Cyber Command lays groundwork for rapid deployment of resources

Defining the territory, streamlining IT acquisition among goals on officials' cyber wish lists

With the  Cyber Command now the formally established presence of the armed forces in cyberspace, military leaders are pondering how best to move forward with cybersecurity.  

“We’re in uncharted territory in cyber policy, cyber law and cyber doctrine,” said Air Maj. Gen. Paul F. Capasso, director, network services, Office of Information Dominance and Air Force chief information officer. To establish the right way forward, the services will need to collaborate, he said, speaking July 8 on a panel at the AFCEA Cybersecurity Symposium in Washington.

"We can’t go as a joint team unless we work together to break down barriers,” he said.  

The challenges – which Capasso said he instead refers to as ‘opportunities’ – include becoming more rapid in response, determining the relevant definitions and roles of U.S. cyber defense and getting the right tools through streamlined acquisition.

“There’s no dwell time with this. If we react at the speed of the [Internet], we’re good. But we aren’t there yet,” acknowledged Maj. Gen. George Allen, director of command, control, computers and communications (C4), Marine Corps CIO and deputy director, Marine Force Cyber Command.

Air Force Brig. Gen. Greg Brundidge, J6 director for communications and information, agreed that moving faster is necessary. “There’s an element of newness [to cyberspace], like space once was, but we don’t have 50 years to figure it out. Sometimes we just have a few days to figure it out,” he said.

Jointly defining the territory will be part of the groundwork, according to Rear Adm. Robert Day, director of the forthcoming Coast Guard Cyber Command. “We need the right definitions we can all agree to. Cyber has become mission-critical, and we need to address the evolving paradigms,” Day said.

“This is a Defense Department fight, and we need to work together, standardize and develop rule sets,” Allen agreed.

According to the panel, there is also a major need to get the right tools in preparation for the  cyber fight. In the processes for acquiring information technology, “we’re broken,” Allen said. “We can’t buy things through the J-6 (U.S. Joint Forces Command’s C4 systems directorate) acquisition process. That’s good for things like tanks. But when you talk about the speed of the net, we’re losing.”

Capasso said that worse than the acquisition problems is the issue of getting comprehensive IT systems into the hands of service members. “We’re pretty good at buying things…but we need to figure out deployment. We are terrible at deployment. My wish list is to deploy things faster – and if we can only deploy in bits and pieces, that doesn’t do me any good,” Capasso said.

Brundidge said he’d like to see more complete situational awareness through IT capabilities. “It would be nice to have a better common operational picture across the heterogeneous environment,” Brundidge said.

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a staff writer covering military networks for Defense Systems.

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