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CHIPS Articles: Army Cyber, IT leaders focus on proper resourcing to win future fight

Army Cyber, IT leaders focus on proper resourcing to win future fight
By Devon Suits, Army News Service - December 1, 2020
WASHINGTON -- Close to 250 Army civilians supporting information technology and cyber missions are now training under the Army's Quantum Leap pilot program, as leaders continue to refine the initiative to meet future demands.

Earlier this year, the Army announced Quantum Leap as a means to recode, reskill and upskill about 1,000 existing IT positions by fiscal year 2023, said Gregory Garcia, the Army's deputy chief information officer.

"The Army's priorities are focused on people, readiness and modernization," Garcia said on Nov. 19 during the AFCEA Belvoir Industry Days event. "We have coupled that with the Department of Defense's push for cyber, cloud, data, [artificial intelligence], and C3," or command, control, and communication.

The current IT workforce needs to expand its existing skillsets to support the DoD's drive for new capabilities, Garcia said, adding programs like Quantum Leap are necessary to keep the Army competitive and deter future conflict.

With the recent success of the Quantum Leap pilot, which began in September and is expected to run for a year, program officials are now seeking more opportunities, including extending the program to support Soldiers and civilians across a wider range of cyber and IT fields, Garcia said.

Thus far, personnel have averaged approximately 14 hours of training and completed nearly 200 bodies of work, with many receiving new certifications in various cyber or network-related disciplines, said Garcia, citing recent program data.

"We started this out with a civilian population, but it is spreading rapidly to [other missions] throughout the Army," Garcia said. "Quantum Leap is focused on bringing skills" to support emerging IT requirements.

Unified network

The Army recently realigned its CIO/G-6 position into two separate roles to meet current and future multi-domain operational requirements within the cyber and IT space, said Lt. Gen. John B. Morrison Jr., the Army deputy chief of staff, G-6.

As the new G-6, Morrison is responsible for the planning, strategy, network architecture, and implementation of both CIO policy and the Army's enterprise and tactical networks.

Proper implementation of C3, network architecture, and cyber operations are vital to worldwide operations, he said, and allow the force to "execute violently" when needed.

"We certainly need to understand where we're going," Morrison said. "Our look is two to three years out, but we still keep our eye on the long game" to support the multi-domain battlespace.

Realignment of the CIO/G-6 position will be critical to the Army's future success, Morrison added. The force now has two offices dedicated to the vertical and horizontal integration of cyber and IT assets. This change is necessary to bridge the gap between policy development, implementation and execution.

To support current efforts, the G-6 office will push forward under four pillars, he said. In the first, leaders aim to create a unified network by collapsing the divide between the enterprise and tactical systems.

Bridging the two networks will be necessary to support multi-domain operations and the Army's modernization priorities, he said. Doing so will ensure the right echelon is receiving the right data at the correct time.

"Cyber effects are going to be deployed around the globe and into a theater of operations" to enable tactical effects, Morrison said. "We have got to set that unified network so that we can compete and win."

Along with a unified network, the G-6 office is working to posture and train its signal and cyber branches to support the future battlespace, he said. Current efforts include the transition of expeditionary signal battalions to more agile ESB-enhanced units to increase each formation's capability.

The enhanced units are modular, scalable, and provide alternative tactical network equipment to reduce the Army's reliance on the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, according to Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical officials.

The 50th ESB, 35th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, was the first pilot unit selected in 2018.

ESB-E capabilities will aid the Army's ability to support DoD Information Network operations, or DoDIN ops, Morrison said.

"From the global perspective, all the way down to the tactical level, building that DoDIN ops framework to synchronize and integrate operations at echelon to react to an adversary in the cyber and electromagnetic spectrum is paramount," he said.

The G-6's third and fourth pillars include reforming cybersecurity processes, along with a need to drive efficient investments in network and cyber capabilities.

Currently, officials are working on a new model to measure cybersecurity risk after a new system, application or capability is added to the Army's network, Morrison said. This new model will also decrease bureaucracy tied to current security authorization processes early in the evaluation process, all while simultaneously integrating measures to protect network capabilities.

"Resourcing and prioritization" will be critical, Morrison said. "It is driving balanced, efficient, and effective investments in the network and cyber [assets].

"We understand what is happening in the joint space [and] how we nest underneath it, so that we can make the most use of our taxpayer dollars" to modernize and push the best capabilities into the Army’s formations, he added.

Soldiers analyze cyber communications during Cyber Quest 2019 at Fort Gordon, Ga., in June. The mission of Cyber Quest is to conduct prototyping experiments that demonstrate capabilities with the potential to quickly close high-priority technology gaps. Army G-6 leaders are currently working to create a unified network by collapsing the divide between the enterprise and tactical systems. (Spc. TaMaya Eberhart)
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