News from American Cyber League

It’s All in the Data: The Evolution of Cyber Resources for the Global Warfighter

David Goosman, Portfolio Manager (PfM) for Supporting Establishment Systems (SES) and Lead Architect at Marine Corps Systems Command (MARCORSYSCOM), presented at the American Cyber League Quantico Cyber Hub’s monthly Cyber Bytes networking event. Goosman provided a brief overview of the joint information environment and cyber resources for the warfighter. 

Goosman communicates with Marine Corps Combat Development Command at headquarters and the Deputy Commandant, Combat Development and Integration (DC CD&I), Marine Corps Current Operations Group (MACOG) and others to put together architecture for the Marine Corps Enterprise Network. “We’ve gone out to 28 base posts and stations and captured the data,” Goosman said. “We’ve put together, in good architect-speak, an OV-1 or operational view.” This view provides insight into who’s involved and where they’re located in the architecture. “It really goes not just from the base posts and stations in the continental United States, but actually out to the deployed Marines around the globe,” Goosman said. 

Goosman explained that the value is really the pipes—that the enterprise network itself really doesn’t do anything, but it allows for data to get from one point to another and be stored. “A lot of the Marines in the room can appreciate that you have to be able to get your data somewhere,” said Goosman. “And it’s challenging when you’re deployed because you usually have a swizzle stick to reach back and to try to get enterprise services.” With the joint information environment at the center, the enterprise network is undergoing many changes. They’re exploring how the joint world now imposes restrictions, what those restrictions look like and what they mean. In the documentation, research, and tracing of those requirements, there exists an ongoing pursuit of an objective network. 

Goosman then shared a few conceptual and physical topology views that have been developed to take that vision of what the network looks like in the joint information environment and translate it into Marine Corps speak. “So when we talk about installation processing nodes, for example, what does that mean for the Marine Corps? We’re trying to make that connection,” Goosman explained, “and in the same way, communicating for the ISNs and GSUs and how it ties into the information superhighway.” In the physical topology, the 8 IPNs or MITSYs in the Marine Corps are mapped out to not only show all the bases and stations and where they fit in the topology, but also to identify which bases are tied to a particular MITSY and the different zones at each individual base. 

“Really where the rubber meets the road,” Goosman said, “is our fit-for-purpose SV-2. It’s a Visio diagram of data—not just a picture. Every line, every box, every component has attribute data and it’s tied to authoritative sources like Remedy and dpass. But it also shows connectivity. So it’s a view of a base at a complete connectivity down to the access switch level.”

Goosman explained its significance: No one in the Marine Corps ever had this view. “Previously, people had 8.5 x 11 sheets of paper with little boxes and a little cloud on it and would say this is how it gets out somewhere,” Goosman said. “But this actually gets an equipment string now so that I can show you what circuits even go off the base.” In order to use this as data in a simulation model, SES has teamed with SCALABLE. This technology now puts the data into a model then overlays live configuration to run simulation and view the behavior of the devices. Points of failure are identified through cyber effects as well as bandwidth analysis. “From the high level capabilities down to the components, the idea is that it is all in data,” according to Goosman.

Goosman then shared about the change in acquisition velocity strategy from the traditional waterfall method to an agile development process. Waterfall had become incompatible with IT timelines where technology and information would be obsolete before it could be fielded. The agile process has incorporated selective programs and increased collaboration, as well as discussion about a digital twin. “Artificial intelligence and machine learning are the buzzwords right now,” Goosman said. “We can’t deal with this data manually. We need to have tools to do that. We are putting all this together for the purpose of meeting the warfighters needs quicker.”

“But it’s not just do it faster. Velocity is speed with a vector. You have to have direction.” Goosman shared that the goal is to utilize resources on the West Coast together with those on the East Coast to create a systems integration lab in which testing can be done without actually redeveloping everything from scratch. “Federating labs is the way to go,” Goosman said. “The things that are enterprise resources in our lab we want to be able to share with MCTSSA and we’ll have an actual capability to do that. Together with our partners, we want to put together this high-fidelity digital twin of the McSen (Marine Corps Satellite Education Network) so that we could have some kind of way to get our arms around what we’re fielding, what we’re developing and getting that out to the warfighter.”

The idea is to have a digital replica of the physical assets and processes but it has yet to be worked out who would be responsible for engineering and operating the network and who would control the baselines. “There is a lot of work right now being done to establish the technical baseline of the McSen and we’re working with headquarters C4 DCI to do that. But the idea is that we want to get these things out so that we can use it, model it and make decisions on data.” This integrated approach would solve the issues that arise when installation and testing on new widgets is unsuccessful. According to Goosman, “Our idea here with the digital twin is to be able to use it and have different use cases both from an engineering standpoint and an analysis standpoint.”

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