Lt. Gen. Maria B. Barrett spoke on the successes and challenges in the growth of the Army’s cyber workforce for the information age, at the Armed Forces Communications-Electronics Association’s Cyber Education, Research and Training Symposium (CERTS) in Augusta, Ga., May 11, 2022.
The event marked Barrett’s first major speaking engagement since she assumed command of U.S. Army Cyber Command a week earlier.
Barrett said that with continuing instability across the world and America’s adversaries increasingly seeking to achieve their strategic aims below the level of armed conflict and to separate us from our partners, the integration of cyber, electronic warfare (EW) and information operations (IO) is becoming increasingly critical. The cyber and EW part of that equation is progressing well, she said, and now IO must be further drawn into the mix.
“We’re starting to see the fusion of cyber operations with electronic warfare operations coming to fruition in a repeatable fashion. I think we’re starting to master this piece,” she said. “The information operations piece, while it has been applied -- integrating that has perhaps been a little more difficult. But if I go back to what we’re talking about here in terms of how the adversary is confronting us below the level of armed conflict, this is something that we have to pay attention to and manage to get the information operations a little closer to how we are using cyber and electronic warfare together.”
Operations of the future describe what we’re doing today, she said, and that fusion of capabilities, enabled by intelligence, will drive influencing operations and provide the Army and joint force with the information advantage that will allow them to achieve decision dominance.
For Army cyber this translates to five core capabilities, she said -- operate, defend, attack, influence and inform.
She pointed out that she is very familiar with the operate piece, having served as commander of the Army Network Enterprise Technology Command prior to assuming command of ARCYBER. Army Cyber understands how critical it is, she added, to work with its mission partners to prepare and equip forces to operate Army networks in contested environments with an "end to end vision." The defend piece is more than just protecting networks, she said; it's also about defending data to support decision making and influence operations at the contact level, and not just in crisis or conflict. The attack piece has to look further than just traditional cyber attack and exploitation, to more innovative, holistic ways of staying ahead of adversaries. And the influence and inform pieces must bring information together to enable all the other capabilities to maintain information advantage.
Barrett acknowledged the current high demand for cyber skills and the "race for talent" that the military and civilian communities are engaged in to recruit, grow and retain the most qualified professionals, and discussed how Army Cyber is managing talent for the Cyber-Electromagnetic Activities (CEMA), IO and intelligence communities.
For CEMA professionals ARCYBER's goal is to recruit people who are adaptable and can apply and advance traditional formal training and nontraditional methods, such as internships and experiential learning, and then sustain them over the span of their careers from basic technical aptitude to more advanced skills.
In all mission areas data and data professionals are critical, Barrett added, but perhaps most of all in the IO component. Effective IO requires speed and experts who can take in large amounts of information from many different sources, determine its trustworthiness, understand "where (its) decision space is", and provide insights to decision makers. She acknowledged that current Army training needs to mature in the IO area, but added that there is growth taking place, as with the incorporation of information dimension activities in training rotations at the Army's Combat Training Centers, and that growth can be augmented with innovative programs being developed by academia and industry.
In the intelligence realm, Barrett said operations in the information dimension are "super consumers of traditional intelligence that we need to do operations," but challenged beliefs that traditional intelligence is enough. There is great value in open-source intelligence, commercially procured information, and publicly available information, she said. Thus, we must train intelligence professionals to first apply their talents for traditional intelligence methods, and then to enrich that with more innovative capabilities that provide sometimes better and faster insights than traditional activities might.
The bottom line for all these efforts is putting people first, Barrett said. But she added that she believes the Army is providing "not just a bumper-sticker version of the people-first strategy." It has done what's right by creating policies that help Soldiers and families, such as the new Army maternity leave policies and Army Combat Fitness Test. And likewise, Army Cyber is creating initiatives to build, develop and retain its workforce and offer options for service and growth, such as the Cyber Excepted Service pilot, internship programs and the cyber direct commissioning program.
"What does that do to the culture of the Army, when you have senior leaders championing the right thing?", she asked.
“When I talk to people who have gotten out (and ask), ‘What do you miss the most?’, they don’t miss the meetings, they don’t miss the time away from families, but man, they miss the people in the foxhole with them. They miss being part of the team.”
In addition to Barrett’s keynote address, Ron Pontius, ARCYBER deputy to the commanding general moderated a panel how the joint force addresses and develops its cyber workforce, and ARCYBER Command Sgt. Maj. Jack Nichols joined his senior enlisted cyber colleagues from U.S. Cyber Command, the Cyber National Mission Force, the Defense Information Systems Agency, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Marine Corps for a discussion of training and retaining enlisted cyber service members.
ABOUT ARCYBER: U.S. Army Cyber Command integrates and conducts cyberspace operations, electromagnetic warfare, and information operations, ensuring decision dominance and freedom of action for friendly forces in and through the cyber domain and the information dimension, while denying the same to our adversaries.
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