Army Cyber Operations Funding in FY 2017

Posted by Alexander Rossino on March 15, 2016

Cyber security

Toward the end of February, Army Vice-Chief of Staff General Daniel Allyn told the Readiness Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee that in fiscal 2017 the Army is requesting $2.21 billion in funding related to its cyber operations. Subsequent data General Allyn’s office provided to Federal Computer Week detailed how this total breaks down into the Army’s respective budgetary categories. Below is a view of that data depicted graphically.

Altogether, the Army is requesting a bump of more than 45% in funding related to its cyber operations, which totaled $1.52B in 2016. I use the term operations because in the context of today’s weaponized networks, it is no longer valid to talk about cyber “security” in isolation from the retaliatory capabilities that are being developed across the Department of Defense.

The growth in Army’s cyber budget is spread over a series of investments, led by a 95% rise in cyber-related funding in Army’s “Other Procurement” budget category. It isn’t possible to account for all the programs where dollars are going in the Procurement budget, but we can point out big increases in two programs in particular: Army Communications Security (COMSEC) and Defensive Cyber Operations (DCO).

Army’s COMSEC investment will nearly double in FY 2017, reaching $133.3 million compared to the $72.3 million it has received for FY 2016. The COMSEC program is critical for securing Army’s tactical network communications using a variety of cryptographic and key management systems that support both legacy and newer communications technologies, like software-defined radios. The central investment from a budgetary standpoint is the Army Key Management Infrastructure (AKMI), which provides electronic key management, control, planning, and distribution. AKMI is replacing the National Security Agency’s Electronic Key Management System (EKMS) program, which the NSA intends to sunset by December 2017.

For its part, DCO is a relatively new investment line in FY 2017 that includes the following critical capabilities:

  • The DCO-Infrastructure (DCO-I) Tactical and Enterprise - A hardware and software baseline for remote cyber maneuver based on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Plan X program.
  • Cyber Protection Team (CPT) Support - Tools that reside inside the DCO-I.
  • Web Vulnerability Scanning – A software baseline to secure key cyber terrain and protect DoD websites.
  • Big Data Analytics – A security capability leveraging DISA’s Acropolis analytics tools.

DCO will receive $15 million in FY 2017. It is an essential investment for Army’s Defensive Cyber Teams because it provides the cyber tools and infrastructure that enable active defense of the network.

Concerning the more than 83% increase in the Army’s O&M request related to cyber, the largest investments are:

  • $21.7 million to fund operations at U.S. Army Cyber Command/Second Army headquarters at Fort Gordon, Georgia.
  • $46.6 million for Army Management Headquarters Activities Information Management, which includes Cybersecurity, Mission Critical Systems, and IT Services.
  • $19.2 million to meet Cybersecurity and DoD mandated certification and accreditation requirements for Command-level information systems and applications.

Lastly, the more than 17% increase in Army’s RDT&E focuses investment in two areas:

  • Cyberspace Operations Forces and Force Support - A new line item in the Army budget that will receive $40.5 million in FY 2017.
  • Defensive Cyber Tool Development, another new line in the FY 2017 budget, which will receive $34 million.

Funding for the Cyberspace Operations Forces and Force Support will be dedicated to standing up a new Persistent Training Environment (PTE) that provides a scalable, unified virtual training environment for DoD’s new Cyber Mission Force. By contrast, funding for Defensive Cyber Tool Development takes a completely different direction. As the Army describes them, “These tools provide cutting edge hardware and software, integrated with existing infrastructure and tools to facilitate Active Defensive Cyber operations. Cyber Tool Development will include Big Data Analytics solutions to enable the ability to correlate and analyze the massive amount of data coming across the network and provide timely situational awareness.”

Summing up, the FY 2017 budget request ramps up Army’s investments in cyber that parallel what is happening across all of the DoD. The Army is developing new capabilities, cyber-related infrastructure, and the trained personnel that are needed to operate both defensively and offensively in cyberspace. FY 2017 funding will bring the Army significantly closer to realizing the DoD’s cyber security/warfare goal as a whole; namely to define the cyber domain on the DoD’s terms, to limit the enemy’s ability to operate within that domain, and to enhance the military’s ability to operate against adversaries with impunity.

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