Defensive cyber operators with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit deployed for the first time with the USS America in the Pacific, according to an April 5 news release from 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.

The Defensive Cyberspace Operations-Internal Defensive Measures (DCO-IDM) with 31st MEU will ensure that the Marine Corps and Navy networks are securely integrated and defended against enemy probing and malicious activity, said 2nd Lt. Adam Kosianowski, officer in charge of the 31st MEU DCO-IDM. The team’s goal is also to establish a framework for future teams to take over and provide cybersecurity.

Future teams will fully support all ships while forward-deployed, the release said.

Kosianowski described the defensive operators as a “roving guard force” that will search the network for unusual trends and malicious solicitations. Defensive cyberspace operator Staff Sgt. Ulises Villegas said that DCO-IDM is focused on “proactively” defending the strike group’s network, instead of taking a reactionary approach in which operators monitored event logs.

Now the DCO-IDM team is scanning the network for gaps and mitigate open threat vectors.

“DCO-IDM can identify and mitigate this threat instantly, using tools or applications that analyze data, filter content and counter enemy procedures for exploiting networks in order to give real-time information of any anomaly,” Villegas said. "Marines can trace enemy breaches, complete counter-intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) back to their origin, and ensure the enemy doesn’t have access in friendly networks. The Marines review suspicious content and report out of the ordinary activity for follow on action.”

The 31st MEU DCO-IDM deployment follows the team’s participation in the Exercise Cobra Gold 2020 in Thailand, where the team supported a Cyber Field Training Exercise at the Royal Thai Armed Forces headquarters. The team worked with Thailand, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, “establishing baseline training and international standards to overcome language barriers and communicate in the same cyber language,” according to an announcement about the exercise.

The 31st MEU and America Expeditionary Strike Group is operating in the 7th Fleet area of operation, according to the release.

Andrew Eversden covers all things defense technology for C4ISRNET. He previously reported on federal IT and cybersecurity for Federal Times and Fifth Domain, and worked as a congressional reporting fellow for the Texas Tribune. He was also a Washington intern for the Durango Herald. Andrew is a graduate of American University.

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