Sharing Innovative Approaches To Top Strategic Challenges
by U.S. Department of Defense News
January 12, 2021
The College of Information and Cyberspace at National Defense
University, located on historic Fort McNair in the nation's capital,
hosted their 7th annual Cyber Beacon Conference in December 2020.
Thomas Wingfield, acting chancellor of the college of information and cyberspace at National Defense University, addresses attendees at the 5th annual Cyber Beacon conference
on September 19, 2018. Wingfield is now the deputy assistant defense secretary for cyber policy and appeared virtually at the 7th annual Cyber Beacon conference in December.
(U.S. Department of Defense News photo by Katie Persons
Due to the global pandemic, this was the first year
the event was hosted virtually and allowed for a broader audience to
participate. This closed event welcomed hundreds of attendees from
throughout the national security community, including the U.S.
government, industry and academia, as well as allies and partners.
The purpose of the conference was to gather today's top thought
leaders and experts on strategic cyberspace issues for discussion
and learning. This purpose directly supports the lines of effort of
the National Defense Strategy, especially regarding reform and
partnership, Joseph L. Billingsley, director of strategic engagement
at CIC, a lead planner of the event, said.
This year's conference theme was "Disruption
in an Era of Great Power Competition: Pandemic, Infodemic, Space,
Cyberspace and Beyond" and builds off of last year's theme of
"Preparing for Disruption," Cassandra C. Lewis, acting chancellor of
"We're very proud
of the different organizations and senior leaders who participated
in sharing their unique perspectives," Billingsley said, noting that
there was good representation from U.S. Cyber Command and the Office
of the Chief Information Officer, and first-time representation from
the Space Force.
Air Force Maj. Gen. Kevin Kennedy, director
of operations for Cybercom, challenged the audience to think about
how the U.S. competes in cyberspace with an evolving strategic and
operational environment, Billingsley said. Other speakers at the
event highlighted the importance of competing with adversaries in a
highly contested cyberspace domain, including Thomas Wingfield,
deputy assistant secretary of defense for cyber policy and former
acting chancellor of CIC.
Another speaker, John
Sherman, DOD's principal deputy chief information officer, said,
"History has taught us that advantages are constantly eroding.
Nothing gives us the preordained right to supremacy in cyberspace
and global competition."
Mark Montgomery, the executive
director of the U.S. Cyberspace Solarium Commission, spoke about the
many recommended reforms which have been adopted by the U.S.
government and signed into law. Congressman James Langevin,
cyberspace solarium commissioner and co-chair of the Congressional
Cyber Caucus, echoed Montgomery's focus on reforms that better
position the U.S. to compete in cyberspace.
Both Montgomery and Langevin thanked CIC for its enduring support of the commission. CIC
hosted the commission's capstone gathering in 2019.
Space Force Maj. Gen. Kim Crider, the
mobilization assistant to the chief of space operations, noted the
importance of developing the educational pipeline of cyber
professionals that can help support the mission of the newest
military service. Recent engagement between Space Force and CIC,
leveraging existing space domain expertise within CIC, has led to a
new pipeline of students, Billingsley said.
Jeff Moss, a leader in the
global hacker community, discussed the role of civil society as
allies and force multipliers in pursuit of national security. Moss,
who has served as a member of the Homeland Security Advisory
Council, also commended the "herculean effort" that Montgomery and
Langevin have taken on with the commission.
conventions that Moss founded, "DEF CON and Black Hat, provide DOD
personnel a powerful educational and engagement opportunity,
especially with 'villages' dedicated to learning about election
security, air and maritime safety and much more" Joseph H. Schafer,
chair of the Information Strategy and Disruptive Technology
Department at CIC, said.
CIC students also played a
prominent role in the event, which included a student panel for the
first time. The panel had U.S. military, interagency, and allied
representation. "As an educator, highlighting our students and their
insights was a point of pride," Lewis said.
The students at
CIC, known as the "Cyber War College," are experienced national
security professionals focusing on strategic issues, Billingsley
said. The conference was also helpful for those across the
professional military education community, he noted.
instance, Navy Cmdr. Dan Brown, an instructor at the Joint Forces
Staff College said, "The knowledge I gained will be an immense help
in building my lesson plans and leading classroom discussions."
One attendee, Paul de Souza, president of the non-profit Cyber
Security Forum Initiative, described the event as "historic, based
on the involvement of the Space Force and so many recognized
national leaders in this community, especially Moss, Montgomery and
Billingsley agreed with the historic nature of
this event and put it into a larger context, saying "our college was
first established at the dawn of the computer age in the 1960s as
the DOD Computer Institute and included instructors like the
legendary Grace Hopper. The school has evolved over more than half a
century to meet the evolving challenges our nation faces. If there
was one 'take-away' from this event, it is that we have much work to
be done, and with urgency."
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