In cyber defense, it’s still about people

Army Cyber Command believes the key to securing Army cyberspace globally is not technology but people.

Nearly two years after it was established, the top priority of Army Cyber Command (ARCYBER) continues to be the enterprisewide operations and defense of the service’s networks. However, command officials are quick to point out that the key to this unprecedented effort to secure Army cyberspace globally is not technology but rather people.

“While technology plays an important role in the cyberspace domain, it is not technology that will win on the 21st century’s cyber battlefields,” said COL Thomas Goss, chief of the command’s Strategic Initiatives Group. “Time after time, in operations and in exercises, it is the people that will make the difference.”

With a total of 21,000 soldiers and civilians around the world, ARCYBER is the Army's newest operational command. While its global mission has remained the same since inception – to plan, coordinate, integrate, synchronize, direct, and conduct operations and defense of all Army networks – the fast-paced, ever-changing landscape of growing cyber threats has forced the command to continuously adapt to meet these daunting challenges.

“To meet today’s and tomorrow’s threats, we must recruit, develop and retain skilled, professional soldiers, civilians and contractors who can meet future challenges and dominate the cyberspace terrain,” said Goss.

The 2012 Army Strategic Planning Guidance calls for the service to continue to recruit, educate, train and retain cyber professionals, building a pipeline for both the next generation of cyber professionals, and also address Army cyber military and civilian personnel requirements.

Train as They Fight

According to Goss, it is vital that training and exercises at all levels leverage a “live, virtual, and constructive environment with realistic and challenging scenarios, that support how we fight and demonstrate our ability to operate in a degraded mode.” Only by achieving this realism in training will the Army be able to “test and assess doctrinal and organizational constructs, and to train and develop leaders” for the way the Army actually operates in cyberspace, he said.

“Making people a priority will allow Army to react to changes and advances in technology and to actively meet both the threats and the opportunities that these technological advances present now and in the future,” Goss said. “Our training and leader development programs are essential for success.”

Towards that end, ARCYBER will field a world-class cyberspace opposition force to train soldiers and leaders at training centers and at home station, Goss said. In addition, the Army is restructuring current skill sets to address organizational and operational challenges of today, while at the same time laying the ground work for the knowledge, skills and ability required for the service’s future cyber career force, he said.

The command’s vision is to create a professional team of elite, trusted, precise, disciplined cyber warriors able to defend Army networks, providing a full range of dominant effects in and through cyberspace and ensuring a decisive global advantage. This focus, said Goss, will ensure that people, not technology, are the centerpiece of the Army’s future cyber operations.

To keep pace with the speed of technological changes and threats, ARCYBER must also invest wisely in research and development, and pursue rapid acquisition of full-spectrum cyberspace capabilities. Timely investment in a wide range of cyberspace capabilities is imperative, including increasing the necessary enterprise capabilities that “will allow us to see ourselves, the threats and key cyberspace terrain better,” he said.