Collaborating across the Army cyber force

By Sgt. Erick Yates | U.S. Army Reserve Cyber Protection Brigade | May 26, 2020

FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —

A collaborative mix of about 50 U.S. Army and civilian cyber professionals to include a minor Air Force presence gathered to discuss future of the force efforts during the 2020 Army Cyber Workshop held here March 9-13.

Cyber professionals from all three Army components – active Army, National Guard and Army Reserve along with DoD civilians and private industry cyber partners joined together for focused sessions and conversations for the specific intention of maximizing resources to build a solid cyber force.

The Army Reserve Cyber Protection Brigade, 335th Signal Command (Theater), located in the National Capital Region, hosted the workshop with representatives from the Army Cyber Protection Brigade, Fort Gordon, Georgia, with representatives from the 335th SC (T) headquarters training and operations.

The workshop brought together cyber stakeholders from the total Army to synchronize on the Army's cyber operations strategy in a collaborative forum. The discussions focused on creating significant changes in building the cyber workforce across components and enhance readiness.

"In December 2019, an initial planning workshop at Fort Gordon, Georgia, was held where the concept originated," said Maj. Joel Joyce, deputy training and operations officer for the Army Reserve Cyber Protection Brigade (USAR-CPB).

"Along with planning the workshop concept, the other goal was to bring all three Army components together and establish what the key topics of discussion would be," he explained.

Training exercise standards, talent management and mission readiness were the areas of focus that would shape the discussions for the workshop, Joyce said.

February's meeting allowed the planning team to hear from industry partners regarding what specific cyber tools and platforms the brigade could incorporate into the workshop and missioning strategy for building a reserve cyber element, Joyce said.

With the USAR-CPB still evolving, one of the core focuses of discussion was seeking ways to best align the Army Reserve cyber strategy with the active Army cyber component.

Another key topic examined was the talent management concept for the reserve cyber force in understanding how to leverage the civilian cyber skills of Soldiers.

The Job Qualification Record or JQR (Individual Assessment) Initiatives is a concept that will allow the cyber workforce to meet JQR requirements for better support in future cyber operations, Joyce explained.

1st Lt. Brenda Knott, an operations and training officer for the National Capital Region Cyber Protection Center, said the workshop gave her useful information for the Soldiers at her unit.

Knott, who was assigned her new role in late January, said she likes working in this capacity for the opportunity to guide Soldiers through specific cyber areas of training and providing the right information and tools to help them meet requirements.

"One of my goals for attending the workshop was to gain insight on the talent management portion," she said.

"Having additional insight on what specific tools are available for tracking cyber training and requirements when assessing Soldier skills will help review application/training packets and make decisions on how to place Soldiers in a way that will best serve the cyber protection teams" she explained.

"I attended the workshop to assist with the discussions on planning and answer questions regarding how unit status reporting and the JQR applies to the National Guard and Army Reserve," said Capt. Nathan Graf, cyber training and senior readiness officer for the U.S. Army Cyber Protection Brigade, Fort Gordon, Georgia.

The overall concept is to capture cyber mission proficiency at the individual level through the JQR and measure the readiness of a cyber element or CPT using the Joint Mission Essential Tasks.

The Joint Mission Essential Tasks are the standards used by U.S. Cyber Command to establish the training strategy for CPTs across the cyber mission force, Graf added.

After the workshop, Joyce shared his thoughts on being a part of this project.

"I enjoyed being part of an opportunity, working with peers and colleagues – creating a forum for all three Army components to meet and collaborate with industry on fielding new ideas and having key stakeholders speak on each topic while having conversations on current capabilities of the cyber force," said Joyce.

The hope and intent for coming together in a collaborative effort of this capacity are to use and leverage information going forward – so cyber leaders and professionals supporting the Army Reserve cyber effort can progress forward by making functionality and management better as an Army Reserve cyber force, he said.

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