Army Cyber Center of Excellence Requests Capability Research

January 17, 2017
By Julianne Simpson
E-mail E-mail the Author

The Army Cyber Center of Excellence is requesting research papers that address specific areas that answer learning demands or capability gaps that inhibit operational force effectiveness or efficiency. Among other things, the research papers will be used to evaluate emerging concepts against documented Army Signal, cyberspace and electronic warfare capability requirements.

Ideally, writers will have an interest in addressing signal, cyberspace and electromagnetic spectrum critical capability needs and may come from government solution providers, commercial vendors or academic institutions.

Six top papers will be selected by a panel of experts in the requisite areas matching paper topics. The authors will have the opportunity to present an abstract of their paper during a panel discussion during AFCEA TechNet Augusta in August. The intended audience and panel will consist of Defense Department representatives and academic and commercial community stakeholders interested in unique and innovative approaches to some of the most critical capability gaps and learning demands facing the signal, cyber and electronic warfare community.

Submissions are due June 26. For a full list of research areas of interest visit

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Path to a Vision-How the Signal Regiment’s Student Can Expedite Organizational Learning.

Highlighting the path away from an Army of Tradesmen to an Army of Professionals- The Mandatory Ingredient: Commitment
Submitted by Harold K. Davis

"Needless to say, each community is itself embedded in a broader epistemic frame, which suggests what problems are considered interesting problems, what constitutes an elegant solution, what warrants are acceptable in an argument, and so on. There are never explicit rules or predicates that define an epistemic frame, but being in a community allows students to start to intuit and embody them." –John Seely Brown (1)

A question from the 8th Degree of Reasoning:

The mind’s spark in our innate learning cycle, retard or advance?

Learning starts with a spark of knowledge being transferred through an innate learning cycle riding most freely on our intrinsic curious human nature. This spark can be initiated from a search, reading, instruction, conversation, happenstance, lessons learned, experience, mistakes and many other ways, it happens everywhere and at different paces. Interest plays a big part in learning and pace. Commitment creates interest to continue and expedite that pace is line between a profession and tradecraft.

This choice and commitment to being a professional or tradesmen comes from leadership and Soldiers alike. The professional, the tradesman, and the organization will depend on this spark transfer/Learning, (teaching/ instilling) ethics, values and more importantly individual commitment to expedite the transfer and reflection of them. However, the transfer of knowledge is often times outdated, inefficient and ineffective to spark the innate cycle of the 21st Century Learners as identified in The Explanation Age by Dr John Lewis.

The vision to advance this spark:

Learner-centric mentorship improves methods and processes for knowledge transfer in the Regiment. (2)

This vision includes Leadership’s impact on the transfer of this spark and their ability to advance it producing expedient learning over time. Why worry about expedited learning? The fact, America is falling behind in the global learning market which will ultimately effect survival because we are not incorporating the broader epistemic frame or range. Said militarily, we can’t afford to have our enemies learn faster than we do.

Advancing the Spark (Analogy)
This is best shown through an analogy of our cyclic learning cycle through the internal combustion engine. Two cylinders which make up spark advanced and retarded motor depicted in the figure 1. This internal combustion cylinder usually starts with the spark timed or (retarded) to when the cylinder is at top dead center (A). When speed and power are needed the spark is advanced to past top dead center of the direction of rotation, meaning the spark happens after the cylinder has past top dead center giving an additional “kick”(B). Advancing the spark increases efficiency, effectiveness, power, and speed of the motion of the piston. We can also think about this same theory in pedaling a bicycle. When riding a bicycle, we advance our power strokes further forward as we increase pedal speed. The same theory can be accomplished with professional military education using Regimental collaboration tools.

The knowledge spark timing of the human learner can be advanced through a leadership fostered learning culture. Top dead center (current) institutional teaching methods are depicted in Figure 2. Most times, this type of knowledge transfer only covers what “Will Work” and little instruction is provided on what “might work or won’t work” and how to correct the latter. It is up to the learner to get these lessons on their own and sometimes in combat. This type of teaching is good in certain cases when there is only one way to get the needed results, but in the Army this is more often the exception than the rule. And for leadership challenges there are almost always choices of what might work, won’t work or will work or a combinations of all these over a period of time. Currently, some “teaching expectations” are synonymous with a Power point slide presentation and podium instruction, affectionately termed “Death by Power Point” . There is some peer to peer learning that happens and is the strong point of the courses. But it is mostly with the peers inside the walls of the institution. This type of knowledge transfer has difficulty to produce results in the broader epistemic frame or range in

