Lt. Gen. James K. McLaughlin, deputy commander, U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM), spoke at the Cyber Lecture Series at the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA), Sept. 22.
McLaughlin addressed more than 1,200 midshipmen about the importance of cyber operations awareness throughout their naval careers.
"Many of you will go to units where your mission will not be cyber operations or cyber warfare, but as you become more senior, it won't matter what the title is in your position, you will be held accountable and responsible for cyber operations," said McLaughlin. "What's changing culturally is we are holding those commanders, those leaders, personally accountable for how they operate, how they train and if they are doing everything they are supposed to [in the cyber domain]."
McLaughlin, a U.S. Air Force Academy graduate, directs the forces and daily activities of USCYBERCOM and coordinates the Department of Defense (DOD) offensive and defensive cyberspace operations. He discussed the USCYBERCOM mission and why it's necessary to keep equipment up to date.
"The most important mission of Cyber Command is defending the Department of Defense Information Network, which includes networks that support war fighters, Ballistic Missile Defense, support logistics sustainment etc...", said McLaughlin. "If it is connected with computers or has embedded controllers in it, it is part of that network. We are spending billions of dollars upgrading decades-old systems and securing and defending them. If we don't, we won't be able to succeed in warfare."
McLaughlin also outlined the Defense Department's effort in building a joint information environment - a joint network that the cyber workforce can see - and operate and defend -- in its entirety. The other two cyber missions include providing full-spectrum options to combatant commanders, and to be prepared, when called upon, to defend U.S. critical infrastructure.
27 midshipmen of the class of 2016 make up the first group who will graduate from USNA with the Cyber Operations Major. These midshipmen will quickly learn to apply their learning in the rapidly changing cyber environment.
"We want to have our own people who have the ability to rapidly build, modify and deploy changes to the systems," said McLaughlin. "We don't really view it as an acquisition, but as an inherent life within the weapon system itself, by having the modifications done by our own forces. And our operators do that."
The DOD is building its cyber mission force to 133 teams, across all services, by 2018. McLaughlin stressed that only the most capable individuals will be a part of the well-trained teams.
McLaughlin explained that USCYBERCOM sets the joint standards as the Services organize, train and equip the cyber forces. "There will be 68 defensive teams and 65 offensive teams made up of all branches of the military," he said. "There is such a joint venture in this operation that if you can't perform the tasks needed by the role, you won't be on a team."
USNA identified the critical role that cyber would serve in support of DoD missions, and as such, USNA already broke ground earlier this year, starting a series of projects progressing to the building its 206,000-square-foot Center for Cyber Security Studies.
The center will provide the support necessary for the proposed curricular and professional reforms across USNA, and for advancing the quality of education of Naval Academy graduates in all areas of cyber warfare.