Since 1979, in one form or another, the Joint Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I), Cyber Staff and Operations Course (JC4ICSOC) has educated Defense Department leaders in information-related capabilities across the Joint Force. Hosted by the Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC), and administered by the Joint Staff, the course offers three graduate-level college credits to students who successfully complete the unique and rigorous three-week curriculum.
Alumni include current and former flag officers who have commanded forces across the globe, a former Director Joint Staff J6, and countless other influential leaders from all of the Services. The most recent group of graduates — students from the third offering of 2018 (18-3) — benefited from a mature and ever-evolving course in its fourth decade of being taught.
As is usually the case with JC4ICSOC classes, the 18-3 cohort represented tremendous professional diversity. Students included Navy Information Professional Officers, Air Force instructors from the Undergraduate Cyber Training schoolhouse, Air Force intelligence professionals, an Army Signal Corps Officer, and senior government civilians from the Joint Force J6 Staff.
Likewise, course administrators strive to ensure educators come from a variety of backgrounds. The impressive faculty of instructors and guest lecturers consists of professionals with hundreds of years of combined Joint tactical, operational and strategic experience.
In addition to demanding classroom assignments, students participate in a nearly week-long string of site visits to major DoD and interagency organizations that carry out key functions in the Joint C4I space. Cohort 18-3 students learned about designing, building, launching, and maintaining America’s intelligence satellites during a visit to the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in Chantilly, Virginia. At the National Security Agency (NSA) and U.S. Cyber Command students received in-depth briefings about the role of those organizations in carrying out Title 50 and Title 10 activities in the cyber domain.
Unfortunately, nearly 10 inches of snow in the National Capital Region caused closings that prevented visits to the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and the Secret Service. Fortunately, instructors came prepared and used the snow day wisely. With the use of a spare hotel conference room, instructors presented unclassified C4I briefings and guided the students in a Joint planning simulation, requiring them to practice the skills learned in the classroom.
Additionally, students visited USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) and U.S Coast Guard Cutter Tampa, as well as Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command (NCDOC), and Satellite Communications Facility - Northwest in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia.
The trips also encompass a historical perspective. At the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia and the MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, Virginia students studied the decisive role that command and control (C2) and communications systems played in America’s military history.
Despite the enjoyable trips, instructors stress academic rigor to maintain the course’s accreditation for graduate level credit. To that end, the course requires students to conduct independent research and write a paper covering material applicable to the course. While some students initially feel daunted by the assignment, after graduation, students tend to agree that the opportunity to think and write is the most rewarding and educational element of the entire curriculum.
The range of paper submissions from Cohort 18-3 impressed schoolhouse staff. Research topics included implementation of Mission Partner Networks for Joint operations; a Title 10 verses Title 50 debate in cyberspace; retention of cyber personnel in the U.S. government; and the potential for Joint Cyber Red Teams to support the Joint Information Environment (JIE) — just to name a few.
In the end, the students of Cohort 18-3 walked away with more than just some additional college credit. Thanks to considerable effort on the part of instructors, students left JFSC with a much greater understanding of the depth and breadth of DoD C4I, cyber and information operations (IO) capabilities.
From each other, students learned a great deal about the capabilities and cultures of their sister services. Most importantly — and by design — through the unique combination of classroom instruction, hands-on application, DoD and interagency exposure, students from 18-3 developed knowledge and skills key to effective operations within a Joint Force. But that’s nothing new for the JC4ICSOC schoolhouse. According to Art Macdougall, the JS J6 course director, “This course has been doing this for almost 40 years, and with the increasingly high quality of the students attending and their broad ranges of personal experiences that are shared, the course just keeps getting better.”
The JC4ICSOC course is hosted at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia. Interested personnel can view the course schedule and enrollment information by clicking here.
Lt. Cmdr. Adam Sinsel is a Navy Information Professional Officer specializing in information technology and cybersecurity for 20 years. He has served in various leadership roles, globally supporting network operations and cybersecurity throughout the DoD. He earned a Master of Science degree in Cyber Systems Operations from the Naval Postgraduate School and holds many industry certifications in technology and cybersecurity. He is currently assigned at Navy Red Team where he leads a team in Cyber Threat Emulation (CTE) during major DoD exercises.