By Maj. Kurt RauschenbergNovember 23, 2018
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - As the unit celebrates its upcoming 10th anniversary, the 110th Information Operations Battalion showcased their unique capabilities commonly integrated into today's operational environments, now referred to as a multi-domain battlefield at the Annapolis Readiness Center Nov 18.
Dozens of interested military and civilians attended this year's information and cyber operations symposium to gaze upon the riveting presentations led by unit members and guest speakers.
Opportunities for Maryland experts serving in these technical fields were optimal for sharing information and building relationships.
Lt. Col. Kristine L. Henry, 110th Bn commander, voiced the importance of how much the Maryland Guard plays a significant role in information and cyber operations.
Members of the 110th educated various audiences on the integration and synchronization of these capabilities into combatant command campaigns and in support of the homeland.
"This unit is on the cusp of [adapting to] the U.S. Army's movement to a new information warfare strategy concept, said Henry. We are hosting this event at a time when our adversaries attack us within the information domain every day."
Henry specifically emphasized the need for sustained collaboration with enduring Maryland military and civilian partners and organizations external to the state as critical to the success in the warfight against adversaries throughout the information domain.
Following the opening comments, Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas B. Beyard, Maryland Guard Senior Enlisted Leader, addressed the audience with first-hand knowledge of the invaluable capabilities the unit brings to the U.S. Army.
"There's no [Maryland Guard] unit that's deployed more times, more places than the 110th, Beyard said. We do a lot of things to support the warfighter all over the world, but sometimes we have to use those same capabilities to support the state of Maryland and our homeland as well."
The topics presented throughout the day included experiences acquired through dynamic exercises involving the application of IO and cyber support; both domestically and abroad.
One presenter, Maj. John Rodriguez, an experienced IO officer, touched on the unification of information-related capabilities in a multi-domain battlefield environment demonstrated in an exercise known as Cyber Blitz 2018.
He described how the exercise provided U.S. Army Cyber the opportunity to test new concepts, capabilities and techniques in offensive and defensive cyberspace operations, to electronic warfare and IO.
"Be an advocate to breakdown stovepipes and fully integrating the various capabilities related to communication," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez recently returned from a nine-month deployment leading the information operations directorate, known as the J39, in the Horn of Africa supporting U.S. Africa Command operations to set conditions for continued partnerships while helping African partner nations build needed capacity to secure the region.
"Conducting IO in one part of the world is very different than how you would apply it in other parts of the world, he said."
Another presenter and fellow IO officer, Capt. Lesley Dowdle, spoke on her experience serving as a member of the J39 in Maryland's Vigilant Guard 2018 exercise in May.
This exercise, designed as a response to a hypothetical catastrophic hurricane landfall in the Mid-Atlantic region, allowed the Maryland Military Department, along with 42 federal, state, and local agencies, the opportunity to collaborate and test interoperability as part of a national-level operation.
Joint Task Force - Cyber, new to the VG exercise design, was the main element Dowdle would participate with a responsibility to support IO capabilities.
"We got to integrate with the [Maryland Air Guard] 175th Cyber Operations Group and learned how to collectively apply both cyber and IO capabilities simultaneously, said Dowdle. It took understanding joint doctrine and knowing what resources the Air Guard cyber could provide as well."
Dowdle said usually the impression from the general public in terms of domestic operations is seeing National Guard members work with emergency managers conducting rescues, but their expertise in IO was used differently as they worked with public affairs officers to help support the overall emergency situation.
"IO and cyber, along with PAO, were applied while conducting key leader engagements as a means to effectively use our direct capabilities involving communications," said Dowdle.
After the morning presentations concluded, guest speakers came from the Maryland Guard's 169th Cyber Protection Team, Maryland Defense Force cyber unit, and 1st IO Command to discuss IO and cyber from a multi-agency perspective.
Providing closing remarks, Col. Julie M. Minde, 58th Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade commander, emphasized the need to continue building the IO and cyber capabilities through strong-enduring partnerships in-and-out of the state of Maryland.
"I'm proud of this organization, its extensive experiences, and its people, Minde said. I know we will move forward with great professionalism to make this battalion the role model unit for IO and cyber capabilities in the future."
The 110th is subordinate to the 58th EMIB within the state of Maryland and the Washington Guard's 56th Theater Information Operations Group during federal missions at home and abroad.