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A new Air National Guard cyber security team emerges at JBMDL

Master Sgt. Christopher Motta, non-commissioned officer-in-charge, 108th Communications Flight/ Mission Defense Team, poses for a photo near the team's new work area.

Master Sgt. Christopher Motta, non-commissioned officer-in-charge, 108th Communications Flight/ Mission Defense Team, poses for a photo near the team's new work area, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Aug. 2, 2020. The mission defense team, or MDT, is a 108th Communications Flight element responsible for analyzing and identifying specific cyber threats outlined by the 108th Wing commander. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea A. S. Williamson)

The 108th Communications Flight/ Mission Defense Team's new work area at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

The 108th Communications Flight/ Mission Defense Team's new work area at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Oct. 3, 2021. The mission defense team, or MDT, is a 108th Communications Flight element responsible for analyzing and identifying specific cyber threats outlined by the 108th Wing commander. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea A. S. Williamson)

Staff Sgt. Eric Garcia, mission defense team member, 108th Communications Flight/ MDT, stands in the MDT work area and explains further the demand for cybersecurity professionals.

Staff Sgt. Eric Garcia, mission defense team member, 108th Communications Flight/ MDT, explains further the demand for cybersecurity professionals, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Oct. 3, 2021. This demand is at an all-time high due to the existence of continuing and emerging threats in cyberspace. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea A. S. Williamson)

Master Sgt. Christopher Motta, non-commissioned officer-in-charge, 108th Communications Flight/ Mission Defense Team, looks at wall of Post-It notes stuck to the wall. The notes outline the process of standing up the new cyber mission as they become more acquainted with their new work area.

Master Sgt. Christopher Motta, non-commissioned officer-in-charge, 108th Communications Flight/ Mission Defense Team, outlines the process of standing up the new cyber mission as they become more acquainted with their new work area, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Oct. 3, 2021. The mission defense team, or MDT, is a 108th Communications Flight element responsible for analyzing and identifying specific cyber threats outlined by the 108th Wing commander. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea A. S. Williamson)

Master Sgt. Christopher Motta, non-commissioned officer-in-charge, 108th Communications Flight/ Mission Defense Team, poses for a portrait near the team's new work area.

Master Sgt. Christopher Motta, non-commissioned officer-in-charge, 108th Communications Flight/ Mission Defense Team, poses for a portrait near the team's new work area, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Aug. 2, 2020. The mission defense team, or MDT, is a 108th Communications Flight element responsible for analyzing and identifying specific cyber threats outlined by the 108th Wing commander. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrea A. S. Williamson)

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. --

As 2022 approaches, a new Air National Guard cyber security component has emerged at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.

The mission defense team, or MDT, is a 108th Communications Flight element responsible for analyzing and identifying specific cyber threats outlined by the 108th Wing commander.

“Once the mission critical system is identified, it is the MDT’s charge to defend it. This is accomplished by employing the MDT core functions. We identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover [or] sustain to provide mission assurance for that system,” cited Master Sgt. Christopher Motta, 108th CF/MDT, non-commissioned officer-in-charge.

The team is led by Capt. Joshua Martell and includes Motta and Staff Sgts. Leah Luke and Eric Garcia. The team will soon be joined by Tech. Sgt. Frank Blake from March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, California.

“The demand for cybersecurity professionals is at an all-time high due to the existence of continuing and emerging threats in cyberspace,” said Garcia. “Cyber operations is a growing field due to this constant threat.”

The concept of mission assurance has amplified as the Department of Defense identified the need to protect critical systems.

The 108th MDT “works closely” with their JB MDL cyber partners. The new cyber entity collaborates with the 140th Cyber Operations Squadron, 87th Communication Squadron MDT, as well as, the New Jersey Army National Guard Cyber Protection Team 173, Detachment 1, on a regular basis which acts as a force multiplier for the organizations, said Motta.

“By 2023, we intend for the [MDT] to reach initial operational capability,” said Capt. Robert Spiegel, 108th CF commander.

By this measure, the 108th MDT will “have 60 percent of authorized manpower [which means] 60 percent of members will have completed initial qualifications training (IQT), completed mapping of primary Mission Relevant Terrain-Cyber (MRT-C), and demonstrated at least a marginal capability to defend that terrain,” explains Spiegel.

In total, Spiegel, anticipates effective results from his five-member team. But, for now, members continue the process of standing up the new cyber mission as they become more acquainted with their new work area.

“We moved from building 3324 to building 3322,” said Garcia. “This facility gives us a space to train and perform our role to provide mission assurance for the 108th Wing.”