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NEWS | Oct. 18, 2017

Fast forward year for Army Reserve cyber unit

By Sgt. Erick Yates Army Reserve Cyber Operations Group

The Army Reserve Cyber Operations Group (ARCOG), 335th Signal Command (Theater), has kept its cyber warriors busy this year with operational training and exercises designed to keep its Soldiers skills laser sharp and focused for the required training, missions and support facing them.

The ARCOG is a newly formed cyber brigade created from the Army Reserve Information Operations Command in October 2016. It is in the process of building its force through readiness and advanced cyber security training to perform cyber missions in support of Army Reserve Cyber Command (ARCYBER).

The unit is also building readiness and lethality through advanced cyber training as it reaches the initial operating capability (IOC) for the cyber protection teams (CPTs) under the U.S. Cyber Command (USCC), the ARCYBER and the addition of its ten CPTs to the Cyber Mission Force.

Although a few of the battalion commanders assigned to the ARCOG Cyber Protection Centers (CPCs) have transitioned to new assignments this year, they led the way for new commanders to step in and forge ahead. This new group of commanders are continuing to ensure the cyber warriors and leaders assigned to this new force train and validate to the same standard as their peers on active duty and other branches of the Armed Forces.

One of those new commanders is Lt. Col. Eric Rahman, commander of the ARCOG’s Western Cyber Protection Center (WCPC). He is implementing the ARCOG’s stationing plans through the establishment of Cyber Protection Teams in Los Alamitos, California (in addition to the Headquarters at Camp Parks, California), with mission elements at Moffett Field, California, Hawaii, Japan and Korea.

In June, Rahman's team led by Major Jonathan Reading, a senior officer for the ARCOG’s Phoenix Detachment, established a working relationship by conducting partnership training with the Arizona Cyber Warfare Range (AZCWR), in order to get the Soldiers assigned to the Detachment additional practice in cyber warfare tactics. The instruction at the AZCWR, allowed the Soldiers to get a better shared understanding of the cyber threat environment.

"This unique opportunity provided a chance to view cyber through a very different lens," Rahman said. He further explained how the training concept falls directly in line with the Army Reserve's overall strategic intent of developing public partnership training.

In August, the WCPC deployed a team led by Reading and 1st Lt. Han Wang, to Korea. The Soldiers participated in Ulchi Freedom Guardian, an annual computer simulated defensive exercise conducted with the Republic of Korea and the United States Combined Forces Command, designed to enhance readiness, protect the region and maintain stability on the Korean peninsula.

The cyber warriors from the WCPC who participated in the exercise received great praise for their performance from the Director of the Regional Cyber Center, Rahman said.

While the ARCOG is steadily working at a feverish pace to build up its new cyber reserve elements, they have also been busy meeting operational and deployment requirements.

The ARCOG’s South West Cyber Protection Center (SWCPC), Detachment 3, is on the forefront of meeting those requirements. The Detachment is currently deployed to the South West Asia Cyber Center (SWACC).

Lt. Col. Randy Floyd, commander of the Detachment, said his team participated in six months of training provided by the University of Texas San Antonio, and the Escal Institute of Advanced Technology or SANS Institute, prior to their deployment.

“I have a skilled team of talented noncommissioned officers and warrant officers who provide a high level of support for this detachment,” he said.

In addition to deployment readiness and mission support, the ARCOG participated in numerous training events and exercises throughout the year.

Soldiers from the ARCOG participated in Cyber Shield 17, the Army National Guard sponsored joint exercise focusing on cyber training. In June, the ARCOG hosted the 6th Cyber Endeavour Symposium and Cyber X- Games. Cyber X-Games is a joint cyber training exercise conducted in partnership with the Naval Post Graduate School and hosted by Carnegie Mellon University.

Being able to keep up the high operational tempo does not come without a strong strategy in place. Part of that strategy comes from the guidance of Maj. Gen. Pete Bosse, the 335th SC (T) commanding general. His readiness success formula of people, training and teamwork is what the ARCOG’s former commander, Col. Michael D. Smith, emphasized to all the unit’s leaders and Soldiers.

One of the leaders who took Smith’s advice was Lt. Col. Brian Wisniewski, former commander, North East Cyber Protection Center (NECPC). According to Smith, he used Bosse’s guiding principles to bring training success to his unit. “Wisniewski, cultivated a climate of respect, trust, responsibility and accountability, emphasizing the commanding general’s philosophy,” Smith said.

“Leveraging the collaborative leadership efforts demonstrated by the officers and noncommissioned officers of the NECPC, has this unit on track for becoming a world class Cyber Protection Center," said Smith, of the NECPC's future progress.

Another example of the ARCOG Soldiers performing extremely well, occurred earlier in the year when the ARCOG’s National Capital Region Cyber Protection Center (NCRCPC), hosted the first U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence (CCOE), Mobile Training Team (MTT), for the Cyber Common Technical Core (CCTC) course.

This successful ARCOG sponsored course resulted in the Army’s highest course completion rate and significantly reduced travel costs by having the CCOE’s subject matter expert instructors travel to the ARCOG headquarters, located at the Army Research Laboratory in Adelphi, Maryland. This strategic planning for the course enabled NCRCPC Soldiers recently redeployed from a SWACC mission, to be close to their families during the training.

As the ARCOG gets closer to the end of a busy training year, the training expectations and missions will not slow down. Preparation is ongoing including additional mobile training teams and CPT squad methodologies, as well as joint cyber training exercises designed to test the knowledge and skillset of Soldiers who will inevitably shape the force of this new Army Cyber Reserve Command.

In September, Col. Robert, S. Powell, Jr., was welcomed as the new ARCOG commander. Like his predecessor, Powell will continue implementing the main points of effort for the command.

Powell shared how he is looking forward to leading the best cyber warriors in the Army Total Force.

We must ensure that our Soldiers are deployable and able to 'Fight Tonight,' he said, regarding top priorities for the ARCOG mission.

"We must be able to shoot, move and communicate. For the cyber forces, shooting will include individual weapons and proficiency in cyber skills,” Powell said recently.