U.S. Cyber Command hosted its 10th annual Reserve Components (RC) Summit 20-21 August. The summit was held in two separate auditoriums and was available for live-streaming to the workforce. The theme for the 2021 RC Summit was “Maximizing the Total Force Advantage,” which focuses on advancing the Total Force’s cyber warfighting capability.
The summit brought together leaders in cyber and information operation from USCYBERCOM and its Service Cyber Component Commands: U.S. Army Cyber Command, 16th Air Force/Air Force Cyber Command, U.S. Tenth Fleet/Fleet Cyber Command, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command, and U.S. Coast Guard Cyber Command. Attendees and speakers belonged to the Total Force, which includes Regular, Guard, and Reserve Components.
The two-day event consisted of panels and Q&A’s that gave O-8 and above RC leadership and Service Cyber Component Commanders the opportunity to highlight current RC contributions, challenges, and strategies within the cyber environment, focusing on increased integration and collaboration.
The Commander of USCYBERCOM, Army Gen. Paul Nakasone opened the meeting by discussing the work that has been done by USCYBERCOM and the National Security Agency in strengthening information sharing capabilities with the Cyber 9-line tool that was created to share information across government agencies and the DoD ahead of the 2020 elections.
“In cyberspace, partnerships are the coin of the realm for what we really want to do,” said Nakasone. “Why was the Cyber 9-line so important to us? Because the Cyber 9-line connected us with 50 states, three territories, and the District of Columbia, at an unclassified level, so we could share information broadly.”
Nakasone expressed how expanding this capability would increase the efficacy information sharing with industry partners, academia, and allied and partner nations. This expansion would create the ability to connect the dots to create a more complete picture of threats faced by the nation as a whole.
“These are the type of things were working on now, ensuring we have the stitching and ability to coordinate across broader partnerships.”
The Force growth of the Command was discussed as well. As USCYBERCOM continues to grow to support mission sets, and beyond the original 133 Cyber Mission Force (CMF) teams, operational mission and training platforms must support this growth to enable success. The Joint Cyber Warfare Architecture (JCWA) is integral to the missions of USCYBERCOM its growth.
JCWA consolidates and standardizes the tools used across USCYBERCOM to reach an end state of seamlessly integrated warfighting capabilities comprising multiple components. JCWA is designed to enable the whole of USCYBERCOM to conduct coordinated, integrated, joint offensive and defensive cyberspace operations worldwide, regardless of service and physical location.
Discussing new ideas and ways to utilize the JCWA are crucial to the expansion of the Reserve Components and the joint development of new capabilities that will continue to allow the various components of USCYBERCOM to work together to protect U.S. Department of Defense Information Networks, defend the U.S. from significant cyber-attacks, and direct cyber effects operations abroad.
“Our reservists are a crucial part of achieving our mission of protecting the Nation in cyberspace,” said Nakasone. “This summit enables us to maximize the total force advantage.”
The focus of operations continues to shift toward the emerging concept of Strategic Competition. This shift requires the expansion of the cyber force to include leveraging the RC. Reserve Components have been important in the execution of Hunt Forward Operations (HFO) since USCYBERCOM was granted additional authorities by congress to conduct persistent engagement in 2018.
HFOs are a part of the persistent engagement strategy that allows USCYBERCOM Cyber National Mission Force (CNMF) to conduct defensive cyberspace operations on partner nation’s networks at their invitation. HFO are small cyber teams who deploy abroad to find malicious cyber activity and better understand adversary activities and tools, which enables defense of U.S. networks. Speakers discussed the authorities of HFOs and ways the Reserve Components can participate in HFOs that strengthen the cyber defense capabilities of the U.S. and others.
The two day summit covered a variety of topics that all tied back to the purpose of the event: Bringing together the various components to share information, capabilities and ideas to enable USCYBERCOM to maximize the total force of USCYBERCOM cyber capabilities.
“Cybersecurity is national security,” said Nakasone. “Malicious actors utilizing tools less than a few thousand dollars in value are capable of impacting national security. That’s where the Total Force comes in, in terms of what we need to do collective as a team to protect national interest in cyberspace.”
Continued malicious cyber activity can cripple the nation and reliance on critical resources. It affects our daily lives, economic vitality, and national security. Integrating efforts across the Total Force maximizes capability to defend against potential cyber threats at home and abroad.