The Marine Corps launched a new cybersecurity warfare unit, expanding its capabilities in the cyber realm defensively and offensively.
The Marine Corps Cyberspace Warfare Group was activated Friday during a ceremony in Fort Meade, Maryland, forming cyber mission teams that will “perform both defensive and offensive cyber operations in support of United States Cyber Command and Marine Forces Cyberspace Command,” according an announcement.
The group, housed under the Marine Forces Cyberspace Command, will operate like a more offensive counterpart to the branch’s existing Marine Corps Network Operations and Security Center, which operates and defends the Marine Corps Enterprise Network. A key function of the Cyberspace Warfare Group will be to “plan for and, when authorized, conduct offensive cyberspace operations including computer network exploitation, cyberspace intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, and operational preparation of the environment.”
“We’ve always had the means to communicate and the means to protect that communication, but today we’re in an environment where those methods are more and more reliant on a system of transmissions, routers and networks,” Col. Ossen J. D’Haiti, commanding officer of the new group, said in a statement. “So, the ability to protect that, the ability to control that and deny an adversary to interdict that, is crucial to command and control.
Though the unit is already active, and it has a few teams up and running now, Corps officials said it isn’t expected to be fully operational until fiscal year 2017.
“We’re still evolving, but I think five years from now, as the Marine Corps comes online and understands more and more what is happening in this space, the Cyberspace Warfare Group will look much different than it does today,” D’Haiti said.
The launch of the new group comes as the Marine Corps expands the seamless operation of its enterprise network, what Chief Information Officer Brig. Gen. Dennis Crall called the Corps’ “network of networks” in November.
“It’s the idea that you have one network; one network that operates and extends, not from the flagpole to the fighting hole, but from the fighting hole backward,” Crall said.
Despite a Defense Departmentwide push for cloud integration of branch IT systems — a grand plan called the Joint Information Environment — Crall said in November he’s focused foremost on bolstering the Marines’ own enterprise network to support warfighters.
“When you look at how the Joint Information Environment is unfolding right now, it’s unfolding as something kind of grand with some promises in the future about where it ends up,” he said. “The Marine Corps can’t take that pace. We have to have those assurances up front, take that decision-making enabler, and get it in the hands of the warfighter in the most austere conditions imaginable.”
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