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U.S. Strategic Command Aims at Improving Cyberdefense

Cyberspace is the next great frontier for warfighters. U.S. forces rely heavily on their computer networks for command and control, intelligence and communications, but these architectures also are potentially vulnerable. In recent years, U.S. government and Defense Department networks have come under increasing attacks and probes from adversaries as diverse as nation-states to disgruntled individuals.

U.S. Strategic Command’s (STRATCOM’s) mission is to secure, defend and operate the Global Information Grid (GIG), allowing warfighters the freedom to operate across the globe, explains Kevin Williams, director of STRATCOM’s Global Innovation Strategy Center. “We are always trying to find ways to do cyberspace operations better and to take advantage of what’s going on in the private sector, academia and other government agencies throughout the military,” he says.

Williams notes that STRATCOM’s commander, Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, USAF, is the first combatant commander responsible for securing, operating and defending the GIG. Because of this unique responsibility, the command is interested in finding new ways to secure the GIG and the data that it carries. One way to find “out of the box” ideas is to solicit them from a variety of sources.

Although there are many cybersecurity conferences and symposia, Williams explains that the upcoming event in Omaha, Nebraska, is the first where attendees can present ideas to help the combatant commander carry out his mission in cyberspace. “There is a real chance to make an impact here. It’s not about replowing old ground. At this symposium we’re really after discovering what we don’t know and finding bright ideas, opportunities and new ways of looking at things that we can bring to our commander,” he says.

The event’s track sessions will provide attendees with the opportunity to participate collaboratively to solve a set of problems. The sessions are designed to capture information and provide it to Gen. Chilton. Symposium attendees will be members of the U.S. government, state and local government, industry, business and academia—both domestic and international. By leveraging a broad level of expertise from these thought leaders, Williams says the command will gain new viewpoints to address the challenges it faces. Information from the track sessions will be collected and presented as a paper after the symposium.

Other issues that will be discussed include operating and securing supply chains, reacting to viruses and other cyber issues. “It’s not just about us, or the military or STRATCOM. It’s all of us trying to synchronize and provide a coherent approach to solving these issues,” Williams shares.

Operating in and across cyberspace is the theme of the AFCEA/STRATCOM cyber symposiumAdvancing Cyberspace Capabilities to Deliver Integrated Effects,” which will take place on April 7 and 8 in Omaha, Nebraska. The goal of the symposium is to determine the challenges and opportunities to ensure that U.S. forces have the freedom to operate in cyberspace.