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Army gears up to build out cyber headquarters

The Army is preparing for the planning and construction of the Fort Gordon, Georgia, headquarters that will house Army Cyber Command and the service's Joint Forces Headquarters.

According to a notice posted Dec. 18 on the federal government's primary acquisition site,, the project will start with fiscal 2016 as the base year of the contract expected, then fiscal 2017 as an option year. The site notes that under a two-step bidding process, "step 1 solicitation on or about 3 February 2016 and approximate closing date for Step 1 is on or about 4 March 2016. The approximate issue date for the Step 2 solicitation is on or about 27 May 2016 and the approximate closing date for Step 2 is on or about 27 June 2016."

The entire facility will be constructed as a Secure Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) and be divided into further security zones, and will have redundant and backup electrical, mechanical and security systems.

Fort Gordon emerging as Army cyber hub

Army Cyber Command is in the process of transitioning to Fort Gordon, which already is home to the Army Cyber Center of Excellence, the Army Cyber School as well as the 7th Signal Command. Also onsite are the National Security Agency's local facilities.

Beyond that, the "Cyber Center of Excellence, really for the first time, brings together Army Signal Operations, Army Cyber Operations, and Army Electronic Warfare Operations underneath one umbrella," MG Stephen Fogarty, commander of the Army Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon, told reporters in October. "So what that allows us to do is make sure that we deliver a much more holistic capability to support Unified Land Operations than the Army had previously. We are at our initial operating capability now and we think over the next three to five years, we'll attain full operations capability."

Other pieces of the Army's Cyber Mission Forces, which comprise much of Army Cyber Command and the service's operations in cyberspace, also have reached initial operating capability and are on track toward full operational capability, Army leaders said.

"We're making tremendous progress on growing the cyber mission force as directed by the Secretary of Defense," Ron Pontius, deputy to the commanding general at Army Cyber Command, said in October. "We're now starting of the fourth year of the four-year build to create and establish the 41 teams of our Cyber Mission Force. And as of the end of September, 32 of those teams had initial operational capability and we will have all 41 teams at IOC by the end of this fiscal year. The move from IOC to full operational capability of those teams – by each team – is about 12 to 18 months later."

A key part of the CMF are Cyber Protection Teams, and of the 20 assigned to Fort Gordon, many already are at IOC and closing in on FOC by next year, MG John Morrison, commander of Network Enterprise Technology Command, told C4ISR & Networks earlier this year.

The differences between IOC and FOC can vary across programs, but in this case, it breaks down to the percentage of assigned personnel that have cleared the certification processes necessary to be considered operational. Those requirements and timelines are set by U.S. Cyber Command, according to Army Cyber Command Sgt. Maj. Rodney Harris.

"It's generally a good rule of thumb is about 50 percent of each team that are there," Harris said. "And to be IOC, you've got to have about 50 percent of them there and then there's certain requirements or certain work rules within each of those 50 percent of the team that have to be – they must be certified that are laid out before you can call it IOC. And then, probably one of the more relevant factors is that the team is aligned against the mission, and once they're aligned against the mission and they have the facilities and workspace to begin operating, then it goes through the [certification] process."

Harris said that FOC is around 80-85 percent of the total authorized force, a number that fluctuates due to the training processes and rotations.

"The reality is we'll always have people that are in the turbulence mode of retraining. But one of the primary factors for that is a certifying collective training event. When they go through is when they can be certified as FOC," Harris said.

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