The House Armed Services Committee held a conference Wednesday, focused on the threats, challenges and opportunities in 21st Century cyber warfare, including capabilities and resources coming to the Augusta area.
The Congressional Committee questioned and heard testimony from several cyber warfare and cyber security experts. The committee characterized the cyber landscape as the preferred target for U.S. adversaries because of American strength on conventional battlefields.
Jason Healy, nonresident senior fellow for the Cyber Statecraft Initiative of the Atlantic Council, told the committee that cyber attacks so far just take down things made of silicon. He said as we integrate smart grids and all kinds of devices and services on the Internet, future attacks will be able to bring down facilities made of concrete and steel.
“That’s where I think the focus of the cyber warfare efforts need to be,” Healy said.
The panel emphasized the need for training and infrastructure in the cyber realm to align American capabilities in the digital realm with our current capabilities on the kinetic battlefields around the world. Parts of those efforts include defending the nation’s information systems from those who want to steal that knowledge.
“It is difficult if not impossible to win an arms race if you’re paying to do the research and development for the other side,” said Dr. Peter Singer, Strategist and Senior Fellow with the New America Foundation.
We will never be able to prevent all of it but build resilience to it.”
“Think about how to build cyber security into our education system to help create better cyber hygiene,” Singer said.
The panelists’ testimony reinforces the national defense needs of which Fort Gordon and Augusta University are actively moving to provide. The U.S. Army Cyber Command is in the midst of moving its headquarters from Fort Belvoir, VA and has already activated a number of units here.
“The Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center, as well as Augusta University’s designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense by the National Security Aagency and Department of Homeland Security are critical to ensuring America’s cyber force can continue to hone their skills in the ever-changing environment of cyberspace, and will help the CSRA become the cyber hub of the southeast,” said Rep. Rick Allen, R-GA .
That command unit will work together with digital and cyber warfare resources already at Fort Gordon. It will also work with the incoming Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center, a “cyber training range” as part of Augusta University’s cyber education programs.
“There needs to be a common theme of educating and training everyone in the military as to the cybersphere they’re going to operate in.” said Committee member Congressman Rob Wittman, R-VA.
“Our warfighters, given the authority to make their own innovations is very important. A well trained military that knows how to think on the spot becomes very important in the aftermath of a cyber attack as part of a resilience package,” Dr. Martin Libicki, adjunct management scientist with the RAND Corporation, told the committee.
Allen called cyber the new global battlefield.
“In order to field the threats of today and tomorrow, we must ensure our cyber capabilities are running on all cylinders by providing our military with the necessary resources and investment,” the Augusta congressman said.
The completion of the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center is forecast for late-summer, 2018 and the Army Cyber Command Complex at Fort Gordon could have more than 1,200 soldiers and civilian contractors by late 2020.