New cyber directorate encompasses critical missions

In a world where cyber is part of virtually every operation, the military is working to determine how it fits in and works best with a close, but very different, capability: electronic warfare (EW). To that end, Pentagon leadership recently established a new cyber directorate within the Army's Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3/5/7, headed up by Brig. Gen. Patricia Frost.

The new cyber directorate folds in the Army's former EW organization, encompassing in one office cyber, EW and information operations. Don't let the organization's name fool you – all three are equally critical, Frost said in a recent interview with C4ISRNET Editor Amber Corrin.

C4ISRNET: How did this organization come to fruition? What led to its establishment?

Frost: I always believe you should organize how you fight, especially if you're working in [operations]. And we should be, even at the departmental level, replicating what we are actually trying to employ into our war fighting force. So when we deploy, we are multifunctional teams.

We would never deploy stovepiped capabilities. That is not how we integrate into decisive action [or] wide-area security operations. So with some of the pilots that were started during my time at Army Cyber Command as a [deputy commanding general – operations] ,the question was: "How are you introducing that to the maneuver force to make this domain tangible?" Because everything we talk about is not something that a commander can see or touch, so it's really hard. Because they know it's important, but they can't touch it. They can't just say, "OK, you're not going to see anything blow up on a screen." There's no effect that you go, "That was my 'aha!' moment."

People hear that you're under a cyber directorate, so that means EW and [information operations, or IO] don't matter. But we say that as a term of that's an umbrella that encompasses all three. That doesn't resonate well if you're an IO officer or an EW officer, so I recognize that I'm going cross-culture. But cyber resonates if you're meeting members of Congress, if you're having meetings with [the Office of the Secretary of Defense], or the Joint Staff. Army Cyber Commander [Lt. Gen. Edward Cardon] is organizing operationally to synchronize and integrate not only cyberspace operations, but EW and IO. So where was that one-stop shop at Department of the Army? That didn't exist.

If you go back in time to the [Department of Military Operations] aviation model … it was the aviation community that saw that they had requirements. They had programs and initiatives, and they didn't have a lot of expertise that resided in the building to understand some of those critical capabilities and requirements that they were trying to get pushed through the Army staff. Just talking about flight training, flight hours and things that were unique to pilots; medical, talent management, how do you retain a pilot force?

So that was somewhat of the model that Gen. Cardon and I discussed with [Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, deputy chief of staff, G-3/5/7] to say there's not a lot of depth on the Army staff that understands. Even though IO and EW have been around for a long time, now how are we going to synchronize this into fighting wars of the future?

We're going to break these divisions and we're going to have multifunctional staff sections. So it's forcing even in our own culture that we have to learn from each other and build that talent that understands as we go forward. So it's very exciting. But I also tell officers and civilians, it's a blank sheet of paper.

C4ISRNET: You've been at the Pentagon for a few months now. What are some of your top priorities?

Frost: So, elements within the G-3/5/7 staff actually developed, produced and published an Army cyberspace strategy before I came on board. We were a part of that down at Army Cyber. We lack an EW strategy for the Army. So one of my first orders of business is,what is the EW strategy for the Army going to be?

And then, are we organized properly to implement and equip how we want to fight in the future? I recognize there are many gaps ... on the electronic warfare side. I'm trying to take it a step back and say: "Well, what's our strategy? What are we trying? What are the ends, ways and means we're trying to achieve?" And that should be integrated with the overall cyberspace strategy. And then, are we organized effectively with the force structure we have today?

There are probably efficiencies to be gained with the EW officers and [noncommissioned officers] we have today. Organized correctly, and then working on the [Army Training and Doctrine Command] side, with the Cyber Center of Excellence, then what are the [doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, and facilities (DOTMLPF)] solutions for the future? Have we organized what we have to be the most capable force providing something to the warfare that's synchronized and integrated with cyber and IO? And then, what are the requirements in the future?

That's a blank sheet of paper. So many people, they're not very comfortable with that. A lot of people like to come into a staff section and say, "Give me all your historical documents. Where's my checklist?" So if you're not comfortable with creating something new, this will be a hard directorate to work in, because a lot of it is just not written anywhere. A lot of it is looking at some historical, but you have to think beyond that. You have to look at what is our threat doing in this space? And are we thinking far enough in the future of where we need to be?

I look at it as very tight relationships with the operational command, which is Army Cyber. It's TRADOC, the Cyber Center of Excellence and the Intel Center of Excellence, and then you have to talk about the Fires Center of Excellence. How do you bring those key stakeholders to understanding what we're trying to do in support of maneuver, because … it's all part of a concept of operation. You're part of a maneuver operation. And then we also have the Army Cyber Institute at West Point; they're part of this, too, because they're touching academia and industry, and they're looking further out into the future. So you're bringing this current ops of the three-star operational command and its subordinate units. You're bringing the institutional Army across many different centers of excellence. That permeates across every war fighting function. And we all operate in the electromagnetic spectrum. So that again, goes across every war fighting function.

Establishing all of that is very important, and writing – actually writing. Putting words on paper, on an EW strategy that the senior leadership says: "I approve. Move in that direction." And then operationalizing that. We already know we have a gap in EW, but we need to put words on paper. And then we need the leadership to approve it. We have to have the chief of staff of the Army, and the Secretary say, that is absolutely the direction we need to go for electronic warfare for the Army.

C4ISRNET: You mentioned the significance of Army relationships. What about relationships outside the Army, with the other services and with U.S. Cyber Command? How do they come into play here?

Frost: The Cyber Mission Force, 133 teams – U.S. Cyber Command directed us to build, train and deploy, and operate in support of our combat and commands.

Those 133 teams, as they go in through their train and build and get [initial operational capability] to [full operational capability], are committed forces. So what we're talking about is this expeditionary force that hasn't been built.

So we're going to work more closely with the Marines. The Marines are very interested because they also have that ground fight. So you have to kind of look at it as who also has a stake in this. This is [cyber operations] in support of a land component commander. This is in support of unified land operations.

So the people that are on the ground, the Marine Corps and ourselves, how do we work together? As the Marines are trying to figure out how do they do this at Twentynine Palms [Marine Corps base in California], I said: "Don't reinvent." We already have done a lot of this, so we're all actually working very closely with Army Cyber, saying: "How have you done this? What lessons can we learn, what you've tried to bring into your training center?"

What we try to say is, let's all learn from each other. I believe the Marine Corps actually sent an observer during [a recent cyber training] rotation from their training center. They had talked about coming in and observing in one of our cyber pilots. But I think the more that we can look at those that have a stake in unified land operations, and how would we bring this capability to that tactical edge, the better.

That isn't what was envisioned when they first built the Cyber Mission Force. The Cyber Mission Force was built for a very specific purpose, but what about what is needed to unify land operations? And could you effect within a brigade combat team, or a division corps [joint task force] battle space? That, when you think about priorities, right, would fall below the cut line of U.S. Cyber Command.

If you think about an expeditionary team at the tactical edge, that team should be able to feed intelligence to a cyber mission force team. And then you would really have synergy from the tactical edge, operational to strategic. And then we would be working very closely with [CYBERCOM], because you would have to deconflict fires. You would have to ensure who's in the space. Who's operating in that space?

So, again, like I said, a white sheet of paper — that's not written anywhere. There's no guidance. There's no policy. There's no doctrine. There's no former [tactics, techniques and procedures]. It's just go out, try to define what that is, and then to try to feed it back through the institutional and operational Army. So then it really comes down to the war fighters' requirements. 

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