New cyber teams from the Army and Navy say they have reached a key readiness milestone to perform offensive, defensive and intelligence missions. Now the real work begins.

In a pair of announcements Thursday, Nov. 2, Army Cyber Command and the Navy’s 10th Fleet/Fleet Cyber Command announced their cyber mission forces achieved what’s known as full operational capability. The teams reached the level of readiness about a year earlier than originally expected, the services said.

“Although reaching this milestone is a great accomplishment, the true challenge will be sustaining readiness and the prompt ability to ‘answer all bells’ when directed by U.S. Cyber Command,” Vice Adm. Mike Gilday, commander of FLEETCYBER, said in a release.

The milestone means cyber teams met staffing, capability and training requirements to perform missions from U.S. Cyber Command, a Navy release said. The designation is not “a measurement of overall combat readiness, rather it is an externally validated evaluation that the unit has met all its capability requirements and that it performs its mission as designed,” the announcement said.

The cyber mission force is made up of staff from each service component that feeds U.S. Cyber Command and performs offensive, defensive and intelligence cyber missions.

The Navy’s 40 teams were validated in early October. The Army’s 41 teams were validated at the end of September.

“The Army’s cyber teams are built and fully operational, but our work is just beginning, as we ensure they stay trained and ready to step into the joint fight when needed,” said Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, commander of ARCYBER.

[Air Force cyber boss sets early deadline for full operational capability]

The formal designation requires thousands of hours of courses in structured training environments including events, such as the annual Cyber Guard/Cyber Flag exercise. Cyber Guard games measure how teams will assist the federal government and private sector in a national level cyber emergency such as a coordinated cyberattack on critical infrastructure. Cyber Flag exercises focus more on military objectives.

[Cyber Flag 2017]

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

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