Leadership of Cyber Warriors: Enduring Principles and New Directions

Leadership of Cyber Warriors: Enduring Principles and New Directions

by Gregory Conti and David Raymond

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Leadership is a core competency of the officers, warrant officers, and non-commissioned officers across the military services. A principle tenant of leadership is competence in the domain of operations. However, until recently, the defense of computer networks and the conduct of network warfare were treated as ancillary functions by the military services. The increasing cyber warfare threat against the United States, the creation of United States Cyber Command and the designation of cyberspace as a warfighting domain now necessitate study of the attributes of successful cyber warfare leaders and the leadership techniques required to successfully lead cyber warriors. In particular, we must develop an understanding of where traditional kinetic leadership paradigms succeed, where they fail, and where new techniques must be adopted.

Leadership is not a one size fits all endeavor. The capabilities and characteristics of the leader and the led and the missions proposed, combined with the impact of the operational environment, all merge to create a complex dynamic where capable leaders will adapt and succeed and less capable leaders will fail. We argue that successfully leading cyber warriors takes a different type of leader, one who is comfortable in the inherently technical cyber domain, appreciates technical expertise, and understands the personality types, creativity, culture, motivations, and intellectual capability of cyber warriors.

Download the Full Article: Leadership of Cyber Warriors: Enduring Principles and New Directions

LTC Gregory Conti is Military Intelligence Officer and Director of West Point's Cyber Security Research Center. He holds a BS from West Point, an MS from Johns Hopkins University and a PhD from the Georgia Institute of Technology, all in Computer Science. He is a frequent speaker at leading security conferences including Defcon, Black Hat, RSA, and Shmoocon. He recently returned from a deployment as Officer in Charge of United States Cyber Command's Expeditionary Cyber Support Element in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He has also deployed in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

LTC David Raymond is an Armor Officer and Assistant Professor in West Point's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He holds a BS from West Point, an MS in Computer Science from Duke University, and a PhD in Computer Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic and State University. LTC Raymond's research interests include wireless sensor and mobile ad hoc networks, wireless network security, and online security and privacy. He has deployed in support of Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States Military Academy, United States Cyber Command, the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the United States Government.

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As always, the question asked but never answered is: "what is 'cyber'?"