Defining the Army’s Top Cyber Priorities and the Way Forward


Army computer scientists and engineers predict that the future of warfare may be primarily digital within the next 30 years. In a detailed cyber strategy document now in final draft, CERDEC officials hope to provide a solid foundation for Army planners.

The goal of the strategy is to define the Army’s top cyber priorities and a way forward for wise future investments, said Henry Muller, the Army lead tasked to spearhead the planning effort, and director of the Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate of RDECOM’s communications electronics center, or CERDEC I2WD.

“We had to cover everything from doctrine to R&D; acquisition through sustainment,” Muller said. “We knew it was going to be a pretty tough job and that there wasn’t total consensus for cyber capabilities for the tactical Army, but we needed to under- stand where the Army wanted to go with respect to cyber on the battlefield and cyber in general, and try and shape how we would make investments. That came together as part of this plan.”

While the Army has many of the same cyber challenges as the other services, there are some significant peculiarities. More so than the other services, the Army has a large tactical footprint on the battlefield, which places them in close proximity to its adversaries, Muller explained.

“That represents a threat from a cyber defense standpoint, but also an opportunity from an offensive cyber perspective, and I thought, ‘that’s why we needed to sit down and try and figure out how we go forward with that,’” Muller said.

The initial goal was to develop a strategy for the future of Army cyber to the year 2048. The task force began by conducting analysis on the current force and network as it stands today and how they are predicted to evolve in the coming years.

Although this provided a solid foundation, attempting to predict the cyber environment 35 years into the future proved unreasonable in such a dynamic realm as the cyber domain, and the task force decided to narrow the scope of the strategy.

“This first go around we’re not going to get out to 2048; we’ll go out to around 2020 or so. One of the surprises, I guess, was we put an RFI [request for information] out to industry to help us project into the future. And it really showed how reticent people are to try to predict too far out specifically in this technology area, which is predominantly IT,” Muller said.

Another such area Muller said one could not project, though he expected considerable change, was in the policy surrounding cyber offensive operations on the battlefield.

“How we’re going to conduct cyber offensive operations on the battlefield and what will be the authorities we ultimately operate within…” Muller said is what might change the most.

Muller’s kick‐off meeting for the Army Cyber Task Force was Dec. 13, 2012, and assembled senior Army leaders from the Army Capabilities and Integration Center, G2, G6, Army Cyber Command, and program executive officers from PEO Command, Control and Communications Tactical and PEO Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors to agree on a plan to develop the strategy.

“I made it very clear to everybody that in no way, shape or form did I think that I, Henry Muller, was here to define the Army cyber strategy that the Army leadership, TRADOC and ARCYBER had to define the strategy and way forward and that what we wanted was to facilitate bringing all that together,” Muller said.

Over the last 10 months, eight cross‐functional project teams have worked to outline the key tenets of the Army’s cyber strategy, the first draft of which was submitted to the full task force for review Aug. 8.

Muller emphasized the importance of collaboration across the Army and defense community as a key tenet for the success of the Army cyber strategy. When all is said and done, the strategy will determine where more work is required across the entire Army enterprise, to include doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel and facilities. It will define where acquisition programs are going, and what the Army strategy will be in order to better inform industry so they can plan how to best invest their corporate research and development dollars.

Originally published October 2013, in Army Technology Publication. Republished here through an exclusive agreement between RDECOM and the Michigan Defense Center.