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NEWS | July 3, 2024

Protecting DoD's Cyberspace Battlefield Through Aggressive Action

By Alex Aguilastratt, Chief of JFHQ-DODIN Strategy & Policy Branch JFHQ-DODIN

The Mission Is A Go!

Time on Target (ToT) is set for 0300 Zulu Time somewhere in a remote area of the world. The operator team is not alone. They are tracked by a U.S. Navy warship far from the coast with communication and surveillance systems supporting the mission. In the air, F-22 Raptors remain out of radar detection ready to provide close-air support. A carrier strike group has an Army Ranger company and a Special Operations aviation regiment detachment embarked who are in constant communication with the mothership and have access to immediate satellite coverage.

Thirty minutes before ToT, the operators conduct final checks on all systems. They ensure the mothership can communicate with them and coordinate with the F22s in the air. All supporting forces are on standby if the mission requires it.

At 0300 Zulu Time, ToT, the operators hit the objective. The mothership follows the team on the ground with uninterrupted real-time satellite footage, the F-22s are ready to dominate the air above the objective, and SOF medics, Army Rangers, and U.S. Marines are ready to support in a moment’s notice. The operators confidently execute their assigned tasks knowing that a full array of specialized units would be available if called upon. They complete their mission and call for extraction as planned. Mission accomplished.

To the operators, this level of dynamic coordination underpins mission assurance. The key enabler that allows for this coordination and mission assurance is the Department of Defense Information Network (DODIN). As one of DoD’s most vital assets, the DODIN is a technological federated environment composed of 45 independent areas of operation. This network of networks, systems, and data is also known as cyber terrain and is DoD’s cyberspace battlefield. Protecting the DODIN to ensure warfighters and others have the access they need, when they need it, requires a unified force approach which is led by Joint Force Headquarters – Department of Defense Information Network (JFHQ-DODIN).

Who We Are And “What We Are For”

As a component command of U.S. Cyber Command, JFHQ-DODIN’s global responsibility is to provide the command and control for unified action in DODIN operations, security, and defense. Its task is formidable, given that cyberspace is a human-made environment in a constant state of flux. What is key terrain today might not hold the same status tomorrow. Despite cyberspace being declared an operational warfighting domain more than a decade ago, the secure, operate, and defend the DODIN mission was not fully realized until the Secretary of Defense’s Direction in November 2014. In that year, JFHQ-DODIN emerged to unite the actions for the entirety of the DoD’s layered construct used to safeguard DoD networks, information, and weapon systems. Without the unwavering C2 capabilities of JFHQ-DODIN, our network would be vulnerable to the probing of our adversaries. Consequently, our warfighters would be unable to harmonize their efforts, as demonstrated in the previous example.

While dealing with an ever-changing operational environment, threats, and constant requirements, JFHQ-DODIN achieved initial operational capability in 2015 and full operation capability on January 22, 2018. Although a small command under U.S. Cyber Command, JFHQ-DODIN, at the speed of relevance, protects the DoD Information Network. That protection is critical because of the DODIN’s importance as a warfighting capability and its role related to risk to mission, risk to forces, and operational outcomes. Without a committed group of men and women enabling the defense of the network 24/7, our forces could not operate effectively.

JFHQ-DODIN And the Way We Fight

The world knows how the American Military fights. First, we build a significant amount of combat power, which we then project using the concept of a Combined Arms Maneuver. The logistical move and the decisive nature of combined arms maneuvers require an impressive amount of coordination. A commander assembling tons of military equipment and thousands of personnel to then maneuver elements simultaneously in the land, sea, air, cyber, and space domains, requires a connectivity network to shoot, move, and communicate at a large scale. The DODIN provides such a connectivity network that is critical for all operations, conventional or non-conventional. Without JFHQ-DODIN and the operational C2 it provides to secure, operate, and defend our cyberspace battlefield, a commander’s ability to mass forces and maneuver them to accomplish the mission is severely depleted, potentially putting the lives of thousands of Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, and Guardians in severe danger, and our operational advantage is denied.

JFHQ-DODIN’s posture includes but is not exclusive to computer network defense, information assurance, inspections, and other activities. Without JFHQ-DODIN proactively directing, synchronizing, and integrating global operations, security, and multi-layered defense actions across the network, the enemy would have the proverbial green light to conduct asymmetric attacks to disrupt, deny, and destroy our DODIN-enabled capabilities to corrupt, distort, or steal sensitive data and information.


JFHQ-DODIN combats threats to the DODIN 24/7 and evolves at the speed of relevance against multiple adversaries simultaneously in an ever-changing operational environment. We utilize the concept of aggressive action, meaning we impose a cost on the adversary each time it probes our network. We rely on a vast network and evolving technology to outpace our opponents and think, adapt, and anticipate better than they ever could. However, none of our equipment or capabilities are as important as our team of dedicated men and women standing watch day and night, holding the line, and telling our adversaries, “No, you move.”

Alex Aguilastratt is a contributing author to JFHQ-DODIN Public Affairs. He currently serves as the JFHQ-DODIN Strategy and Policy Branch Chief, J542. In this role, he analyzes and evaluates substantive, mission-oriented programs including long-range planning and strategy, goals and objectives, and milestones regarding the coordination and synchronization of DODIN Operations and DCO-IDM planning. Additionally, he provides professional guidance, and assistance to a wide range of personnel, organizations, and components engaged in one or more phases of information systems plans, programs, designs, developments, and procedures.