Cyber Defense Review

Broadening Opportunities for Cyber Officers

By CPT Brent Chapman, LTC James Finocchiaro | January 23, 2015

In a recent trip to Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD, members of the Army Cyber Institute (ACI) visited the Communication-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) of the US Army’s Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM).

Led by Director Henry Muller’s, CERDEC’s six directorates support its mission to develop engineering technology solutions for America’s Soldiers. On this particular visit, the ACI met with Mr. Kevin Boyle, Chief Technology Officer of the Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate (I2WD) and Dr. Paul Zablocky, Director of the Space and Terrestrial Communications Directorate (STCD).  The visit included not only command briefs from senior leaders of their respective organizations, but also tours of several of CERDEC’s labs and facilities. The ACI discovered some great opportunities for collaboration with these very talented Civilian Engineers, Scientists and Technicians.

The opportunity for short- and long-term collaboration is ideal as a broadening assignment for our new 17 series Cyber Branch Officers (Cyber Officers).  There are several advantages for the Cyber Mission Force, RDECOM and the officer himself in such an assignment.  In both the I2WD and STCD organizations, there exists a cyberspace operations section supported by world-class facilities and staffed by civilian experts.  Cyber Officers would serve in an environment in which their skills in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics discipline would improve with exposure to cutting edge technology and modern techniques.  Concurrently, these officers are empowered by providing critical information about usage and implementation in operations that materiel developers can use to improve their products.  These invaluable contributions will have a direct impact on the effectiveness of the Cyber Mission Forces and help improve the communications and information collections systems of Division and below systems.   And this collaboration must occur else the cyber warfighter will continue to move in a direction without understanding their support network or the warfighting capabilities that are almost ready to be deployed.

In I2WD, a Cyber Officer would be on the cutting edge of development of Offensive and Defense Cyber Operations capabilities.  They would have first-hand access to government and commercial emerging technologies for building new Army cyber resources. In the I2WD Cyberspace Operations Section, Cyber Branch Officers could help build cyber situational awareness tools that could be used to better analyze adversary networks. Additionally, a Cyber Officer would be serving the tactical army by conducting research and testing in the Electronic Warfare section, the Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance & Targeting section, and the Intelligence Analysis, Exploitation & Dissemination section.

In STCD, a Cyber Officer would still be expanding their knowledge of Computers, Networks, and Radio Frequencies.  While this side of CERDEC is focused on warfighter’s communication capabilities, the Cyber Officer would be using offensive techniques, like an adversary, against our current communications equipment and structure. Their efforts would focus on disrupting Mission Command and our Intelligence support systems.

The questions rest less in why these organizations should achieve this integration, but rather how it can be realized.  One possibility may exist with an assignment in the ACI.  Select officers would be assigned to the ACI’s Chief of Institutional Research with duty at Aberdeen Proving Grounds. An example of this would have to scale yet would only require a handful of Cyber Professionals. One way forward would be for a Major, serving as the ACI senior leader, or detachment commander, at Aberdeen. Captains and lieutenants and potentially warrant and enlisted grades could be assigned as a three Soldier team.  This type of team structure would the minimum needed to build a path and forge the appropriate relationship in the CERDEC directorate. The time spent could be short, as short as a 90 day TDY, but could also be up to two years to really build connections with the appropriate people. This would not atrophy the technological edge of our Soldiers, but instead make them more capable and give a Cyber Officer an experience they would bring back to the Cyber Mission Forces or Command Headquarters that proves their technical merit.  This is why CERDEC and Aberdeen Proving Grounds has been recognized as the Cyber Technology Center of Excellence (http://www.cerdec.army.mil/inside_cerdec/core_technology/cyberspace_operations/).



US Army Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. Army reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The Army and the Army alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the Army, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying Army endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

Army does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Army may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. Army does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the Army or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.