The Joint Staff has taken a larger role in the global cyber landscape.
As part of the National Defense Strategy, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has been designated as the “global integrator,” a term that under law enables the chairman to advise the secretary of defense on the “the allocation and transfer of forces among geographic and functional combatant commands, as necessary, to address transregional, multidomain, and multifunctional threats.”
Along with this new role as the global integrator, the chairman and the Joint Staff is taking on two additional roles in the cyber domain: global integration in cyber and coordination of cyber activities.
“The Joint Staff is taking on the global integration role to synchronize collaborative efforts to ensure impacts of one theater of operations does not affect the other and are intentional and supportive rather than collateral,” Lt. Gen. Bradford Shwedo, director of command, control, communications and computers/cyber and chief information officer of the Joint Staff, told Congress during a Nov. 14 hearing.
According to Shwedo, the need to establish the chairman as the global integrator arose with the understanding of the evolved nature and character of war in which it is unlikely the impacts of a conflict will be confined to a single geographic region.
Practically speaking, the chairman will be “calling balls and strikes” in this new role, telling certain combatant commanders in certain geographic regions that they won’t get certain assets they request, Shwedo said during remarks at a Dec. 4 event hosted by AFCEA’s Northern Virginia chapter.
For example, Shwedo said when he was the commander of 25th Air Force — which is responsible for global intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance — commanders in certain theaters would ask for all the U-2 Dragon Ladys, RQ-4 Global Hawks and RC-135 Rivet Joints for operations. Realistically, Shwedo said, all these assets can’t go to one joint commander in one theater.
“If we do move all of our forces to one portion of the world, you rapidly write adventurism on another portion of the planet. So you have to cover down on your bets across the board,” Shwedo said.
This new role puts the Joint Staff and secretary between two combatant commands that often have limited and high-demand assets, he said.
In the past, the most recent commander of U.S. Cyber Command has equated cyber forces to Special Operations Forces or ISR given their limited availability and high demand.
“We need to increasingly treat Cyber Command as a high-demand, low-density resource where we have to acknowledge there’s not enough capacity to do everything we want,” Adm. Michael Rogers told the Senate Armed Services Committee in February.
“We need a prioritization, a risk-based model about how we’re going to allocate our capabilities and we’ve got to continually reassess this just like we do with ballistic missile defense, with ISR, with SOF force, we shouldn’t be viewed any differently.”
Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.