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Navy Cyber Commander Addresses Midshipmen on Future of Cyber Security

Posted on: November 20, 2013 16:00 EST by Midshipman 3rd Class Alyson Eng

Vice Adm. Michael S. Rogers delivered a lecture to cyber security students as well as interested midshipmen and faculty about his role as commander of U.S. Fleet Cyber Command and the future of cyber capabilities in the fleet.

“In order to execute naval operations in this century, we must understand and operate in this domain and assume that others will contest us in the cyber environment,” said Rogers.  “Technology is here to stay. We can stick our heads in the sand and turn away from all kinds of digital technology or we can take calculated risks to enhance shipboard operations.”

Since September 2011 when Rogers assumed his present duties as commander of U.S. Fleet Cyber Command and U.S. 10th Fleet, he has been tasked with the responsibility of building the Navy component of the joint dedicated cyber workforce.

The Department of Defense increased funding for fiscal year 2013 in three key areas – special forces, unmanned vehicles, and cyber.  Rogers said that the Navy alone accounts for 1,850 of the 6,000 new employees planned to join the workforce this year.  He emphasized the demand for technologically proficient naval officers and mentioned the possibility for change at the Naval Academy in terms of the cyber curriculum and service selection.

“If you have access to a keyboard, you are an operator, but you also represent a vulnerability,” said Rogers.

Across the workforce, the Navy has concluded that a foundational understanding of cyber security is of significant operational importance.  The United States Naval Academy is reflecting this emphasis on cyber competency to meet and enhance the capabilities of the Navy.  Beginning with the class of 2015, all midshipmen are required to complete a two-course sequence in cyber security: Introduction to Cyber Security and Applications of Cyber Engineering. 

Referencing the cases of Army Pfc. Bradley E. Manning and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden who both disclosed classified documents while taking advantage of their security clearances, Rogers noted that he has a great deal of respect for both the personnel that excel in the workplace as well as for those who decide they cannot live within the constraints of their position and leave the workplace with composure.  In other words, breaching employment agreements and explicitly violating the Oath of Office is not a professional way to deal with operational dissatisfaction.

Rogers concluded his lecture with a sea story that every midshipman can reflect upon.  Reminiscing on his NROTC days, he pulled from a conversation with his father about what the Oath of Office really means. 

“A career in the U.S. Navy demands much of us as individuals. I have to not only be willing to give my own life but also to order the loss of life of others – not an easy decision as a leader,” he said.

The Center for Cyber Security Studies at USNA presents lectures from both uniformed members of the Information Dominance Corps as well as civilian professionals in the field of cyber security.

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