USMC colonel calls for cyberstructure overhaul
USMC Col. Gregory Breazile said the C2 / Cyber and Electronic Warfare Integration Division headquarters “is not functionally aligned to support cyberspace operations.” (Image: Sean Lyngaas / FCW)
A senior Marine Corps cyber official called for a reshuffle of the service structure to better handle the challenges of cyberspace.
“Our headquarters is not functionally aligned to support operations in cyberspace,” said Col. Gregory Breazile, director of the Corps’s C2 / Cyber and Electronic Warfare Integration Division. “We are fractured. We have a CIO here, we have intelligence guys here. We are not united in this effort.
The growth of the Corps has complicated its cybernetic footprint: As new organizations in the service arise, the command and control of those organizations over the network must be addressed, said Breazile, speaking at a conference on May 28 hosted by the Institute for Digital Government in Washington, DC
“We realize there is a lot of risk out there if we don’t do it right,” he added.
Breazile’s comments highlight the growing difficulties of a service branch struggling with an unknown domain.
The Colonel said that the corps commander, Gen. Joseph Dunford is keenly aware of the organizational challenges in cyberspace. Dunford, who has been selected to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, issued guidelines in January calling on the Corps to use offensive and defensive capabilities in cyberspace. In doing so, the advice said, required a plan to “improve command and control and digital interoperability in all elements”.
In 2013, the Corps began operating its own computer networks rather than relying on the Navy Marine Corps private intranet, and this transition has been at the heart of the challenges of serving in cyberspace. Remote bases and regional data centers had different configurations with different equipment under the NMCI, and it took time for the Marines to figure out how to unify the network, Breazile told FCW after the event.
The unification of these systems “presented us with a lot of challenges, not only from an equipment point of view, but from a training point of view,” he said, adding that the Corps was using entrepreneurs for help.
In his remarks at the conference, Breazile said the Marine Corps network was a “mess” shortly after the NMCI transitioned and predicted that it would take “many years, unfortunately, to clean it up as this is not a standardized network “.
The NMCI has been found to be vulnerable to attacks sponsored by nation states. Iranian hackers in 2013 infiltrated an unclassified part of the intranet and it took months to hunt them down.