A common complaint amongst Signaleers is the perceived over-reliance of the Army on contractors/FSRs. Some believe we need to rid ourselves of them altogether and drive the future of the Signal Corps solely on our own. The fact is the Signal Corps has always had a close working relationship with industry and will continue to for the foreseeable future. LTG Ferrell himself stated that a key component of his network campaign strategy is developing, “a closer partnership between the Army and industry.”[i] He spent a week in Silicon Valley with other service and agency information technology leaders, led by the Defense Department CIO, talking with industry partners and venture capital companies.[ii] In fact, this trip was so positive that LTG Ferrell convinced the Department of the Army to “establish a liaison office in Silicon Valley to improve coordination and cooperation.”[iii] With that said, he along with notable private sector companies acknowledged issues between the military and private sector. “All agreed on the need for more transparency and partnerships allowing industry to work with the Defense Department and the Army to gain a better understanding of each other’s management structures, requirements, cycles and needs.”[iv]
I believe that the relationship needs to be rebalanced, not eliminated like some of my peers. The hard truth is that neither the Army nor the Signal Corps has the funding, research and development or training capability that the private sector possesses and, honestly, that’s okay. Our primary concern should be to repurpose equipment produced by industry for military use and to leverage it against our adversaries. That formula has worked in the past and will continue to work in the future, especially if a productive relationship with the new Cyber branch emerges.
In order to meet the intent of Army Vision 2025, the Signal Corps needs to develop a mutually beneficial relationship with Cyber Command. LTG Ferrell recently noted that, “when the Army stood up its Cyber Command, some in the Signal Corps regiment feared for its future.”[v] LTG Ferrell quickly dismissed those concerns and assured that the Signal Corps will continue to be the “backbone of the information enterprise.”[vi] With that said, the Signal Corps and Cyber, along with military intelligence, must work together to improve information to decision time on mobile, protected platforms by “moving the right information to the right warfighter at the right time.”[vii] This will include moving to an “iPad/iPhone like environment down at the battalion and brigade TOC level.”[viii] In order to achieve this, there needs to be a clearer delineation of roles and responsibilities across cyberspace. As the Cyber branch continues to stand up and define its own mission, the Signal Corps needs to look at redefining its own mission in relation to Cyber and, to a lesser extent, Military Intelligence. This three-way “relationship is the way ahead.”[ix]
“The Signal Corps will be enduring. It will not be going away.”[x] With that said, the emergence of Cyber, ever-changing battle command and warfighter platforms and a budget-constrained environment, the Signal community will need to redefine and cement its role in future operations. Continually improving information to decision systems and processes as well as providing mobile, protected platforms will be a collaborative effort. This will be a continual process as we try to meet the intent of Army Vision 2025 in support of the nation.
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[i] “Army Modernizes With an Eye Toward Defensewide Efforts,” last modified August 1, 2015, accessed November 3, 2015, http://www.afcea.org/content/?q=Article-army-modernizes-eye-toward-defensewide-efforts.
[viii] Seffers, “Blog: Signal Corps is Here to Stay”, http://www.afcea.org/content/?q=signal-corps-here-stay.
The United States Army Signal Corps Officer Candidate School Association. “America Between the Wars: How the Signal Corps May Have Singlehandedly Changed the World.” Accessed November 1, 2015. http://www.armysignalocs.com/veteranssalultes/btwnwars.html.
Seffers, George I. “Blog: Signal Corps is Here to Stay” Signal, September 9, 2014. Accessed November 5, 2015. http://www.afcea.org/content/?q=signal-corps-here-stay.
Signal. “Army Modernizes With an Eye Toward Defensewide Efforts.” Last modified August 1, 2015. Accessed November 3, 2015. http://www.afcea.org/content/?q=Article-army-modernizes-eye-toward-defensewide-efforts.
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This page originally posted 1 February 2017