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Key to cyber success: Operators must learn land operations language

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Nov. 10, 2015) -- Cyber may ultimately be commander's business. But for commanders to adopt and employ capabilities that the cyber community brings to the table, operators must excel at explaining their abilities in terms commanders can understand.

Maj. Gen. Stephen G. Fogarty, commander of the Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon, Georgia, said he believes now that the nation's defense, and the Army's ability to operate, is almost completely dependent on Department of Defense information network, or DODIN, operations.

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"I think DODIN operations, from the enterprise level [DISA] all the way down to the rifleman radio, is the most complex, most important operation that DOD conducts," he said, speaking at a conference on cyber operations, sponsored by the Association of the United States Army, Nov. 10. "We are almost completely dependent upon DODIN operations."

Today, he said, mission command, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, precision fires, joint logistics and tele-medicine, among other things, all depend on DODIN operations.

"We are at a point now where the network is not just an enabling or supporting capability, but is a warfighting capability and a warfighting platform," he said. "As we start to move into the offensive realm, with cyber capabilities, it becomes even more important to really recognize that fact."

Ultimately, Fogarty said, cyber is the responsibility of the commander.

"From the defensive to the offensive, he is the one responsible for integrating all these capabilities, like he is for fires, combat aviation or logistics," Fogarty said.

Maj. Gen. Charles Flynn, commander of the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, said the efforts of cyber liaison officers, or LNOs, are pivotal in how maneuver commanders accept cyber capabilities into their arsenals and how they employ those capabilities.

"These cyber teams and LNOs - they have to get out to the divisions, the corps, the Army service component commands, into the theater armies, and they need to get out there yesterday," Flynn said. "They are not coming fast enough."

And those who come, Flynn said, need to be the very best the Army has to offer in the way of cyber. They must not just be experts in their own area, in cyber operations, but they must also be extremely knowledgeable in land operations as well, so that they can articulate to commanders - in language the commanders can understand - what they bring to the table.

"You need to send your very best people, and they need to be reliable and incredible upon arrival," he said. "They need to be able to describe to the commanders what they offer. I cannot express to you adequately [enough], if you don't send your best people out there to talk to division, corps, and theater commanders, it will set back your efforts more than you can ever imagine."

Flynn said cyber LNOs must understand maneuver warfare and doctrine, so they can convey to those commanders how cyber will fit into the fight. "And they have to convince the commanders that they are value-added to their fight."

Those LNOs must understand how the maneuver commander thinks, he said. And to do that, they must form a relationship with the commander, as do other LNOs. "From that relationship [comes] trust. Then you can build teams. Without a relationship, you will not have the trust, and you will not get to building the teams required to execute this."

Flynn suggested that cyber warriors be able to speak top operational commanders in "doctrinal and simple terms."

"They have to be able to describe what they offer to the commander, or they will be put in what I call the 'island of misfit toys,'" he said. "They are going to go somewhere off to the side, nice to have, but they are not being employed, because they can't bring to the commander what they offer."

Flynn described how he sees the network - described in the military, operational terms he thinks make it most understandable and digestible to commanders.

The network, he said, is a weapons system. Bandwidth is a class of supply, he said, and commanders must anticipate their requirement for that class of supply and weigh the demands on it. "They have to understand where do they manage it at, who manages it for them, because they are going to end up using that class of supply to weight their efforts in the fight."

Data, he said, is a munition, "just like a precision-guided munition, or a 5.56, the munition has to be understood by the commander or the team, so that munition can be pointed in the [right] direction." And spectrum is a terrain feature, he said.

"I talked about a weapons system, class of supply, terrain features, munitions - these are all terms that are understood by company commanders, battalion commanders, brigade commanders, division commanders, corps commanders," Flynn said. "You have to speak in simple terms so they understand what it is you are bringing to the fight. So they understand, in their context, what it is you can apply for them."


In September, Fogarty said, the Cyber Center of Excellence published a strategic plan, focusing on five lines of effort. But he instead mentioned three objectives that he called the "three Cs."

First among those was a change in culture across the Army, where cyber is not considered just an issue for the signals or intelligence community, but for the entire Army.

"We have to get the different tribes to work together much more effectively," Fogarty said.

Secondly, he said, there must be a true "cyber campus" on Fort Gordon.

"The facilities down at Fort Gordon, outside the operational facilities, are not up to the task," he said. "The Army is going to have to make a significant investment."

He said already the Cyber Center of Excellence is working with the assistant chief of staff for installation management, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command and the Army staff to make that happen.

Finally, he said, "convergence." He said there isn't just one network, but multiple networks. "The way we operate today is unsustainable, and frankly it's indefensible," Fogarty said. "We are going to have to drive not only the convergence of the network, but the convergence of organizations and convergence of tactics, techniques and procedures to get to the cooperation I talked about."

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