Cyber Command to take take charge of advanced training with new authorities

Inside U.S. Cyber Command at Fort Meade, Maryland. (Josef Cole / DOD / U.S. Cyber Command)

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U.S. Cyber Command will be focused on advanced training for cyber operators and analysts as it prepares to gain enhanced budget authority.

Currently, the individual services are responsible for training their respective units that contribute to the joint cyber mission force against joint standards set forth by Cyber Command. But, in the future, the services will only provide basic level training while Cybercom will provide joint level advanced training, according to Dave Frederick, the command’s executive director.

“That’s an area where we will be looking at the current investments that were previously split across the services, bringing that together and achieving some improvements in terms of efficiency and effectiveness through managing at the joint level,” he said Tuesday during the Defense One Tech Summit.

The fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act gave the commander of Cybercom responsibility for direct control and management of planning, programming, budgeting and execution of the resources to maintain the cyber mission force, an authority known as enhanced budget control. This change will go into effect in fiscal 2024.

Previously, the commander only had oversight of about $600 million from an overall Department of Defense IT budget of around $40 billion.

Readying Cybercom to take on this new responsibility is a major priority for the command in the upcoming year, Frederick said.

“What we’re doing right now is working with the military services, with DOD comptroller and our oversight staffs at the Pentagon, such as the DOD CIO and [acquisition and sustainment office] and others, to identify and align the funding that’s … being handled right now at the service level for joint requirements,” he said.

Part of the $11.2 billion requested by the Pentagon for cyberspace activities in fiscal 2023 would go toward enhancing the command’s role in acquisition and setting the stage to have budgetary resources for the cyber mission force in 2024.

This initiative would improve the command’s flexibility, coordination, resource management, training and acquisition between the DOD, the command and service components, a Cybercom spokesperson said, adding that the authorities will also improve command and control functions, operations, and the acquisition and procurement processes.

The House Appropriations defense subcommittee’s draft funding bill for fiscal 2023, released Tuesday, would fully fund the $11.2 billion request and includes $4.2 billion for cyberspace ops to include cyber collection, cyber effects operations, resiliency of key systems and support for the cyber mission force.

Frederick noted that the enhanced authorities will allow the command to better align activities under its Joint Cyber Warfighting Architecture (JCWA), which guides Cybercom’s acquisition priorities.

The elements of the JCWA include systems for command and control of cyber forces and the larger cyber environment, big data, training and executing offensive operations, among others. The Air Force and Army primarily run these programs, providing the funding and acquisition personnel to deliver them on behalf of the command.

“[What] enhanced budget control is going to allow us to do is to better align those activities and ensure that … we’re putting our dollars against the most important priorities and we’re able to adjust over time, because the cyberspace environment is changing every day,” Frederick said. “We have to have a really agile system. It is not a system where we’re building aircraft carriers or fighter jets. It’s really about data, software and a need to really integrate all those capabilities very rapidly.”

This budget control will give the command the ability to move dollars around more effectively to achieve the national priorities for the cyber force, he said.

While the funding will be shifted away from the services, the services will still be responsible for serving as the executive agents for the programs they are running on behalf of the command.

In the fiscal 2023 budget request, funding in the future years defense program for items under the JCWA for the Army and Air Force are absent, and the documents include a disclaimer noting “the FY24+ funds … will be transferred to USCYBERCOM to be responsible for the planning, programming, budgeting, and execution of the resources.”

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Dave Frederick, JCWA, U.S. Cyber Command
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