FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (NNS) — The next phase in the maturation of the Navy’s Cyber Mission Force teams is underway as leadership from U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet (FCC/C10F) develop innovative training methods that allow operators to hone their skills in a realistic and challenging environment.
All 40 of the Navy’s Cyber Mission Force teams were validated as being at Full Operational Capability (FOC) by U.S. Cyber Command Oct. 6. FOC is an assessment that a unit has achieved all manning, capability and training requirements necessary as validated by U.S. Cyber Command.
“Although reaching this milestone is a great accomplishment, the true challenge will be sustaining readiness and the prompt ability to ‘answer all bells’ when directed by U.S. Cyber Command,” said Chief Warrant Officer Five Jeff Fisher, FCC/C10F cyber training requirements.
FOC is a one-time threshold and milestone. Once a team is FOC, the cyber mission force teams and leaders turned their focus to sustaining the manning, training, capabilities and operational readiness of the team. They monitor each team’s operational readiness continuously and find innovative ways to test and improve their ability to achieved assigned tasks.
The Persistent Cyber Training Environment (PCTE), managed by the Department of the Army, is expected to incorporate similar distributed training methodologies in module-based systems. PCTE is a cloud-based platform designed to deliver realistic cyber simulations, support individual instruction and certification, allow cyber operators to train simultaneously from opposite sides of the world, and meet the needs of all four services and the U.S. Cyber Command.
“Utilizing a Persistent Cyber Training Environment provides consistent hands on and real-world experience without jeopardizing actual DoD systems with vital/important information,” said Cryptologic Technician (Networks) 1st Class Joshua Jarvis, who is assigned to U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet. “Hands on experience provides the best overall training for personnel working in the cyberspace field as opposed to other methods of training which focus on classroom experience with limited hands on experience.”
While the service branches await the arrival and full implementation of the PCTE, the Navy has begun developing scenarios with a contracted service to provide a Navy Persistent Training Environment (PTE) to allow Sailors to conduct that same hands-on training in a virtual environment using the same cyber tool kit used in real world missions, according to Fisher.
Jarvis is one of the creators of the content in the environment, which will all be migrated to the PCTE when it is eventually delivered to the joint force. He said cyber ranges provide the ability to emulate, detect, mitigate and respond to real world cyberspace attacks in a controlled and safe environment.
“Ultimately, the measure of success is the ability protect DoD networks by being able to detect, mitigate and respond to adversary presence on DoD networks,” said Jarvis. “Utilization of a cyber range will allow our Sailors to continually practice (repetition) and improve their skills in order better prepare for cyber threats to the DoD.”
Since its establishment, FCC/C10F has grown into an operational force composed of more than 16,000 active and Reserve Sailors and civilians organized into 26 active commands, 40 Cyber Mission Force units and 27 Reserve commands around the globe. FCC serves as the Navy component command to U.S. Strategic Command and U.S. Cyber Command, and the Navy’s Service Cryptologic Component commander under the National Security Agency/Central Security Service. C10F, the operational arm of FCC, 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.