Providing protection and centralization of the Army’s computer network system while also making connectivity and information accessible to the warfighter is crucial in supporting military objectives, said the Army’s first commander of the newly stood up 7th Signal Command (Theater).

Brig. Gen. Jennifer Napper told an audience of information technology employees that the 7th Signal Command is committed to providing and protecting “one team, one network” and to being the pre-eminent provider of LandWarNet, the Army’s globally interconnected communications and computing systems.

“This is a growing field … We are about assuring maneuverability through cyberspace” for the Army, Napper said. “You need to be able to go unobstructed, unimpeded to the information you need to know. I’m not sure we can guarantee that today on our networks.”

Napper’s comments were made April 14 during the ninth annual Redstone Arsenal Information Security and Assurance Conference and Exposition, hosted by the Garrison and the Aviation and Missile Command. The event at Bob Jones Auditorium included about 550 participants and more than 30 exhibitors.

This year’s theme was “Providing Electronic Force Protection for the Warfighter.” Topics during the conference included “How to Create Synergy and Success with the Compliance Triad,” “Hacking Techniques,” “Cyber Counter Intelligence,” “Transitioning to the Enterprise,” “Securing Cyberspace for the 44th President,” “Legalities of Cyber Investigations” and “The Latest Internet Security Risks and Trends.”

Napper spoke to conference attendees about “Defensive Operations in Cyberspace” designed to protect the integrity of the Army’s network system. The 7th Signal Command, based at Fort Gordon, Ga., was stood up in 2008 under Napper’s command. Its mission is to centralize the Army’s network in one location and provide access to LandWarNet capabilities that support Army forces in the states and in theater.

The idea of creating a command to centralize, manage and protect Army computer networks first surfaced in 1999 as a result of concerns that Internet warfare is a serious threat to the effectiveness of all military branches, Napper said.

Computer hackers and viruses pose a real threat to Army networks, and the Army is spending millions of dollars annually to protect against cyber attacks, she said.

“We are working to defend these networks in a more active manner,” Napper said, adding that studies are being done to determine “what it takes to really invest in and have a true defense of our networks.”

The military must establish globally consistent network security and privacy policy standards and procedures to “dramatically improve network defense postures. (In the Army) there are at least 20 commands who think they own and operate networks … We have a mess,” she said.

With the use of LandWarNet throughout the Army and the Department of Defense, standards and procedures will be in place, economies and efficiencies will be realized, and joint interoperability will be ensured.

“When we operationalize the network, we will eliminate existing network capability gaps as units prepare, deploy and transition through all operational phases,” Napper said. “We’ve got to get to a point with our network where we can be truly expeditionary … We need to turn the network into an enterprise. It’s time to come together as a team and make this an enterprise in support of the war fighter.”

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