U.S. Cyber Command’s first dedicated facility is providing government leaders a more holistic view of the global cyber environment and helping them make more informed decisions.
The Integrated Cyber Center and Joint Operations Center, or ICC/JOC, is Cyber Command’s first dedicated facility and doubles as the U.S. government’s first truly integrated cyber center. It became operational in August 2018.
Staffers there work with domestic and international partners to provide more rapid sharing of threat information while deconflicting global cyber operations.
The facility’s operations floor, which operates 24/7, is organized by warfighting functions to include protection, intelligence, fires, sustainment and a leadership cell, officials told reporters May 7 during a first of its kind media briefing at the facility at Fort Meade.
The leadership cell houses Cyber Command’s joint operations center’s top officials and sits the battle captain right next to the NSA’s Cybersecurity Threat Operations Center director. This arrangement didn’t previously exist, Col. Joy Kaczor, director of current operations at Cyber Command, told reporters. Under the previous arrangement, information sharing was much slower.
“Now they’re sitting right next to each other and they both have different perspective on things but now they can also provide Gen. [Paul] Nakasone [head of Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency] … a common understanding across both organizations, that shared picture of what is happening in this space,” she said.
This arrangement is critical especially as it relates to the network protection cell, she said. NSA analysts are looking at their sensors and sharing that information with Cyber Command so officials there can work with their NSA counterparts to take necessary steps to defend themselves across government sectors. Similarly, in the intelligence cell, NSA analysts can pass addition information back and forth to get a clearer picture from an offensive and defensive perspective.
The sustainment cell is responsible for ensuring all the tools, equipment and sensors are up and running.
The only cell on the operations floor that exclusively has Cyber Command personnel is the fires cell. Fires in military parlance refers to specific actions taken such as shooting a missile or using a cyber effect.
The military, and by extension Cyber Command, is the only U.S. entity authorized to take such offensive actions, which is why they are the only personnel in the fires cell.
While the ICC/JOC does not conduct operations, the fires cell merely works to coordinate and help de-conflict offensive cyber operations that might be occurring globally between different cyber entities.
Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.