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A U.S. Marine uncases the American flag during a ceremony on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Nov. 20.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Andrew Cortez

Uncase the colors: 1st Network Battalion is born

24 Nov 2020 | Courtesy Story Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

Traditionally, military services hold ceremonies for units being activated, deactivated or changing commanders. The continuation of these ceremonies are passed on to future generations of service members to honor those who served the unit.

“The uncasing of the colors is unique, it establishes that first operational unit,” said Lt. Col. Juliet Calvin, the battalion commander for 1st Network Battalion, Marine Corps Cyberspace Operations Group. “An operational unit that in the Marine Corps upholds the time-honored traditions. When we got the activation in June, during the pandemic, we decided to wait until we could hold a formation and properly uncase the colors.”

Taking seven different units and consolidating them into 1st Network Battalion streamlines security and efficiency of the Western region of the Marine Corps Enterprise Network, while modernizing the Marine Corps’ cyber capabilities, according to Calvin.

“What we’ve done is taken those units and people that are part of the network battalion now, who used to work for their specific base or installation commanders, and put them all under one umbrella,” said Dr. Terence Adams, the deputy director of 1st Network Battalion

“We have now created a unified defensive cyber operations section.” Dr. Terence Adams, 1st Network Battalion deputy director

A single authority over the enterprise network will allow the Marine Corps to employ solutions that are affordable, flexible and robust. This will reduce the time it takes to procure software and hardware in order to keep pace with the rapid advantage of technology. It will also support the Marine Corps’ systems ability to keep pace with commercial information technology and to scale when necessary to match changing requirements.

“This is really about a cultural mindset shift for the Marine Corps,” stated Calvin. “Traditionally we would think of our communication networks as being most in danger when they are in a deployed environment. The reality is that cyber operations are happening every day regardless of where they are. The cultural shift on how we maintain our vigilance on the enterprise network is really what this network battalion is all about.”

In 2021, the Marine Corps plans to create the second and third network battalions at Camp Lejeune and Okinawa, respectively.

The end result will include a seamless command and control construct from the commander of U.S. Cyber Command, through the commander of Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command and the commander of the Marine Corps Cyberspace Operations Group to the three network battalions and three network activities.

“We are excited about defending and securing the network and working on cyberspace operations under a unified command,” said Adams. “We are going to have a single focus of effort and a single focus of unity.”