The Army is hardening its networks and strengthening cooperation with allies and partners to protect against cyberattacks and information warfare, a panel of experts said May 17 at the Association of the U.S. Army’s LANPAC Symposium and Exposition in Honolulu.
“If you’re going to make a very quick transition to crisis or conflict, that is not the time to be hardening your networks, that is not the time to be wondering if your allies and partners have hardened their networks,” said Lt. Gen. Maria Barrett, commanding general of Army Cyber Command.
The challenge, she added, is, “How do we get everybody to a state where we can safely share this type of information at the speed that it has to? And all this has to be done in competition.”
Lt. Gen. Hiroe Jiro, commanding general of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s Training, Evaluation, Research and Development Command, agreed. “When we talk about [artificial intelligence] or information warfare and big data, one thing we need to pay attention to is system integration,” he said. When the U.S. and Japan, for example, can securely share information, the two countries’ militaries can “decide faster than the enemy, you can judge faster than the enemy and you can move faster than the adversary,” he said.
This cooperation also can save lives, Hiroe said. “We need to accelerate this system integration, especially in the Indo-Pacific region,” he said.
Strong partnerships with like-minded nations are critical, said Maj. Gen. William Hartman, commander of U.S. Cyber Command’s Cyber National Mission Force. “When we bring our talented resources [together], we’re pretty powerful,” he said.
“We’re obviously in very challenging times,” he said. “The threats are going to increase. If we are collectively going to be prepared to deal with the threat, not just in this theater or globally, it is going to take partnerships.”
The threats facing the U.S. and its allies and partners are not constrained to one particular geography, Barrett said. “We see the threats of China in the [Africa Command] area of operations, we see it in [Central Command],” she said.
“From a threat standpoint, cyber, information warfare, big data, that’s going to underpin the contested environment our commanders are going to operate in,” Barrett said. “It’s also the threat of weaponized narratives, information disruption machines that really will attempt to disrupt what it is we’re doing and unity of effort. That is what we need to prepare ourselves for.”
The time to act is now, Hartman said. “One of the things human beings are really bad at is predicting the future,” he said. “The time to deal with the threat and work together is now.”