• Panelists discuss requirements for innovative solutions, primarily in the cyber realm, at AFCEA TechNet Augusta 2016.
     Panelists discuss requirements for innovative solutions, primarily in the cyber realm, at AFCEA TechNet Augusta 2016.

U.S. Army Materiel Command Seeks Greater Role in Cyber

August 4, 2016
By George I. Seffers
E-mail About the Author

Service officials stress the search for novel technological solutions.


AFCEA TechNet Augusta 2016
The SIGNAL Magazine Online Show Daily, Day 3

Quote of the Day:
“We need a network environment where cybersecurity and cyber situational awareness is, in real time, capable of automated response, reacting at machine speed, self-diagnosing and self-healing.”—Gen. Dennis Via, USA, commander, Army Materiel Command

Officials with the Army’s Materiel Command (AMC) have initiated discussions with Army Cyber Command officials to see if the command can play a greater role in the cyber arena, according to Gen. Dennis Via, USA, AMC commander.

Gen. Via told the AFCEA TechNet Augusta audience the AMC has “approached Army Cyber Command” about the possibility of “opportunities for the future.”

“We’ve got 12,000 scientists and engineers working out of state-of-the-art laboratories who are partnering with academia and industry to empower, unburden, protect and sustain our soldiers,” he said. “We execute approximately 75 percent of the Army’s science and technology budget, and I think we need to be doing more in the cyber arena to leverage these personnel and these facilities that we have.”

Gen. Via did not elaborate on his vision for AMC’s greater role in cyber. Nor did he say how the suggestion was received at Army Cyber Command. But the possibility of the two major commands partnering on cyber solutions illustrated one of the major themes for the conference’s last day: the need for innovation.

The AMC commander, a four-star signal officer, called on the Department of the Army, Army Cyber Command and the cyber community at large to work together to develop and implement leading edge solutions, to modernize and converge the network, consolidate data centers and move to a cloud-enabled environment.

He also asked for industry’s help in developing next-generation solutions to help the warfighter meet the ever-evolving threat. “We need a network environment where cybersecurity and cyber situational awareness, is in real time, capable of automated response, reacting at machine speed, self-diagnosing and self-healing,” he said, adding that such advanced solutions should be “baked into” programs much earlier in the acquisition process.

“I challenge you to help us develop the cyber solutions necessary for our Army to remain the best-led, the best-trained, the best fighting force the world has ever known,” Gen. Via said.

He spent a fair amount of time providing AMC’s cyber bona fides. For example, he noted that Redstone Arsenal, the location of AMC headquarters, is the site for a commercially owned, commercially operated cloud service that “will ease cloud adoption concerns by supporting classified applications with enhanced cyber situational awareness.”

This Army private cloud also will provide an avenue to leverage industry’s expertise and speed of innovation. And it will enhance cybersecurity, lower information technology-related lifecycle costs and will provide “the flexibility to keep pace with emerging cloud computing technologies” and “enable emerging requirements for big data information repositories,” he said.

In addition, he noted the Army recently expanded AMC’s software sustainment mission, which includes spectrum management, cyber and electronic warfare. Furthermore, AMC has more than 200 cooperative research and development agreements in Army Research Labs alone, he said. Such agreements allow the military and other government agencies to collaborate with industry and academia for novel solutions.

Gen. Via also stressed the need for security on AMC’s own systems. The service’s goals will be “severely hampered if we don’t have the necessary communications and data exchange systems running and running securely,” he said.

He added that the Army is more reliant than ever on the Signal Corps and the cyber mission force to “ensure that when our soldiers need to communicate at home and abroad they can do so quickly, effectively and most importantly, securely.”

“That’s why a focus on cybersecurity at AMC is so essential to Army readiness today and in the future,” he declared.

Gen. Via wasn’t the only one beating the innovation drum. For example, Col. Shawn Branch, USA, the tactical radio capabilities manager for the Training and Doctrine Command  (TRADOC), told the audience the service is generating requirements for a mid-tier radio that will “bridge the upper and lower forces on the tactical network.” Right now, the only capability the service has to bridge that tactical gap is the maneuver radio, he added. “We’re looking for a solution to do that in a satellite-denied or degraded environment.”

The service also wants to include aviation crews in the mid-tier tactical radio communications. Right now, the service is considering the Small Airborne Networking Radio to allow aviators to communicate with ground forces. “We’re looking for a radio that’s survivable in a cyber and [electronic warfare] congested environment,” Col. Branch reported. The requirement for radios to continue operating in the tough cyber or electronic warfare environments is new for the Army, he pointed out.

Col. Branch, who also is responsible for precision, navigation and timing requirements, said the service also is looking for technologies that will protect GPS data, protect GPS systems and ensure access to GPS signals.

Col. Mark Dotson, USA, the TRADOC capabilities manager for electronic warfare, said his team is working on requirements for electromagnetic command and control tools and systems to better protect soldiers. “The key one among these is going to be the Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool. This is going to help us operate better in an increasingly congested and contested spectrum,” Col. Dotson said. “As the tool evolves, it’s going to interact with the other network systems inside the operations centers.”

It also will be available to staffs and allow them to have a holistic view so that they can find and create an easier-to-find operational picture, Col. Dotson said. The third version will become a basis and foundation for cyber situational awareness for the commander.

Col. Tim Presby, USA, the cyber capabilities manager, TRADOC, warned that future adversaries likely will be adept at convergence. “We need to be aware that we are very likely going to fight an adversary that is converging, using seamless integration of [intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance] and fires across the full spectrum of conflict. Unless we work together and converge our capabilities, we will be left short,” he cautioned.

Col. Presby also highlighted the persistent training environment for cyber. Right now, training takes too much time and preparation, he said.

John Willison, director, Space and Terrestrial Communications Directorate, U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC), also stressed innovation. He said the intent is to move toward wireless communications to make the Army more expeditionary.

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Great job guys!

Awesome! This is a most wonderful evolutionary effort in attempting to bridge the gap and combining the resources of AMC, the Signal Corps, the Intelligence Community as well as partnering with the Defense Department, Industry, Academia (and others) to take the leading approach to 1) address the many communication challenges that currently exist while operating within a multi-tiered communication and telecommunication sphere and 2) provide innovative opportunities to support the Warfighters who's missions involves strategic, tactical and operational planning and implementation efforts that are deeply dependent upon the cyber/cyberspace domain so that they can better and more efficiently support missions operating within the land, air, sea and space domains!

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