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NEWS | Dec. 17, 2021

VNG cyber protection battalion completes TF Echo mission

By Steven Stover, 780th Military Intelligence Brigade (Cyber)

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md.  – The Virginia National Guard’s 123rd Cyber Protection Battalion, 91st Cyber Brigade, ended its support for Task Force Echo with a transition of authority ceremony Dec. 1.
 
Col. Matthew Lennox, commander of the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade (Cyber), hosted the ceremony marking the completion of the fifth iteration of Task Force Echo and the beginning of the sixth with the transition from the 123rd to the 127th CPB.
 
TFE V consisted of more than 150 Army National Guard (ARNG) Soldiers, primarily assigned to the 123rd Cyber Protection Battalion (CPB), headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia. The Soldiers hail from Illinois, Minnesota, Virginia and Wisconsin.
 
TFE VI consists of ARNG Soldiers primarily assigned to the 127th CPB, headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, with Soldiers hail from Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

“Task Force Echo is an ARNG Task Force mobilized annually to engineer, install, operate, maintain and defend critical network infrastructure and conduct cyberspace operations in support of U.S. Cyber Command and the Cyber National Mission Force,” said Lt. Col. David Garner, commander of the 123rd CPB and TFE V.

TFE is aligned under and operationally controlled by the 780th MI Brigade and administratively controlled by Army Cyber Command (ARCYBER). The mission is sourced from the 91st Cyber Brigade (Virginia) and its five subordinate CPBs. TFE Rotations last for more than a year.

“Task Force Echo relies heavily on the diverse technical backgrounds endemic to the Soldiers of the National Guard,” said Maj. Nicholas Allen, S-3 (Operations), 123rd CPB and TFE V. “They bring extensive experience to the mission that can only be gained by working in defensive cyberspace, network infrastructure, computer programming, and other information technology positions throughout the private sector as well as the completion of the extensive training required to be a cyber warrior.”

Lennox said the annual rotation of Soldiers leads to “continuous improvements to the infrastructure, security and processes.”

Garner said Task Force Echo enables National Guard Soldiers to obtain the education and experience to get the cyber protection teams to initial and fully operational capacity.

The Soldiers return home with new skills and hands-on experience.

“This provides the National Guard increased capability supporting federal missions and provides governors and adjutants general with additional capabilities to support state missions,” Garner said.

Since Aug. 15, 2017, more than 900 Army National Guard Soldiers have been assigned to the task force, working alongside the 780th to conduct cyberspace operations to support USCYBERCOM and the CNMF.

The 91st Cyber Brigade is the ARNG’s first and only cyber brigade, consisting of five battalions, five cybersecurity companies, five cyber warfare companies, and 11 cyber protection teams in more than 30 states.