Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Cyber "C" for squadron?

Battle E ribbon, from Wikipedia
The Navy's Battle E ribbon recognizes a unit that maintains the highest state of battle readiness inside a squadron over the course of a year.  It's a unit award and isn't won for any one specific action, but an overall accumulation of readiness inspections and performance over a given year.  The award recognizes our afloat units that are most ready for combat.

We have a lot of smaller awards that fit into the Battle E competition.  For submarines, we had competitions for the best Navigation department, Supply department, Weapons department and Engineering department.  The competition among the other boats in our squadron was a way of rewarding the departments that functioned best as a team, and not just a group of Sailors lumped together.

Despite the importance of cyber and how it can affect ships, we have no unit awards for cyber units.  Our cyber personnel embarked on warships aren't eligible for the Battle "E."  We have awards that recognize language excellence, great maintenance programs, outstanding cryptologists, and even (gasp!) intelligence officers.  But we have nothing to foster friendly competition among our Navy cyber units, no way of giving Tenth Fleet the chance to recognize excellence in their mission areas.

So I say, make a Cyber "C."  Let the competition go over the course of the year.  Put the submissions and tracking on JWICS, so we can get into the gory details and not have generic submissions.  The Cyber "C" should incorporate:

- Manpower and qualifications (how well a unit is doing in the Cyber Security Workforce)
- Offense and defense scores, perhaps judged in the cyber equivalent of a Tactical Readiness Exam
- Survivability and continuity of operations
- Network maintenance

Tenth Fleet could track scores over the course of the year, then award a winner either for Tenth Fleet overall or divide up the units into squadron-like sections and award a Cyber "C" to the best in each group.  Not only would this align cyber with how the fleet thinks, but it would help keep each unit sharp by bringing in friendly competition between units.

In the spirit of not spending millions of dollars designing something, simply use the Battle E ribbon, but put a "C" on it instead.   My simple Microsoft Paint skills put that together in 5 minutes, although I'm sure it would have been at least a 5 million dollar contract somewhere else.

With a Cyber "C," cyber could begin behaving more like the rest of the fleet while still retaining it's unique nature and design.