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CHIPS Articles: 'Clockspeed dilemma' hobbling Army cyber, but partnerships may be answer

'Clockspeed dilemma' hobbling Army cyber, but partnerships may be answer
By David Vergun - October 12, 2016
WASHINGTON (Army News Service) -- Frustration with the pace of integrating new technologies within Army cyber can be likened to the "clockspeed dilemma," a term applied recently to the auto industry, said Brig. Gen. Patricia Frost.

The once innovative auto industry has trouble keeping pace with new developments of autonomous vehicles, sensors and information-technology gadgets going into their cars. Likewise, the Army has trouble keeping up with new cyber technologies used by adversaries against the United States, she said.

Frost, director of Cyber, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3/5/7, spoke Oct. 5 at the Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition.

The Army and the other services within the Department of Defense are hobbled by a slow acquisition system and bureaucracy that doesn't allow innovative ideas and technologies to be utilized right away, she said. Adversaries, on the other hand, are not constrained and "they are leaping ahead at a speed never seen in modern history."

Raj Shah, director, Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, or DIUx, who spent a decade as an Air Force cyber operator, agreed with Frost's assessment. He said he could provide many examples of technology the Army hasn't been able to utilize because of bureaucracy.

For instance, he said he was recently visiting cyber Soldiers in the field, watching their intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance feeds running "slow and jerky." He asked what the problem was and found that the operators were running Windows XP, an old operating system. The Soldiers were not allowed to put in the newest versions because of the slow way in which security concerns were being addressed.

Shawn Wells, chief security strategist at Red Hat, also agreed with Frost and cited his own example of the clockspeed dilemma. As an operator deployed to a combat zone with Marines, he said source code verification was held up in the accreditation process.

In other words, the enemy might have been using an iPhone for command and control. Soldiers could monitor that. However, if the enemy switched to Android devices, the Soldiers had no way to monitor the traffic because they didn't have accreditation to do so.

Wells said his company is now working to eliminate that type of problem through a Public-Private Partnership, or PPP.

Public-Private Partnerships

Lt. Gen. Edward C. Cardon, commander, U.S. Army Cyber Command and Second Army, said PPP is critical to the Army and DOD because they can "never keep pace with the innovations going on right now in the tech industry, not in the S&T world and not in the RDT&E world. That's a little bit overstated, but not too much."

S&T is science and technology and RDT&E is research, development, testing and engineering.

The Army, with a total S&T budget of $4 billion a year — that includes much more than cyber —would never be able to go it alone when it comes to introducing new cyber technologies, he said. The S&T budgets of Microsoft, Google, AT&T and Verizon are each much larger than the Army's.

The challenge with PPP in cyber is the current acquisition system, he said. "It just doesn't work well."

Cardon credited the current secretary of Defense with allowing the Army to use some innovative ways to fund cyber projects outside of the current acquisition process. They include:

-- DIUx
-- Defense Digital Service
-- Stanford Hacking for Defense
-- The Army's new Rapid Capabilities Office
-- Hacking the Pentagon Project
-- Army Cyber Silicone Valley Innovation Project

All of these represent ways to do PPP, "but we have to do more," he said.

Cardon concluded: "Cyber is no longer an intelligence problem or an electronic warfare problem. It's a commander's problem."

PPP can help the Army address the problems. PPPs are basically in the pilot stage right now, he added. "They haven't yet scaled up" but when they do, he said the Army will get a better handle on cyber innovation.

For more information, visit:
Army Research Lab
Army News Service

Staff Sgt. Vincent Iglesias of the 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry, Guam Army National Guard (left), and 2nd Lt. Tommy Rivera of the 254th Air Base Group, Guam Air National Guard, verify accounts of their fellow Blue Team 6 members during exercise Cyber Shield 2016 at Camp Atterbury, Ind., April 22, 2016. The 'mini-exercise' helped team members identify issues and ensure systems were up and running prior to the main exercise. Photo Credit: Sgt. Stephanie A. Hargett
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