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Archive for the ‘CEMA’ Category

Marines Conducting CEMA

Friday, December 31st, 2021

Marine Michaela Matkins, a signal intelligence analyst and native of Louisa, Va., and Lance Cpl. Alison Harris, a communications intelligence electronic warfare analyst and Hernando, Miss., native, both with 3d Radio Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, survey analytics on Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

Marines with 3d Battalion, 3d Marines participated in a joint electronic warfare training event with 3d Radio Battalion, III MIG, and U.S. Army 25th Infantry Division where Marines and Soldiers learned and effectively utilized electronic warfare equipment in smaller sized combat elements to enhance combat lethality.

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl Patrick King

Marine Pilots Hone Proficiency in Information, Electronic Warfare

Sunday, December 19th, 2021


Marine pilots refocus their priorities, opting to train their electronic warfare capabilities to defeat adversaries in the information environment aboard Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, Dec. 2-3.

The training enabled U.S. Marines from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 267 to familiarize themselves with the AN/ALQ-231 Intrepid Tiger II Electronic Warfare  pod from signals intelligence specialists with Team Ronin of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing intelligence section.

The IT II is a precision, on-demand, external carriage EW weapon system designed to provide Marine Corps aircraft with an organic, distributed and networked EW capability that can be controlled from the cockpit or by a ground operator. Its open architecture design and rapid reprogrammability give IT II the flexibility and adaptability to meet current and future threats.

The Marines of HMLA-267 are the first squadron in the 3rd MAW to conduct this style of training on the IT II with Team Ronin. Team Ronin’s signals intelligence and electronic warfare chief, Master Sgt. Chris Meser, expects to continue building familiarization with additional squadrons.

“The training was crucial in enhancing our readiness and capability,” said Meser. “By integrating with our organic rotary wing squadrons, this allowed for an improved concept of employment for future operations. This was the first of many in the training series for Electronic Warfare Integration. We intend to help foster an environment which provides a greater contribution to Operations in the Information Environment & Intelligence efforts.”

Training began with hands-on time with the IT II to develop a cursory understanding of its capabilities. Later, the system was loaded onto a UH-1Y Venom before running a variety of test-missions across its capability set to demonstrate its rapid reprogrammability. Once the practical application portion was completed, training concluded with signals intelligence specialists briefing all the systems capabilities and limitations to the pilots of HMLA-267.

1st Lt. Dylan Wesseling, intelligence officer for HMLA-267, was one of the training participants. “Communications jamming is going to be key in breaking down the kill chain for the enemy, and exploiting possible vulnerabilities,” said Wesseling. “The IT II provides the HMLA an organic electronic attack and electronic warfare support capability that is more accessible than the Marine Corps’ other high-demand, low-density assets, and I think that’s going to vital in a high-traffic littoral and maritime environment.”

While the IT II has been used in conflicts dating back to Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, this was the first time many of the participants got the opportunity to train with the system. Given the renewed emphasis EW is expected to play on the next battlefield, the trainees appreciated the opportunity.

“The IT II is something that allows us to be relevant when coupled with the other capabilities of the HMLA,” Wesseling continued. “There’s no sugarcoating it. The next fight is going to be tough, but training that acknowledges our need to exploit the enemy’s dependence on technology and communications are exactly what we need to come out of that conflict as the winners.”

Team Ronin is next expected to put their knowledge of the IT II to the test in February 2022 for Exercise Winter Fury 2022. Winter Fury 2022 is a capstone annual exercise that allows the 3rd MAW to refine and validate emerging service level and unit level concepts that enhance aviation readiness in support of Fleet Marine Force and naval fleet maritime campaigns. Meser plans to distribute his team throughout 3rd MAW with various rotary wing squadrons, now that his Marines have a strong foundation in the fundamentals and can teach others in a field environment. Team Ronin also expects to work with the U.S. Navy aircraft participating in Winter Fury 2022 to enhance their ability to work as a joint littoral force.

This iteration of training utilized the IT II V(3), which can be employed on the UH-1Y Venom and AH-1Z Viper. This asset is not limited to these platforms alone. Other versions include the V(4), which was recently tested on the MV-22 Osprey, and the V(1), which can be flown on the AV-8B Harrier, F/A-18 C/D Hornets, and KC-130J Super Hercules aircraft.

