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Cyber Blitz, Orient Shield Build Future Capabilities, Multi-domain Operations, Partnership

By Bill Roche | Oct. 4, 2019

YAUSUBETSU, Japan -- Concurrent events on two continents thousands of miles apart are helping to advance Army, joint and combined multi-domain operations, fielding of new technology and allied force interoperability, by bringing together lab-based and field-based experimentation to address integration challenges and help expedite putting capabilities into the hands of warfighters.

At Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, teams from the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) C5ISR Center and the Army Cyber Center of Excellence are participating in Cyber Blitz, an experiment to inform the Army on how to execute full-spectrum information warfare operations through the development of innovative Cyber-Electromagnetic Activities (CEMA) capabilities. Linked to that effort is exercise Orient Shield at locations across Japan, with the 17th Field Artillery Brigade and the Army Intelligence, Information, Cyber, Electronic Warfare and Space (I2CEWS) battalion serving as the U.S. Army's Multi-Domain Task Force (MDTF) in partnership with the newly established Cross-Domain Operations Task Force of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF).

Experts from U.S. Army Cyber Command (ARCYBER) and its major subordinate organizations -- the 1st Information Operations Command; Joint Force Headquarters-Cyber (Army); the Army Cyber Protection Brigade; and the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade -- also provided CEMA and enabling support for both events. That support included planning, development and integration of Cyber Blitz efforts into Orient Shield; helping to develop exercise scenarios; and providing subject-matter and offensive and defensive cyberspace operations expertise to both challenge and assist the MDTF.

"Experimentation using prototypes enables us to learn early lessons about how the equipment performs in a realistic environment, how Soldiers will use the equipment, and what capabilities should be included in the final product," wrote CCDC commander Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins in the summer 2019 issue of Army AL&T magazine. Cyber Blitz 2019 is "one of the first concrete examples of cyber materiel development and experimentation linking up with an actual Army-level exercise," Wins said.

"Cyber Blitz 2019 was a significant and aggressive step forward to enable the combination of the two exercises and matching them to Orient Shield," said Lt. Col. Derek Bothern, the I2CEWS commander.

Cyber Blitz provides an environment to test new equipment, emerging technologies, techniques, tactics, and procedures, Bothern explained, via an iterative process that improves and guides future combat technologies based on input from warfighters in a field environment. The combination of Cyber Blitz and Orient Shield provides a proof of concept for conducting future experimentation with a major exercise, tying non-lethal effects to real-time war simulations. Cyber Blitz focused on defensive cyber operations, while Orient Shield focused on electronic warfare, lethal fires and operations planning integration.

Cyber Blitz is helping to identify tools and capabilities that multi-domain formations need to execute an I2CEWS mission and enable semi-independent joint, interagency, multinational operations against a peer adversary, said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Erick Colon, ARCYBER's electronic warfare branch chief. At the same time the experiment is helping to advance Army science and technology initiatives.

Building on three previous experiments, this year's Cyber Blitz involved more than 700 personnel operating and supporting more than 65 different systems and technologies to help the Army to define full-spectrum I2CEWS operations in support of multi-domain operations, by providing a live, virtual, constructive representation of a future battlespace that gave the more than 30 participating Army, Navy, Air Force and JGSDF organizations a realistic first look at how the I2CEWS could fight and win as part of the MDTF.

Executing Cyber Blitz in conjunction with Orient Shield marked the first time the Army combined field-based experimentation with a major Army service component command exercise, and the first bilateral defensive cyber operations with the JGSDF. The MDTF deployed more than 1,200 U.S. Soldiers across Japan to take part in a command post exercise, field training and live-fire training. At the same time, JGSDF personnel operated alongside their U.S. counterparts in New Jersey supporting Orient Shield missions such as intelligence planning and support; information operations; offensive and defensive cyberspace operations; electronic warfare; and space surveillance and effects.

"The synchronization of Cyber Blitz and Orient Shield allows the Soldiers within the organization access to future mission equipment. Input from equipment testing was fed back into the exercise simulation and staff process, providing relevant real-world information inputs to the commander's decision cycle," Bothern explained.

He said multi-domain operations requires the Army to modernize its technologies and tactics, and combining exercises with technology testing allows for accurate test and trial and decreases fielding time in the future.

"The feedback and testing provided by the Soldiers in a field environment advanced the development and refinement of the technology by years," Bothern added. "In many cases, changes were made throughout the testing, providing significant increases in capability within only a few weeks."

The events are also helping to further integration of information warfare capabilities and interoperability between U.S. and partner forces. Under bilateral agreement between U.S. Army Japan and the JGSDF, collaborative defensive cyber operations were trained and conducted as part of Cyber Blitz 19. Colon said among the key lessons learned were that networking is difficult across multiple security enclaves (Army enterprise and closed information networks), and that foreign nation-approved mission profiles must be honored to ensure the U.S. does not ask its allies to conduct missions which are not part of their charter. Written and oral language translation matters to ensure a clear, common understanding of command intent, he added.

The exercise also built significantly on bilateral operations involving U.S. and Japanese forces.

"This year, we have radically deviated from the past," said Maj. Gen. Viet Luong, USARJ commander. "In addition to expanding the scope and breadth of the exercise from tactical to operational level, Orient Shield 2019 gives us the opportunity to establish the first multi-domain task force operating in Japan, providing us with unique lethal and non-lethal capabilities that both complement and integrate with JGSDF assets."

"I believe that OS 19 produced successful results and it is a significant milestone of future Japan and U.S. bilateral cross-domain operations," said Lt. Gen Takashi Motamatsu, commander, JGSDF Western Army, at the exercise's closing ceremony.

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