Cyber is a team sport. And though the Army works through experiments and exercises to help develop internal concepts and requirements, there is recognition that the service never goes to war alone.
C4ISRNET recently attended one of these experiments, which was put on by the Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center at Joint Base McGuire–Dix–Lakehurst, New Jersey. Cyber Blitz seeks to better understand how cyber and electromagnetic activities within an Army brigade combat team will be used in a regional peer environment in the year 2025.
Army Cyber Command is looking at how it can ingrate emerging capabilities in cyber and electronic warfare to unified land operations, which is where the service cyber components that feed up to U.S. Cyber Command begin to break apart from each other, said Richard Wittstruck, associate director for field-based experimentation and integration at CERDEC, who spoke to C4ISRNET at the exercise.
The Cyber Blitz organizer added that as these experiments mature, he hopes to greater incorporate joint teammates. For example, the location of the exercise ― McGuire–Dix–Lakehurst, the only tri-service base in the United States ― provides a great venue for working with joint partners. Through that framework, Wittstruck said, there’s an effort to find areas of common interest and build on joint experiments.
“Because of the proximity effect ― we have airmen here, we have sailors here, we have Marines here and we have soldiers here ― I can amass a critical element of knowledge and expertise and infrastructure to bring forward a joint operation,” he said.
Cyber Blitz this year included joint terminal attack controllers, or JTAC, from the Air National Guard in the command post with Army participants. Wittstruck said this was to show how a brigade commander gets his input both from “traditional and nontraditional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; sets his maneuver and effects plan both kinetically and non-kinetically; and as part of that tasks some of his targets for prosecution through those JTACs up to that cockpit so that that pilot can prosecute targets in support, in close=air support, close=air protection kind of way for that brigade commander.”
Air Forces Cyber, or AFCYBER, doesn’t have a role in Cyber Blitz this year, he said, and it’s one of his goals to get them involved in the future.
Similarly, describing it as one of the failures this year, Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command isn’t participating. “That’s one of my goals for the next one is to get the Marine force so we can have a unified land operation,” Wittstruck said.
The Marines, similar to the Army, are beginning to integrate “information” capabilities into their tactical formations with the formation of the Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group.
Wittstruck said they wanted to get the Marine Corps’ 1st Radio Battalion to participate in Cyber Blitz and bring on its electronic attack capabilities.
“Now that Cyber Blitz is an Army-sanctioned experiment, we’ll now reach out to our sister services … and start integrating their equities and interests as they relate to unified land operations in support thereof,” Wittstruck said. “Today I can’t point to AFCYBER, for example, and tell you we’re plugged into Air Force Cyber Command. In a year or two, I should be able to tell you in the experiment that we’ve worked through those equities with the Air Force and with the Navy and with the Marines and figured out where the sweet spots are where there’s mutual benefit to integrate.”
Additionally, the Army did not game out coordinating cyber activities in theater with Joint Force Headquarters―Cyber, or JFHQ-C. U.S. Cyber Command provides cyber teams of all stripes ― offensive, defensive and intelligence-based ― to combatant commands, which are integrated into operations with traditional forces through the JFHQ-C assigned to those specific combatant commands.
But on incorporation of JFHQ-C in Cyber Blitz, Wittstruck noted: “We’re not there yet with that. That will come eventually.”
Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.