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Vice Adm. Myers Says Partnerships Are Key to Success in Cyberspace

Dec. 6, 2019 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

The key to success in cyberspace is developing robust partnerships with government agencies, law enforcement, allies and partners, a top military expert said.

With an increasingly crowded cyberspace threat environment, no one command or agency can address the dynamic cyber domain alone, Navy Vice Adm. Ross Myers, deputy commander of U.S. Cyber Command, said Dec. 4 at the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement's Integrated Air and Missile Defense Summit.

"We now live in a world with adversaries that consistently and effectively operate below the level of armed conflict," the admiral said. 

Man speaks into a microphone.
Summit Speach
Navy Vice Adm. Ross Myers, deputy commander of U.S. Cyber Command, speaks at the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense Summit in Washington, Dec. 4, 2019.
Photo By: David Vergun, DOD
VIRIN: 191204-O-ZZ999-002C

Myers said Cybercom's closest partnership is with the National Security Agency, noting that NSA and Cybercom collaborated during the 2018 midterm elections, allowing the command to track, hunt and report on adversarial activities. 

"We brought together the best intelligence, the best cyber operators, and the best strategy and plans in cyberspace operations to ensure we could thwart any adversary that was trying to conduct malign influence against our U.S. elections," Myers said.

Building on those successes and experiences will be critical to securing elections in 2020 and beyond, he added.

Cybercom also contributes to partnerships with the financial and energy sectors designed to protect industry from cyberattacks. The command's Pathfinder pilot program between the U.S. government and industry stakeholders deepens understanding of these sectors and strengthens information sharing. 

Woman works on laptop.
Cyber Blitz
Army Spc. Hannah Brock collects and reports signals during exercise Cyber Blitz 19 at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., Aug. 29, 2019.
Photo By: Edric Thompson, Army
VIRIN: 190914-A-LD704-1008C

The joint warfighter benefits more directly as well, Myers said. Protecting the Defense Department's information network is a critical mission, he added.

"We're experiencing an explosion of data, and the number of devices connected to the Internet is expected to exceed 30 billion connected devices by 2020," the admiral said.

Cybercom protects the warfighters through cyber teams allocated to the combatant commands, where they defend the Defense Department's vital air and missile systems, among many other missions.   

The command is building to an authorized strength of just over 6,000 cyber operators from all of the military services, including the National Guard and reserves.  About 1,500 military members, civilian employees and contractors are stationed at Cybercom headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland.  

Three young soldiers look at cyber equipment.
Electronic Warfare
Soldiers train on emerging electronic warfare capabilities during exercise Cyber Blitz 19 at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., Aug. 29, 2019.
Photo By: Edric Thompson, Army
VIRIN: 190829-A-LD704-1017C

As for the future, Myers said, cyber capabilities are growing exponentially in both pace and effectiveness of operations.  

Although Myers said he couldn't share specific successes, he called the level of Cybercom's achievements with a whole-of-government effort and international partners unprecedented.

Success stories might take decades before they become unclassified, he said, noting that the intelligence activities during World War II's Battle of Midway took many years to come to light.