DOD to elevate cyber, network testing in new exercises

The war games will be focused on testing the Joint All Domain Command and Control strategy.
Texas Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 2 Nathan Mack conducts network surveillance during Cyber Shield 19 training week at Camp Atterbury, Ind. April 7, 2019. As the nation’s largest unclassified cyber defense training exercise, Cyber Shield provides participants with training on industry network infrastructure and cyber protection best practices. (U.S. Army National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. George B. Davis)

The Department of Defense will hold large-scale exercises this calendar year to test the resiliency of battlefield networks and project how the U.S. military would cope if it comes under sustained cyber attack while fighting future wars.

The latest exercises will differ from current war games that focus on guns and tanks or experimenting with emerging tech, Lt. Gen. Dennis Crall, chief information officer for the Joint Staff said Monday. They will be focused on testing the Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) strategy, where networks connect all military operations in air, land, sea, space and cyberspace.

The event will take place”not just in a special IT forum, not just with CIOs, but with the warfighter,” Crall said .

Crall was critical of the department’s prior lack of attention to cyber and network connectivity. He described the place of IT in briefings as “one-slide deep,” with that slide containing some graphics with lightning bolts and little information.


“No one was really looking at this,” he said, adding that while some people in DOD have focused on network resilience, it was “not holistically.”

That will change with combatant command-level exercises planned for this year, he said. He didn’t give any more details or a name of the exercise, but said they would represent a new way of testing the strategy.

So far, services have hosted test events for the tech they are building as a part of JADC2. The Air Force’s contribution, Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) has had several joint “on-ramps,” where new tech was tested, but Crall said these were carried largely as a means of experimenting with new technology instead of simulating entire battles.

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