3rd MAW continues to “Fix, Fly and Fight” as the Marine Corps’ largest aircraft wing, and remains combat-ready, deployable on short notice, and lethal when called into action.

Story by 1st Lt Kyle McGuire, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

Photo by Sgt Samuel Ruiz

Check Suspicious Shortened URLs

Sunday, December 12th, 2021

Some systems automatically make link forwarding URLs dead to protect the network, but not all shortened URLs are nefarious, sending you off to a phishing site. Some are used to make really long URLs short, others for marketing purposes and also to track link clicks.

If you’re concerned about where a shortened URL actually goes, you can check it at checkshorturl.com.

Advancing Cyber Warfare Training with Escape Room

Saturday, December 4th, 2021


Accelerating and changing the possibilities of learning, the 333rd Training Squadron implemented a new cyber escape room to test knowledge and sharpen the skillsets of cyber warfare students.

The students are put into a simulated hostile scenario, requiring them to think critically and apply their skills under pressure to “escape” the exercise.

“Our students approached this challenge with no plan,” said 2nd Lt. Kendra Perkins, 333rd TRS cyber warfare officer and escape room project manager. “This forces them to adjust to the environment, preparing our students for any complex or uncertain situations they might face.”

From decoding cyphers and packet tracing to programming and networking, the room provides students with a hands-on training experience. Throughout this cyber warfare class iteration, only one team was able to complete the challenge, which included 2nd Lt. Ethan Isaacson, 333rd TRS cyber warfare officer.

“Most of our tests have been in a controlled environment, focusing on the most recent concepts we learned,” said Isaacson. “The escape room required us to apply all of our curriculum we’ve learned. We had to put trust in ourselves and each other and we came out of this room more confident in our skillset.”

Capt. Luke Thornton, 333rd TRS cyber warfare instructor, provided his perspective as the class instructor, overseeing how the teams took on the challenge.

“We are able to test the team dynamics, communication and camaraderie of our students,” said Thornton. “Our students were put into a new situation with a lot of pressure and they had to really think outside the box. We were able to test our students to the best of their capabilities.”

Perkins said the inspiration for the escape room was derived from Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr. and his action orders to accelerate change across the Air Force through the direction of transforming the way we learn across all facets of Air Force education and training curricula including but not limited to professional military education to reflect renewed emphasis on competition and warfighting.

“Our goal was to create an environment that highlighted gamification to stray away from the initial Q&A or multiple choice and have something hands-on that was able to apply critical thinking, teamwork and communication as well as creating scenarios built on high standards for competition,” said Perkins.

By SrA Seth Haddix, 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

Cracking Zendia’s Codes Safeguarded America

Sunday, November 21st, 2021

The National Cryptologic Museum operates as the National Security Agency’s principal gateway to the public, holding within its archives a treasure trove of cryptologic equipment. Its mission is to educate visitors in person and online about the role of cryptology in shaping history, from the ancient world to the present. In this occasional series, we highlight some of the rarest and most interesting artifacts found in its collection. Enjoy!

FORT MEADE, Md. – If the punchline to the famous joke, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” is practice, the same theory applies to National Security Agency staff who aspire to join the ranks of the best cryptanalysts in the world.

Over decades, cryptanalysts were trained by a world famous concert flautist who made it to Carnegie himself before entering the halls of the NSA to teach hundreds how to crack codes. Lambros Callimahos, born in Cairo to Greek parents, created musical history with an all-flute recital in New York’s most famous concert hall in 1938. After that he then pursued another of his passions, cryptology.  He entered the Army cryptologic service in 1941 and went on to teach cryptology at the Army Security Agency and later the NSA.

Callimahos’s students crossed the classroom threshold under a sign that said “Through these doors pass the Agency’s best cryptanalysts.” A master of languages, speaking 9 fluently and reading several more, he made up his own language and country to train his students. He imbued his fictional island nation of Zendia, not only with its own language, but a distinct culture, history, and a ruler, Salvo Salasio, whose picture bore more than a passing resemblance to a young Callimahos.

