The defensive operational arm of Cyber Command – Joint Force Headquarters-DoDIN – is slated for full operational capability for the beginning of 2018.

Brig. Gen. Robert Skinner, deputy commander of JFHQ-DoDIN told C4ISRNET that Cyber Command Chief Admiral Mike Rogers set a Jan. 1 target for full operational capability.

Skinner noted during a Jan. 15 AFCEA panel that this year marks the two year anniversary JFHQ-DoDIN stood up. Officials at JFHQ-DoDIN have maintained that FOC would be conditions-based. Skinner told C4ISRNET in August that as the command grows and gains more personnel, they will be able to perform a larger range of functions taking them to FOC. "We are working with our higher headquarters to actually determine what the specific mission function and tasks that are required that will determine what that date will be," he said at the time.

Skinner noted Thursday that the January 2018 deadline is when Rogers has directed JFHQ-DoDIN to meet these conditions.

Reaching initial operational capability in October, Cyber Command's cyber mission force is slated for FOC in 2018 as well, though Skinner said the JFHQ-DoDIN deadline is not aligned with the cyber mission force. "They're moving along, I'll say, there's some dependency there but it's not mutually dependent," he said of the CMF and JFHQ-DoDIN FOC timelines.

Skinner, during the panel, outlined three main priorities JFHQ-DoDIN has in 2017. They include know themselves, know their area of operations and know their adversaries. While he noted that many in attendance might believe these are simple concepts that have been discussed numerous times in the past, the reason that we are focused on those three areas in 17 is there are 50-plus DoD components in some form or fashion that perform network operations and/or cyber operations. Bringing all 50 of those DoD components focused on those three areas is really the highlight of 17."

Knowing or understanding areas of operations is critical as the DoDIN is becoming a joint area of operations. What the force is trying to do, Skinner said, is use doctrine from other domains to the cyber domain so they can speak the same lexicon, speak the same operational priorities and fit in the overall scheme of maneuver from the combatant command perspective.

Within that joint area of operations – commanded by Lt. Gen. Alan Lynn, the commander of JFHQ-DoDIN under Adm. Rogers – there are other areas of operations. For example, Fleet Cyber will have an area of operations, MARFORCYBER will have an area of operations, combatant commands have an area of operations, Skinner explained. Understanding that IP space and terrain is in that area of operations is important, he added, especially since "we don't fully understand the DoDIN as it exists today." Understanding that is part and parcel of understanding the objective for combatant commands, he asserted.

In regards to knowing themselves, Skinner explained they must understand what readiness of the cyber force looks like. While Cyber Command has been intensely focused on building out the cyber mission force and the cyber teams, readiness is much more than that. "I would offer that there is upwards of over 100,000 individuals who in some form or fashion are performing operations or defense of the DoDIN," he said.

They must understand the readiness of this force as a whole, whether it's through certifications or equipment to do their mission; and do they even understand their mission?

In terms of knowing their adversary – be it a miscreant, criminal – Skinner said he is looking to industry to help understand what activity is occurring outside the metaphorical door to better help defend the cyber domain and the DoDIN.

"What we need from an operating standpoint is we need to operate within the adversary's OODA loop," he said, referencing the infamous

observe, orient, decide, and act loop of decision making. "How do we get the right information at the right time?"

He said he is looking for a decision support-type capability to get actionable intelligence from the entire domain up to the right levels and make a decision on how to maneuver the domain itself or maneuver forces within the domain to make sure the domain is there to support the combatant commands.

Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.

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