Navy’s New Cyber Strategy Integrates Defense and Offense

Published: May 13, 2015


More than 18 months after Iranian hackers breached the Navy and Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) the Navy Cyber Command has announced a new strategic plan aimed at addressing both internal and external threats.

Vice Adm. Jan Tighe, commander of the U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet, recently released the U.S. Navy’s Strategic Plan which provides a five-year approach for Navy operations in the cyber domain. Globally, the Navy’s U.S. Fleet Cyber Command directs the operations and defense of the Navy’s networks and operates shore-to-ship communications systems, including Nuclear Command and Control Communications (NC3). It serves as the Navy component of the joint warfighting command, U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM).

The strategy contains five strategic goals over the next five years as the Navy’s cyber division seeks to achieve and maintain information dominance:

  1. Operate The Network as a Warfighting Platform – Defend Navy networks, communication, and space systems, ensure availability and, when necessary, fight through them to achieve operational objectives.
  2. Conduct Tailored Signals Intelligence – Meet the evolving SIGINT needs of Navy commanders through more tailored operations, while continuing to deliver on NSA needs.
  3. Deliver Warfighting Effects Through Cyberspace – Advance the Navy’s effects-delivery capabilities to support a full spectrum of operations, including cyber, electromagnetic maneuver, and information operations.
  4. Create Shared Cyber Situational Awareness – Create a sharable cyber Common Operating Picture that evolves to full, immediate awareness of the network and everything that happens on it.
  5. Establish and Mature Navy’s Cyber Mission Forces – Stand up 40 highly expert Cyber Mission Teams and plan for the sustainability of these teams over time.

Each strategic goal has an 18 month progress indicator to help measure progress and each goal has a handful of strategic initiatives which the Navy deems as critical to achieving these goals.

Some of these goals hinge on improved processes and organizational effectiveness (reduced cycle times, improved collaboration and integration, etc.) Others look to advanced technologies (data analytics, visualization tools, sensors/SIGINT, and “cyber effects,” a.k.a offensive capabilities.) Further, the strategy underscores the critical role of a skilled workforce – uniformed or civilian – in cyber operations.

Finally, the strategy recognizes the challenge that the acquisition process plays in onboarding new capabilities so it stresses the need for clear requirements and reformed/accelerated acquisition processes.