Senate lawmakers propose cut to Army's Cyber Situational Understanding program

By Jaspreet Gill / June 26, 2020 at 2:33 PM

The Senate Armed Services Committee wants to decrease funding for the Army's Cyber Situational Understanding program to avoid duplicating efforts by the Pentagon's Strategic Capabilities Office and U.S. Cyber Command.

Cyber Situational Understanding will provide the service with a common cyber operational picture, built on the software and hardware of the Command Post Computing Environment by Research Innovation, which was recently awarded a $21.8 million other transaction agreement to build a prototype for the program.

The Army had requested $28.5 million in research, development, test and evaluation funds in its fiscal year 2021 budget request for defensive cyber tool development. In the report, Senate lawmakers move to cut the Cyber Situational Understanding program’s funding by $12 million.

In a report accompanying its mark of the FY-21 defense authorization bill, the committee directs the Army to assess Project IKE, a cyber operations program formerly known as "PlanX" that has now been transitioned over to the Strategic Capabilities Office and U.S. Cyber Command from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Specifically, the committee wants the service to assess Project IKE's "ability to meet, with further development, the Cyber Situational Understanding tool requirements; the cost-efficiency of using the PlanX/Project IKE capability as the baseline for the Cyber Situational Awareness Tool; the training and interoperability benefits that result from acquisition and employment of situational understanding tools with a common baseline across the cyber mission forces and tactical cyber units; and whether or not the Cyber Situational Understanding program should be reoriented to utilize and build off of the PlanX/Project IKE capability," according to the report.

Funding should instead be used for tailoring the Joint Cyber Command and Control baseline to the Army's specific brigade combat team application and is urging the Navy and Air Force to undertake similar efforts, the report says.

The committee wants a briefing by Jan. 30, 2021, with an assessment of the capability and a path moving forward.