'Mannheim' to harden Army defense

The Army last week concluded the first exercise of an initiative designed to improve the service's ability to defend its networks against attacks.

The Mannheim project, named after Mannheim, Germany, where the exercises are being conducted, is an effort to help Army officials find ways to strengthen network security and validate the procedures used to ensure the integrity of information stored on Army networks.

Maj. Gen. James Hylton, commander of the Army Signal Command (ASC), speaking earlier this month at an asymmetric warfare symposium sponsored by the Association of the U.S. Army, said that the Defense Department's information environment is a prime target for asymmetric warfare, which encompasses anything — personnel, tactics, weapons — that helps negate one side's advantage in battle.

The Mannheim project "will help us examine and develop organization, tactics, techniques and procedures to facilitate an integrated Army computer network defense," Hylton told Federal Computer Week.

ASC and the Intelligence and Security Command (Inscom) are leading the project, but numerous other organizations are involved, including the Defense Information Systems Agency and the Space and Missile Defense Command. All are treating it as a priority, Hylton said.

Col. Melita McCully, ASC chief of staff, said that ASC's subordinate command, the 5th Signal Command, which is headquartered in Mannheim, Germany, is also heavily involved. U.S. Army Europe was the host for the exercise, she added.

"The Army's goal is to validate information assurance procedures," McCully said, adding that the project has no set date for termination.

Martha Cenkci, a spokeswoman for Inscom, reiterated ASC officials' statements about this exercise being "designed to test new technologies and the associated tactics, techniques, procedures and policies for employment," but said Inscom officials would not comment any further on the subject.

Looking ahead, the Army plans to apply "any lessons learned as we continue to refine our tactics, techniques and procedures with the goal of being proactive — not just reactive — in the arena of network defense," McCully said.

ASC had about 100 people directly involved in last week's exercise, including Hylton, she said. "This includes about 30 from our headquarters. The remainder are personnel from our 5th Signal Command, Mannheim, Germany."

John Pike, a former defense analyst with the Federation of American Scientists and now director of GlobalSecurity.org, a nonprofit organization, said the Army has had regional cyber response teams in Europe for a few years, and the Mannheim project appears to be another necessary step in treating computer defense in a similar fashion to other military exercises.

"The Army set up the Regional Computer Emergency Response Teams about three years ago, including the one at Mannheim," Pike said. "What they need are regularly scheduled formal training and evaluation exercises of these capabilities, the same way that other military units have exercises. It sounds like they are moving in this direction, which is a good thing."


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