US Cyber Command chief discusses importance of operations

  • Published
  • By Jim Garamone
  • DoD News, Defense Media Activity
Cyber is an operational domain, and military leaders are going to have to understand its importance and the opportunities and challenges of operating in the domain, said Navy Adm. Michael S. Rogers during the Navy League’s 50th annual Sea-Air-Space Exposition here April 14.

Rogers, the commander of U.S. Cyber Command, director of the National Security Agency and chief of the Central Security Service, spoke at the exposition and participated in a panel entitled, “Cyber, Electromagnetic War and Information Dominance.”

Rogers commented on the speed and growth of the cyber domain.
“The world around us is changing,” he said. “The spectrum and the network are converging. That represents vulnerability and opportunity. How do we set ourselves up to take advantage of that opportunity while addressing that vulnerability?”

Cyber is an operational domain in which the U.S. military conducts many operations, “many of them like we do in any other operational domain,” Rogers said.

Understanding cyber culture

Getting traditional warfighters to understand the importance of cyber operations -- both defense and offense -- requires an understanding of culture and ethos that is more important than just technology, Rogers said.

“We have got to get beyond focusing just on the technical piece here,” Rogers said. “It’s about ethos. It’s about culture. It’s about warfighting. It’s about how do you operationalize a network on a warfighting platform, and what does that mean?”

He added, “It ain’t just a bumper sticker and it’s not just a slogan.”

In the cyber domain, the emphasis on operations will drive how to man, train and equip organizations, the admiral said. It also drives how the organization is structured, he added, and what operational concepts are deployed.

“It’s about how we are going to fight,” he said.

Capitalizing on information dominance

The Navy and the other services must put themselves in a position to capitalize on information dominance, the admiral said.

In June, the Navy will mark the 73rd anniversary of the Battle of Midway, Rogers said, noting that Midway changed the tide of World War II in the Pacific. An overmatched U.S. fleet sank four Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft carriers in a desperate battle off the strategic island of Midway.

It was through signals intelligence, code-breaking and communications that then Navy Adm. Chester Nimitz knew where to position the few U.S. aircraft carriers he had in the region to win the battle.

“As an information warfare officer, as an information dominance officer, I take great pride in the role and capability that our predecessors brought to really make a critical difference in an operational outcome,” Rogers said.

Looking forward, cyber warriors must be able to provide the intelligence to win those battles and more, Rogers said.

How much better it would be in the future, he posited, “if we could not only provide those operational commanders great situational and environmental awareness, but what if we could provide commanders the ability to attempt to bring non-kinetic fires to bear, to give commanders assured command and control, because opponents are going to be contesting our command and control?”

Rogers is pleased with the progress the maritime services have made in regard to cyber and the spectrum. But more needs to be done. The services need to factor cyber into every decision, he said.

“Now we are in a totally different operational world.”