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CHIPS Articles: G-6: Greater integration across unified network will strengthen force

G-6: Greater integration across unified network will strengthen force
By Joseph Lacdan, Army News Service - November 3, 2020
WASHINGTON -- Having a single unified network across the joint force will be one of the pillars that Lt. Gen. John Morrison plans to establish as the Army’s top uniformed information technology officer.

The Army split its Chief Information Officer/G-6 position into separate entities on Aug. 11. The G-6, with its focus on integration, aims to bolster the service's networks and overcome cyber and IT challenges, Morrison said during a media briefing Tuesday.

As the new deputy chief of staff, G-6, Morrison acts as the primary military advisor to the Army chief of staff and to the CIO for planning, strategy, network architecture, and implementation of command, control, communications, and cyber operations and networks.

The CIO position, to be held by a secretariat member, will establish and oversee policies, while Morrison will be responsible for the implementation and strategic planning of those policies.

Greg Garcia, the former deputy of the CIO/G-6 office, is currently the acting CIO.

Morrison discussed his vision for his new role by outlining four pillars. The first will be setting up a unified network using the tactical network and enterprise networks. Morrison said he will discuss those plans with Network Cross-Functional Team leaders next month.

The unified network will also serve as the G-6 contribution to the Joint All-Domain Command and Control concept, or JADC2. Army senior leaders stressed the importance of interoperability with the other services during a recent multi-domain integration exercise called Project Convergence.

In the second pillar, the Army looks to posture its signal and cyber forces for multi-domain operations. To achieve this, both forces must operate in a “combined arms fashion” in coordination with Army intelligence, he said. The Army must then build additional operating capacity for the unified network to operate effectively at each level.

“We need to bring those two together so that we support where the Army's going from both a modernization and from an operational warfighting construct,” said Morrison, who previously served as Army Cyber Command’s chief of staff.

Morrison said the Army has learned that expeditionary signal battalions can provide 60% more command post support than it previously did. He added that those battalions can decrease their staffing by 100 personnel and still maintain their effectiveness, allowing the Army to reassign them to other positions.

Morrison said he will also take a closer examination of training and talent management. In June, the last officer to serve in the dual CIO/G-6 role, now-retired Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford, discussed the Quantum Leap program, which will reclassify about 1,000 positions by fiscal year 2023.

Thirdly, Morrison plans to overhaul and operationalize the Army’s cybersecurity processes, particularly in its risk management framework and move from a model that is more “focused on the bureaucracy in periodic reviews to make sure that a system, an application, or a component can operate on the network.”

The general added that additional cybersecurity measures must be built into the network to enable periodic assessment of vulnerabilities and risks to deter potential threats from adversaries. He said he plans to refocus more resources toward cybersecurity and strengthen network defense against cyber threats.

“This is one of those effective drills that I think will allow us to apply our resources in a more efficient manner, but brings a level of security to the network that, quite frankly, I don't think we have right now,” he said.

Finally, he said that the Army must assure that it leverages investments in the Army’s network and cyber forces. “As we all know, we are probably entering into a time where budgets may not be all that they had been in the past,” Morrison said. “We owe it to taxpayers to force ourselves to be efficient.”

In order to achieve successful implementation of policies, the G-6, CIO and Army Cyber Command should be aligned and on the same page, he said. If not, it could lead to under-resourced policies that may not be executable. He said the Army has taken a different approach by placing cyber ops responsibilities under the G-6 office.

“The mere fact that cyber ops is included in the G-6 [responsibilities] … is not traditional,” Morrison said. “If you really believe in combined arms maneuver in cyberspace, why would we separate that role in function? And so there's work for us to do there. That's probably one of the lessons learned from the other services, because that's generally how they've organized.”

Establishing standards early will be critical as the Army utilizes more machine learning and artificial intelligence, Morrison said.

Both the G-6 and CIO offices remain in initial operating capability status for now and continue to build their respective staffs. Morrison said they’re currently recruiting candidates with coveted cyber and leadership skills.

“I think the biggest challenge is hiring in the current operating environment,” Morrison said. “The skillsets that we [want] are in very high demand. I think this is one of those rare opportunities where … we've gotten great support from Army leadership; support for these organizations to really posture themselves and the Army for the future.”

Now-Lt. Gen. John Morrison, center, said he plans to posture the Army's signal and cyber forces for multi-domain operations as the deputy chief of staff of G-6 during a media briefing on Oct. 27, 2020. The Army recently split the former dual Chief Information Officer/G-6 position into two separate offices: the deputy chief of staff, G-6 and the CIO. (U.S. Army)
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