Since 1636, the citizen soldiers of our National Guard have been the first line of defense in protecting our freedom. Today, the National Guard continues that legacy with a dual purpose of supporting both the state and federal missions, domestically and abroad.
Focusing on Homeland Defense should be the primary role of our National Guard, as its members are geographically disseminated citizen soldiers and airmen with ties to the local community. As a former Director in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and Lieutenant General in the United States Army, we trust the National Guard to serve as the lead military force for homeland security – to help train state and local officials to respond to both kinetic and non-kinetic attacks while protecting our critical infrastructure.
The preamble of the Constitution states that the role of the federal government is to “form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity….” Making this responsibility the number one priority for our nation’s uniformed service personnel is paramount to defense of God’s most precious gift to us—our freedom.
The common vulnerability across the sectors is the shared responsibility of cybersecurity. With our 17 interacting critical infrastructures, an attack on one could cause a cascading effect across the entire system.
Since most critical infrastructure is privately held, it is important to engage the owners of these enterprises—as well as law enforcement, and emergency medical and fire first responders—in planning and executing National Guard training exercises. Such an integrated approach is the best defense against a cyber shutdown of critical infrastructure sectors, including the electrical grid, water, banking, and transportation. Exercising an in-depth and comprehensive cyber response plan as part of a state’s response to a cyber-attack on its critical infrastructure is important, just as a coordinated response can ensure an effective and resilient readiness.
A key strength of this emerging National Guard capability is the obvious linkage between the private-sector. This sector is where most of our Guardsmen acquire their first line of expertise. This is especially inherent in cyber defense, since the vast majority of America’s information technology and computer systems are privately owned. The National Guard is able to leverage these citizen soldiers and citizen airmen, who hone their cyber skills daily in some of the leading IT and cybersecurity companies in America. This is a tremendous resource for the nation’s governors as well as for the federal force in times of crisis.
Leveraging this private sector citizen soldier and airmen relationship is the National Guard partnership, which is a critical strength to our nation’s Cyber Protection Teams. It is the plan for all federal military Cyber Protection Teams and National Guard teams to be trained to a common standard. We applaud this goal, but would like to offer a bit of caution. We like to say that cyber is a big sandbox and there is plenty of room for everyone to play, but playing in that sandbox will require specialized training. The National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Cybersecurity Workforce Framework has identified 32 uniquely identifiable specialty areas in the cybersecurity workforce, and you can’t be an expert in all of them. Honing these skills will be crucial in contributing to the three overarching areas of cybersecurity—offense, defense, and operations—with an overlay of sound planning backed by cyber threat intelligence as the glue that ties them all together.
The members of our National Guard are exposed to systems and expertise acquired from decades on the job, so finding, recruiting and retaining more of these individuals will be crucial to the protection of our critical infrastructure. Our National Guard is a national treasure to assist our nation’s response efforts in time of crisis and we should continue to lean on them for the plethora of assistance they provide our fellow countrymen and their emergent expertise in cybersecurity.
|Dr. Starnes Walker is a leading national expert in cybersecurity and founding Director of the Cybersecurity Initiative and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Delaware. He has over 40 years of experience in government, industry and academia, a former Chief Technology Officer and Technical Director, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command and U.S. 10th Fleet, U.S. Navy.
Earlier Government Senior Executive Service/SES positions include Department of Homeland Security’s Director of Research, Depart. of Navy’s Office of Naval Research’s Executive Director and Chief Scientist and standing up the Defense Threat Reduction Agency as Senior Advisor for Science and Technology. Among his many appointments he continues to advise the Secretary of Homeland Defense as a key member of The Aspen Institute’s Homeland Security Group.
LTG Guy C. Swan III (Ret). currently serves as an AUSA Vice President. During more than 35 years of active service he commanded at every level through Army Service Component Command. A career armor/cavalry officer, his general officer assignments included Commanding General, United States Army North/Fifth Army; Commanding General, United States Army Military District of Washington and Commander, Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region; Commanding General, 7th Army Training Command, United States Army Europe/Seventh Army; Chief of Staff and Director of Operations, Multi-National Force-Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom; Director of Operations, United States Northern Command; and Chief of Army Legislative Liaison. LTG Swan’s other key assignments included Commander, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment; Assistant Deputy Director for Strategy and Policy for the Joint Staff; and Deputy Operations Officer for the 1st Armored Division during Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm. A 1976 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, LTG Swan holds a Master of Military Art and Science degree from the U.S. Army’s School of Advanced Military Studies. He also holds a Master of Arts degree in National Security Studies from Georgetown University and was a National Security Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. LTG Swan is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Aspen Institute Homeland Security Group, and the FEMA National Advisory Council. He is also a Certified Emergency Manager and a Certified Protection Professional, board certified in security management.
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