ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) — After spending the better part of the past decade defending the Defense Department’s computer networks, the Joint Task Force Global Network Operations command cased its colors.
The task force was deactivated in a ceremony Sept. 7 here at the Defense Information Systems Agency. The task force’s people and operations and personnel now fall under U.S. Cyber Command at Fort Meade, Md.
Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, presided over the ceremony.
Although the ceremony marked the end of the task force’s tenure, its mission continues, he said.
“Today we’re rolling the flag at JTF-GNO, but we’re not rolling the mission,” General Chilton said. “This mission will continue on at U.S. Cyber Command, and will be as essential tomorrow as it is today to the United States of America.”
The task force was short-lived, but it was the product of 12 years of initiatives and foresight to develop the best ways to operate on the cyber battlefield. JTF Computer Network Defense was created in 1998 under the U.S. Space Command.
That task force had a dual mission to conduct offensive and defensive cyber operations. It was reorganized to fall under STRATCOM in 2003. By 2004, the task force was redesignated as JTF Computer Network Operations to assume the offensive role. The JTF Global Network Operations also was established.
The new task force’s mission was to direct the operation and defense of the global information grid throughout the full spectrum of warfighting, intelligence and business missions within the department.
Since its activation, JTF Global Network Operations has ensured support to Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Operation Noble Eagle and the overall global war on terror.
Cybercom was activated in May. The JTF Computer Network Operations followed soon after. JTF Global Network Operations’ deactivation culminates years of work and effort to integrate Cybercom into its operations, General Chilton said.
“It was clear that our missions needed to come together, and we’ve done that,” the general said. “The transition began this year, and it’s going to continue today.”
General Chilton praised JTF Global Network’s final commander, Army Lt. Gen. Carroll F. Pollett, who, he said, changed the culture of network accountability within the department and got leaders involved in cyber security.
“The command and control was not as tight as it needed to be to confront the threats of today,” General Chilton said. “(General Pollett) made our networks commanders’ business. You brought that focus to every service and DOD agency.”
General Pollett assumed command of JTF Global Network Operations and duties as the director of the Defense Information Systems Agency in November 2008. He remains director of DISA.
JTF has played a significant role “in setting the conditions for the future” of the department, cyberspace operations and the nation, General Pollett said.
As the JTF Global Network Operations colors are retired for the final time, General Pollett said he’s reminded of the historical significance of the transition of the task force to Cybercom.
The information environment, he said, has evolved dramatically, and today the information grid is more than something that enhances capabilities.
“(Information) has become an operational imperative in our ability to deliver decisive capabilities to warfighters and our national leaders,” the general said. “Cyberspace has evolved into a new warfighter domain.
“Cyberspace has proven equal and just as important as air, sea, land and space as a domain,” he continued. “It’s clear that it must be defended and operationalized.”
General Pollett praised the people under his command for their efforts, calling them “pioneers” on the cyber domain front.
“It’s an honor to recognize the (JTF Global Network Operations) men and women, past and present, for their extraordinary accomplishments in working in the cyber domain,” General Pollett said. “You led the way for dramatic changes in the Department of Defense as the mission, requirements and threats evolved.”