Fort George G. Meade –
Joint Force Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Network and U.S. Cyber Command are partnering with Marshall University and West Virginia University to establish a National Center of Excellence for Cyber Security in Critical Infrastructure in West Virginia.
Developed under the umbrella of U.S. Cyber Command’s Academic Engagement Network, this partnership expands CYBERCOM and JFHQ-DODIN ability to examine critical infrastructure issues and create solutions to strengthen national security while helping shape the future cyber workforce for DoD through research, training, and collaborative initiatives.
The partnership will focus on critical infrastructure protection, cyber security, and cyber assessment research needs ensuring the student population is addressing these essential topics in both depth and breadth. DoD and federal government participation ensures research remains focused on the most pressing needs of the nation while keeping pace with contemporary concerns and issues.
According to Air Force Lt. Gen. Robert J. Skinner, the commander of JFHQ-DODIN, the partnership will enable numerous collateral opportunities for the near and long-term. This includes promoting STEM careers within the DoD, the exchange of expertise among partners, and deep research on tough issues associated with protecting and operationalizing the security and defense of the nation’s critical infrastructure.“We look forward to sharing our lessons learned and experiences in the command and control of a complex federated environment. In this environment, dozens of organizations are responsible and accountable for their own operations and outcomes but must work collectively in a unified approach for speed and resiliency,” Skinner said.
Holly Baroody, Executive Director, CYBERCOM, said the partnership is a prime example of what was envisioned with the Academic Engagement Network.
“The research and innovation fostered through academia is foundational to our success. We're excited to build this partnership with Marshall University and West Virginia University to create new solutions for reducing risk to our critical infrastructure from cyber threats,” she said.
Both U.S. Senators from West Virginia, Sen. Joe Manchin and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, have been strong advocates in helping ensure this National Center of Excellence will become an exemplar public/private partnership of academia, federal/state/local government, law enforcement, the Department of Defense, and the private sector with a vision of becoming the premier source of expertise in cyber security, operations, and defense of America’s critical infrastructure.
National Center of Excellence for Cyber Security in Critical Infrastructure is expected to leverage innovative capabilities, build awareness and interoperability tools for synergistic and integrated operations, and foster effective collaboration across the public and private sectors to reduce risk through collective action amid the growing risks due to global interconnectivity.
In support of the partnership, Marshall University plans to develop a state-of-the-art Information Technology and Operational Technology Security Operations Center and Collaborative Cyber Resiliency Laboratory. In part, the center and lab will be modeled after the JFHQ-DODIN Operations Center, which is the hub of command and control of DoD’s complex cyber battlespace.
“We are grateful for JFHQ-DODIN and USCYBERCOM’s involvement in helping develop the security operations center, research lab and assistance in shaping our curriculum for the 21st century workforce. Together with our private sector partners, we are architecting a learning environment and research laboratory that strategically intersects information technology and operational technology to advance our collective capabilities,” said Marshall University President Brad D. Smith.
Key aspects of the partnership include curriculum development, developing data-driven tools and best practices for passive and active defense measures, cyber forensic analysis and handling incidents, training, and using a fully capable cyber range enabled with real-time simulation and customizable networks and network security operations with realistic scenarios.
“West Virginia University is focused on finding and supporting programs that will truly elevate the educational experience for our students,” WVU President Gordon Gee said. “We are excited about this partnership to create a center of excellence for cyberspace to explore and shape innovative solutions addressing cyber challenges. By leveraging the new center and lab, as well as broadening the learning opportunities for students, we will be at the leading edge of developing the future cyber workforce.”
A groundbreaking ceremony for the Marshall University operations center is planned for the Winter of 2023. A connected sister operations center at West Virginia University is under development.
JFHQ-DODIN’s mission is to effectively execute command and control by integrating, synchronizing and directing DODIN operations, security and defensive maneuvers to enable power projection and freedom of action across all warfighting domains. The command has a global responsibility to fortify the DODIN security posture through continually calibrating standards, risk and operations to improve the performance of 45 DODIN Areas of Operations. Its mission covers a broad range of activities from directing proactive, threat-informed actions to reduce cyber risk across the DODIN to leading DoD response to cyberattacks from adversaries determined to compromise DoD’s cyber terrain.