91st Cyber Brigade
The 91st Cyber Brigade was officially activated on Sept. 1, 2017, and is the Army National Guard’s first, and only, cyber brigade. The brigade consists of five battalions, five cyber security companies, five cyber warfare companies, and 11 cyber protection teams arrayed across more than 30 states. The primary mission of the brigade is to provide training and readiness oversight for these units, as well as operational command and control when needed. The brigade is a strategic asset to U.S. Cyber Command and Army Cyber Command.
The 91st Cyber Brigade was conceived in November 2016, approved in February 2017, and activated in September 2017, making it one of the fastest implementations of force structure from conception to activation in National Guard history.
The Fairfax-based 123rd Cyber Protection Battalion, 91st Cyber Brigade marked the end of their support for Task Force Echo with a transition of authority ceremony Dec. 1, 2021, at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. The task force consisted of more than 150 Army National Guard Soldiers, primarily assigned to the Fairfax-based 123rd Cyber Protection Battalion, and the Soldiers hailed from Illinois, Minnesota, Virginia, and Wisconsin. TFE is an Army National Guard Task Force mobilized annually to engineer, install, operate, maintain, and defend critical network infrastructure and conduct cyberspace operations in support of U.S. Cyber Command and the Cyber National Mission Force.
TFE is aligned under and operationally controlled the 780th MI Brigade and is administratively controlled by Army Cyber Command. The mission is sourced from the 91st Cyber Brigade and its five subordinate CPBs. TFE Rotations last for more than a year and each of the more than 60 TFE work roles have a unique training pipeline to prepare them for their mission requirements. Read more about the mission at https://ngpa.us/23075.
Soldiers assigned to the 91st Cyber Brigade completed the congressional mandate of validating the mission capability of all 11 of its subordinate Cyber Protection Teams. The brigade validated three of its Cyber Protection Teams as part of Cyber Shield 2022, June 5-17, at the Army National Guard’s Professional Education Center on Camp Joseph T. Robinson in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Georgia National Guard’s 170th Cyber Protection Team completed their initial validation and the 173rd Cyber Protection Team shared between the New York National Guard and the New Jersey National Guard and the Utah National Guard’s 174th Cyber Protection Team completed a re-validation. The brigade’s 11 Cyber Protection Teams are shared across 31 states.
Virginia National Guard senior leaders and Soldiers assigned to the 91st Cyber Brigade joined distinguished guests and former members of the unit at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the 91st’s new headquarters building Sept. 16, 2022, at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. The building went through the funding, design and construction process in record time due to a joint effort of the VNG Facilities and Construction Management Office, the National Guard Bureau G9 Installation Management Office staff and Fort Belvoir leadership. It reflects the VNG’s commitment to staying on the cutting edge of cyber capabilities and took a concept and turned it into a tremendous asset, Williams said.
The more than 41,000 square foot facility was constructed at a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver standard and is currently LEED Certifiable. It serves as an administration and operations building with the required secured spaces and network access allowing the Soldiers of the 91st to integrate into the modern operational environment and rapidly respond to support mission partners. Display areas in the new facility help tell the story of the growth of VNG cyber capabilities since the 1970s, and the ceremony took place the day before the fifth anniversary of the activation of the 91st Cyber Brigade.
Approximately 20 Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen took part in the Cyber Fortress exercise with numerous public and private sector partners including Dominion Energy, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, the Virginia Department of Information Technology, the Virginia State Police and other local, state and federal organizations Sept. 21-30, 2022, in Richmond, Virginia.
The Cyber Fortress Exercise bought together the organizations who will actually respond in a real-world cyber incident and provided an opportunity to test Virginia’s cyber response plan and better prepare for future collective responses. Virginia is better prepared to defend from future cyberattacks because of the partnerships established or improved in Cyber Fortress.
VNG Soldiers assigned to the 91st Cyber Brigade, the Fairfax-based Information Operations Support Center and the Richmond-based Joint Force Headquarters - Virginia Defense Cyber Operations Element and VNG Airmen assigned to the 185th Cyberspace Operations Squadron, 192nd Operations Group, 192nd Wing at Joint Base Langley Eustis supported the event and were integrated into other cyber security teams involved in the exercise.
Planning has already begun for the next installment of Cyber Fortress with the plan to rotate through a different critical infrastructure mission partner annually to ensure that all of Virginia is better prepared for future cyberattacks. The VNG has also partnered with the U.S. Army Cyber Institute and Norwich University Advanced Research Institutes to develop the table top portion of the exercise.
Soldiers assigned to the Bowling Green-based 91st Cyber Brigade conducted a mountain warfare exchange and an advanced tactical planning exchange with soldiers from the Republic of Tajikistan May 16 - 20, 2022, in Romit, Tajikistan. The exchanges were conducted in support of the Department of Defense’s State Partnership Program, in which Virginia and Tajikistan have been partners since 2003.
Information Operations Support Center
Virginia Army National Guard hosts a unique information operations capability via its Information Operations Support Center. IOSC is a small boutique IO element capable of creating effects in and through the information environment that provide commanders a decisive advantage over adversaries, threats, and enemies. IOSC aligns itself with the 91st Cyber Brigade, and the IOSC commander serves as a deputy commander for the Brigade and is also dual-hatted as the J39 for the Virginia National Guard Joint Staff.
The center was stood up in 2001 with the intent of providing IO capabilities to the Virginia Army National Guard and is currently composed of five officers and three senior noncommissioned officers with extensive IO experience and background. The center has been crucial in its support of numerous state and federal entities and missions to include support for the Task Force Echo, Cyber Dome, Bold Quest, Cyber Fortress Integration with ARCYBER, and coordination with Army's 1st IO Command.
IOSC is actively engaged with sister IO elements across the National Guards and U.S. Army Reserve to include 110th IO BN, 56th Theater Information Operations Group and U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command.
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