FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. – Col. Benjamin Sangster, commander of the 780th Military Intelligence (MI) Brigade (Cyber), hosted a transition of authority (TOA) ceremony between two Army National Guard (ARNG) formations whereby one battalion transitioned with another to seamlessly continue the Task Force Echo cyberspace mission, October 28 at the Capt. John E. Smathers U.S. Army Reserve Center.
The battalions complete the sixth and begin the seventh iterations of Task Force Echo (TFE). The task force exists under the operational control of the 780th MI Brigade and conducts cyberspace operations in support of U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) and the Cyber Mission Force (CMF). The 780th MI Brigade falls under the operational control of U.S. Army Cyber Command.
“Approximately seven years ago the Army identified the need to secure new cyberspace infrastructure that was coming online,” said Sangster. “The active-duty cyber mission force was in its infancy and did not have the necessary human capital to satisfy the need.
“Let me take you further back a few centuries to 1636 when the Army National Guard was founded. Its mission was to protect families and towns from hostile attacks. Today, the Soldiers you see standing before you are National Guard Soldiers from across the United States brought back to active duty for a year to protect one of our nation’s most critical cyberspace infrastructures. Over the last year, Soldiers of Task Force Echo VI have worked tirelessly to ensure the Cyber Mission Force can execute its mission.”
The outgoing TFE formation, primarily assigned to the 127th Cyber Protection Battalion (CPB), is composed of ARNG Soldiers from Indiana, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, with additional Soldiers from Florida, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, and Virginia. TFE VI was commanded by Lt. Col. Rose Gilroy, commander of the 127th CPB, with Command Sgt. Maj. Kermit Harless as the senior enlisted leader.
“These Soldiers supported over 27 hundred strategic and tactical missions across multiple geographically dispersed locations,” said Gilroy. “They spearheaded the overall strategy, vision, and technical implementation of all physical and virtual infrastructure services and components in an ever-constrained environment.”
The TFE VII formation, primarily assigned to the 125th CPB, is composed of ARNG Soldiers from South Carolina, California, Michigan, and Ohio, with additional Soldiers in the Task Force from Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, and Virginia. TFE VII is commanded by Maj. (Promotable) Daniel Byrnside, commander of the 125th CPB, with Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy Larkin as the senior enlisted leader.
“The Soldiers from Task Force Echo VII come from a wide variety of backgrounds…We bring a wide range of technical talent and experiences from previous Task Force Echo rotations (30 percent of the Soldiers are from previous TFE rotations),” said Byrnside. “We also bring a large geographical demographic from all over the nation, literally all the way from the west coast to the east coast, north to south, our Soldiers comprise the true value and talent that our nation can bring to bear – and truly represents the best of the National Guard.”
The 91st Cyber Brigade is the ARNG’s first and only cyber brigade. Consisting of five battalions, five cybersecurity companies, five cyber warfare companies, and 11 cyber protection teams arrayed across more than 30 states.
Since August 15, 2017, more than 900 Army National Guard Soldiers have been assigned to the task force, working alongside the 780th MI Brigade to conduct cyberspace operations in support of USCYBERCOM and the CMF.
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