2017-07-07 / Front Page

Soldiers, industry at Cyber Quest core

Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office

Fort Gordon wrapped up 26 days of cyber and electronic warfare training June 30.

Leaders from five operational forces and 27 vendors joined U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence personnel for its annual Cyber Quest. This was Fort Gordon’s second year hosting.

According to Cyber officials, Cyber Quest is “a world-class, Army-led, joint cyberspace and electronic warfare experimentation and collaboration event … involving emerging technologies, ideas, and concepts in a realistic, replicated, real-time operational environment which provide solutions for current and future requirements.”

The exercise involved replicated scenarios based off U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command that incorporated realistic threats seen by adversaries. Some scenarios were live in the cyber and electronic warfare realm; others were simulated in the kinetic realm to stimulate the staff.

“Everything was done with the eye towards our near-peer adversary,” Roberts said. “We were using emitters that would look like those capabilities that we would see on the battlefield,” said Lt. Col. Stephen Roberts, Cyber Branch chief, Cyber CoE Battle Lab, and Cyber Quest 2017 officer in charge.

This year’s Cyber Quest focused on four main areas: network extension, situational understanding, insider threats and defensive cyberspace operations.

“We have operational gaps that have been identified, and then we go ahead and pass those operational gaps out to industry, academia and to some of our acquisition teammates and they come here with capabilities that we then put in the hands of Soldiers,” said Maj. Gen. John B. Morrison Jr., U.S. Army Cyber CoE and Fort Gordon commanding general.

Putting the capabilities in the hands of Soldiers allows them to address operational gaps and provide instant feedback that can impact doctrine and operational concepts; a concept Morrison referred to as “rapid prototyping.” Essentially, it allows industry to provide better future capabilities at a more rapid pace, which is vital in a realm that is ever-changing.

“It is the only way that we’re going to be able to stay at pace in this critical domain,” Morrison said. “Cyberspace today is not going to be the same tomorrow.”

Morrison described the environment as a “natural synergy” between industry, academia, and acquisition teams with Soldiers in the middle.

“It’s a pretty powerful,” Morrison said. “I think it’s that rapid prototyping that’s really going to help drive things forward in the cyberspace domain.”

Taking a prominent place at Cyber Quest, officials paid close attention to electronic warfare. Electronic warfare had assets on site last year, but this was the first year it was simulated and assessed.

Lt. Col. Gary Lyke, TRADOC capability manager electronic warfare, said Cyber Quest reiterated the importance of rapid prototyping.

“Pretty much every vendor that has brought something to Cyber Quest has a good understanding because they get the immediate Soldier feedback, so they’re immediately able to take that back and start doing refinements,” Lyke said.

Georgia Tech Research Institute also played a role in Cyber Quest. Last year, the institute helped establish the event and assessed and provided capabilities. This year it provided realistic cyber threats. Morrison said they are in the process of involving additional academic partners for future events beginning with Augusta University.

As cyberspace officials work around the clock fighting a complex war unseen by most, Morrison said the battle is far from over, and events like Cyber Quest help them continue to learn and progress. And winning is a massive team effort.

“The reality is, we all have the same problem whether you’re industry, academia, or Department of Defense. We’re all in need of securing our networks,” Morrison said. The key is getting that operational feedback that allows us to continue to move capabilities forward.”

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