Cyber warfare capabilities coming to Army ground forces

( While offensive cyberwar capabilities being developed by the U.S. military thus far have remained largely within the purview of the Air Force and Navy, the U.S. Army is has also been working on a capability that will give American troops a distinct advantage on the battlefield.

As reported by Breaking Defense, in recent weeks the Army’s 1/1 Armored Brigade conducted both live and virtual wargames against a simulated enemy. Joining the tankers was a revolutionary new ally: Offensive cyber teams with two-to-three specialists from Army Cyber Command (ARCYBER). Capabilities that at one time were limited to strategic and national missions are now being given to individual companies of between 80 and 100 soldiers.

During the recent wargames ARCYBER teams moved within eyeshot of the front lines to attack enemy communications while 1/1 troops fought the physical battle.

As further reported by Breaking Defense:

Details get classified quickly, but in one exercise, a cyber team joined the advance guard of its attached company in an observation post. From there, using equipment described only as “man-portable solutions,” the cyber specialists shut down the communications of an “enemy” command-and-control cell. That kept the bad guys in the dark while the main body of the company moved up and breached physical obstacles barring the path of its attack.

New capabilities bring new options to the battlespace, experts noted, adding that cyber weapons can give the U.S. military an edge in a time when modern weaponry makes for extremely fast-moving, fluid warfare.

In all, 40-45 cyber soldiers will be attached to the 1st Armored Brigade, which contains some 4,000 troops, for the wargame which will conclude later this summer, according to Lt. Col. Jonathan Burnett, ARCYBER’s chief officer for “Cyber Support to Corps and Below” (CSCB). While the makeup of the tactical cyber force is still being worked out, Burnett said that it will likely consist of a “defensive support team” of 4-5 troops to protect the brigade’s network; four Cyber/Electro-Magnetic Activity (CEMA) “weapons teams” of 2-3 troops for offensive operations; and an electronic warfare element of two soldiers with “dismountable” (portable) capability who can conduct hacking, eavesdropping, jamming and other detection.

The unit’s climatic training evolution will come at the National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin, Calif., in July, said Maj. Steven Chadwick, 1/1’s operations officer, who added that the cyber teams were a breakthrough in ground warfare.

“This is the first time they’re integrating the cyber element at a tactical level, (and they) did a great job of providing that initial capabilities brief,” he told reporters last weekend.

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