SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii — Soldiers from the 11th Cyber Battalion, 780th Military Intelligence (MI) Brigade (Cyber), U.S. Army Cyber Command refined tactical cyber-electromagnetic activities — or CEMA — concepts for the Army during an operational readiness assessment in late March 2023.
For the event the 11th's Expeditionary CEMA Teams, or ECTs, employed innovative technology with assistance from experts from the Army Cyber Institute, known as ACI, at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the Army Program Executive Office – Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors (PEO IEW&S) and industry partners, along with training with the Combat Mission Team, Detachment-Hawaii, 782nd MI Battalion (Cyber).
The command teams from the 11th and 780th also used the time to strengthen partnerships and discuss future collaboration with U.S. Army Pacific and 25th Infantry CEMA experts and USARPAC’s Multidomain Effects Battalions.
“It’s an amazing story for ACI, because it is showing how quickly they were responsive to an operational force asking for support,” said Col. Ben Sangster, commander of the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade (Cyber). “The bigger story is that you have the ECT out here practicing and innovating their tradecraft and abilities in the backyard of USARPAC.”
The 11th is the Army’s premier expeditionary CEMA battalion. Officially activated on October 16, 2022, the battalion can deliver a range of non-lethal, non-kinetic effects – including offensive cyberspace operations and electronic warfare capabilities. Currently the 11th Cyber Battalion has three companies and four ECTs. A fifth ECT is being planned by the end of FY 2023, and by FY 2027, the 11th is projected to have a total 12 ECTs capable of providing offensive cyberspace operations, electronic warfare capabilities and information advantage functions and capabilities.
For this tactical demonstration, Soldiers from Expeditionary CEMA Team-01 partnered with their ACI, PEO IEW&S and industry partners. Although there was a culminating exercise for Maj. Gen. Neil S. Hersey, ARCYBER deputy commanding general for operations, there were numerous other engagements throughout the week with USARPAC’s CEMA and Multidomain Effects Battalions, the 25th Infantry Division CEMA and other military intelligence and signals intelligence units.
“In addition to integrating with the 780th MI Brigade’s Combat Mission Teams, the biggest objective is to innovate with the greater community of interest. We have made considerable headway with ACI, working with the vendors, PEO and the generating force, and the electronic warfare community. Plenty of room for growth, but we’re seeing this collaboration accelerate.” said Lt. Col. Ben Klimkowski, the 11th Cyber Battalion commander. “We are also trying to understand their needs (USARPAC and 25th Infantry Division CEMA and Multidomain Effects Battalion), to identify and shape what opportunities exist between the commands.”
While partnerships are critical, the success of the engagements lies primarily on the innovation of the Soldiers, he added.
“We are breaking paradigms here where we are not getting a fielded, complete system with a tight training circular, and a tight understanding of what this system does,” said Klimkowski. “We have smart analysts, operators and developers working together to extend the capabilities and use them in ways that are very powerful. Our Soldiers make it look easy, but it is not normal; the 11th Cyber Battalion has a unique mission and culture where incredible talent like what you see here can flourish. It’s really the technicians with the expertise and initiative that are refining and extending capabilities — not just employing — and using existing technologies in ways that were not initially envisioned.”
The 11th currently supports mission planning and operational requirements across three continents and the Pacific Rim in direct support of 1st Special Forces Command, United States Army Pacific, and United States Army Europe and Africa.
“What we are seeing is future of Expeditionary Cyber Operations. These Soldier are demonstrating proximal access via EW, air-launched, and ground-launched drones, which will be critical to achieving cyber effects during large scale combat operations in support of Army 2030 and beyond,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Potter, the 780th’s senior enlisted leader. “Some of these Soldiers never believed they would arrive via helicopter and then move tactically enabling cyber operations; let alone executing their operations with a drone or Spot the Robotic Dog.”
“The 780th is working with the operating force, the generating force, and institutional research agencies, like ACI, to provide value back to the Army,” added Klimkowski.