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Cyber Warfare Prominent During Keen Edge 22
by U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William Sykes
February 12, 2022

U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/ U.S. 10th Fleet (FCC/C10F) took part in Keen Edge 22, a bilateral, command post exercise led by the Japan Joint Staff and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), January 26 - February 3, 2022.

During Keen Edge 22, U.S. and Japanese forces validated shared strategies and tactics to enhance the capability to mutually respond to cyber-attacks that might have a direct and immediate impact upon the nations.

“U.S. Fleet Cyber Command is charged with developing and executing the Navy’s offensive and defensive strategies in cyber and space to ensure freedom of action and maneuver for the U.S. Navy and our partners,” said Vice Adm. Ross Myers, commander, FCC/C10F. “Interconnectivity must be pervasive to fight and win in a contested environment.”

January 27, 2022 - Navy Reservists and a civilian assigned to the maritime space cyber fires and effects coordination cell during Exercise Keen Edge 22 participate in a non-kinetic operations meeting the Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet situation room. Keen Edge is a bilateral command post exercise conducted to increase combat readiness and synchronization between the U.S. and Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William Sykes)
January 27, 2022 - Navy Reservists and a civilian assigned to the maritime space cyber fires and effects coordination cell during Exercise Keen Edge 22 participate in a non-kinetic operations meeting the Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet situation room. Keen Edge is a bilateral command post exercise conducted to increase combat readiness and synchronization between the U.S. and Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William Sykes)

In addition to Keen Edge, the command took part in three concurrent exercises: Cyber Lightning, Global Lightning and Space Lightning to integrate, not only across two nations, but across a total of four combatant commands including U.S. Cyber Command, U.S. Strategic Command and U.S. Space Command. Participation in four simultaneous exercises tests the command’s global requirement to detect and defend Navy networks that deliver tactical and operational effects in and through cyberspace.

“10th Fleet is responsible for all cyber operations that the Navy has operational control of,” said Lt. Cmdr. Fritz Hain, battle watch captain, FCC/C10F Maritime Operations Center (MOC). “Command and control of all Navy cyber operations lies with Fleet Cyber Command through Vice Adm. Myers.”

The FCC/C10F MOC keeps watch of Navy network systems around the world. During Keen Edge, Sailors hone skills to ensure secure communications to support real-time command and control.

“If there are any network outages on any system, we report and monitor them while requesting troubleshooting efforts,” said Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Stephanee Valenzuela, a MOC watchstander, in charge of monitoring network operations. “We make sure that we can continue to operate.”

January 27, 2022 - Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Stephanee Valenzuela, assigned to the battle watch, briefs during a commander’s update brief in the Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet maritime operations center during Exercise Keen Edge 22. Keen Edge is a bilateral command post exercise conducted to increase combat readiness and synchronization between the U.S. and Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William Sykes)
January 27, 2022 - Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Stephanee Valenzuela, assigned to the battle watch, briefs during a commander’s update brief in the Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet maritime operations center during Exercise Keen Edge 22. Keen Edge is a bilateral command post exercise conducted to increase combat readiness and synchronization between the U.S. and Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William Sykes)

Exercise participants use a computer-based system, called the Joint Theater Level Simulation system, to direct and respond to exercise events. This system provides a realistic environment in which commanders and staffs improve their skills by anticipating and reacting in real-time. Cyber attacks are increasingly part of military exercises because of their use by adversaries to degrade networks and create fog of war impacts.

“Keen Edge helps us be ready … to secure networks to keep communications and intelligence advantage,” said Hain. “This is to make sure we are ready for any real world scenario.”

Lessons learned from Keen Edge 22 will feed into future training exercises and operations to ensure the U.S. Navy and its partners maintain current skills and capabilities in a dynamic and contested cyber environment.

FCC is responsible for Navy information network operations, offensive and defensive cyberspace operations, space operations and signals intelligence. C10F is the operational arm of Fleet Cyber Command and executes its mission through a task force structure similar to other warfare commanders. In this role, C10F provides support of Navy and joint missions in cyber/networks, cryptologic/signals intelligence and space.

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