Salvo Salasio, the fictional ruler of the island nation of Zendia, bears a remarkable resemblance to a young Lambros Callimahos. Photo: National Cryptologic Museum

Recently the National Cryptologic Museum (NCM) uncovered long-lost materials from the course, which help tell the story of the NSA’s early training in cryptanalysis.

“These artifacts illustrate the attention to detail that Callimahos put into developing the training program provided to early NSA Cryptanalysts. The story of this program adds to the already rich history of American Cryptology,” said NCM Collections Manager Spencer Allenbaugh.

Callimahos’ course, which he taught for more than 20 years, was known as CA-400. It was an expansion of William Friedman’s original senior cryptanalytic course, and is still legendary around the Agency. Friedman was the NSA’s chief cryptologist in its earliest days.

The teaching materials used in CA-400 increased over the years, and by the mid-1970’s a student was expected to read over sixty books and documents. However, it was the “Zendian Problem” at the end of the course that needed solving before graduation.

Zendia represented Callimahos’s almost overwhelming thoroughness and creativity. Students were tasked with decoding radio intercepts from the fictional island. U.S. Army cartographers even drew up a map placing the small island in the Pacifika Ocean, right where some would say God forgot to put it. Students had to decipher 375 Zendian military messages, essentially Morse code intercepts in the Zendian language. The messages were enciphered by a variety of manual and machine systems. Over two weeks, students were tasked to decrypt and translate all the exploitable messages. If they could crack the made-up language, they could crack any other on earth.

The recent discoveries associated with the CA-400 course are the Zen-45 and Zen-50 cipher machines that students used to break the Zendian codes. The bright green machines mimicked real-world tools such as the SIGABA, and help tell the story of the NSA’s early cryptanalysis training.

“The National Cryptologic School (NCS) is enthusiastic over the museum’s discovery,” said Diane Janosek, Commandant of the NCS.

Diane Janosek poses alongside one of the newly discovered ZEN cipher machines used by Lambros Callimahos to teach National Security Agency staff to become cryptalnalysts. Photo by NSA

“The Zen devices provide us the opportunity to reflect on the rich history of the school and its immense value in contributing over five decades toward a well-educated and prepared workforce to defend our nation,” said Janosek.

Visitors to the NCM can look forward to seeing these treasured ZEN machines on exhibit when museum renovations are completed and the collection reopens in the Spring of 2022.

Marine Corps Establishes the Information Development Institute

Saturday, October 30th, 2021


The Deputy Commandant for Information established the Information Development Institute, the IDI Portal and available learning and development resources for information technology, cyber and intelligence civilian Marines reflected in MARADMIN 457/21 released on Aug. 31.

Recruiting, developing and training top talent with the right skills needed to fight and win in the information environment is a top priority for DC I.

Since the inception of the program to the beginning of FY22, more than 350 individuals, stationed in the US and aboard, assigned to various units have leveraged resources available to refine their skills and capability in support of the Marine Corps Team.

“As described in the Force Design Annual Update, we need to seek new approaches in training and education that will serve as a force multiplier,” stated Lt. Gen. Matthew Glavy, Deputy Commandant for Information. “Success starts with people. Developing and managing talent is a top priority for the Marine Corps. Information Development Institute is just one way DC I is enabling our civilian workforce to learn the skills needed in support of Force Design.”

The IDI provides a program for continuous development of Marine Corps civilians who deliver information systems, services, and products critical to the Fleet Marine Force. In practice, the IDI provides a centralized one stop shop for training and education opportunities for all Information Civilian Marines at scale.

Within the IDI, information civilian Marines have access to a learning network to include the IDI Pluralsight learning platform, technical training, learning partnerships and learning opportunities.

The newly established learning network is comprised of the IDI Pluralsight learning platform enabling unlimited access to over 10,000 on-demand technology courses and skill-based learning content organized specifically for work roles.

“Information Development Institute is just one way DC I is enabling our civilian workforce to learn the skills needed in support of Force Design.”

