FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. -- Army National Guard Soldiers (ARNG) assigned to Task Force Echo hosted distinguished visitors (DVs) from their home states in order to update them on the Cyber Enterprise and their operations in support of U.S. Army Cyber Command (ARCYBER) and U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) at the 780th Military Intelligence (MI) Brigade (Cyber) headquarters, November 2 and 3.

Task Force Echo consists of more 130 ARNG Soldiers, primarily assigned to the 125th Cyber Protection Battalion (CPB), who hail from Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Texas and Utah. The Task Force is commanded by Lt. Col. Linda Riedel with Command Sgt. Maj. William Kyzer as the senior enlisted leader. Riedel is the first commander of the 125th CPB and prepared the formation for deployment in support of Task Force Echo in March 2018.

Since April, this second iteration of Task Force Echo -- aligned under the active Army's 780th MI Brigade -- has been conducting technical training and supporting ARCYBER and USCYBERCOM missions.

Riedel, who hails from South Carolina, hosted the event in order to inform the National Guard leadership of the critical importance of the Task Force Echo mission to USCYBERCOM and the Cyber National Mission Force, as well as the return investment for the states and the nation.

"The intent is to bring the state leadership together so they can observe what their Soldiers are doing on mission in support of U.S. Cyber Command and Army Cyber," said Riedel. "I want them to be able to meet and cross talk with other cyber leaders and have the conversations at the table. It's important that we sustain and maintain the training and expertise of our Soldiers. Building those relationships across the states is vital to our success. As (Lt. Gen.) General (Stephen) Fogarty mentioned (the commanding general for ARCYBER), 'we are writing the book'."

In recognition of the critical role the National Guard has in support of the ARCYBER and USCYBERCOM mission, Lt. Gen. Fogarty thanked the DVs for supporting Task Force Echo and remarked that this specific active and Guard partnership would continue for the foreseeable future. He also talked about how the Army was working with the other Services and the way ahead which ultimately benefits the states, the Army and the nation.

When asked what the primary take-away for the event was, Riedel said "their Cyber Warriors are value added not only to the (Task Force Echo) mission but to their states. Cyber Training is expensive and must have the full buy-in of all leaders."

"I want the DVs to leave with a firm understanding of what the National Guard cyber warriors bring to the fight and how dedicated our cyber warriors are to the success of this mission," added Kyzer.

The first briefing the DVs received was an Executive Cyberspace Operations Seminar presented by the Cyber Center of Excellence. ECOS familiarizes general officers, senior executives, and senior commanders with cyberspace operations, and policy considerations; threat characteristics; lessons learned from recent and ongoing cyberspace operations; and ARCYBER's strategy and vision.

"Title 32 (federal authority over National Guard members) we know allows certain authorizations, Title 10 (federal authority over Service members), and so forth. I learned there are more Titles than I realized and that we can do a lot more if we are actually on that Title," said Nip. "That allows us to support the state better and the nation, because ultimately that state mission, our domestic operations, are fully trying to engage the cyber protection teams in all of our domestic operations. Also, if there is a real world scenario, that we can bring a capability and capacity to the state, but also still support the Federal mission."

Nip explained it has only been 18 months since the states received the authorization to stand up the ARNG Cyber Protection Teams (CPTs). However, as a result of the Task Force Echo mission, the ARNG cyber Soldiers from Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi are "light years ahead of where they would be in a normal progression through the system as a Guardsmen."

"(Task Force Echo) has allowed us to send our Soldiers to come up here and actually get certified and get the education and experience they need to get to the CPTs to IOC (initial operating capacity) and FOC (fully operational capacity)," said Nip. "When they come back they will bring so much skill set with so much experience…and get us to the point where we can start providing those missions to the state like my Adjutant General wants us to do."

Nip said he fully supports opportunities such as Task Force Echo, whether it's a three-year or four-year rotation, because it is important to keep the skill sets viable for the ARNG cyber Soldiers and the return investment is worth the time these Soldiers spend away from their respective states.

"I really see them doing cyber assessments and protection testing for different corporations and government agencies within the state." Said Nip. "The (adjutant general) has already come out and said election support. I see that type of activity, bringing this together to help the state understand how we can provide a capability to state government and the governor of the state."

Gen. Jeffrey Burkett, vice director of Domestic Operations, NG Bureau, appreciated the opportunity to attend the event and said, "Thanks for putting on a great DV visit. I learned a lot and have a much deeper appreciation of (the Task Force Echo) mission, opportunities, and challenges.'

The distinguished visitors included Lt. Gen. Fogarty; Gen. Burkett; Command Sgt. Maj. John Sampa, ARNG; Maj. Gen. Robert Livingston Jr., the Adjutant General, S.C.; Command Sgt. Maj. Russell Vickery, S.C. NG; Col. Ronald Taylor, chief of staff, S.C. NG; Brig. Brig. Gen. Timothy LaBarge, chief of staff, New York Air National Guard; Command Chief Master Sgt. Amy Giaquinto, state command chief, N.Y. NG; Brig. Gen. Rodney Painting, assistant Adjutant General, Louisiana NG; Command Sgt. Maj. Darren Delrie, Louisiana ARNG; Col. John Nip, G6 (signal), Joint Force Headquarters, Mississippi ARNG; Col. Jeffrey Eget, commander, 57th Troop Command, N.J. NG; Col. Teri Williams, deputy commander, 91st Cyber Brigade, Virginia ARNG; Command Sgt. Maj. Daryl Plude, 91st Cyber Brigade; and Maj. Chris Winnek, Joint cyber operations chief, Texas Military Department and G6, 36th Infantry Division, Texas NG.