Military Officials Testify on Cybersecurity on Capitol Hill

Cyber warfare specialists serving with the Maryland Air National Guard’s 175th Cyberspace Operations Group engage in weekend training at Warfield Air National Guard Base in Middle River, Md., June 3, 2017

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Washington, DC – The military service chiefs of cybersecurity see an upward trend in the capacity, capabilities, sophistication and persistence of cyber threats against military networks, Navy Vice Adm. Michael M. Gilday, the commander of US Fleet Cyber Command and US 10th Fleet said on Capitol Hill yesterday (Mar 13).

Gilday appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee’s panel on cybersecurity with his military counterparts:, Army Lt. Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, commander of US Army Cyber Command; Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Loretta E. Reynolds, commander of Marine Forces Cyberspace Command; and Air Force Maj. Gen. Christopher P. Weggeman, commander of the 24th Air Force and Air Forces Cyber.

“Cyberspace intersects every one of our Navy’s missions and requires an adaptive approach to counter the threat,” Gilday said.

The Navy’s approach for offensive and defensive cyber covers modernizing its networks, investing in new technologies and partnerships and carefully managing the talents of its people, he said.

“We are modernizing and defending our networks by implementing our cyber resilience strategy focused on hardening our network infrastructure and reducing its attack surface,” Gilday said. “[We’ve] extended our defensive posture to include deploying defensive cyber teams with our carrier strike groups and our amphibious readiness groups.”

Navy Technologies, Partnerships

Navy cyber is investing in new technologies and partnerships for the offense and the defense through a series of initiatives including transitioning to cloud-based technologies, the admiral said. “At the same time we are investing in improvements to defend and to gain better situational awareness deep inside our networks,” he added. “We are leveraging that data sciences through the Navy’s new digital warfare office and collaborating with industry and academia to apply new technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence.”

The Navy also has stood up two commands — one each for doctrine and training — both improving the integration of cyberspace and electronic warfare into fleet operations, he said.

“We’re committed to growing and sustaining our talent base,” Gilday said. “Now that all 40 Navy cyber teams have reached full operational capability, we are focused … on sustaining a mission-ready force.”

With room to grow, the admiral said, work needs to be done in how Navy cyber recruits, trains, retains, rewards and fights, while ensuring its forces are equipped to compete and defeat the adversary.

Army Cyber

As with the Navy, The army’s cyber program continues to make its networks more secure and dependable, Nakasone said.

Training and talent management efforts are also paying off, and so are partnerships, he told the panel. “Partnerships remain critical to our efforts,” he said. “We’re leveraging the private sector, the academic community and the key allies to rapidly develop and deliver new capabilities to the joint force and our Army.”

Meanwhile, he added, the way ahead is clear. “The Army requires sustained investment in science and technology to capitalize on the advancements in artificial intelligence and other innovative capabilities, the general said. “We also need to pursue force structure and capabilities at the Army corps level and below to ensure we have the tactical capabilities of our pilot initiatives have shown.”

Marine Corps Cyber

Since May, US Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command has made tremendous progress in the ever-expanding cyber domain, Reynolds told the panel.

She highlighted what the Marines are doing in the cyberspace domain and how focus has shifted from building the command to operationalizing, sustaining and expanding capabilities in the new domain.

Reynolds has organized operations along three lines of effort, which she uses to organize her activities and to measure progress for the command. Because their ability to command and control is their center of gravity, Marine Forces Cyber is participating in efforts with Marine Corps service headquarters to design and build a more defensible network architecture.

“Moving forward and [in] response to the National Defense Strategy, we know we must be prepared to fight tonight,” Reynolds said. “We will build the objective network capable of fighting and winning against a peer adversary in a contested information environment.”

The second line of effort is fulfilling the responsibility to provide warfighting capabilities to the development of ready, capable cyber forces to US Cyber Command, she said.

Increasing Marine Corps Proficiency

Marine Forces Cyber is increasing in proficiency every day, Reynolds said, adding they are looking to increase readiness, retention and skills progression. In fact, the Marine Corps last week announced creation of a cyberspace occupational field. “The creation of the [military occupational specialty] will allow us to deliberately provide targeted incentives for recruiting and retention,” Reynolds said.

The line is to provide support to the Marine Corps as it works to operationalize the information environment. The commandant of the Marine Corps has modified Marine formations to build greater capability in the information environment under the Marine Corps operating concept, and Marine Forces Cyber is building additional defensive cyber operations forces inside the Marine air ground task force, experimenting with tactical cyber and sharing lessons on the integration of cyber with other fires and other information capabilities.

As of January, all 13 Marine Corps cyber teams have reached full operational capability and are employed against priority missions, Reynolds said.

Air Forces Cyber

The Air Force has invested in creating, fielding and sustaining an increasing portfolio of cyber defensive and offensive capabilities, Weggeman said: seven cyber weapons systems designed to provide a tiered global defense of the Air Force information network, defensive cyber maneuver forces to defend key cyber terrain, and offensive capabilities to provide all-domain integrated operational defects to combatant commanders.

In this domain, threats are growing rapidly and evolving, he noted.

“Our adversaries are acting with precision and boldness, utilizing cyberspace to continuously challenge the United States below the threshold of armed conflict imposing great costs on our economy national unity and military advantage,” he said. “In this ever-shifting and competitive terrain, we must remain vigilant with cyber hygiene, cybersecurity and threats-specific defensive operations in order to compete, deter and win.”

Air Forces Cyber trains and fights as a total force team, harnessing the unique attributes and talents of all components: regular Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. Across the 24th Air Force, more than 11,000 full-time and part-time reserve and guard personnel support training, intelligence, full-spectrum operations, command and control and capability development.

The Air Force has employed a built-in total force strategy, with 15 Air National Guard squadrons and a classic reserve associate squadron providing additional trained and ready surge capacity in times of crisis for cyber mission force teams.

The command’s cyber mission force teams are on track to achieve full operational capability by the end of September, with 35 out 39 teams already operational.

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