Cybercom Chief: Partners
Vital to Defending Infrastructure
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C.
Marshall Jr., American Forces Press Service.
Washington D.C. – (AFPS)
– June 25, 2014 – Building partnerships among the federal government, the
private sector and academia is vital to bringing together capabilities in the
defense of critical infrastructure, the commander of U.S. Cyber Command said
Navy Adm. Michael S. Rogers, also director of the National
Security Agency, shared his thoughts nearly 90 days after assuming command of
Cybercom as he delivered the keynote address at the Armed Forces Communications
and Electronics Association cyber symposium in Baltimore. “One of my first
takeaways is cyber is the ultimate team sport,” he said. “There is no one single
organization that has all the answers. There is no one single technology that
will solve all of our problems [and] meet all of our challenges. This is a
mission set that does not know clearly defined lines.”
The Defense Department, traditionally likes to use geography
as one way to align its responsibilities to define its problem sets, the admiral
said. “Our networks just flat-out don’t recognize geography, which is one reason
why U.S. Cyber Command is a little different,” Rogers said. “It is organized as
a global command focused on a particular mission set.”
Rogers noted that DOD provides capabilities to support civil
authorities in a wide range of scenarios almost every day all over the country.
“So cyber is no different in that regard,” he said. “But it’s different in the
sense that it’s just something new.”
Rogers cited a recent meeting with the secretary of homeland
security and the FBI director as one of the things he finds himself spending “a
lot of time” doing: creating partnerships and relationships that help the U.S.
government apply its capabilities to support the broader civil sector.
Cyber legislation “remains a very important part of this
journey,” Rogers said, because while voluntary information-sharing has shown
some progress, “it just has not gotten us where we need to be.” “And I believe
we have to come up with some vehicle to help the private sector deal with its
very valid concerns about liability,” he added. “If we can’t bring this all
together on a real-time basis, it’s like we’re fighting with one hand tied
behind our backs. And it’s a losing defensive proposition to me.”
Rogers said being in a defensive mode means an organization
is always responding and is “always behind the power curve in general.” “My
argument would be it’s the offensive piece that tends to have the easier job,”
he said. “The defensive piece is really the hard work where partnerships, in
particular, become so critical for us.”
Rogers also said he thinks Cybercom should assist its
civilian counterparts in understanding how the federal government is organized
to provide them cyber support. “We are working our way through those steps right
now,” he said, “but our ability to create those partnerships is critical to the
The admiral also said he believes at some point in his time as commander of
Cybercom, the nation will see efforts from another nation-state, group or set of
individuals designed to cause destructive cyber impacts against critical U.S.
infrastructure. “I believe that will happen in my service lifetime,” he added.
“So one of my primary focuses is how do you generate the capacity to stop that?”
DOD is going to be only one part of the effort, the admiral
said. “In the end, it’s about that broader set of partnerships,” Rogers told the
audience. “They're going to be the key to our success.”
(Follow Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone
Marshall on Twitter: @MarshallDODNews)
Navy Adm. Michael S. Rogers
U.S. Cyber Command