Workforce critical to Army's cyber future

Personnel will be increasingly critical as the Army builds up its cyber presence

With the Army Cyber Command’s first year under its belt, its leaders are already looking toward the future, specifically the year 2020 — and the "cyber warriors" it will require.

In keeping with the broader network strategic vision for 2020 the Army is touting as it focuses on its network modernization strategy, the service’s cyber component is aligning efforts to prepare for a future increasingly dependent on cyber defense.

“This goes beyond the traditional '3-G' network of gates, guns and guards,” said Lt. Gen. Rhett Hernandez, commanding general of the Army Cyber Command and Second Army. Hernandez spoke Aug. 25 at the LandWarNet 2011 conference in Tampa, Fla. This is "an approach that identifies, assesses and mitigates the cyber threats we face.”

Hernandez said that the Army cyber strategy is built on three lines of effort: operationalizing cyber, growing Army cyber capacity and capabilities and recruiting, developing and retaining Army cyber professionals and leaders.

The latter focus is a call that is becoming louder by the day, and Hernandez underscored the importance of investing in a specialized cyber cadre as particularly critical to operating and gaining the advantage in cyberspace.

“While technology plays an important role in the cyberspace domain, people are the centerpiece of all we do," he said. "Cyber warriors will make the difference. Making people priority will allow Army Cyber Command to react to all changes and advances in technology and to actively meet both the threats and opportunities that these technical advantages these present.”

But he said the cyber domain is still too young to know yet if the Defense Department will eventually need to carve out a new, separate force that specializes in cyber operations.

“It’s still too early to tell," Hernandez said. "There is still a lot of hard work to do. But I am very excited and very pleased with the current path we’re on. As we look toward future requirements, I think what we’ll find, as we did about a dozen years ago when we introduced a number of new functions [in 1998], there are some functions today that might need to be modified in the future and there may be some unknowns that we have to think about. I don’t know what those are yet.”

About the Author

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

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