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Cyber brigade uncases colors
By Bonnie Heater
Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office

The U.S. Army Cyber Protection Brigade command team’s Command Sgt. Maj. Jack Nichols assists Col. Donald L. Bray, not visible, in unfurling the brigade colors during an activation and patching ceremony held March 18 on Barton Field. Photo by Bonnie Heater / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office.

The U.S. Army Cyber Protection Brigade officially established its lineage during an activation and patching ceremony held March 18 on Barton Field.

The brigade is the first of its kind in the Army.


During the ceremony, Col. Donald L. Bray, the commander of the U.S. Army Cyber Protection Brigade, and Command Sgt. Maj. Jack Nichols, the brigade’s command sergeant major, uncased the brigade colors as the authorization orders were announced.
Following the uncasing of the brigade colors, the presiding officer, Maj. Gen. John B. Morrison Jr., Network Enterprise Technology Command commanding general and 2nd Army deputy commanding general, spoke about how the Army in April 2013 directed the establishment of the 7th Cyber Mission Unit ( Provisional) to provide watch over the establishment of the 20 Cyber Protection Teams, which would provide high-end, cyber defense of the Department of Defense’s critical networks.

Soldiers attach new unit shoulder sleeve insignias that identify they are assigned with the U.S. Army Cyber Protection Brigade during an activation and patching ceremony held March 18 on Barton Field. Photo by Bonnie Heater / Fort Gordon Public Afairs Ofice
“Almost two years ago, in June 2014, the Army officially activated the Cyber Protection Brigade,” Morrison explained. “At that time, they used the field Army colors because they had no lineage – that changed today, as we unfurl their own distinctive colors to honor the lineage that they established that day and will only continue to build up.
“The men and women who stand before you represent the very best of our nation and our Army, and they are all dedicated and trusted professionals,” Morrison said.


He talked about the importance of the patching ceremony as it represents the esprit de corps and the camaraderie of our nation’s best.
“It will identify each of our troopers as a member of the Army’s only Cyber Protection Brigade, and it will demonstrate how they set themselves apart and serve as the vanguard of our Army in the contested and challenging domain of cyberspace,” Morrison explained. “The men and women of the Cyber Protection Brigade understand the exceptional challenges they face. These troopers are uniquely trained and skilled to operate in this rapidly emerging and ever changing operational domain. They understand their mission well – to ensure that our Army can operate freely in cyberspace.”

Morrison talked about how brigade Soldiers and civilians in the past few years took on the challenge of standing up the unit, participating in tough, challenging technical and operational training, and almost immediately were called up to execute missions across the Department of Defense and the Army.

“To date, they have executed more than 90 separate missions or cyber security inspections, and in many ways, it was like building a plane in flight, as new and ongoing operations demanded immediate action,” he said. “To build a unit this quickly took grit. It took determination. It took dedication.”

The cyberspace domain is dynamic and the threat is real – whether from a nation state, a terrorist group or “hacktivist,” Morrison said.
“The men and women you see on this field have answered the call to be part of something new, something relevant and something critical to the defense of our nation,” Morrison said. “These are exciting times for the brigade, and what you see before you is just the beginning. I must also say, it is an exciting time for the greater Augusta area as the Army continues to make Fort Gordon the Cyber Center of Excellence for our Army – both operationally and institutionally.”

The general ensured everyone that the mission will only become more challenging as this domain continues to evolve.
“My challenge to this brigade is this: be adaptive, be comfortable with change and evolve with it because our adversaries will surely do so,” Morrison assured the Soldiers, as Col. Donald L. Bray, the CPB commander approached the podium.

“Ceremonies are a very important part of our Army’s tradition,” Bray explained. “They allow us to stay connected to our proud heritage and history, as well as afford us the opportunity to take time out of our busy schedules to recognize major milestones for individuals, organizations and the Army. Today’s ceremony continues that long tradition.”

The commander encouraged the current and past Department of Army civilians and Soldiers, who have served in the CPB and played a vital role in building the organization, to be proud of their patch.

“Wear it with pride, hold your head high so you can rally around the colors and continue to be trailblazers in this emerging and complex domain,” Bray said. “Do not be discouraged by the naysayers, by those ill-informed, by those ill-equipped, by those who will not seek change, grasp change, demand or lead change. For this is your domain, this is what you do every day, for any mission, anywhere and any time.”

The commander talked about the great reputations that the Soldiers and civilians have already earned throughout the Army and the Joint Forces community.

“It is not because of who you are or what you do, but because of how you do it – how you have delivered critical capability all the while demonstrating that you can make a difference,” Bray pointed out.

He asked his Soldiers and DA civilians to continue to be innovative, challenge the status quo, and move forward with confidence with their training, skills and desire to accomplish the mission.

“Always conduct yourselves as quiet professionals and live the Army values,” Bray said immediately before the patching ceremony began.
The uncasing of the colors, along with the patching ceremony, separate the U.S. Cyber Protection Brigade from the unit it was formally a part of, the 7th Cyber Mission Unit (Provisional), which was set up two years age at Fort Gordon.


How “big data” is changing health care

Using health data to understand disease and wellness, as well as the best treatment and prevention options for patients, is critical for improving health care.


That’s why the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is partnering with the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Center for Strategic Scientific Initiatives and others to use “big data” to advance favorable outcomes in patient care.


What is “big data”? It’s a health care term used to describe complex and very large data sets that have evolved since the beginning of electronic health records. You may not know, but VA now has over one-billion data points available to assess Veteran health!


All of that information is incredibly useful for researchers and clinicians. But, it takes special training to understand how to use the data to advance health. That’s why VA and NIH are partnering in a pilot initiative called the Big Data Scientist Training Enhancement Program (BD-STEP).


Together, we will train a new generation of “hybrid” clinical data scientists. We’ll teach them how to use data sets, algorithms and models — to develop innovative solutions to improve health care.


Traditional data scientists are trained in disciplines such as computer science and applications, modeling, statistics, analytics and math. As health care increasingly uses big data, we need to be sure traditional data scientists understand health care operations as they relate to the data they evaluate. BD-STEP hopes to place these “hybrid” clinical data scientists in medical centers to work closely with VA clinicians.


Can redefine care delivery


“Potentially, BD-STEP can redefine care delivery by training clinical data scientists to understand and interpret the rapidly increasing amount of data generated in clinical settings and to utilize the data to directly impact decisions in clinical care,” said Under Secretary for Health Dr. David Shulkin.


“Our goal is to grow a trainee’s professional capacity to fully understand the mechanics of VA’s health care delivery system and to use data to enhance Veteran care.”


Six VA Medical Centers are participating in this pilot program: Boston, Mass.; Buffalo, N.Y.; Durham, N.C; Houston, Tex.; Palo Alto, Calif.; and Seattle, Wash.  Each site is matched with one to two trainees from renowned academic institutions in the big data field.
Current projects include partnerships with Stanford University on “Longitudinal Medical Radiation Exposure and Cancer Risk,” Harvard University to look at the “Diversity in Epidemiological and Genetic Predictors of Onset and Progression of Myeloma,” and the University of Southern California on “Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) Prediction Models for Hepatitis C Patients.”
BD-STEP also supports Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) – a new research effort by the White House to revolutionize how we improve health and treat disease.


BD-STEP is a first time collaborative between VA’s Employee Education System, Office of Academic Affiliations, and the Office of Research and Development to build a new program with National Cancer Institute.  BD-STEP is an exciting new initiative to advance delivery of health care for the Veterans we serve.


For more information visit:


About the Author: Connie Lee is the BD-Step Program Director

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