Marine Corps Cyberspace Warfare Group, the new hacker unit

Pierluigi Paganini March 31, 2016

The United States Marine Corps has launched on March 25th a new hacker support unit named Marine Corps Cyberspace Warfare Group.

It is unnecessary to remind the importance of cyber capabilities in the current military environment. Government and military corps are investing to improve their cyber abilities and exploits the immense possibilities offered by the cyberspace as the fifth domain of warfare.

News of the day is that the United States Marine Corps has launched on March 25th a new hacker support unit, it follows the establishment of other hacking units announced last year.

It is a strategic decision in response to a rapid technological evolution of the military context, the Marine Corps Cyberspace Warfare Group (MCCYWG) is already operative and the assigned resources are expected to rapidly expand in the next year.

The newborn Marine Corps Cyberspace Warfare Group will support the US Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace (MARFORCYBER) established by the US Government in 2010.

Marine Corps Cyberspace Warfare Group

The new Marine Corps Cyberspace Warfare Group will train and support hackers working for the US Marine Corps, its members will be involved in both offensive and defensive operations.

“The mission of MCCYWG is to man, train and equip Marine Cyberspace mission teams to perform both defensive and offensive cyber operations in support of United States Cyber Command and Marine Forces Cyberspace Command.” states the official website of US Marine Corps.

“We’ve always had the means to communicate and the means to protect that communication, but today we’re in an environment where those methods are more and more reliant on a system of transmissions, routers and networks,” said Col. Ossen J. D’Haiti, the commanding officer of MCCYWG. “So, the ability to protect that, the ability to control that and deny an adversary to interdict that, is crucial to command and control.”

The official announcement remarks that now more than ever, the Marine Corps is seeing the need for defense of its networks and communications. The Marine Corps Cyberspace Warfare Group will protect the Marine Corps infrastructure from cyber attacks, for this reason, in the announcement, it is described as a sort of virtual “firewall” against the cyber threats.

“Cyber operations as a whole are anything from ensuring your network is secure to home use like when you buy a router, set it up, set up passwords and encryptions,” said Sargent Brian Mueller, member of the unit.

“[Cyberspace operations] ensure that our systems are secure to stop hackers from getting into our systems where our personal identifiable information and everything else is stored,” added Mueller.

“While the offensive side is what can we do to hinder an enemy.”

Below the official description of the new hacker unit and its functions:

“Commander, MCCYWG organizes, trains, equips, provides administrative support, manages readiness, and recommends certification and presentation of Cyber Mission Force (CMF) Teams to U.S. Cyber Command.  The MCCYWG plans and conducts full spectrum cyberspace operations as directed by COMMARFORCYBER in support of service, combatant command, joint, and coalition requirements.” states the website of the US Marine Corps.

Key MCCYWG tasks include:

  • Conduct personnel management to organize and assign individuals to work roles and place them in work centers to ensure operational readiness of CMF Teams
  • Ensure all personnel are trained in accordance with USCYBERCOM Joint Cyberspace Training and Certification Standards and equipped to perform all duties and tasks outlined in the MARFORCYBER Mission Essential Task List (METL)
  • Plan for and, when authorized, conduct OCO including computer network exploitation (CNE), cyberspace intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and operational preparation of the environment (OPE)
  • Plan and conduct designated DCO in response to threats against the MCEN, supported combatant command (COCOM) designated networks, and the Department of Defense Information Network (DODIN)
  • Advise COMMARFORCYBER on force employment considerations
  • Provide subject matter expertise for operational planning requirements

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – Marine Corps Cyberspace Warfare Group, Information Warfare)

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