Soldiers in new cyber teams are now bringing offensive and
defensive virtual effects against Islamic militants in northern Iraq
and Syria, according to senior leaders.
"We have Army
Soldiers who are in the fight and they are engaged [with the Islamic
State of Iraq and Syria]," said Brig. Gen. J.P. McGee, the Army
Cyber Command's deputy commander for operations.
cyber mission force teams stand up, McGee said they're going
straight into operational use.
2017 - Soldiers with the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade conduct
cyberspace operations during a training rotation for the 2nd Stryker
Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, at the National Training
Center at Fort Irwin, California. The Fort Meade, Maryland based
780th was one of several cyber organizations that took part in the
rotation as part of an pilot program to designed to help the Army
develop how it will build and employ cyber in its tactical
formations. (U.S. Army courtesy photo)
"As we build these teams, we are … putting them right
into the fight in contact in cyberspace," he said at a media
roundtable last week.
The general declined to discuss
specific details, but said the majority of the effort
involves offensive cyberspace effects being delivered from
locations in the United States and downrange.
Army is responsible for creating 41 of the 133 teams in the
Defense Department's cyber mission force. Of the Army's
teams, 11 are currently at initial operating capability,
with the rest at full operational capability, according to
Brig. Gen. Patricia Frost, director of cyber for the Army's
She expects all of the Army teams will be
ready to go before the October 2018 deadline, she said.
The teams have three main missions: protect networks,
particularly the Department of Defense Information Network;
defend the U.S. and its national interests against
cyberattacks; and provide cyber support to military
operations and contingency plans.
This spring, Army
Cyber also plans to continue the cyber electromagnetic
activities (CEMA) support to a Corps and Below pilot that is
testing the concept of expeditionary CEMA cells within
The 1st Infantry Division's 2nd
Armored Brigade Combat Team is slated to take part in the
pilot's sixth iteration, which is being held at the National
Training Center in Fort Irwin, California. In the training,
Soldiers will map out cyber and electromagnetic terrain in a
simulated battlefield in order to defeat the enemy.
"Where are the wireless points, cell phone towers? What does
that look like? How do you figure out how to gain access to
them to be able to deliver effects?" McGee said, detailing
the challenges Soldiers will face.
In one example
McGee described, a CEMA cell could shut down an enemy's
internet access for a period of time to allow a patrol pass
safely through a contested area. The CEMA cell could then
turn internet access back on to collect information on enemy
"We're innovating and trying to figure
this out," he said.
McGee also envisions cyber
Soldiers working alongside a battlefield commander inside a
tactical operations center, similar to how field artillery
or aviation planners give input.
commander can look at a team on his staff that can advise
him on how to deliver cyber and electromagnetic effects and
activities in support of his maneuver plan," he said.
Until then, the Army has created a cyber first line of
defense program, which trains two-person teams to actively
defend the tactical networks of brigades, Frost said. Each
team consists of a warrant officer and an NCO who are not
specifically in the cyber career field, but who can still
help brigades operate semi-autonomously in combat.
"[We] look at putting two individuals that will come with
cyber education and tools to be that first line of defense,"
Frost said. "It allows a brigade commander to be able to
execute mission command."
By U.S. Army Sean Kimmons
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