Military News

Monday, June 10, 2013

Marines Focused at Tactical Edge of Cyber, Commander Says

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va., June 10, 2013 – What differentiates his command from Army, Navy and Air Force cyber operations is a focus on the forward-deployed nature of America’s expeditionary force in readiness, the commander of Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command said during a recent interview here.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David Anzualda, a cyber network operator with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit command element, peers out the back of an MV-22B Osprey as he crosses decks from the USS Bataan to the USS San Antonio, Dec. 15, 2012. This was part of the 26th MEU's third major training exercise of their pre-deployment training process. The 26th MEU operates continuously around the globe, providing a forward-deployed, sea-based quick-reaction force. The MEU is a Marine air-ground task force capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response and limited contingency operations. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Kyle N. Runnels
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
As commander of MARFORCYBER, Lt. Gen. Richard P. Mills heads one of four service components of U.S. Cyber Command. The Marine command stood up in January 2010.

Today, 300 Marines, federal civilians and contractors are performing cyber operations, Mills said. That number, he added, will grow to just under 1,000, at least until fiscal year 2016.

Each of the services’ cyber commands protects its own networks, Mills noted.

“Where we differ is that we look more at tactical-level cyber operations and how we will be able to provide our forward-deployed ... Marine Air-Ground Task Force commanders with the capability to reach back into the cyber world [at home] to have their deployed units supported,” the general said.

The basic structure for deployed Marine units, he said, is an air-ground task force that integrates ground, aviation and logistics combat elements under a common command element.

“We’re more focused at the tactical level, the tactical edge of cyber operations, in supporting our forward-deployed commanders, and that’s what we should do,” Mills said.

It’s an important capability, the general said, and one that will become more important and effective for deployed commanders in the years ahead.

“Cyber to me is kind of like artillery or air support,” Mills explained. “The actual weapon systems are well to your rear, back here in the continental United States, and what you need to be able to do is request that support be given to you and have it take effect wherever you’re operating.”

The Marine Corps cyber mission is to advise the commander of U.S. Cyber Command, Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, on the capabilities of the Marines within the cyber world and how to best use those forces in accomplishing the Cybercom mission, Mills said.

“That’s our first job,” he added. “Our second job is to be able to conduct cyber operations across all three lines of cyber operations -– defensive and offensive cyber ops –- so we have to man, train and equip Marine forces to accomplish those missions.”

In testimony to Congress in March, Alexander described the three Cybercom lines, or missions.
-- A Cyber National Mission Force and its teams will help to defend the country against national-level threats;

-- A Cyber Combat Mission Force and its teams will be assigned to the operational control of individual combatant commanders to support their objectives; and

-- A Cyber Protection Force and its teams will help to operate and defend the Defense Department’s information environment.

Of the nearly 1,000 MARFORCYBER forces that will come online between now and fiscal 2016, Mills estimated that a third will be in uniform, a third will be federal civilian employees, and a third will be contractors.

MARFORCYBER has Marines in the joint community who work throughout Cybercom at Fort Meade in Maryland. The Marine Corps cyber organization also is developing teams to be tasked by Cybercom to conduct operations across the spectrum of cyber operations.

“It’s very similar to what we do today,” Mills said. “The units train and go forward from the United States and work for other commanders well forward, and cyber will be the same way. We’ll ship forces to Cybercom when requested, fully trained, fully manned, fully equipped, ready to operate.”

MARFORCYBER is a full-up component command under Cybercom along with the Air Force, Navy and Army, the general said.

“All four of the component commanders talk regularly to each other and meet regularly at Cybercom to coordinate our growth, coordinate our requirements, [provide] input to Cybercom and take its guidance and direction, and operate together in big exercises like Cyber Flag,” he said.

Cyber Flag is an annual exercise at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., which Cybercom conducts with U.S. interagency and international partners.

For the Marines, the smallest U.S. military service branch, contractors play an important part in cyber, the general said.

“One of the challenges of cyber is that it’s such a dynamic environment,” he explained. “You need people who are educated and current in their specialties and who are available to stay on the job for long periods of time, whereas Marines come and go in the normal assignment process.”

