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Commentary | Dec. 18, 2018

DOD, DHS combine cyber forces

By Lt. Nate Admiraal

During the first two weeks of December, U.S. Southern Command Joint Cyber Center Arm and Navy Cyber Protection Teams 600 and 601 are combining forces with Department of Homeland Security civilians and U.S. Coast Guard personnel to conduct the first joint Defense Department-DHS cyber mission conducted outside of U.S. borders.

The purpose of the mission is to secure and protect the computer networks at Joint Task Force-Bravo, located within Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras. To execute the mission, planners and technicians within the teams coordinated with counterparts to train and equip team personnel on proper cyber tools and strategies.

The impetus behind the collaborative mission was the existing relationship between 601 CPT and the DHS facility, both located in Pensacola, Florida. When DHS incident response personnel heard about the mission, they were eager to join forces to observe how the DOD secures cyber networks, and to train on their techniques used when conducting similar missions in the commercial industry.

The most interesting part of working with the DHS personnel is seeing how much we have in common when it comes to cyber defense. The tools and equipment are very similar. However, the strategy differs, as DHS personnel work primarily on securing networks in the private and critical infrastructure sectors, whereas DOD personnel secure DOD information network assets.

DHS personnel have made an immediate positive impact on our mission, demonstrating alternative methods to my Army and Navy personnel on how to best implement tools and equipment. This has really helped our guys think about cyber defense from a different angle. They jumped right in with the Army and Navy personnel, and the rapport and camaraderie has been absolutely outstanding. We are hoping to continue this collaboration on future missions, both on the DHS front and within the DOD.