ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md.(Oct. 22, 2015) — Members of the Maryland General Assembly visited one of the state’s largest employers to meet with Army leaders, tour high-tech laboratories and gain a better understanding of the cyber work conducted here Oct. 19.
The Maryland Joint Committee on Cybersecurity, Information Technology and Biotechnology and representatives from the Maryland Department of Commerce learned about various aspects of the Army’s cyber strategy led by organizations that make up the Aberdeen Proving Ground community known as Team APG, which employs more than 21,000 service members, government civilians and contractors.
Team APG leadership said they are moving forward with mapping the future of the installation’s cyber contributions to the Army to include lifecycle management, system vulnerability analysis, training the current and future military and government workforce, and partnering with industry, academia, international allies, and other government labs to develop future tactical cyber capabilities.
The Army has spent $2 billion in infrastructure development at APG with 1 million square feet of laboratory space applicable to cyber. More than 1,500 Team APG government engineers and scientists with multi-disciplinary backgrounds contribute to the installation’s technical expertise in the overall cyber missions, said Henry Muller, director of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, or CERDEC, and Defense Department lead for the Cyber Community of Interest for Science and Technology.
Additionally, the Army has placed an emphasis on developing its cyber capabilities and in executing a coordinated approach to the development, procurements, testing, delivery and sustainment of these capabilities, Muller said.
“It’s really from cradle to grave at Team APG. We work from the concept to science and technology through the building, fielding and sustaining of the Army cyber capability as it relates to the network capabilities with the Army, to include electronic warfare and signals intelligence,” Muller said.
While other Army installations work in aspects of cyber, the majority of Team APG’s cyber work focuses on the Army’s tactical network, which faces military-unique challenges such as limited bandwidth with high-bit error rates, high latency, intermittent connectivity, and roaming infrastructure and users, he said.
“The Army has the largest tactical presence on earth. That represents a double edge sword for us.” Muller said. “From a defensive perspective, our attack surface and the vectors within which you can attack us is huge, which represents vulnerabilities. We architect this, and we have to protect it because those vulnerabilities don’t just exist at the tactical edge.”
This presence also provides opportunities on the tactical network from an offensive cyber capability once the service determines how it will use cyber on the battlefield, Muller said.
“It’s that Army presence and that Army footprint that’s going to be leveraged. That’s going to be the platform upon which those capabilities are going to be launched,” he said.
These opportunities are of keen interest for experts across a broad base of Team APG functional areas and government partners.
“It’s not just cyber, it’s the electronic warfare, it’s the signals intelligence that feeds the exploitation [of systems], which allows you to be smart about what you do, which allows you to be smart about how you defend and what your enemy’s doing. And it’s also the communications piece, which links it all together,” Muller said. “All of that is here within 40 miles of each other in the corridor in Maryland both from DISA [Defense Information System Agency], NSA [National Security Agency] and U.S. Cyber Command at Fort Meade, and the Tactical Army is sitting right here at APG. That’s a powerful story for the state of Maryland.”
Team APG continually addresses cyber vulnerabilities due to the rapid evolution of cyber.
“There’s a new lesson learned about every day in this particular space just given the exponential growth,” said Maj. Gen. Bruce T. Crawford, U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, or CECOM, and APG Senior Mission Commander. “I look back on the last three or four years in the area of cyber: getting organized, learning from some hard lessons and knowing where to make investments both intellectual and physical is probably where the most worrying happens.”
Team APG is also adding to the intellectual investments across the Army’s cyber community.
“Other installations rely on us. We have folks here training the military teams that will basically run the tactical defensive cyber operations pieces for the Army, and for some of our top combatant commands. A lot of that training is developed for training cyber protection teams located at Fort Gordon, Georgia,” Crawford said.
In addition to military and government work, Team APG cyber members partner with other non-Army government agencies, private sector companies, local and national universities, and international militaries to share and leverage cyber capabilities, developments and research.
“What industry is doing now, almost everything they build, the modernization strategy is going to be based on software. We’ll make some changes on the front end of what it looks like, operationally- whatever the device happens to be,” Crawford said.
Team APG frequently partners with local and national companies to advance cyber capabilities for the Army to ensure the most current cyber solutions and capabilities make it to service members, Crawford said.
Another essential part of building the strongest cyber capabilities for the Army includes developing the future workforce.
“We cannot forget the universities we have in Maryland. From an education stand point, we are nothing without our people and our workforce. We have very robust training plans, training programs and contracts with the universities across the state where students and faculty come and sit with us,” said Dr. Portia Crowe, director of cyber for Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical, or PEO C3T. “We had a professor who was with us throughout the whole summer; we have an entire year-long program to train up young kids coming out of the university to come and work here.”
Getting potential new employees exposed to the cyber work done by the military is a key factor in hiring, keeping and retaining them.
“The interesting new technology keeps people here,” said Matthew Lazzaro, CERDEC Cryptographic Modernization Branch chief, when asked by the delegation as to why he works at Team APG rather than more lucrative private companies. “You work on cutting edge cyber issues that people in private industry will not get to see. The training opportunities and technical certification opportunities are beyond what many private companies offer.”
Team APG leadership does not foresee a shortage of interesting cyber work coming into and out of its organizations.
“In the area of cyber as we move forward on behalf of the nation there will be a lot of good things that come out of Aberdeen Proving Ground,” Crawford said.
Editor’s note: The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to ensure decisive overmatch for unified land operations to empower the Army, the joint warfighter and our nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.
Originally published at www.army.mil on October 22, 2015.