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CHIPS Articles: Talking with Vice Adm. Bernard J. "Barry" McCullough III

Talking with Vice Adm. Bernard J. "Barry" McCullough III
Commander, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/Commander, U.S. 10th Fleet
By CHIPS Magazine - April-June 2010
Vice Adm. Barry McCullough, as the commander for U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet, will put into action the Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead's vision for a whole-warfighting approach to how the Navy operates its combat capabilities in the information/cyber domain with the ultimate goal of warfighting dominance across the full spectrum of operations at sea, under the sea, in the air, in the littorals, and in the cyberspace and information domains. CHIPS talked with Vice Adm. McCullough March 29.

Vice Adm. McCullough: The Navy has a vision to move out on cyber operations to include network and space operations; electronic warfare; signals intelligence; and other information operations. The CNO has invested a lot of his own time in this and has given Vice Adm. Starling, Vice Adm. Dorsett and me the gateway to take the Navy forward in this new operational domain. I look at it as an operational domain that's global, similar to the way we look at the undersea warfare, air warfare and surface warfare domains.

CHIPS: Can you talk about your short and long-term goals?

Vice Adm. McCullough: The first thing I did was to look at what the CNO told us to do. That was the vision that we laid out for dominance in cyber operations, signals intelligence, information operations, electronic warfare and space. I had to get my arms around where we were and what we had. So, I visited most of the major Navy Information Operations Commands and telecommunication facilities around the world to see what the state of play was. I visited 20 of my 24 subordinate commands and established the baseline. The predecessors at Naval Network Warfare Command — Vice Adm. Mayo, Vice Adm. McArthur and Vice Adm. Starling — have invested a tremendous amount of effort to define this new domain. They put us in the position to launch toward the Navy's vision.

The Navy has outstanding signals intelligence capabilities. We also have a sound electronic warfare program, specifically with aviation capacity. We need to do some work on what we have in surface warfare, but we have a relatively sound foundation there. Therefore, my initial focus is on networks and the ability to command and control our forces globally. How do we get from static and reactive network operations and defense to proactive and dynamic? My first near-term goal is to establish dynamic cyber operations, which includes defense, as well as exploitation and development of non-kinetic effects. When U.S. Cyber Command is established we will get more defined direction, as Fleet Cyber Command will be the Navy's component command to USCYBERCOM.

The Department of Defense has consolidated network warfare: Joint Functional Component Command Network Warfare (JFCCNW), and global network operations, Joint Task Force-Global Network Operations (JTF-GNO), and JTFs (Joint Task Forces) — into a consolidated staff that works for Lt. Gen. Alexander now. I have spent some time with him, and I think our visions are aligned.

CHIPS: How many personnel are in FLTCYBERCOM/10th Fleet and what billets do you have?

Vice Adm. McCullough: Right now, a little less than 100. The initial size of the staff is to be about 182, with a mix of cryptologists, information operations professionals, intelligence specialists and line officers.

CHIPS: Can you talk about the Information Dominance Corps?

Vice Adm. McCullough: Vice Adm. Dorsett is the community leader for those folks. We have great capability. The Navy, through its cryptologists, has some of the best linguists and network operators that are in the military service today. My concern is capacity and retention. There was a plan to add a substantial number of personnel to this community with the 2011 budget, but due to competing priorities, we got a little less than half of what we planned. We still need to increase our capacity, our personnel, in this area.

CHIPS: Navy training is the best in the world. How are you going to retain these individuals since industry will be recruiting them too?

Vice Adm. McCullough: There is a limited pool of people with the right talent base that you can recruit into this business because these are highly specialized operators. We are competing with the rest of industry for these folks. Our pay doesn't necessarily match that of private industry. We can give these young men and women early responsibility and training for them to be among the best. In the end, it is about service and responsibility to the Navy and the nation — as opposed to the financial reward. It is incumbent upon the leadership, Vice Adm. Starling, Vice Adm. Dorsett and me, and the folks that work with us, to ensure that these people understand the importance of their contributions and to develop the right workplace environment so that these people want to stay and work with us.

CHIPS: Do you anticipate dramatic changes since the CNO has directed that cyber tactics, techniques and procedures need to mature quickly?

Vice Adm. McCullough: Navy cyber defense is run through the Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command in Norfolk, and that command does an excellent job. But what we have to develop is what I call near-real-time situational awareness (SA) so we can see what is going on in the network just like we monitor an air warfare battlespace. We still have a long way to go to get there. Once we achieve near-real-time SA, and we can monitor the domain like our other warfare domains, then we need to dynamically defend the network in near-real-time.

