Unified Platform

Collaboration and experience are keys to success as U.S. Cyber Command and Air Force build military cybersecurity operations with Unified Platform

Collaboration and experience are keys to success as U.S. Cyber Command and Air Force build military cybersecurity operations with Unified Platform

BY MAJ. GEN. GREGG POTTER, USA (RET.), AND CHRIS VALENTINO





Cyber threats are becoming more common and sophisticated with the potential to disrupt our daily lives on an unprecedented scale. On the battlefield, digital merges with land, sea, air, and space, to create a complex and evolving domain known as cyberspace. In order to maintain both a tactical and technological edge in this fifth domain, U.S. Cyber Command requires an integrated full-spectrum cyber warfighting capability. Called the Unified Platform, this new capability will serve as the core for defensive and offensive cyber operations, and cyber intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance for all cyber forces.

Throughout the nation's history, our most decisive battlefield wins have been the result of coordinated joint military operations. In 1950, at the Battle of Inchon during the Korean War, General of the Army Douglas MacArthur and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Forrest Sherman demonstrated the effectiveness of a joint warfighting campaign. From Japan, they coordinated an amphibious assault with 75,000 troops and 261 naval vessels to recapture the South Korean capital of Seoul. This joint effort between the two forces resulted in a decisive victory that reversed the trajectory of the war.

Since then, joint operations have continued to evolve, along with the domains in which they are fought. Today, our nation's military leadership understands that each branch of service and its associated capabilities can serve a specialized role in a broader, often more effective strategy. U.S. Cyber Command plans to use the Unified Platform to help leverage the power of joint operations and tip the scales in favor of our warfighters in the cyber domain.

Northrop Grumman has been a proven partner to the government on programs paramount to the success of national security for more than 80 years. This, combined with more than 30 years of experience in delivering next generation cyber security solutions, gives us a unique understanding of how to develop the integrated, shared capabilities our military will use to leverage the lethality of a unified force. It is with this deep level of experience that we make the recommendations below concerning Unified Platform.

Unified Platform must be designed to scale and meet present, future, and unforeseen requirements, and the team chosen must be highly experienced in using Agile development methodologies and principles of model-based systems engineering (MBSE). MBSE is the most cost-effective way to develop a new system because it emphasizes the testing and validation of system characteristics early, allowing for more time to be spent on enhancements. Using an Agile development approach will support the rapid insertion and deployment of new mission enhancing capabilities, while also leveraging the best available mature technologies.

An example of our success using Agile and MSBE is the Cyber Mission Platform (CMP), where our experienced team worked closely with the customer to complete development ahead of schedule. Agile software development by definition requires a significant amount of flexibility, and a strong partnership between the Government and the provider. As we demonstrated on CMP, both sides of the equation need to buy in and be active throughout the process in order for it to be successful. As such, Agile development with contract flexibility is especially critical in the early stages of a program since requirements are often evolving or maturing and may not be fully defined in advance of program start.

Over time, in collaboration with the customer, the contractor will establish an operations tempo that allows team to reliably forecast a capacity or velocity going forward and use it as the basis for converting future cycles to completion. Using a contractor with deep experience and demonstrated success using Agile combined with MSBE will enable the most successful outcomes for the Unified Platform program.

Finally, the Unified Platform team should have a wide view of the technology landscape and the ability to partner with others in the industry to ensure capabilities stay ahead of the threat. Decades of experience as a trusted partner to the government provides us with a unique understanding of the mission, and also allows us to build strong working relationships with other leaders in our industry, and beyond. From cutting edge small cyber technology innovators to the largest cloud service providers in the world, we leverage these relationships with our experience to ensure we lead with the latest mission advancing capabilities at reduced cost and risk to our government partners.

Northrop Grumman is recognized for collaborative, innovative leadership in delivering flexible transformative cyber solutions through a full range of challenged environments. Our recommended approach to launching, developing and operationalizing the full spectrum of cyber capabilities of Unified Platform combines an unrivaled level of experience with the customer, unique MSBE and Agile development experience, working partnerships across the cyber technology landscape, ongoing collaboration, and a shared understanding and commitment to mission success.


Maj. Gen. Gregg Potter, USA (Ret.)

Maj. Gen. Gregg Potter, USA (Ret.)

Maj. Gen. Gregg Potter, USA (Ret.), is the corporate lead executive for Northrop Grumman at Fort Meade and Aberdeen, Maryland. He served in the U.S. Army for more than 32 years as a military intelligence officer and retired as the director of the National Security Agency’s Signals Intelligence Directorate.


Chris Valentino

Chris Valentino

Chris Valentino, director of joint cyberspace programs for Northrop Grumman Mission Systems Cyber and Intelligence Mission Solutions Division, is responsible for development and delivery of full-spectrum cyberspace capabilities to customers in defense, homeland security and the intelligence community.