National Guard and Reserve units are deployed worldwide, providing valuable assets for combatant commanders and working with partners and allies, reserve component military leaders told lawmakers on Capitol Hill today.
Testifying before the House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee were: Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau; Army Reserve Chief Lt. Gen. Charles Luckey; Air Force Reserve Chief Lt. Gen. Richard W. Scobee; Navy Reserve Chief Vice Adm. Luke McCollum; and Commander of Marine Forces Reserve Maj. Gen. Bradley James.
The leaders discussed a wide range of issues in the hearing, but lawmakers’ questions were particularly focused on cybersecurity — for the U.S. as well as for deployed forces.
Guard’s Cyber Efforts
During last year’s midseason elections, the National Guard monitored the cybersecurity of 27 state.gov networks, Lengyel said. “We continue to learn how to do this better,” he told the representatives.
Foreign actors use social media and bots to create their own political narrative that might result in changes to an election outcome, he noted.
Lengyel made it clear that the National Guard was monitoring, and not taking offensive cyber action, a mission that would be better filled by U.S. Cyber Command or the Department of Homeland Security.
Besides actively monitoring state networks, the commanders of Cybercom, U.S. Northern Command and the National Guard Bureau brought all of the state adjutants general to Colorado Springs, Colorado, before the elections briefed them on the threat.
Army Reserve’s Cyber Efforts
Luckey said the Army Reserve is “on a glide path” to establishing cyber protection teams at key locations around the U.S., such as Camp Parks, California, in the Bay Area; Adelphi, Maryland, near Washington; San Antonio; Fort Devens, Massachusetts, near Boston; and Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh.
As well, the Army Reserve Cyber Operations Group — with five cyber protection centers and 10 cyber protection teams — provides direct support to Army Cyber Command, and general support to other government agencies including DHS, the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency, he said.
“Army Reserve cyber soldiers bring unique skills and experience to the force from their civilian occupations, drawn from around 40 corporate, financial and academic institutions,” he said. “The cyber talent within the Army Reserve delivers capability, improves cyber readiness, and increases our network defense capability.”
To identify and cultivate cyber talent, Luckey said, the Army Reserve created the National Cyber Private Public Partnership in 2015. This program places soldiers in critical Army Reserve cyber positions and provides enhanced opportunities to pursue civilian careers in the field, he explained.
Navy Reserve Cyber Efforts
McCollum said 28 Joint Reserve Intelligence Centers throughout the country partner with DIA to provide cyber warfare training, as well as real-time intelligence support to combatant commands, combat support agencies, the intelligence community and Navy fleets.
Air Force Reserve Cyber Efforts
In the past year, the Air Force Reserve activated its first cyber wing, Scobee said.
To optimize its cyber defenses, the Air Force Reserve is “shifting to precision cyber security, which protects data at rest, data in transit, and the identity of individuals accessing the data,” he said. “This focused approach will provide better protection than our current method of attempting to secure every item connected to our networks, which has become unfeasible.
“We also plan to transition some of our information technology support, service, and sustainment to the private sector, allowing our personnel to focus on mission assurance and active defensive cyber operations,” Scobee added.