Cyber operations that U.S. forces conduct at the behest of international partners nations to help them defend their information networks and better understand the cyber threats they face have been successful and are in demand, the nation’s top military cyber officer said on Thursday.

“So, I would say just in general, surprises with regards to our hunt forward operations, just how impactful they have become and how popular they are with a series of different nations,” Army Gen. Paul Nakasone, commander of U.S. Cyber Command, told a House Armed Services Committee panel. “Every country that I meet with says, ‘Hey, can we do a hunt forward operation with you?’”

In the future, as Cyber Command continues to build out its forces and capabilities, hunt forward operations will a big part of the mission focus, Nakasone said.

U.S. Cyber Command has 133 teams that comprise its Cyber Mission Force (CMF) and is in the process of building out 14 more teams, which will provide more capacity and the ability to conduct more missions, Nakasone told the Cyber, Information Technologies, and Innovation Subcommittee.

In the coming years, cyber operations forces will also evolve to take advantage of the nation’s “competitive advantage,” which will be leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning, he said. Cyber Command will also continue to build on its partnerships across the federal government, international allies and partners, and the private sector.

“This is what we’ve learned in Russia-Ukraine,” Nakasone said. “The power of partnering with the private sector provides our nation a tremendous advantage that no other nation has.”

More than two months before Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Cyber Command deployed a small hunt forward team that was “extremely successful,” he said. Working with Ukrainians on their networks, the team identified “tradecraft” and “some of the malware” used by Russia, and was “able to reassure a partner that were going to provide support.”

Since the first hunt forward operations began in 2018, Cyber Command has conducted 47 missions in 22 countries on 70 different networks, four of them occurring in Ukraine, Nakasone said. During the operations, U.S. operators sit side-by-side with host nation partners to hunt for adversaries on their networks.