Leadership instills the mentality of being a mentor to the follow-on classes once graduated thus advancing the knowledge transfer to the point of need through productive inquiry at the 8th degree of reasoning (Dr John Lewis, The Explanation Age). This also allows a process for the Soldier on the edge to connect to the learning institution thus taking some of the stress from them and highlighting what is operationally needed in their organizations. This process leverages and transfers experiential knowledge from those just out of the training seats the learners who now occupy them. This also builds a knowledge base at the center of excellence (CoE) as intended in the CoE construct and that of the Army Learning Model 2015, GOV 16, and Doctrine 2015. This type of adaptive thinking is included in the recommended Mission Command Reading of the Latort Papers, specifically the case study Overcoming a Failure of Imagination to Conduct adaptive Work. Productive inquiry can happen from the edge through culture change fostered by CoE leadership. Advancing the knowledge spark to the edge of the organization produces an adaptable, time advanced learning cycle. Figure 3 depicts the addition of this advanced learning concept where questions meet in the cloud.
The community facilitates the knowledge transfer. This is not such an advance, and will take no additional kit or equipment, just a focus on learning in the beginning, resulting in a way to make distributed learning work more efficiently and effectively at no current cost increase. Currently, we have almost an Army division worth of soldiers, civilians, contractors, National Guard, Reserve, Dual Component visits, from the rank of E1 to O6 who now voluntarily visiting our community of purpose monthly with questions/ needs/ or sharing with us. Some just to browse, but most need something, several actually share. These people include the R&D of our capability managers, our subject matter experts called the Signal Digital Master Gunners and others from around the world. A few are over the top with helping, and we have actually received Two Star General level recognition for two Soldiers who went above and beyond.

How can this help this initiative help our Regiment:
Doctrine: This would funnel the knowledge back to a doctrinal (CoE) institution and instructors grounded in doctrine. This would also provide a process to update our lagging often times outdated doctrine and programs of instruction. The Army has pressed an initiative to shake doctrine up and streamline the process and its overall nesting into the capstone process (Doctrine 2015). I argue expanded learning frame and incorporate a young LT’s/ SGT’s/WO’s capstone event (His/her first 100 days in a unit), and feedback from that event presses our organization forward by that amount of time if not more. We must instill in our Soldiers a mentoring mentality from an association with our Regiment. Go past the common Army term of a “buddy team” meaning a team of two individuals usually.
We posted this question to the professionals on the Army professional forums developed at the Combined Army Center of Excellence at Fort Leavenworth. My question to the larger group about ideas concerning the “Army’s Buddy Team”; Is the two man team still considered a viable concept of Army strength? And concluded it was, but there was much progress to be made at the team level, because what else is the Army except a team of teams? This is the formula used 1(+)1=>2 as best as I could understand it. Taking this problem from a standpoint of just science/ math you would say there is no way that a formula like that can exist. So breaking down the formula above, I looked at it just like this. 1- An individual, single, one; (coupled/added/initiative/plus/ (+)/Leadership); 1- An individual, Single, One; is equal =; greater than/ more >; than 2- This could be two linked individuals, two unlinked, there is no initiative in the “2” or action of leadership in this sum. So math can work for leadership if one puts what inside (here/+) first instead of the result. This math will work for knowledge events and even for the theory of the genesis of life. If the 1+1 is husband and wife, and the products of themselves (wherefore) are their children, then math has no way to explain reproduction, something most of us take for granted. Our future challenge is getting knowledge and information and ultimately connecting more teams to teams. The 4th layer of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model supports multiplication of the formulas above.
By incorporating a culture of mentorship and actually helping those who follow in the institutional learning phase producing advanced thinking and results. This strengthening includes class and rank structure interactions. Lieutenants talking to Captains in the Signal Captains’ Career Course, NCOs in the Senior Leaders course and advanced leaders course, Warrant Officers in the Basic and advanced courses, instructors and subject matter experts of the Signal master Gunners Course and the capability management sections. This process would provide senior leaders an additional window into who’s advancing the Regiment at a strategic level through a community of their peers.
Word Picture of this ADIIEA/ innate learning process at work. This process was tested by bringing a Lieutenant from Afghanistan via ADOBE Breeze into a class of Lieutenants in their last two months of the basic course. Providing direct experiential -knowledge transfer. The word picture below was formed by a two question survey about relevance why relevant: The text of the responses were copied and pasted into Wordle. Wordle produced a word picture of the responses. The more it was used the responses the larger the word is displayed. The Lieutenants (LT) identified with the deployed soldier at rank, his experience and knowledge of Signal learned while deployed. This was the student’s future they were connecting with, developing an understanding, advancing the spark of knowledge at a rate of 1 to 40.

