Army CyberCom faces tough challenges getting started

Budget, risks, training for cyberwarfare among top challenges

Despite a scarcity of time and resources, deploying a new military command within a newly established warfare domain is proving to be a task that remains riddled with ambiguity as the military takes on cyber warfare.

“We’re working hard to stand up a cyber brigade to increase capability to execute the cyber mission,” said Maj. Gen. Rhett Hernandez, commander of the Army Cyber Command. “The organization is not right because you never get it right at first.”

Speaking today at the AFCEA Army IT Day in Vienna, Va., Hernandez said some of his chief concerns include understanding risks associated with cyber operations and the terrain in which Army CyberCom is operating, re-evaluating the methods by which the service is developing its cyber leaders, and grasping the financial aspects of investing in new command capabilities.

“We have no doctrine at this point as to what the cyber warfighting domain is,” Hernandez said. “We’re training in a way that’s different from the way we’re fighting…. We have to figure out a way to inject cyber into all of our training.”

That training applies to the broader Army, which Hernandez noted is driven by the execution of orders – rather than the extensive development that has been a focus of establishment of Army CyberCom.

Hernandez also stressed the importance of understanding the cyber landscape and the new Defense Department mission accompanying the domain.

“Our ability to see ourselves is the No. 1 challenge and investment," said Hernandez, who added that understanding is also integral to situational awareness in cyberspace. "Our ability to see the enemy is even more critical if we want to do anything about it. It’s like waking up in the morning – I can’t see anything until I put on my glasses.”

Also critical to fully understanding the terrain: establishing a holistic total force supporting cyber operations, and developing cyber warrior leadership. To develop cyber leaders, the military needs to re-examine its development policies in ways that reflect cyber operations and total force priorities, he said.

Hernandez said all of his concerns need to be addressed in top-to-bottom transformation – and that has to be priority even as DOD focuses on becoming a leaner organization.

“I agree with efficiency reductions, but we can’t afford not to transform cyber,” he said.

About the Author

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

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