Military Needs to Increase Cyber Collaboration

April 22, 2016
By Robert K. Ackerman
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The commitment is there, but the arena has become more complicated.

Efforts to counter adversaries in cyberspace jointly continue apace in the U.S. military, but the changing nature of enemy activities may require new approaches by the services. Baseline cyber activities may need to be increased, while some actions will need to remain the purview of individual services.

A panel of cyber officials discussed the ramifications of such changes on the final day of the AFCEA Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium (DCOS) 2016, held April 20-22 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

Maj. Gen. Sandra E. Finan, USAF, deputy chief information officer (CIO) for C4 and information infrastructure capabilities, U.S. Defense Department, bluntly stated that U.S. superiority in electronics is challenged, and a “substantial set of initiatives” will be required to regain the advantage the nation once held. The Defense Department must partner more proactively and more quickly with industry, she added.

Lt. Gen. Kevin McLaughlin, USAF, deputy commander, U.S. Cyber Command, noted that the types of cyber problems the U.S. military faces span five or six combatant commands, not just one. He called for a cyber force that is agile enough to respond to problems, adding, “It is essential that we raise the security baseline across the entire department.”

In response, Gen. Finan said the department would like to see cyber basics strengthened across the armed forces. “We’re trying to raise the cyber baseline of everyone in the services, but we’re not moving fast enough,” she stated. “The enemy is inside our loop—we need to go faster.”

She also warned about the growing vulnerability of spectrum as sharing of it increases with government auctions. The department must be more adaptive in response to this sharing, but she also cited a need to elevate spectrum's standing. “Spectrum is so important, we ought to look at declaring the electromagnetic spectrum a domain,” she declared.

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