Contractors have skill sets that aren’t always available in the active-duty Marine Corps, and can fit neatly into short-term projects, he added.

“They all operate under the same clearance requirements, the same authorities, the same rules,” the general said. “That’s one of the things that make them so expensive. They come at a cost, but you have to bear it to make sure that your cyber capabilities are current and that you stay on the cutting edge.”

In the newest domain of warfare, the battlefield is evolving, Mills said, and Marine commanders have come to understand the impact cyber can have on defensive and offensive operations.

“I think cyber commanders now understand when you go forward you have to be able to defend your systems against intrusion by other states, by rogue elements, and even by hobbyists who are just trying to break in and infiltrate your nets,” the general said. “But they’re also beginning to understand the positive effects cyber can have in your operations against potential enemies. … It’s a very valuable tool in that quiver of arrows that a commander takes forward, and they want to understand how it operates.”

In the new domain, even a discussion of weapons veers off the traditional path. A cyber weapon, Mills said, “can be something as simple as a desktop computer. It’s also a vulnerability to you, because it’s a way in which the enemy can enter your Web system if you put the wrong hardware on there or open the wrong attachment or email.”

Cyber weapons are much more nuanced than big cannons and large bombs and weapons systems.
“The armories of the cyber world are very sophisticated computers and very sophisticated smart people who sit behind those computers and work those issues for you,” the general said.

Mills said he’s an infantry officer by trade, so he tends to view everything he does through a combat-arms prism.

“I think the definition of combat arms is expanding a little bit these days,” he said. “I don’t think cyber is any longer a communicator’s environment -- it’s an operator’s environment. So we want that cyber expert to sit in the operations shop right next to the air expert, right next to the artillery expert, because we think that’s where it belongs.”

Mills pointed out the contrast between a Marine “kitted out” for battle with a Marine dressed for a cyber operation who may be sitting behind a desk in the United States.

“He’s got access to a huge computer system that allows him to operate within that domain,” the general said. “He may go home at night and never have to deploy forward. But he’s providing support to deployed forces, he’s conducting actions against designated targets, he’s doing a lot of things -- but from the foxhole or the fighting hole at his desk, rather than some foxhole or fighting hole forward.”

Maintenance innovation has potential to save time, money

by Master Sgt. Daniel Butterfield
302nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs


6/6/2013 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Rocks kicked up when landing a C-130 on unimproved runways can damage the fuselage of the aircraft. To combat this problem, maintainers in the 302nd Maintenance Group here began putting tape on the plane's belly.

In January, they took another step by applying protective tape to the forward landing gear in an effort to extend the life cycle of the struts and in turn save the Air Force money in repair costs.

"The tape was originally approved to help prevent rock damage from unimproved landing strips. The landing gear takes as much or more impact from rocks. We want to prevent as much damage as possible to the main landing gear by applying the tape," said Senior Master Sgt. William Harris,  fabrication flight chief in the 302nd Maintenance Squadron.

According to Harris, the main landing gear struts cost about $100,000 each and are rated for a four-year lifespan. Getting that much service out of the landing gear struts is rare because of the aircraft frequently deploy to Southwest Asia.

Two years is a more realistic life expectancy of the parts. Harris believes the protective tape will extend the life of the parts to four years and save money by reducing the frequency of replacements.

"To replace a single strut, it takes a two-person team from the Repair and Reclamation section eight hours. That does not take into account all of the scheduling, hangar time and down time that pulls an aircraft off the flying schedule," Harris said.

The tape is an industrial product made of 36 mm thick abrasion resistant polyurethane elastomeric that resists punctures, tearing and erosion. It comes in a 24-inch by 36-yard roll which is enough to cover 108 struts. It is easy to apply and creates no hazardous air pollutants.

The estimated cost of materials and labor to install the tape on one strut is $100. Unless punctured by rocks, the tape remains in place until the complete serviceable life of the strut. If there is a hole in the tape, maintenance will remove it and then inspect the strut. The tape does not have a designated or set lifespan.

