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Government Information and Cyberspace Leaders Connect

By Joe Billingsley, Director of Strategic Engagement, College of Information and Cyberspace, National Defense University

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This fall, the National Defense University (NDU) College of Information and Cyberspace (CIC) hosted the 5th annual Cyber Beacon Conference at its Fort McNair campus in Washington, DC. This gathering of leaders and experts from across the wider national security community dug into highly relevant discussions about America's challenges concerning information and cyberspace. The event theme was "decision-making in cyberspace" and guided each presentation and audience interaction.

Tom Wingfield welcoming conference attendees. Photo courtesy of Katie Persons Lewis, NDU Audio Visual.
Tom Wingfield welcoming conference attendees. Photo courtesy of Katie Persons Lewis, NDU Audio Visual.
Tom Wingfield welcoming conference attendees. Photo courtesy of Katie Persons Lewis, NDU Audio Visual.
Fifth Annual Cyber Beacon Conference
Tom Wingfield welcoming conference attendees. Photo courtesy of Katie Persons Lewis, NDU Audio Visual.

The event began with opening remarks by senior leaders like Admiral Roegge (President of NDU) and General Nakasone (Commander of US Cyber Command) and moved into a session on deterrence, which was opened by Admiral Studeman (former Deputy Director of the CIA and Director of the NSA). The panel on deterrence included representatives from the Department of Energy, Atlantic Council, and Oracle.

The next session on law and authorities was opened by Admiral Dermanelian (Commander of US Coast Guard Cyber Command), who explained the various authorities the Coast Guard leverages to accomplish its mission. The panel was moderated by Tom Wingfield, Esq. (Acting Chancellor of CIC) and included representatives from the Department of Homeland Security and the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus. US Cyber Command also had representatives on both panels, as well as numerous personnel in the audience.

Admiral Dermanelian discusses cyber strategy. Photo courtesy of Katie Persons Lewis, NDU Audio Visual.
Admiral Dermanelian discusses cyber strategy. Photo courtesy of Katie Persons Lewis, NDU Audio Visual.
Admiral Dermanelian discusses cyber strategy. Photo courtesy of Katie Persons Lewis, NDU Audio Visual.
Fifth Annual Cyber Beacon Conference
Admiral Dermanelian discusses cyber strategy. Photo courtesy of Katie Persons Lewis, NDU Audio Visual.

The final session on day 1 of the conference was dedicated to developing games that can be used to help educated future strategic leaders in information and cyberspace related topics. This innovative effort was a collaboration between the CIC and CASL (Center for Applied Strategic Learning) and produced many useful concepts that can be used to gamify learning about this challenging domain. The day ended with a beautiful reception hosted by the NDU Foundation.

Jennifer Mandula of CIC (center) inviting teams to present their game concepts. Photo courtesy of Lt. Col. Greg Clay, NDU CIC.
Jennifer Mandula of CIC (center) inviting teams to present their game concepts. Photo courtesy of Lt. Col. Greg Clay, NDU CIC.
Jennifer Mandula of CIC (center) inviting teams to present their game concepts. Photo courtesy of Lt. Col. Greg Clay, NDU CIC.
Fifth Annual Cyber Beacon Conference
Jennifer Mandula of CIC (center) inviting teams to present their game concepts. Photo courtesy of Lt. Col. Greg Clay, NDU CIC.

The second and final day of the conference opened with presentations by thinkers like Jason Healey of Columbia University and General Brendler (former Chief of Staff of US Cyber Command). The first session of the day focused on innovative collaboration and included speakers from DIU (formerly DIUx or Defense Innovation Unit - Experimental), Cyber Security Forum Initiative, and Czech Embassy, and IBM. The CIC Chancellor Emerita, Admiral Hamby, also participated in the session by providing insights from her decades of experience across various sectors of the economy.

The next session, dedicated to information and disinformation, was highly anticipated due to the relevance of the subject manner and organizations represented. Speakers in this sessions came from the State Department's Global Engagement Center, Joint Information Operations Warfare Center, and US Agency for Global Media (formerly the BBG or Broadcasting Board of Governors). Two private sector voices were included on this panel, one from Bank of America and another from the media outlet CyberWire.

Fifth Annual Cyber Beacon Conference
On September 19-20, 2018, the College of Information and Cyberspace at the National Defense University hosted Cyber Beacon V in Marshall Hall at Fort McNair in Washington, DC. The theme of this year's theme was "Decision Making in Cyberspace."
Fifth Annual Cyber Beacon Conference
Fifth Annual Cyber Beacon Conference
On September 19-20, 2018, the College of Information and Cyberspace at the National Defense University hosted Cyber Beacon V in Marshall Hall at Fort McNair in Washington, DC. The theme of this year's theme was "Decision Making in Cyberspace."

The conference concluded with a session on cyber graduate education, opened by Dr. Pano Yannakogeorgos (first Dean of the USAF Cyber College), and included panelists from the Naval Postgraduate School, Air Force Institute of Technology, CIC, and the Joint Staff Directorate for Joint Education.

By setting the right tone of intellectual exploration in support of national security by diverse participants, the CIC accomplished the overall intent of the event. Feedback from audience members has highlighted the significant intellectual stimulation they experienced concerning these complex topics as well as the valuable social networking opportunities afforded by the gathering.

The CIC has set a date of 11 - 12 September 2019 for the next Cyber Beacon Conference and will be providing additional information at cic.ndu.edu/cyberbeacon.