MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. -- This summer Marine Corps Systems Command’s Cyber Advisory Team completed its first emergency cyber acquisition as part of a new process designed to more quickly respond to the cyber warfighting needs of the force.
Acquisition experts from the CAT and other program management personnel developed the process to meet the requirement. Leveraging commercial-off-the-shelf hardware and software, the new capability allows the Corps’ cyber protection teams to conduct cybersecurity operations onsite and remotely protect the network.
“Fulfilling this emergency cyber requirement was the result of close communication and coordination between the CAT, PM Information Systems and Infrastructure and our dedicated liaison at [MARFORCYBER],” said Mike Cirillo, CAT director at MCSC. “All hands involved understood the real-world mission this acquisition was supporting and kicked their efforts into high gear to achieve success.”
In 2015, the Corps established the Marine Corps Cyber Task Force to overhaul the service’s approach to cyber warfare. MCSC was tasked to improve cyber acquisition responsiveness as part of the effort to seek disruptive improvements in cyber capabilities. Within months, the then-Cyber Acquisition Team began developing a tailored process to support rapid cyber acquisition.
In less than a year the Cyber Acquisition Team became the Cyber Advisory Team, with an expanded mission that includes mentoring, coordinating and advising the commander on cyber, IT and Marine Corps Enterprise Network operations, initiatives and actions.
“Even with the CAT in place, we had not had an opportunity to exercise the emergency cyber acquisition process until the CPT acquisition,” said Andrew Dwyer, CAT liaison officer to Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command. “Our relationship with MARFORCYBER enables us to identify cyber requirements early and expedite the acquisition process.”
When CAT received the emergency request, they worked closely with Dwyer and PM ISI to acquire and field the new capability to CPTs in less than 30 days. This collaborative effort is one example of how the Corps is adapting to the ever-changing operational environment in order to ensure Marines maintain the advantage in all domains.
“The Commandant’s intent to improve Marine Corps acquisition stems from the knowledge that the operational landscape around us has changed,” Cirillo said. “This kind of cultural change began at our senior leadership level and, reinforced with little victories like this emergency cyber acquisition, we can effect sustainable refinements to traditional acquisition processes earlier and faster.”
Cirillo and Dwyer both added that MCSC’s partnership with MFCC demonstrates the unparalleled commitment by cyber leadership across the Corps to improve communications, streamline cyber acquisition procedures and nurture a new cyber support mindset.
“We are thrilled with our recent successes and will continue to improve the process while injecting leadership, professionalism and urgency to support our customer's mission priorities," said Dwyer.
“Our end goal is to provide speed to the Corp’s cyber warfighting capability while maintaining the discipline necessary for a unified, standardized and configuration-controlled network,” said Harry Oldland, ISI program manager. “These improvements will provide more responsive and effective support to our cyber forces, including where and how our industry partners can help us provide tactical IT capabilities to our operational forces.”