After a Government Accountability Office report outlined deficiencies in manning new units for multidomain operations, Army cyber leaders pushed back on the report’s characterizations.
“We will not get there overnight. It is not perfect and I’m okay with that because right now that gives me a lot of flexibility,” Lt. Gen. Stephen Fogarty, commander of Army Cyber Command, said Aug. 20 at TechNet Augusta. He did not directly address the report by name. “We have commanders out there who are willing to accept less than the perfect solution to get the capabilities out there to start building reps and start getting after it.”
The GAO report suggested that understaffing could lead to oversight problems.
“The Army did not assess the staffing, equipping and training risk before activating one unit, and only conducted an initial risk assessment before activating a second unit,” the report read. “As a result, senior Army leaders may not know what other challenges could arise, such as sustainment, as the units grow in capability.”
The report noted that one of the primary reasons the Army decided to create these units so quickly – and in some cases accelerate their timelines – was in response to growing threats from Russia and China.
“If we wait until we get it perfect, we’re going to be late … I think that is absolutely unacceptable,” Fogarty said. “Instead of waiting for perfect, we’re moving out on these capabilities.”
Others praised the approach the service decided to take in accelerating capabilities and prototypes to units in order to learn by doing.
"It is phenomenal that we are stepping forward and saying ‘This is kind of an unknown area,’” David May, director of the capability development integration directorate at the Cyber Center of Excellence, said Aug. 21 at the same conference. “We don’t have all the answers. It’s not going to be paralysis by analysis.”
The Army is also using this rapid experimentation process to test how new formations will use capabilities as means of also reducing the risk of the eventual materiel solution.
“We’re going to learn by doing. We’re going to put some formations out there, we’re going to run some cycles. We’re going to see what works, what doesn’t work and we’re going to adjust on the fly,” May said. “I think it’s a great model. It’s not perfect, but it does allow us to move much more quickly in this space.”
Fogarty said he expects some of these units will change over time. While the Army has an idea of what they’ll look like and what they’ll do now, “I guarantee it will change before I leave this job and then when the next person leaves his job, it will change, it will evolve,” Fogarty said.
Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.