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Feature Stories

NEWS | April 11, 2017

Signal Command's cyber experts speak at local university

By Sgt. 1st Class Brent Powell 335th Signal Command (Theater)

As the most capable, combat-ready and lethal Federal Reserve Force in the history of the nation, the U.S. Army Reserve stands on the forefront of not only traditional and non-traditional land warfare, but it is also on the cutting edge of electronic warfare, providing the best available cyber and signal capabilities to its Soldiers and allies.

Two members of the 335th Signal Command (Theater), recently took the opportunity to discuss those capabilities and the future of cyber operations with approximately 50 graduate students and Army Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets at the Scheller College of Business at the Georgia Institute of Technology here, April 11.

Brig. Gen. John H. Phillips, deputy commanding general of operations, 335th SC (T), was the first to address the students. “If you are wondering why someone from the U.S. Army Reserve is here today instead of the active Army component, I brag that we are actually better,” said Phillips. “We have the technical competence that we execute on a daily basis particularly in intellectual fields like cyber. A third of our cyber warriors come from academia, a third come from corporate America and a third come from government, so we cover the complete spectrum. We are really good at what we do because we do it every day.”

The next speaker was Col. James “Jim” M. Chatfield, the cyber director and deputy G-3 of operations for the 335th SC (T). “What I intend to do today is give you an overview of the Department of Defense Army Cyberspace operations, engagements and challenges that we face,” he said. “The reason I’m here is because the U.S. Army Reserve Command has about 4200 Soldiers specifically focused in the communications area and they are under this command. In addition to running networks, we are responsible for organizing, manning, training and equipping the units in the Army Reserve that do cyber space operations.”

Chatfield went on to discuss how cyber operations play an important role in assisting commanders on today’s battlefields. “As we understand the cyber domain better, we are learning that it is one of the five areas that a joint force commander can utilize to achieve his objective,” he said. “It requires people who not only know cyber, but people who work in the electromagnetic spectrum and understand it, who can leverage it and who can turn it off for the bad guys. Because we are so electronically oriented in today’s day and age, the use of the cyber domain to affect information operations has dramatically increased.”

Additionally, Chatfield discussed defensive cyber operations and the role they play inside and outside communication networks as well as how those on offensive cyber operations teams react to cyber threats to those networks.

Chatfield spent a good amount of time talking about the structure of cyber within the Department of Defense and the Army’s role in that structure. He concluded the 90 minute presentation by fielding questions from the students.

One of the students inquired about why someone would want to join the Army Reserve to pursue a cyber career. “As far as the cyber domain goes, we do some really cool stuff in the Army Reserve,” said Chatfield. “There is also a lot of pride that goes into putting on this uniform. Right now if someone joins it’s generally because they want to serve and learn about human networking.”

“This was a fantastic opportunity for our students to have senior officers here to explain their mission and how cyber plays a part in it,” said Peter Swire, Professor of Law and Ethics and an expert on privacy and cyber security at Georgia Tech. “Cyber command was just stood up in 2010, so this whole area of the way the military communicates with all the rest of cyber is still an area that is developing rapidly and it’s still brand new. These students are getting the opportunity to see and learn things before most other students ever will.”

One of those students attending the presentation was Jongrak Koh, a student and Army ROTC cadet at Georgia Tech, who is pursuing a math degree.

“I think it’s very beneficial to have the military representatives here to talk about cyber operations,” he said “It’s very important to have their insight to see how our knowledge in the classroom applies to real world operations, and also how we as ROTC cadets can utilize this information as well. Having this knowledge will only benefit the Army when we commission.”