Everybody likes to say we are going to do this at machine speed, and I believe that some of it can and needs to be executed at machine speed, but some of it has to be done with human interfaces. A human being has to be able to understand the data presented and be able to take action on it. We need to move in the direction of dynamic operations to garner intelligence and have dynamic defense. I think they are areas where we need to substantially improve.

CHIPS: Is the Navy a late starter in cyber since the Air Force has been organizing its assets for several years now?

Vice Adm. McCullough: I would say the Navy is not disadvantaged in any way. My assessment is that we are at or near the front of the pack right now. The Navy has had an historical relationship with the National Security Agency through our cryptology folks for a long time. So we have a basis for being able to conduct operations in cyberspace. We are not just starting from zero.

The formulation of Cyber Forces and Fleet Cyber Command and splitting out the man, train and equip functions to the type commander, Cyber Forces, and the operations to Fleet Cyber Command that is collocated with the consolidated staff [JFCCNW and JTF-GNO], the National Security Agency, and the future headquarters of USCYBERCOM at Fort Meade, has put the Navy at the forefront of cyber to take advantage of our historical position and what we now have.

CHIPS: Is there room to maneuver in the cyber domain to use offensive measures and not just to defend networks?

Vice Adm. McCullough: I don't like the word offensive, I would call it non-kinetic effects, and I think there is room for that in all domains of warfare. Historically, we have looked at kinetic effects. But what can we do utilizing non-kinetics to support operational commanders' con-plans and ops? I think we need to work on that and be better at non-kinetics. The networks are common battlespaces. We are in these battlespaces and so are our potential adversaries, be they nation-states or non-nation states; everybody is living on the same networks. So we have to get to that dynamic functionality that I talked about to be better positioned to take advantage of our cyber capabilities.

CHIPS: Vice Adm. Dorsett discussed the need to integrate all the functional areas of cyber that traditionally have worked in stovepipes: intelligence, cryptology, signals intelligence, information operations, electronic warfare, oceanography, meteorology, and then cross-training these professionals for a wholly integrated approach to the cyber mission. Do you foresee any difficulty in their integration?

Vice Adm. McCullough: Inside the service, no. But the federal U.S. Codes and other statutory and regulatory authorities involved in all of this, Title 10, Title 14 and Title 50, all have specific authorities that apply to this domain. We have to make sure that we work through the proper channels to make this happen. I think it is imperative to integrate, not only within the Navy, but with interagency [organizations] as well.

CHIPS: There is a national discussion in the media and blogs about the Navy's cyber mission. Do you find the discussion useful?

Vice Adm. McCullough: Yes, I have had the opportunity to talk with several different agencies in the intelligence community as well as the services. Everybody understands what needs to be done; it is just working through the bureaucracy to make it happen.

CHIPS: You are a seasoned warrior, having worked extensively in the acquisition community. Will you be working with the program executive offices as commander of FLTCYBERCOM/10th Fleet?

Vice Adm. McCullough: Yes, I've spent some time doing that already. I will be working with the PMAs and PMWs (warfare program offices) and with the Honorable Sean Stackley (Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition). We need to be able to rapidly prototype and field technical capabilities. There are approved procedures to follow, and we will need Secretary Stackley and his organization's help to do this.

CHIPS: Do you have any concerns about the delay in the Navy's satellite program, MUOS, the Mobile User Objective System?

Vice Adm. McCullough: Yes, I do. The satellite infrastructure has been around for a while. We all worry about the expense and the technical capability of replacing the constellation as it ages. It is something we all need to work on, all the services, as well as the civilian agencies, to come up with a consolidated strategy to make sure we maintain our advantage in this critical area.

CHIPS: I have heard some leadership discussion about bandwidth — that there will never be enough on ships. Do you agree?

Vice Adm. McCullough: I have a different opinion on that. We have more bandwidth now than we have ever had. You can always develop more demand for bandwidth than exists, so it comes to using the bandwidth that we have to get the right information at the right time to the right place. It is about dynamic bandwidth management rather than just buying more bandwidth.

CHIPS: Is there anything else you want to talk about?

Vice Adm. McCullough: Dynamic cyber operations is a huge challenge for the Navy, and I think there is one chance to get it right — and that is now. The Navy has the right vision to put us at the forefront of this capability and capacity in this new warfare domain.

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Vice Adm. Barry McCullough
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