Respected DOD cyber warriors and leaders, retired Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, the first Commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, and retired Navy Vice Adm. Jan E. Tighe, the 66th Director of Naval Intelligence, discussed the breakthroughs and challenges that 5G will bring during Naval Postgraduate School’s (NPS) latest Virtual Secretary of the Navy Guest Lecture (SGL), held online Tuesday, July 21.
Alexander and Tighe join other high-profile leaders in the SGL series, like retired Navy Adms. Mike Mullen and William H. McRaven who spoke on national security challenges and leadership, by sharing their wealth of knowledge and decades of experience in the cyber field with the students and faculty of NPS.
“With respect to 5G, it will increasingly shape the way that we live our lives and the way we design and execute our missions over the next 5 to 10 years,” said Tighe. “For the students, be optimistic and curious about how to best leverage this technology and capability to our military advantage … I expect 5G will enable faster and better decision making on the battlefield.”
“You’re the leaders for defending our nation at sea, on the ground, and in the air,” Alexander added. “5G is going to be one of the capabilities that you have at your hand. Understanding how to employ that and how the adversary is going to employ it is key to being able to fight and win.”
Alexander said the nation is not accustomed to this type of public-private sector partnership in defense and that the military is going to have to lead. He noted that students at NPS have the ability to study and research the capabilities of 5G and, in turn, inform senior leadership.
Most of the lecture’s time was allotted to university students, who were able to ask their questions directly to the two leaders. Questions covered a variety of topics from how to break and jam 5G to how we ensure that the United States is a leader in technology.
“I think we need to ascertain how our peers will incorporate 5G capabilities into the fabric of their warfighting capabilities,” stated Tighe. “As 5G rolls out, counter-terrorism and counterinsurgency missions could benefit from incorporating 5G capabilities, but I believe there is larger potential in being prepared for the high-end fight.”
“We cannot trail in this area,” added Alexander. “This is an all-of-nation approach and one of the areas I see is a grand economic competition for our country. 5G is going to be the fabric upon which our military fights.”
Alexander again stressed the importance of public-private sector relationships to maintain the security and well-being of the country.
“The Department of Defense, as well as the State Department and others, have to help push our government to help our industry compete in the area,” said Alexander.
“In this case, commercial is developing the road map and the military has the opportunity to see where that road map is going, before they’ve even delivered that product in the commercial sector,” continued Tighe, echoing Alexander’s thoughts on public-private sector partnerships. “We have the ability to see the standards and adapt those standards to our use.”
During his closing remarks, Alexander reminded students of the opportunity they have before them at NPS, reminiscing on his own tenure as a student.
“My time at NPS really helped my career,” claimed Alexander. “It gave me the opportunity to be curious and to help describe what our Army and intelligence community needed. It allowed me to be a leader in an area where I would not normally have been, and now you have that same opportunity.”
NPS will continue its SGL series with speaker Dr. Kathryn Sullivan on Aug. 25 at 3:00p.m. PST. One of the first women to join the NASA astronaut corps in 1978, Sullivan was the first American woman to walk in space. More recently, her submersible dive to the Challenger Deep in June of 2020 made her the first person to both orbit the planet and reach the deepest point.