The 302nd MXG has approval from the C-130 Systems Engineering Program Office to apply the tape to the forward struts of aircraft tail No. 7319.

Maintainers will inspect the struts after the first and 10th unimproved runway landing to evaluate the success of the procedure. If successful, the program office will determine the feasibility of adding the tape to the aircraft's rear struts, as well as other aircraft.

"The only issue is that the tape can only be installed on new struts," Harris said. "If it was applied on struts with existing damage, we would only be covering up issues and could result in future mishaps."

Col. James Van Housen, 302nd MXG commander, said: "This operational test is the result of an idea that originated here in the 302nd from our own mechanics and took steadfast determination to bring it to fruition. The first-class care we give our aircraft is not just aimed at extending their life span, but at making ours the best fleet of C-130s in the Air Force."

27th SOG welcomes new commander

by Senior Airman Jette Carr
27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs


6/3/2013 - CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M.  -- Col. Sean M. Farrell, former senior program analyst at the Pentagon, assumed command of the 27th Special Operations Group during a change of command ceremony at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., May 31.

Col. Buck Elton, 27th Special Operations Wing commander, presided over the ceremony in which Col. William West relinquished command of the 27th SOG to Farrell. West has been re-assigned to Hurlburt Field, Fla., where he will become the 1st Special Operations Wing commander.

"This operations group is the tip of the spear -- heavily-tasked, heavily-deployed and completely committed to taking the fight to the enemy, while providing precise and reliable specialized airpower to our joint and combined force," said Elton. "I have known Farrell for a long time and I am absolutely confident that he is the perfect choice to lead this diverse and challenging group."

Farrell isn't a stranger to Air Force Special Operations Command. He commanded the 16th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field from January 2008 through July 2009. While flying the AC-130H Spectre gunship, C-130E Hercules, AC-130W Stinger II and the EC130H Compass Call, he accumulated more than 3,400 flight hours.

Farrell has been awarded several accommodations such as the Distinguished Flying Cross with "V" Device, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters, and the Aerial Achievement Medal with three oak leaf clusters.

During the ceremony, Farrell addressed the Air Commandos under his command, informing them of his expectations.

"Leadership is never constant," Farrell said. "Faces change at the top, but what does not change is the obligation and duty to execute and to be prepared to undertake the full spectrum of specialized air operations to support our nation's objectives.

"The operations group combat experience and expertise is at an all-time high," he explained. "We will need to leverage that experience to field new weapon systems, modify and improve TTPs [tactics, techniques and procedures], and plan to meet the next threat over the horizon. This can only be accomplished with a disciplined, well-trained and highly-motivated team. That is our mark -- that is your charge."

Keeping service in perspective

Commentary by Chief Master Sgt. James Powell
97th Medical Group


6/10/2013 -  ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. (AFNS) -- If you were approached by a co-worker, civilian or family member and asked the question, "Why do you serve?" What would your answer be? How would you internalize what you do for the Air Force to the point where you could answer that seemingly simple question?

Over the past several years, I've heard the full array of reasons from the events of 9/11 to family traditions. It wasn't until the sequestration events during this past spring, specifically the suspension of tuition assistance, that I thought harder about the reasons why we serve.

Let me start by saying that I am not against tuition assistance or any other benefit that the Air Force has given us. I personally have benefited from the use of TA and believe that our Air Force reaps the rewards from members who have taken the initiative to further their education. I bring up this subject because the news about terminating TA seemed to have invoked an enormous response and I wanted to try and put some things into per spective.

As Air Force members, we sometimes have a tendency to take things for granted. We have no problem when the first and the 15th of the month come around and our paycheck is waiting for us in the bank. We have grown to expect that. When we take a look at our leave and earnings statement, we see different benefits such as housing allowance or subsistence allowance and maybe even some type of special-incentive pay that is unique to our particular job or career field. Most of those benefits remain largely intact during this fiscal crisis.

Many of us have gone over to the clinic and received treatment and medications that would've been very costly if we had to procure this treatment in the civilian sector on our own dime. I didn't see much effect on these benefits either.

