Muscatatuck’s cyber warfare training interests Army secretary

BUTLERVILLE — Rapid developments in cyber warfare and the need for those skills to defend the United States make Muscatatuck Urban Training Complex important, the secretary of the U.S. Army said.

Mark T. Esper visited the military installation in Jennings County on Friday afternoon as part of his assessment of the state’s military readiness.

A severe storm could only delay but not prevent Esper from getting a look at MUTC. He arrived two hours late and sopping wet.

MUTC is of great interest to the Army secretary because of the unique collection of training scenarios it can provide for both soldiers and civilians, notably urban warfare and cyber warfare, Esper said.

The former self-contained state hospital for mental patients, which the Indiana National Guard gained control of in 2005, is now the U.S. Department of Defense’s largest urban training center. It offers a wide variety of industrial and residential building on 1,000 acres, and conditions of a town affected by natural or man-made disasters can be replicated.

Esper said MUTC’s cyber warfare training resources were of great interest in his role as Army secretary.

“There will always be a need for boots on the ground and their weapons, but the importance of the cyber force is moving at an accelerating pace,” Esper said.

MUTC offers an integrated, managed cyber-physical environment called “Cybertropolis.” There, soldiers and civilians can learn to deflect cyber attacks against many types of systems, such as civilian water and energy systems.

The Indiana National Guard, commanded by its adjutant general, Columbus resident Maj. Gen. Courtney Carr, has led a collaboration between MUTC and Ivy Tech Community College to operate the Muscatatuck Cyber Academy. Classes will be at MUTC and begin in August.

The academy will allow military and civilian students to learn skills in the fields of cyber and electronic warfare and earn certifications they can use in their careers.

Modernization of the military also includes experimenting with and developing autonomous systems of artificial intelligence and robotics, Esper said.

The Army secretary said it’s too soon to tell, though, if MUTC could be expanded in the near future.

“We are looking at several issues and examining many things,” he said.

First-hand assessment

As the secretary of the Army, Esper is responsibility for all matters relating to the recruiting, organization, training, equipment and care of 1.4 million active duty, reserve and National Guards soldiers and their families.

His visit to MUTC was one of several stops during a trip to Indiana.

“The purpose of my visit to Indiana is to get a good sense of how our soldiers are doing here,” Esper said.

Esper arrived at Columbus Municipal Airport on Thursday and went first to Camp Atterbury, near Edinburgh, said 1st Lt. Katie Sweet, Indiana National Guard spokesperson.

His day Friday began early and on schedule at Camp Atterbury. He then traveled to Indianapolis where he met with Indiana congressmen to discuss issues such as soldiers’ living conditions, military equipment and training facilities.

Esper said he had lunch with soldiers at the Indiana National Guard Headquarters at Stout Field in Indianapolis.

“I wanted to hear for myself what the soldiers had to say. I wanted to hear their concerns,” the Army secretary said.

After lunch at Stout Field, Esper boarded a Black Hawk helicopter with Carr and headed for a flyover at Jefferson Proving Grounds, home to an air-to-surface gunnery/bombing range near Madison, to be followed by a on-the-ground tour of MUTC.

As Esper’s helicopter headed to MUTC, so did a dark and menacing storm, forcing the helicopter to land in the woodlands of the Jefferson Proving Grounds.

As the storms persisted, plans were implemented to transport Esper and others to MUTC by vehicles, but a long delay followed.

Esper, along with Carr, arrived two hours late to MUTC, where short press conference and the tour had been planned.

“I don’t normally hold a conference with wet hair, but this is unavoidable,” a dripping Esper said.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”The Esper file” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Who: Mark T. Esper

What: The 23rd secretary of the U.S. Army. Sworn in November of 2017.

Long before serving as Secretary of the Army, Esper completed a long career as an Infantry Officer.


Graduating with honors from the United States Military Academy in 1986

Joined the 101st Airborne Division and was deployed with the “Screaming Eagles” during the Gulf War from 1990 to 1991

Later led an Airborne rifle company in Europe

Completed a fellowship at the Pentagon

Serving 10 years on active duty

Served 11 years in the Army Reserve and the National Guard while pursuing several civilian and government positions

Earned a Master of Public Administration degree at Harvard University, and a doctorate in public policy at George Washington University

National security adviser for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist

Policy director for the House Armed Services Committee

Professional staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations and Government Affairs Committees

Legislative director and senior policy adviser to U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel

Served as chief operating officer and executive vice president of defense and international affairs at the Aerospace Industries Association, 2006-07

Served concurrently as executive vice president for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center and vice president for Europe and Eurasian Affairs, 2008-10

Senior executive at the Raytheon Company as vice president for government relation, 2010-17