Today, the rapid advancement of technology and hybrid cyber-communications, along with cybersecurity threats that menace both information systems and infrastructure, has spawned the growth of new government, military and industry organizations that can both capture the advantages of the new information environment and defeat the challenges that can cripple communications and compromise national security.
In this turbulent environment, few communications organizations can trace their history to more than a few decades, and some don't survive first contact.
This month the U.S. Army's Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM) celebrated its Centennial Anniversary at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.
NETCOM is one of the U.S. Army's military's units that can trace its origins to Feb. 14, 1918 when it was established as the 9th Signal Company in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Maj. Gen. John W. Baker, commanding general of NETCOM, led the celebration at the NETCOM Headquarters culminating in an awards presentation. The ceremony included several distinguished guests from the City of Sierra Vista and Mayor Rick Mueller, according to an Army release.
The history of NETCOM stretches out a century from World War I analog communications to its designation as the leader of global operations for the Army's portion of the Department of Defense Information Network (DoDIN).
"The organization of the 9th Signal Company in Hawaii was a part of the Army's growth, and as you see that company through the years turn into a battalion then into command and today, in 2018, the Network Enterprise Technology Command is a ‘guarantee’er’ of the Army's networks. The Army is a global force and our job is to insure the Army's readiness," Baker said.
Baker shared his family's military history and how it related to the centennial celebration of NETCOM and the U.S. Army Signal Corps. "There's been a Baker in the Army for at least a century, my grandfather [Guy Baker] enlisted in the Army in 1917, my father in 1946 and I joined ROTC in 1981."
9th Signal Command Evolves
In 1998, 9th Army Signal Command established an Army-wide network intrusion detection program and the Army Network Systems and Operations Center (ANSOC), to supervise the protection of Army computer networks and critical information. Follow-on development included the integration of Theater Network Systems and Operations Centers. The Army Computer Emergency Response Team and Regional Computer Emergency Response Teams enabled 9th ASC to further upgrade the protection, availability, confidentiality and integrity of Army information assurance systems, according to NETCOM’s history page.
In concert with a turn-of-the-century Army-wide transformation initiative, 9th ASC next tackled a contingency package upgrade program to render the mobility of its field commands and brigades smaller and much more rapidly deployable. Under a separate initiative in 2001, 9th ASC became the single operator and manager for the Army’s information structure and principal developer for Army Knowledge Online. In this regard, 9th ASC was given the mission to operate, manage and defend the Army’s information networks at the enterprise level.
Finally, as part of the Army’s department-wide transformation, the newly re-designated NETCOM/9th ASC became a direct reporting unit assigned to the Army Chief Information Officer (CIO/G6) Oct. 1, 2002.
NETCOM/9th ASC became the operational executive agent for Army-wide network operations and security: the single point of contact for Army network development and protection, offering seamless C4 information management of common-user services in support of the combatant commanders and Army service component commanders. As such, the mission of NETCOM/9th ASC entailed the provision of technical control and support for Director of Information Management operations; the operation and management of the Army’s total information structure; and the management and defense of the Army frequency spectrum.
The Next 100 Years
"The importance of our command isn't just what it's done over the last 100 years," Baker said. "It's what it will do for the next 100 years."
Although not attending, Lt. Gen. Stephen G. Fogarty, commanding general of the U. S. Army Cyber Command, sent greetings to NETCOM in commemoration of its centennial celebration.
"NETCOM continues to set the standard for Army-wide network operations and global security, ensuring freedom of action in cyberspace. As the Army's varsity communicators, we hope that you continue to celebrate this outstanding accomplishment made possible by the support of the Soldiers and civilians of your organization," Lt. Gen. Fogarty said.