Prior to its deployment to Afghanistan, the Army’s newest unit received special assistance in cyber and electronic warfare techniques.
The 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade, or SFAB, is a first of its kind specialized group designed solely to advise and assist local, indigenous forces. As such, these units need specialized equipment and received training from Army Cyber Command on offensive and defensive cyber operations, as well as electronic warfare and information operations, Army Cyber Command commander Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone wrote in prepared testimony before the Senate Armed Services Cyber Subcommittee in early March.
The Army is looking to the newly established advise-and-assist brigade that's headed to Afghanistan to help inform modernization efforts associated with communications gear for conventional units.
The distinct makeup of the unit ― smaller than a typical brigade and lacking all the resources and technical expertise therein ― means the operators at the tactical edge have to do the networking and troubleshooting themselves in addition to advising battalion sized Afghan units. The command’s tailored support sought to advise SFAB personnel how best to leverage a remote enterprise to achieve mission effects, according to the spokesman. That means knowing how to perform electronic warfare and cyber tasks are part of every soldier’s basic skill set.
This was unique support with tailored training to meet the SFAB’s advisory role mission, an Army Cyber Command spokesman said.
Team members from Army Cyber Command specializing in offensive cyber and defensive cyber to serve as instructors during SFAB’s validation exercise at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana in January, a command spokesman told Fifth Domain. Electronic warfare personnel from 1st SFAB were also briefed on how cyber capabilities in use in Afghanistan currently support U.S. Forces.
Specifically, the trainers provided the unit’s communications teams best practices to harden networks.
The Army Cyber Command team discussed planning factors working with down-range networks and mission relevant cyber terrain with the SFAB, specifically, the need to maintain situational awareness of the blue network and ability to identify key cyber terrain, the Army Cyber Command spokesman said.
The unit was also given lessons on implementing defensive measure using organic tools.