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Army Cyber Chief Meets Buyers In Pursuit Of Faster Acquisition

Posted by Colin Clark on

Army Cyber Command's leader, Lt. Gen. Edward Cardon

Army Cyber Command’s leader, Lt. Gen. Edward Cardon

AUSA: The Army’s top cyber commander, Lt. Gen. Edward Cardon, met with acquisition officials for several days last week eager to find ways to buy capabilities within three years or less.

Cardon told reporters at a roundtable here that he wanted to buy “faster, better, quicker” since the cyber realm doesn’t really allow for the seven to 10 years a standard acquisition program usually takes.

He noted the hierarchy of acquisition, with DARPA producing really cool stuff when it hits the sweet spot, standard acquisition doing what it does, rapid equipping filling in combat gaps and in-house projects.

One of the difficulties with figuring out just what works best now is that Army Cyber Command and its equivalents are very new and are still not generating many requirements. “We have to, because that’s what drives the system,” he said.

On other fronts, Cardon says Army Secretary John McHugh is “very close” to making a final decision on establishment of an Army cyber center of excellence (approved in July by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno). The center, likely based at Fort Gordon, Ga., would be the one place where all Army cyber warriors received their training.

Also in train is an Army cyber field manual — which may be integrated with the service’s new electronic warfare doctrine. (Can’t wait to find out the title and FM number!)

Is the US Army ready to go to war tomorrow or is it like much of the Army, not ready? “We are still building our capability. We’re not where we’re supposed to be,” Cardon said. There’s a plan to build the new cyber cloud and develop other capabilities through 2017 and the cyber commander things “we’re making good progress.”

Even though cyber is one of two or three areas (along with space and special operations) that everyone expects will get the money they need over the next few years, the government shutdown harmed the readiness of Army Cyber Command. “The government shutdown hurt us some,” he said, pointing to the fact that much training was stopped in its tracks for three weeks.

The general also made it clear that the complexities and uncertainties of cyber warfare policy continue to bedevil decisions about policy. “Once used, it’s not like you can get it back,” he noted when asked about offensive cyber actions. Bringing together the four services and the Defense Department isn’t easy when it comes to managing the true cyber domain, which doesn’t just mean the Internet, but includes anything that involves zeroes and ones such as electronic warfare and signals intelligence.

“We haven’t resolved how we’re going to do this yet,” Cardon said, but he made clear that America’s experience developing doctrine for space warfare provides lessons into how to integrate efforts in an enormous and ever-changing domain.

What do you think?