• Lt. Gen. Rhett Hernandez, USA (Ret.) (l), spoke with conference attendees about the importance of academic, industry and Army partnership for innovation in the cyber domain.
     Lt. Gen. Rhett Hernandez, USA (Ret.) (l), spoke with conference attendees about the importance of academic, industry and Army partnership for innovation in the cyber domain.

Making Innovation Relevant for Operational Success

May 19, 2016
By Beverly Mowery Cooper
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Through innovation, we must adjust the human-machine balance to increase operational effectiveness. This begins with investing in people and technology, said Lt. Gen. Rhett Hernandez, USA (Ret.) at the AFCEA International/George Mason University Critical Issues in C4I Symposium. Our service men and women have trust in each other, but they must have trust that we will provide the capabilities to keep them successful. Trust is the number one ingredient that will create or hinder innovation, he explained.

Gen. Hernandez is West Point Cyber Chair to the Army Cyber Institute and president of CyberLens LLC. He was the first commander of Army Cyber Command (ARCYBER).

“Everything I have looked in for many years has been through a cyber lens,” Gen. Hernandez said, setting the stage for his views. "Very little that is of importance today is not digitized," he added. In the past, we have taken our freedom to operate for granted, but cannot continue to do that, according to the general. “When you take freedom to operate for granted, you create a culture that is hard to operate in. The focus must be on operations and the mission."

The physical and virtual worlds are converging. The cyberspace domain and information environment are converging. Think about the implications as we work our way through innovative approaches, he told the audience.

“Many people think the word cyber is short for cyberspace," Gen. Hernandez said. "I think cyber is a verb that means action. Cyber is the use of code to influence others or the code they use.” 

Today, cyberspace is principally driven by incident response, not prevention. “We have given up on stopping it. This is taking our freedom to operate for granted. We need to change that mindset to one where we know we are not going to stop it all, but we will invest in innovation to protect.” This will make the threat up its game, he explained. “The more expensive it is for the threat to obtain incremental benefits, the more the threat is reduced.”

Innovation needs to be relevant and critical to what we are doing, and it needs to get out before, not behind, the threat, he emphasized.

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