The Army is working hard to finalize plans that will allow it to better support the nation’s efforts towards correct and effective cyber operation. There is a major effort this week to finalize the Army’s Concept of Operations (CONOPS) for the future of cyber forces, doctrine and organizational arrangements. This conference will lead to a Capabilities Based Assessment (CBA), which will take this relatively high-level look and drive down into all the details of the Army’s plans for the next few decades. A key point, in my mind, is that the Army is consciously staying out of the ongoing “quiet” struggle between the Air Force and the Navy over which service will be the strategic leader for the Department of Defense. The Army understands its role, and while they will serve an essential function at all levels of military operations (strategic, operational, and tactical), its focus is clearly on a less grand yet very practical place in the cyber struggle.
The Army is presently focused on developing the cyber capabilities that will directly support its commanders in the field. They are prepared to use cyber operations as enablers of other capabilities or as a direct means to engage adversaries. The CONOPS will set the general direction for the Army’s adjustments, and the full CBA will determine the finer-grained details.
The Army’s leaders have decided to recognize the cyberspace conflict as one pillar of successful operations (calling the pillars three dimensions of full spectrum operations). They are looking long term, calling for the study to address 2016 through 2028. Everything is on the table: technology, personnel, doctrine and organization. There are no “sacred cows” in evidence. Bravo for the Army. They have also defined cyber as both a key enabler of all warfighting capabilities as well as a separate warfighting domain. The others are land, air, maritime and space.
The study will be done fast. They are shooting for completion within the next six months. These studies normally take 12 to 18 months to complete; some take longer. The Service’s leadership have communicated to their subordinates that they must be fast, but they also must be RIGHT. In attendance are warfighters, techies, policy types, academics (Rand, MIT, etc.), and experts in this sort of study.
The Army should be recognized for the magnitude and quality of their effort. They are making good progress and will likely come out of it better postured to play a positive role for America.