Nebraska will soon be home to one of the Army National Guard’s new cyber protection teams, the National Guard Bureau announced Wednesday.

The Bureau announced the formation of seven new cyber teams across 18 states. The Nebraska Army National Guard will share a 39-member team with Arkansas and Missouri, said Lt. Col. Kevin Hynes, a Nebraska National Guard spokesman.

“It’s really exciting for Nebraska,” he said.

Hynes said the unit will be organized in 2018 and 2019. He said it’s not yet clear how many of the Guard members will be assigned here, or where the unit will be based.

The job of cyber protection teams is wide-ranging, Guard officials said. They conduct defensive cyber operations and inspect military and civilian government computer networks to make sure they are guarded against cyberattacks.

The teams are designed to attract people with tech skills from inside and outside the military and harness those skills to defend the country against cyberattacks.

“We think that this is an acknowledgment of the incredible talent that we have here in Nebraska,” said Brig. Gen. Richard Dahlman, deputy adjutant general of the Nebraska National Guard, in a press release Wednesday.

The Army National Guard established the first team, the 1636th Cyber Protection Team, 14 months ago at Fort Meade, Maryland, home to U.S. Cyber Command. Three additional teams are being set up in five states by 2016, to be followed by the seven teams announced Wednesday.

In addition, the Air National Guard will activate new cyber operations squadrons in Idaho, Michigan, Texas and Virginia, as well as cyber Information Surveillance Reconnaissance units in California and Massachusetts. These units will have a separate but parallel mission with the Army Guard’s cyber protection teams.

Once all those units are in place, the National Guard cyber units will be in 23 states. The Iowa National Guard wasn’t awarded any of the new teams, but Colorado, North and South Dakota and Minnesota were.

“Every state wanted this,” said John Goheen, a spokesman for the National Guard Association of the United States, which lobbies on behalf of the Guard and Guard members on Capitol Hill. “Hosting or being involved in one of these teams will attract some very good people.”

While both Guard and active-duty forces are being cut, Congress is pumping money into cyberdefense.

“At a time when we’re reducing force structure, this is adding,” Goheen said. “We have the ability to keep bright, young cyber experts in our force.”

Guard officials will work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in times of national emergency, complementing the Guard’s mission to respond to large-scale emergencies and disasters at home.

“The focus is to get that presence in as many states as possible and especially making sure we have all the FEMA regions covered,” said Air Force Col. Kelly Hughes, chief of the Air National Guard Readiness Center’s Space and Cyber Warfare Operations Division, in a National Guard Bureau press release.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1186, steve.liewer@owh.com

Sign up for The World-Herald's afternoon updates

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Recommended for you

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.