At the end of 2020, Telos Corporation attended – both virtually and in person – its 11th Alamo AFCEA Chapter Event (AACE) in San Antonio, TX. We want to take a moment to say how gratified we are to be recognized as the only company that has sponsored and exhibited consecutively at the AACE since 2010, its inaugural year. In spite of the challenges associated with executing a virtual event, the AACE proved rewarding by every measure of success, and chiefly in its main objective – to connect people, ideas and solutions globally.
The 2020 AACE kicked off with a golf tournament that raised $20,000 for the Alamo AFCEA Wounded Warriors & Military Families Endowment Fund. It is noteworthy that all in person activities were executed in strict compliance with San Antonio Metro Health and county directives regarding attendee capacity, social distancing and other COVID safety precautions.
Then began three full days of presentations by senior officials of the Federal Government and Department of Defense (DoD), as well as industry showcase speakers and panelists. While most programmatic content addressed in various ways the AACE theme – Achieving Information Superiority and Enabling Decisive Action Across All Operational Domains – one constant drumbeat was the recognition of the vital importance and growing need for cybersecurity expertise, experience and leadership. Many other speakers rallied around a common battle cry; in today’s constantly changing and evolving threat landscape, it is imperative to consider all protective measures and to streamline cybersecurity operations that ultimately enable decisive action against the most advanced and persistent threats.
Speed and agility needed to compete with our adversaries.
Throughout the AACE, keynote speakers consistently emphasized the need to accelerate change in order to arm our government organizations and our nation’s military warfighters to compete against our adversaries. Repeatedly, keynote speakers mentioned that cyber warriors must be organized, trained and equipped in order to achieve cybersecurity superiority over adversaries. Nonetheless, challenges persist that impede progress.
“Disruptors are essential for our Air Force bureaucracy to see where opalescence chokes the innovation spirit… to enable us to fly, fight and win in air and cyber space,” stated Lieutenant General Chris Weggeman, Air Combat Command Vice Commander, during the virtual AACE.
The conference theme rang through daily sessions and briefings as speakers engaged with attendees on data – who has it, how to protect it, and how to interpret it. Lieutenant General Mary O’Brien, Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Cyber Effects Operations, Headquarters United States Air Force asked, “Is information superiority achievable and if so, what are the means to achieve it?” Gen. O’Brien explained that the DoD and the United States must change to meet the threat of great power competition. Over the last twenty years, the United States has profited from being a dominant power in technology, but that is no longer the situation. “Information superiority and information warfare is a critical part of that change,” said Gen. O’Brien.
When looking at changing the battle space through convergence, actors must take into account all of the pieces involved. “Access to data is not confined within geographic boundaries, but on a global scale allowing us the authority to converge on a problem set,” said Lieutenant General Timothy Haugh, 16th Air Force Commander.
Integrating modernization tools for outcomes at speed and scale.
General John Murray, U.S. Army Futures Command Commanding General, explained how integrating technologies will enhance not just the Army but the entire U.S. Joint Force. Digital modernization is evolving by the means of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and robotics. There will need to be data structures in-place that can support robotics. “Unlocking the power of AI across the broader DoD enterprise to make it to scale and to meet the mission of protect the people, continue the mission, and support whole of government activities,” noted Mr. John Sherman, Senior Executive Service Department of Defense Principal Deputy, DoD CIO.
How do we incorporate AI and ML to expose and share that data? Having a data strategy and the analytics to respond to threats is what is needed to move forward to generate outcomes at speed and scale. Brigadier General Gagnon, United States Space Command, Director of Intelligence, gave a high-level snapshot on how China plans to deliver information warfare in times of competition, war and in peace. “What is important is how we cease or protect those vulnerabilities.” Information superiority must be maintained against increasingly sophisticated foes in the cyber domain. Vice Admiral Nancy Norton, Defense Information Systems Agency and the Commander of the Joint Force Headquarters Department of Defense Information Network (DoDIN), explained how the pandemic strengthened the need for a better network and allowed for a shift to a data-centric model that will support the National Defense Strategy with an increased focus on cybersecurity and leveraging automation. “Every day we hone our nation’s digital edge to achieve our operational imperatives in the contested and interconnected power space.”
San Antonio is an uncommonly suitable host for this kind of conversation, as it is trademarked as “Military City USA,” and “Cyber City USA.” The AACE brought together over 1400 military leaders, security professionals and industry supporters to address challenges with current systems and capabilities and to discuss new and innovative ways to defend and fight in the ever-present cyber war.
Telos Corporation looks forward to attending the next Alamo ACE, 15 – 18 November 2021.