by Tech. Sgt. Scott McNabb
24th Air Force Public Affairs
11/30/2012 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO -- LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) -- 24th
Air Force, the U.S. Air Force's cyber component to U.S. Cyber Command,
took part in the Cyber Flag 13-1 training exercise at Nellis Air Force
Base, Nev. Oct. 29-Nov. 8.
USCYBERCOM designed Cyber Flag to bring together Department of Defense
cyber and information technology professionals to hone their cyber
skills against a realistic adversary in a tactical virtual environment.
"Our increasing dependency on reliable and efficient network
connectivity and the growing threat posed by cyber adversaries highlight
the importance of practicing combined operations in defense of the DOD
information infrastructure," said Capt. Christian Mapp, 24th Air Force
exercise branch chief. "As the service provider for Air Force networks,
24th Air Force participation with the other service components is
critical to ensuring a synchronized and coordinated approach to DOD
network defense being available and capable should the need ever arise."
Mapp said the Air Force assembled a total force team comprised of more
than 70 active duty, Reserve and Air National Guard cyber warriors from
across the nation.
This year's Cyber Flag was larger than the first Cyber Flag held in 2011
on the same cyber range. This year's exercise saw approximately 700
participants, up from last year's 300, and doubled the network size. All
participants had a specific role to play, playing the part of a U.S.
team or role-playing an adversary.
"Exercises like Cyber Flag test participants' readiness when faced with a
realistic cyber event in a stressed environment against a dynamic and
skilled adversary. This was not a simple 'capture the flag' event," said
Col. George Lamont, director of USCYBERCOM Joint Exercises and
The exercise included an opposing force whose mission was to penetrate
and disrupt the computer networks of the "good guys," or Blue Force -
made up of DOD cyber service components.
Lt. Col. Jamie Maki, 24th Air Force chief of exercise and training
chief, said Cyber Flag is designed to provide realistic training
opportunities for a number of DOD commands to deter and, if necessary,
defeat a cyber attack. Additionally, much like Red Flag is to the air
world, Cyber Flag aims to give cyber operators experience with tactics,
techniques and procedures of our cyber adversaries and test our own
tactics, techniques and procedures. The teams were given opportunities
to coordinate actions across the offensive and defensive spectrum as
well as partnering with our sister services.
Despite this only being the second Cyber Flag, Maki said some of the key
successes of the exercise included such efforts as the integration of
cyber intelligence analysts proving invaluable to the mission planning
cell, ultimately enhancing the defensive posture and virtually
eliminating stovepipe efforts. Additionally, the collaboration between
teams detecting cyber intrusions and first responders leveraged tactical
insights and skill sets yielding greater synergy and mission
effectiveness. Finally, the exercise partnered service teams with
coalition partners highlighting the global nature of the cyber domain.
"Through the use of a virtual network environment, individuals
supporting Cyber Flag benefited by gaining exposure to problem sets they
may not normally experience in their day-to-day jobs. Furthermore the
event affords the opportunity to work in concerted effort with their
sister-service counterparts to operate and defend DOD networks across
the full spectrum of operations against a realistic adversary," Mapp
Cyber security continues to be a priority across the government. The DOD
has a critical role in developing and supporting the nation's cyber
"Cyber Flag highlights the interconnected nature of the DOD information
infrastructure, making the key takeaway from Air Force Cyber Command's
participation in Cyber Flag the necessity to demonstrate a holistic
approach for clearing the net and securing the high ground," said Mapp.