as access to data becomes a pivotal element to achieving future battlefield advantage.
“The future is about data, and accessing and protecting it across transport-agnostic capabilities,” Rey said. “Going from 5G WiFi, to terrestrial circuits, to satellite-based systems as an automatic transition will give us greater operational flexibility across the board.”
Rey takes the helm of the Network CFT following an assignment as director of Command and Control, Communications and Computer Systems, J6, United States Central Command. In that role, he managed the Command’s global communications, cybersecurity, and computer networks, most recently including the stand-down and retrograde of networking equipment from Afghanistan.
A native of St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands, Rey joined the Army in 1983 and has served in Army enlisted, warrant, and officer ranks.
Although his previous assignments took him around the world — from Korea and Hawaii to North Carolina, Georgia and even the White House Communications Agency — Rey had not been stationed in Maryland before coming to the CFT. However, his father-in-law’s first duty assignment was at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) in the 1950s, and his sister-in-law was born there in 1956. Rey and his wife, Carla, have also visited the state’s horse racetracks at Laurel Park and Pimlico, watching Justify win the Preakness Stakes en route to a 2018 Triple Crown victory.
“I do have a few ties to Maryland, and I’m looking forward to making more,” Rey said.
Rey said he also looks forward to building upon the strong ties between the CFT and other network stakeholder organizations, many of which are based at APG.
“That relationship has to stay very sound between us, and the Program Executive Offices, and the science and technology teams as well,” he said. “We want to build a culture that everyone wants to be a part of, and stay focused on what we’re creating for the Army of the future.”