The next picture of our organization’s draft distributed learning Plan built using the ADDIE process. This word picture was developed using the same process above except the entire text of the plan was pasted in Wordle which is exact copy of the Organizations Distributed “Learning” plan. This plan is developed with the ADDIE process. The intent of the ADDIE model was to effect change in a person, not necessarily a process. So the “design” phase is centered on design of instructional material, not to design for innovation which this Distributed Learning Plan is missing. ADDIE is not a model used to support innovation because it assumes the disruption is the problem, not an opportunity, and further assumes that it is a training problem. Page 58, The Explanation Age, Dr John Lewis. The larger the word the more it was used in the plan, this plan is produced at a digital 1:1 transfer rate with advances from that we are already evident with the no cost tool above:

So What?
Complacency kills, learn always- our enemy is. If done right, our enemy should fear the Centers of Excellence as the force’s knowledge multiplier. And if the Command Team accepts any portion of this paper and concept, I believe it would foster learning adaptability worthy of our nation’s Army and a cause of concern for any enemy. Bottom line, we need the leader’s voice to effect culture change in our organization.

We have a saying in the Army, “The more you sweat in training the less you bleed in battle”. We must instill rigor in the learning institutions and at professional military education courses. This can be accomplished through advanced learning described here (above and below) which is needed in the Explanation age resulting in advancing the spark of learning outside the current epistemic frame. This is an organizational learning method that advances the timing of going forward in time and space, at the point of need, resulting in gained knowledge through lived experience.
Double loop learning- It helps the individuals with a by-product of helping the Regiment using a systems approach to training. Upon graduation, the “Mentors” now send productive inquiry questions back to the group in the course. This is not a survey, these are request for help, need a reference, got an answer, a way, captured for later use. This is the culture we use to advance learning completed through LT to LT to CPT to NCO to Warrant Officer or any combination of these. So the school is not only answering the question from the field, but learning and harvesting content as they go.

The shift from current organizational learning to over the top and out of the limited industrial age ADDIE learning model produced in the difference of the two word pictures above. Asking questions with an expected response, forward of the graduation date. Get support from operational XOs. Use the in-house class as a knowledge source. Turn the culture around through productive inquiry (3) Learning “to be” sooner versus later (4)

Current state of our Center of Excellence:
Students arrive at the professional military education courses with optimism they will learn something and for the most part they do. They learn through instruction and peer to peer groupings at an acceptable level (Boiled Frog). Professional Military Education Returnees brush up on doctrine and gain learned experience from their peers. Initial military Instruction provides the basics. But what does this really deliver to the organization? Snapshots of chunked learning organizationally produced by the class only, no advancement of the knowledge spark. It is industrial age assembly line learning.
Meaning the class leaves little for the class that follows and gets little from the ones who graduated prior. This is termed by Dr. John Lewis as half-pipe learning in the innate human learning cycle which is not connected fully to the ARFORGEN cycle or other organizational learning domains (Organizational, Institutional, and Professional Development). Most of this training is about what works, little effort provided to what might work or even less yet directed to what won’t work. Our Soldiers are often times at a loss when the “Will Work” don’t.

Future State of the Center of Excellence:
Future State (ALM 2015/ Doctrine 2015/ GOV 16/ Various TRADOC Task Orders): Classes are expected to become mentors through facilitation from Subject Matter Experts and Small group Leaders both in class and virtual. Learning outside the ADDIE process. Often times, you learn more outside the comfort zone of an outdated learning model. Sometimes even on a golf course at the 10th hole. This mentorship method/culture transfers knowledge out of and into the Center of Excellence with a focus upon departure and the student’s graduation. Mentorship through productive inquiry from recent alumni transfers knowledge to and from the edge of the organization into the learning core. This organization answer’s its own questions at the point of learning extended to our most junior members.
Vignette of the current state: That happened just last week on a collaboration tool. A 2LT arriving at her first unit was task to produce a commanders communications officer professional development class covering all Army Battle Command System and how they operate together. This is a very tough task for even the more experienced officers. The 2LT reached out to the community of purpose for help. The community linked her up with a Captain who developed a briefing in 2011 for his unit, and she can now leverage that knowledge to build a quality product. This works but does little for the class in house.