Lt. Gen. Matthew Glavy, Deputy Commandant for Information

“The learning platform has provided me with the flexibility to participate in both lecture format training and practical labs without the restrictions of a rigid schedule or location. It is this flexibility, mixed with the short lessons, that let me continue to learn when there are lulls in my daily work,” said Andrew Kosakowski, Information Systems Security Manager assigned to Marine Corps Information Operations Center, DC I. “Overall, I believe this learning platform is a good resource for developing new, refreshing old, and retaining current technical skills I do not use daily.”

Also part of the learning network is Marine Credentialing Opportunities On-Line to supporting credentialing voucher support for IT and cybersecurity civilians.

The IDI learning network is a centralized platform, accessed via the MarineNet eLearning Ecosystem.

Learning experiences and partnerships within the IDI enables industry exchanges and rotational opportunities that encourage cross training. Additionally, the IDI enables collaboration with academic institutions to bring degree-based programs of instruction.

In support of certification and technical training in security, networking, and applications skillsets, IDI has partnered with Naval Information Warfare Center and General Services Administration to provide courses.

“Our IT, cyber and intel civilian Marines are vital to the mission at DC I and enabling the force to operationalize information as a warfighting function,” said Jennifer Edgin, Assistant Deputy Commandant for Information. “We value the diverse skills our civilian force brings to the team and I am proud that we can provide them access to additional training and opportunities to continue to equip them with the skills for the future.”

All IT, Cyber and Intel Civilian Marines who would like to request access to an IDI course or Pluralsight subscription should request via the link: portal.marinenet.usmc.mil/IDI, or email [email protected]

The referenced published MARADMIN: 457/21 can be found at the following link: www.marines.mil/News/Messages/Messages-Display/Article/2759437/announcement-of-the-information-development-institute-idi-learning-resources-fo

By Maj Gregory Carroll, Headquarters Marine Corps

Electromagnetic Spectrum Superiority Directorate On Boarded into the Air Force ISR and Cyber Effects Operations Staff

Saturday, October 16th, 2021


Headquarters Air Force staff officially transferred the Electromagnetic Spectrum (EMS) Superiority Directorate from strategy, integration and requirements directorate to the intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and cyber effects operations directorate Oct. 1.

In conjunction with the directorate move, the EMS Superiority Directorate also absorbed the Air Force Spectrum Management Office (AFSMO) as its fourth division. This move consolidates Electromagnetic Spectrum Operation functions under a single staff – focused on Information Warfare integration efforts across the conflict continuum and is the latest milestone within the Air Force – streamlining oversight, policy and guidance to foster greater collaboration of efforts across various competitive and increasingly dynamic domains.

“It is vital that we leverage, defend and compete across the entire electromagnetic spectrum in order to deliver effects in and through the information environment now and into the future,” said Lt. Gen. Mary O’Brien, deputy chief of staff for ISR and cyber effects operations (A2/6).

Since its inception in 2019, current EMS Superiority Director, Brig. Gen. Tad Clark and his team have been working to ensure the Department of the Air Force is able to “maintain the advantage in the electromagnetic spectrum to stay one step ahead of the strategic competition and maintain freedom of action.”

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. highlighted their work during the Fall 2021 Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference stating, “I am glad to see the directorate developing the next generation of Airmen and making the changes needed to ensure dominance.”

The Department of Defense published an Electromagnetic Spectrum Strategy (EMSS) in 2020 providing direction and highlighting the importance of EMS superiority in future warfare. Subsequently, the Air Force published its own Electromagnetic Spectrum Superiority Strategy in Apr. 2021.

Following the establishment of the EMSS and the development of the electromagnetic spectrum implementation strategy, Air Combat Command stood up the 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing in June of 2021 to implement EMS capabilities across the operations and test and evaluation communities.

“If we lose the fight in the EMS, we will lose the fights in all other domains,” said Col. William Young, 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing Commander. “We’re here to help make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Young added, “Standing up this unit emphasizes the Air Force’s commitment to consolidating and modernizing our entire enterprise so that joint warfighters have the freedom to attack, maneuver and protect themselves at the time, place and parameters of their choosing.”

