The Army is seeking further engagement with industry and more opportunities to test new equipment at combat training centers as it moves ahead with its pilot program to integrate cyber and electromagnetic capabilities.

The cyber electromagnetic activities (CEMA) initiative aims to improve training environments for offensive kits and cyber resilient capabilities to combat rapidly changing threats from near-peer adversaries, according to panelists at an Association of the United States Army (AUSA) event Wednesday.

Col. William Hartman, deputy commander of Army Cyber Command’s Joint Force Headquarters.  Photo: Army.
Col. William Hartman, deputy commander of Army Cyber Command’s Joint Force Headquarters. Photo: Army.

“When you hear Army Cyber talk about where we’re going, it’s the integration of cyber both offensive and defensive, electronic warfare and information operations to enable maneuver commanders to accomplish their mission,” Col. William Hartman, deputy commander of Army Cyber Command’s Joint Force Headquarters, said during his panel.

CEMA is intended to increase Army ownership of the electromagnetic spectrum to move past the capabilities of near-peer threats, according to Hartman.

However, Hartman believes greater engagement with industry on technology development and increasing the speed of service testing will be a necessity if it hopes to fully integrate CEMA capabilities within all offensive and defensive operations.

“We’re always going to be shooting behind the target if we are only able to produce cyber and electronic warfare capabilities using what is a fairly lengthy acquisition process,” Hartman said. “From an Army Cyber standpoint, our ability to establish development environments and use [commercial-off-the-shelf] capabilities that can be modified with the specific requirements of a specific target is really the future for at least the tactical part of what we’re doing here.”

Gregg Potter, an official with Northrop Grumman [NOC], believes the best capabilities for integrating cyber and electromagnetic capabilities into operations will come from industry.

Industry partners have the time and resources to invest in integration tools, but more frequent engagement with Army officials is needed to develop the necessary capabilities, according to Potter.

“I think there needs to be a different relationship between the Army and industry. Quite frankly, the Army needs some wins in its acquisition,” Potter said. “Industry has to understand operations. You only do that by having robust dialogue between industry and the Army.”

Specifically, Potter aims to have further discussion on multi-functional electronic warfare (EW) kits with baked in cyber resilient capabilities to achieve some of the immediate CEMA goals.

Hartman echoed this sentiment and said Army Cyber has conducted a number of rotations to examine possible EW kits, but more equipment must be tested at combat training centers.

Maj. Wayne Sanders, Army Cyber branch chief for CEMA support, sees combat training centers as the critical piece towards integrating cyber-electromagnetic capabilities and operational skills at all Army levels.

“The next piece is being able to integrate into the combat training centers the replication of the near-peer threat. No matter what commander is going to out to those training centers, we want to be able to replicate that cyberspace domain or the electromagnetic spectrum that they are going to face,” Sanders said.

Army cyber officials are working on capabilities now for commanders to have full situational awareness within the electromagnetic spectrum, according to Sanders.

The new CEMA tools would provide high-level awareness to be able to pinpoint exactly where adversaries are attempting to target cyber attacks and provide signatures to know what capabilities they are using.

“We’ll partner with a lot of the program development managers within [electronic warfare], [information operations] and cyber to continue to push the envelope, and that is to get new systems out and then test them out at the training centers,” Sanders said.

For Hartman, the technology testing aspect is critical to establishing fundamental CEMA goals he views being as important on the tactical level as well as the strategic level.

“Our ability to link a tactical cyber force from an authority standpoint, from a capability standpoint, from an access standpoint back to the larger intelligence and cyber enterprises is really important,” Hartman said.