Future Vignette of that 2LT being the mentor to the in course class. By asking the class using productive inquiry, she ask the class through a community. They find the product as a class. What this does is move the learning to the edge of the organization where she is at. Does not relieve the 2LT from delivering a quality product, but does give the in house student an idea of what will be ask of them once they arrive at their unit. This also allows the center of excellence to build a repository of quality documents for the regiment that is vetted by the “.edu” aka “CoE”.
Becoming a Center of Excellence:
Turn Learning around by advancing it. Truly Open the Class up to the world behind the AKO firewall. Take any young Signal Soldier or BOLC Course and have them as a learning capability of a line soldier. Those who ask questions of the thinking group will then themselves be thinking, thinking groups are in classes at the center of excellence. We can do this like no other Regiment and from the 4th degree of reasoning: State- This is a CoE and the 4th level of the OSI Model- Network.
Take classes up and over the learning cycle. In House, NCO’s and Officer’s responsibility to execute, with Office of the Chief of Signal oversight, bring learning here and injecting it in the courses. In house classes (Knowledge Center/ Growth/Genesis of it) retains responsibility connected through forums.
This is a team’s connection of connections at the Center of Excellence. Starting with culture change at the branding of CyberCoE. We need quality content behind the “Center of Excellence” brand. The students are the mentors and mentees. This vision ultimately feeds and draws from a “Learning Institution” through the systems approach to training, from the 8 degrees of reasoning, wherefore a never ending result of learning through our innate career-long learning cycle.

Keith Davis is a former Signal Officer with multiple comands and Observer/Coach-Trainer postions. He earned a Maters of Science in Information Architecture and Knowledge Management from Kent State University and currently works on projects that support an expedited learning cycle. This paper represents his views alone and not those of the DOD or US Army.

1. John Seely Brown is the Author of A New Learning Culture and The Power of Pull
Mentor-“1. An adviser. 2. A wise and trusted counselor or teacher. 3. An influential senior sponsor or supporter.”
(2) Mentorship- Mentorship is a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. However, true mentoring is more than just answering occasional questions or providing ad hoc help. It is about an ongoing relationship of learning, dialog, and challenge.
Productive Inquiry- is that aspect of any activity where we are deliberately (though not always consciously) seeking what we need, in order to do what we want to do- e.g. leveraging the net.
Latort Papers-
Pictures in Figures:
Soldier Crying-
Soldier with Foreign National-
Soldiers in Class
Two Soldiers and Equipment-
Appendix 1: Goals and Associated Task
1. Deem the collaboration tools a “Regimental” tool that is understood as a viable option.
2. Craft a command team message of mentorship even at the lowest level.
3. Train instructors and facilitators on proper use of collaboration tools.
4. Capture metrics, searches, and feedback to help further identify organizational gaps, thus feeding back into the innate learning cycle.
5. Reach out to the raters of our young Signal officers, S3s, XOs, and Company Commanders for feedback on Signal Soldiers in their professional forums. Try to validate and take corrective action to close the knowledge gaps identified at the rater and provide them awareness of our Center of Excellence’s reach back program. In Progress.
6. DA Form 1059 “Commitment to Learning”. 1-5 rated by how well the students were prepared when they came to class.
7. Test “S6 virtual back-by” concept support on the executive officers forum to judge support. One hour commitment as best as possible. Use two or three so you get a better spread or if volunteers want it is a chance to speak to those just behind in the Regiment. (Started)
8. Take over site responsibilities for the mandatory class surveys to help close knowledge gaps identified from the course. (Rear-View Mirror)
Appendix 2
These steps have task associated with them and they include:
Start with the Student. Ask them to identify if they were in the course to learn and hold them to it. Have them and the leadership commit to:
1. Learn
2. Instill mentorship during train-up through the Regimental Induction. This increases respect for the Regiment, don’t induct everyone into it- lesson learned from the Rangers. “Learning Ranger’s”
3. Make the course demanding: Possibly, the top 50 % of the class is inducted, the lower 50% need to achieve results on the field to get inducted. Or have them sent out with a crest but are not “Officially” Inducted until the reach-back from their first 100-365 days. (Added benefit, we can already track this and manage the content) The graduation is ceremonial and can still happen, but your brother’s and sister’s in your unit will induct you. Reason: Our Regiment Looses Identify in supported units.
4. It involves rewarding those students and classes that excel at helping the force. This is in accordance to already published Army Knowledge Management Principles.
5. Use this plan as a Masters Project: Thanks to and Dr. John Lewis and his book these ideas- Now will it to work, is this part of the strategy?
6. Continue to work through a Master’s Paid for by VA Funds.
7. Continue to working on organization’s advanced learning on the 4th layer of the OSI Model.

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