It’s the battlespace of the 21st century: the cyber domain. And the Marine Corps has just dropped several million dollars on a new training range in a
bid to be ready to face off against any hostile force on
The virtual training range will allow the Marine
Corps to prepare its troops to fight on a cyber battlefield, performing both offensive and defensive operations in preparation for adversaries that can come from
just about anywhere in the world.
The training range was developed by ManTech
International Corp. in just the last few months, and
cost about $9.1 million. It is located near Marine Corps
Base Quantico, Va. Fairfax, Va.-based ManTech
declined to comment for this report.
Col Gregory Breazile, Marine Corps director of the
cyber and electronic warfare integration division, told
Seapower that the range provides an opportunity for
Marines to have a persistent training environment at
“Cyber security Marines, or offensive cyber Marines,
can go into it and either virtually attach to the range for
training or physically come to the range and conduct
training,” Breazile said. “It represents our Marine Corps
enterprise network in a virtual environment so that it
can be similar to as if they were on
the Marine Corps enterprise net-
work conducting operations. They
can test things out, they can try dif-
ferent techniques, they can use dif-
ferent tools without breaking any-
thing on real, live networks.”
In addition, it’s a cloud environ-
ment, which means Marines do not
have to physically be at the loca-
tion of the range, and can access it
from anywhere in the world.
“The staff on site can rapidly
stand up and modify training events
for individuals or for units, so if we
wanted to do a big MEF- [Marine Expeditionary Force-]
level exercise, we could put a cyber exercise in the range
itself and conduct the exercise in an environment where
we’re doing offense and defense,” Breazile said. “That
way, they’re learning those tactics, techniques and proce-
dures as if they’re in the live environment.”
The events or scenarios are reusable, and can be
used to train other users. The range also can be used
for testing, Breazile said, making it a very versatile
asset to have.
“Every year, programs of record have to go through
a vulnerability assessment,” he said. “The range pro-
vides us with an environment where programs of
record can run a variety of tools against it.”
Using information from the range, these programs can
update their vulnerability assessment, and do it much
faster than they would be able to do otherwise. For exam-
ple, the Marines took their aviation command and control
( C2) system — a collection of a multitude of C2 applica-
tions in one program — and ran vulnerability tests that
took only about two days. Normally, that would take on
the order of eight to nine months. If it was a smaller pro-
gram, the range could get it done that same day.
At the range, there is a collection of tools on the
servers that can connect directly to or through a net-
Marine Corps spends $9.1 million on a new virtual range
that allows Marines to train anywhere in the world
By DANIEL P. TAYLOR, Special Correspondent
The Marine Corps has a new tool in its cyber security kit, a cyber
training range that provides a persistent training environment.
; The range exists in a cloud environment, so Marines do not
have to physically be at the range location to train.
; The range also can be used for testing, such as conducting vulnerability assessments on specific systems.
; Marines can conduct tests and training evaluations that are
simulated without causing real harm to real networks.