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Securing the cyber advantage: U.S. Cyber Command celebrates its 11th year

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md --

United States Cyber Command celebrates its eleventh birthday on 21 May 2021. In the year since its 10th anniversary, USCYBERCOM has met significant challenges – chief among them COVID-19. The pandemic impacted USCYBERCOM, but did not stop its people or its mission. Among other accomplishments, USCYBERCOM enabled the defense of the 2020 elections, and played a key role in the whole-of-government response to the SolarWinds breach.

USCYBERCOM partnered with the National Security Agency in the Election Security Group, which ensured that intelligence and cyberspace operations supported whole-of-nation efforts to harden defenses and disrupt foreign threats to the 2020 U.S. elections. As part of a broader government effort, the ESG worked with the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and the National Guard Bureau, sharing information about incidents with the speed of relevancy to enable defense across all 54 states and territories.

The last year also saw increasingly capable cyber adversaries target the United States via influence operations, efforts to compromise sensitive data, and attempts to gain access to government networks and weapons systems. Cyber actors from China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran, along with non-state actors and criminal cartels, sought to exploit seams between our organizations and authorities.

USCYBERCOM responded to the SolarWinds breach with continuous support to the whole-of-government mitigation effort beginning in December 2020. The Command is part of the effort to identify, isolate, and clear affected systems, and it works with federal partners to share best practices and expertise to expel the adversary from affected systems.

While the COVID-19 pandemic not only impacted the U.S and the Command, it also affected the cyber adversaries, who continued to act below the level of armed conflict. Despite this, the pandemic did not limited the force’s readiness or posture to achieve its missions.

This next year, USCYBERCOM will focus on strategic competition through the operational approach of persistent engagement, implementing the Defend Forward cyber strategy in support of Secretary of Defense Austin’s vision for integrated deterrence. It will seek to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Department of Defense Intelligence Network operations and defensive cyberspace missions. The Cyber Mission Force will see growth, realignment, and centralized training, all designed to improve mission responsiveness and success.

The Joint Cyber Warfighting Architecture, which provides cyber capabilities against adversaries and controls operations in cyberspace, has improved rapidly in the last year to provide unified capabilities for the CMF, integrating data from offensive and defensive cyberspace operations in ways that help commanders gauge risk, make timely decisions, and act.

Another key focus has been improving recruitment and retention of top military and civilian performers.

All of these measures will enhance the proficiency of USCYBERCOM and boost its ability to provide security assurance in cyberspace as the Command continues to defend the nation.