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  SoldierMod Volume 13 - June 2014
Volume 13 Articles

Country flagCool as ICE

By Steve Goodman

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The US army and the DoD has certainly recognised the immense threat cyber warfare poses to national security. Increased efforts to defend, counter attack, and even improve “first strike” capability in cyber warfare, are becoming front and center in modernisation efforts.

U.S. Army personnel use a Deployable Joint Command and Control (DJC2) forward command post. GTRI researchers have supported information technology upgrades for the DJC2. (Credit: U.S. Army)
U.S. Army personnel use a Deployable Joint Command and Control (DJC2) forward command post. GTRI researchers have supported information technology upgrades for the DJC2. (Credit: U.S. Army)

The U.S. Army’s cyber war effort program is known as Integrated Cyber and Electronic Warfare or ICE, and the technology being developed to increase the US government’s ability to be prepared for cyber and electronic warfare is very cool!

ICE works under the auspices of the Development and Engineering Command’s Communications-Electronics Center, known as CERDEC. The mission of ICE and CERDEC is to “research and develop the technologies, standards and architectures to support the use of common mechanisms used for the rapid development and integration of third-party cyber and electronic warfare, or EW, capabilities.”

As we move closer and closer to the ideal of the “networked soldier,” US ground troops are plagued by new and emerging cyber and EW attacks. As with anything involving digital tech, IT and communications, one of the greatest challenges when developing appropriate countermeasures is standardization and integration.

“Currently, within cyber and EW disciplines there are different supporting force structures and users equipped with disparate tools, capabilities and frameworks,” said Paul Robb Jr., Chief of CERDEC Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate’s Cyber Technology Branch. “Under the ICE program, we look to define common data contexts and software control mechanisms to allow these existing frameworks to communicate in a manner that would support the concurrent leveraging of available tactical capabilities based on which asset on the battlefield provides the best projected military outcome at a particular point in time.”

The Army’s new and upgraded Cyber Command will be tasked with consistently monitoring the Army’s network to ward off the threat of cyber-attacks. According to CERDEC, “More than 20,000 Army personnel and civilians will be tasked with conducting network operations to better protect Army networks, and will be able to conduct full spectrum monitoring of operations along with the ability to go on the cyber offensive, whenever and however needed.”

New Threat, New School

Realizing that the Army could no longer take an “old school” approach to the ever increasing threat of EW, the US Army created a new school – literally. The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., plans to build a cyber brain trust unprecedented within the service academies, filling 75 positions over the next three years — including scholars in technology, psychology, history and law, among other fields. The goal of the Army’s new academy will be to establish a cyber warfare research institute to groom elite cyber troops and solve the many problems facing the Army and all branches of the military in this new warfighting domain.

According to Col. Greg Conti, the organization’s director, the chairman of the organization, which will be called the Army Cyber Institute, will be retired Lt. Gen. Rhett Hernandez, the first Chief of Army Cyber Command. “It’s a very exciting time,” Conti said. “It feels a bit like we’re at the birth of the Air Force, like we’re that kind of historic era.”

Though Conti said the interdisciplinary model for the Army Cyber Institute is novel, in developing the program, the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Estonia, the Georgia Tech Information Security Center, and the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, all were seen as influential models.

The Army Cyber Institute will recruit about 25 people a year to help the country prepare to defend the nation against these threats and mount the attacks that will give the US an advantage in the increased stakes of cyber warfare. The US expects that this new breed of “cyber-rangers” will take its place among the best of the best warfighters and special operators that have come out of its elite training academies for generations. n

Steve Goodman is an award-winning multimedia writer with three decades of experience. Mr. Goodman has written for television programs featuring, cutting edge military technologies that have appeared on PBS, PAX, Discovery, A&E and other national networks.

Mr. Goodman is a former First Responder, and a recognized authority on survival, rescue protocols, law enforcement techniques, combat and tactical weaponry and is Editor of SoldierMod magazine.

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