EUCOM Cyber Deputy Director Highlights Information Sharing, Building Partnerships at Marshall Center Cybersecurity Program
“There is a lot of opportunity to collaborate on what different countries have seen work or not work, and to be able to share that information in an environment like PCSS is really, really huge.”
- U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Maria Biank
Deputy Director for Cyber at the U.S. European Command
By Christine June
Public Affairs Office
George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany – Information sharing and building partnerships are key to cyber defense said the Deputy Director for Cyber at the U.S. European Command.
These were the two main themes that U.S. Army Brig Gen. Maria Biank emphasized in her presentation to 86 military and civilian cyber professionals from 49 nations during the Program on Cyber Security Studies Dec. 13 at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies. She is the EUCOM’s deputy of the Plans and Operations Center of the Command, Control, Communications and Computers, and Cyber Directorate.
“It’s about how do we protect our critical infrastructure and build-up cyber defense, not just in the European theatre, but also globally,” she said. “One way to do that is through information sharing and building partnerships.”
The Marshall Center is a 26-year-old, German-American security and defense studies institute based here. In 2014, the Marshall Center was designated by the U.S. Department of Defense as a Center of Excellence for Transnational Security Studies, due to its cybersecurity program, as well as its courses on countering organized crime and combating terrorism.
“The Marshall Center’s program on cyber security studies is the most comprehensive cybersecurity course of its kind,” said retired U.S. Marine Corps Col. Phil Lark, the PCSS program director, who was instrumental in developing this transnational course for the Marshall Center. “It provides participants with an understanding of the complexities of cyberspace and equips them with the skills and knowledge to address strategy and policy, both domestically and globally.”
Created in 2014, PCSS focuses on the cyber strategy and policy development challenges and opportunities each of the participants face in their daily duties to enhance international cooperation. This program emphasizes a whole-of-government strategic policy development and planning approach by gaining a common understanding of the magnitude of today’s cyber risks.
“This course is focused exactly where it should be,” Biank said. “It’s not focused on the technical level, but on the strategic one with senior-key leaders, from allied-partner nations’ military, civilian and government organizations.”
The program’s participants were senior government officials with the professional knowledge and capabilities to deal with transnational cyber security challenges. The PCSS is tailored for diplomats, legislators, ministerial staffs, policymakers, military and law enforcement officers, and other national officials.
“We invited them to participate because of their senior national-level duties, professional skills, expertise and knowledge,” said Lark. “We want participants to share what they learned here at the Marshall Center with others – those in their countries, their neighbors regionally and with each other globally.”
In total, there are 25 core themes in PCSS.
“We are focusing on areas that are not just within the normal department of defense or ministry of defense lanes or areas of expertise, but are also examining whole-of-government approaches in addressing cyber security issues and challenges.” Lark added, “We encourage sharing best practices and advance initiatives that transcends the traditional notions of governmental and commercial responsibilities.”
In particular, PCSS delves into topics like Internet governance, Internet freedom, combating terrorism and cybercrime, developing public and private partnerships, and exploring other critical cyber-related policy issues.
Based on U.S. and German strategic guidance, themes added this year include certifications, standards development management, supply chain management and workforce development.
“I think workforce development is really important,” Biank said. “What I have found in my time at EUCOM and my travels, is that we all have the same challenges – recruiting and retaining the cyber workforce.
“There is a lot of opportunity to collaborate on what different countries have seen work or not work, and to be able to share that information in an environment like PCSS is really, really huge,” she added.
After her presentation, the participants heard from officials from NATO, U.S. Cyber Command and U.S. Africa Command on their agencies’ perspectives on and roles in cyber defense.
“We have assembled a top team of cyber professionals who are going to provide you a rich academic program where you will learn about the best practices from others across the globe,” said retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Keith W. Dayton, the Marshall Center’s Director, during his remarks on the first day of the program Dec. 3.
There were close to 50 expert speakers from military and civilian partnerships presenting in this iteration. Topics included: privacy and security; diplomacy and statecraft; critical infrastructure protection; international laws and norms; supply chain and vendor risks; and, assessments and digital democracy.
“The one tangible thing that I believe the Marshall Center does is providing that rolodex with people to call or email when you have a question and you are not sure who else to ask,” Biank said. “It really is phenomenal what the Marshall Center is able to do and bring together.”