According to General Clark, “Superiority in the electromagnetic spectrum is a precursor to all operations in all domains. I’m excited to see our Air Force better prioritize the EMS to ensure our warfighters have the tools and capabilities needed to win!”

Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

55th Communications Squadron Redesignated as Cyber Squadron

Monday, September 27th, 2021


The 55th Communications Squadron recently met all objectives required by the Air Force to be redesignated as the 55th Cyber Squadron.

The redesignation indicates the squadron will add a new Mission Defense Team to its overall capabilities while continuing to maintain their legacy mission.

“I’m so proud of the unit and our amazing Airmen,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Wong, 55th CS commander. “We have accomplished all of this through COVID, with a huge deployment burden and the transition to Lincoln.”

For the unit’s Airmen, the redesignation means they are not only responsible for ensuring the installation’s communication infrastructure is protected, but they are also now proactive cyber defense operators on the Air Force’s tactical edge.

“One of the major hurdles that we had to overcome was shifting our mindset from a maintenance to an operational perspective,” said 2nd Lt. Jeffrey Cruse, 55 CS Cyber Defense Flight commander. “No longer is our primary focus customer issues or general system maintenance, but instead we are thinking about ways to engage near-peer adversaries and defend our mission critical networks and infrastructure.”

The unit’s redesignation to a cyber squadron comes only after it met four phases outlined by the Air Force. They include maintaining the unit’s current mission, declaring Initial Operating Capability on its new MDT mission, implementing Enterprise IT-as-a-Service, and having the wing commander recommend the redesignation to the unit’s major command.

By continuing its legacy mission and with the implementation of EITaaS at Offutt Air Force Base in 2020, the unit had to mostly focus its efforts on ensuring its new MDT mission met all of its IOC requirements to make the transition a reality.

“Due to some very unique circumstances here at Offutt (AFB), our squadron was in an advanced position, which enabled us to be a front running cyber squadron and MDT organization,” Wong said.

This included adding specific cyber equipment, tweaking the unit’s manning document, qualification training, and the development of unit specific defensive tactics, techniques and procedures.

“We had to put in place so many new processes and procedures and completely change the way we do business, not just within the team but within our entire squadron,” Cruse said. “As for the operators, once things got moving along they were fully bought in and on board. They had been working and waiting for so long to finally get connected to a system and apply their skills. Once we were able to make our first connection, it was game on for them.”

The unit focused heavily on building a robust operations training program early on in the process and that paid off in the end.

“We’ve put more people through the initial qualification training and mission qualification training pipeline than any other squadron in the Air Force,” Wong said. “We’ve done that just over the past four months and in fact, we’re looking to double that number here soon.”

As part of this redesignation, the unit is further integrating itself into the wing’s operations environment. This includes allowing its Airmen access to the RC-135’s ground and onboard systems for the first time ever.

“One of our main tasks now is RC-135 mission assurance,” Wong said. “To that end we have established an officer exchange program with the 55th Operations Group, we’re now on the jet, flying with them, and all of these are major efforts to help us get to RC-135 mission assurance.”

“Our cyber warriors are proving to the ops world that cyber deserves a seat at the table and play a critical role in their missions,” Cruse added. “What this means for the wing is that we now have a robust capability and way to provide defensive cyber forces to the fight and ensure the unique mission set of the RC-135 and its variants can provide their ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] capabilities to the nation.”

Along with meeting all of the criteria for the redesignation, the unit also underwent some internal restructuring. They have consolidated all battlespace activities under the new Information Technology Support Flight, defined a distinct Operation Support Flight, and changed the name of the Cyber Protection Flight to Cyber Defense Flight.

“We want to employ each individual’s technical expertise and talents to get after the mission set,” Wong said. “This will be key when we start engaging nation states as they will have to rely on those critical-thinking abilities in order to plan, execute and operate in those environments.”

While the unit continues to adapt to its changing mission, the leadership team said this transition wouldn’t have been possible without an array of base agencies who support the 55th CS mission.

“We have a great relationship with all of our mission partners,” Wong said. “The reason all of this has worked is because we have made a huge effort to build strong, positive relationships.”

55th Wing Public Affairs