While not every temporary duty or permanent change of station assignment was perfectly timed or to the perfect location, we found some type of benefit whether it was the opportunity to travel or the associated allowances we received from being relocated for a period of time. In regards to TDYs, this area definitely saw some adjustments and some heartburn but nowhere on the level I saw with the discontinuance of TA.

This revocation happened in the wake of post 9/11 education benefits, various scholarships offered through professional organizations and Pell Grants. Also, local colleges were working with members to make special arrangements to ease the financial burden.

I truly don't think members serve simply for the education benefits, despite the fact that there were many who made comments to the contrary. I can't tell you how many indicated that they were planning to separate just because this one benefit was on the verge of disappearing. I can happily report that I did not see one individual who made such a threat log onto the Virtual Military Personnel Flight and start the separation process.

I am convinced there are different attitudes toward serving, such as education benefits or sense of family, patriotism or job security. I use the word "attitudes" because they are subject to change. We can all attest that we have taken a certain position or attitude toward something one minute and in the next, it can be swayed to change. Hence why I didn't see one person who said they joined the Air Force merely for the education benefits try to separate when TA was not available.

This led me to believe that in actuality we all serve for the same purpose, which can be summarized by one word: commitment. We all took an oath of service upon enlistment and during reenlistment. Did that oath say anything about serving for the promise of getting medical or educational benefits? Does it even say anything about pay and allowances or patriotism? The obvious answer is no.

Our oath uses words such as "support and defend" and "obey," all of which require commitment. Commitment requires a deep inner conviction and an obligation that is not limited to any one individual. Our commitment encompasses our Air Force, our families and our nation. When we can acknowledge that the reason we serve is because of our commitment, we set aside our individual attitudes towards a particular benefit or belief and take up a cause that is much bigger than any one of us combined.

Hopefully we can all take a step back when asked the question why we serve and say that it wasn't because of a particular benefit or promise. As we have seen, as fiscal environments change, so too can benefits. So let us keep our perspective of our commitment to "serve and defend" and sustain our Air Force as the most commanding power on the face of the earth.

Who will be AETC King of the Hill?

by Tech. Sgt. Beth Anschutz
Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs


6/10/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- A new game focused on the Air Education and Training Command's Cost Conscious Culture initiative is adding a fourth "C" to C3 - competition.

King of the Hill, an online game in which AETC members can vote for their favorite AETC C3 ideas, will debut June 10 and run for 42 days. Each day two cost-saving ideas will compete against each other for votes. At the end of the game, the voter who chooses the winning idea the most will be named King of the Hill.

"The Airmen and civilians of AETC have submitted so many great ideas since the inception of the C3 initiative and this is a great way to showcase those ideas and receive feedback," said Lt. Col. Michael Clark, AETC Command Action Group Director. "We can only get better with more participation; the more input we receive to improve the way we train, recruit and educate, the better AETC will be."

Here's how it works. Airmen and AETC civilians log into the King of the Hill site with their Common Access Card and pick their respective base from a drop down menu. The CAC login allows AETC to track individual votes and base participation. Two ideas will appear in boxes and after a quick read of the descriptions, voters can choose which idea they like the most.
The ideas will compete for 24 hours and each voter gets one vote during that time. Ideas will face double elimination, allowing them to compete at least twice. The game will track per voter, the accuracy of selecting the same ideas that end up winning each day, throughout the game. At the end of the game, the voter with the most winning votes will be named King of the Hill. Additionally, the AETC base or organization with the highest participation by percentage of its population will win the Organizational King of the Hill title.

The site also contains links to other C3 resources where Airmen can submit cost-saving ideas and read more about the initiative.

"This game is designed to spread the C3 message, share ideas and solicit feedback on those ideas. The site will also serve as an avenue for new idea submissions and a feeder to other C3 resources," Clark said. "Our main goal is awareness for the C3 initiative."

The King of the Hill game is accessible through the AETC Financial Management C3 portal or by visiting: https://www-r.aetc.af.mil/sc/c3/wp/main.asp. Voting opens June 10.