Army Cyber Command Focuses on Protecting Vital Networks

WASHINGTON, Aug. 15, 2011 — Warfight­ers oper­at­ing on the front lines in Afghanistan and else­where around the world, can be con­fi­dent that a corps of “cyber war­riors” has their backs, and is work­ing to pro­tect the com­put­er sys­tems they depend on, a senior mil­i­tary offi­cial report­ed.

Less than a year after it stood up Oct. 1, Army Cyber Com­mand is lead­ing a corps of 21,000 sol­diers and civil­ians who serve world­wide oper­at­ing and defend­ing all Army net­works, Army Lt. Gen. Rhett A. Her­nan­dez, its com­man­der, told Amer­i­can Forces Press Service. 

Her­nan­dez over­sees a 24/7 oper­a­tion that, oper­at­ing under the U.S. Cyber Com­mand umbrel­la, is respon­si­ble for defend­ing the largest piece of the Defense Depart­ment glob­al infra­struc­ture grid. 

In sim­plest terms, Army Cyber Com­mand pro­vides secu­ri­ty for these net­works so com­man­ders, regard­less of their loca­tion, can com­mu­ni­cate with their own forces, high­er head­quar­ters and oth­er ele­ments, he explained. 

“We are oper­at­ing and defend­ing all the [Army] net­works, regard­less of where they are – from our instal­la­tions world­wide, in gar­ri­son, in a field envi­ron­ment, all the way to the tac­ti­cal edge where our sol­diers are engaged in com­bat oper­a­tions,” he said. 

This capa­bil­i­ty is par­tic­u­lar­ly crit­i­cal to com­bat troops, whose mis­sions – and lives – depend on infor­ma­tion and intel­li­gence these net­works pro­vide. “With­out it, they would be hard-pressed to con­duct the oper­a­tions they are doing,” Her­nan­dez said, “because cyber real­ly enables mis­sion com­mand,” as well as sol­diers’ abil­i­ty to car­ry out their commander’s intent. 

“We are allow­ing them to oper­ate in an envi­ron­ment that gives them the infor­ma­tion they need to do that,” he said. “Our job is to ensure they have those enabling capa­bil­i­ties they need to be successful.” 

Mean­while, Army Cyber Com­mand has the capa­bil­i­ty, when direct­ed, to ensure troops have free­dom of move­ment in cyber­space, and to deny that access to adversaries. 

Ten months since start­ing from “what I would call scratch,” Her­nan­dez said, he’s proud of the new com­mand that has emerged and the increased oper­a­tional focus it brings to the dai­ly defense of Army networks. 

“That’s not to say we were not defend­ing our net­works in the past,” he said. “But with an oper­a­tional view of what we need to do to ensure we are doing all we can pos­si­bly do to defend our net­work, I believe we have made tremen­dous strides.” 

Her­nan­dez attrib­uted much of that suc­cess to close coop­er­a­tion and shar­ing with­in Army Cyber Com­mand, the sis­ter ser­vice cyber com­mands and U.S. Cyber Command. 

“You get an unprece­dent­ed uni­ty of effort across the board,” he said. “It is not only ser­vicewide, but it is hor­i­zon­tal, between the oth­er ser­vices, and it is ver­ti­cal, between [U.S.] Cyber Com­mand and the services. 

“So you can imag­ine the syn­er­gy that comes from that … as you con­duct oper­a­tions in defense of your net­works every day,” he added. 

This syn­er­gy is crit­i­cal, he said, in keep­ing ahead of a com­plex, rapid­ly chang­ing cyber threat. “When I think about where we are today, the [focus] is not so much what it is we are able to do to oper­ate and defend our net­works today,” he said. “It is what we have to do to ensure we are able to oper­ate and defend against an evolv­ing, chang­ing and grow­ing threat.” 

Toward that end, Her­nan­dez is address­ing the acqui­si­tion process, press­ing to make it more respon­sive and to ensure that cyber­se­cu­ri­ty gets fac­tored into buy­ing decisions. 

Major equip­ment acqui­si­tions that take five to sev­en years just won’t cut it in keep­ing ahead of evolv­ing cyber threats, the gen­er­al said. “We real­ly need capa­bil­i­ties that we can bring to the force in 12 to 18 months,” he said, even if it means accept­ing incre­men­tal solu­tions rather than wait­ing for per­fect ones. 

Mean­while, cyber threats have brought new con­sid­er­a­tions to acqui­si­tion deci­sions. “In the past, we had a mind­set, ‘Let’s just increase the capa­bil­i­ty we pro­vide to the field, regard­less of the poten­tial threats that might be with them,” Her­nan­dez said. “But I think in the future, we need to ensure that the things that we are build­ing have to bet­ter defend our net­works to ensure we main­tain the abil­i­ty to operate.” 

But ulti­mate­ly, Her­nan­dez called peo­ple the cen­ter­piece of cyber­se­cu­ri­ty and cyberde­fense. He’s work­ing to pro­mote train­ing and leader devel­op­ment across the ranks to improve the Army’s abil­i­ty to work with­in the cyber­space domain. 

That’s essen­tial, he said, not only for the grow­ing corps of spe­cial­ized cyber-war­riors, but for all sol­diers and Army civil­ian employ­ees who access and rely on mil­i­tary net­works to do their job. 

“We are talk­ing across the board,” Her­nan­dez said. “So we are try­ing to cre­ate a 21st-cen­tu­ry train­ing envi­ron­ment that brings togeth­er home-sta­tion train­ing as well as field train­ing to ensure that sol­diers [and] lead­ers can train in that [cyber] environment.” 

Mean­while, Her­nan­dez empha­sized the role every sol­dier and Depart­ment of the Army civil­ian plays in pro­mot­ing cybersecurity. 

“Every user needs to under­stand and appre­ci­ate that every time they enter the net — regard­less of what that net is, whether it is the Inter­net, an Army or mil­i­tary net – they are enter­ing a con­test­ed envi­ron­ment,” he said. “And oth­ers are work­ing to take that free­dom to oper­ate either away from them, or away from us. … So it is crit­i­cal that [they] ensure they do those things that will pro­tect [them­selves] and pro­tect the rest of the force.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →