By Army 1st Lt. Aaron Smith, Ohio National Guard
CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. -- The Cyber Shield 2018 cybersecurity exercise is part of the National Guard’s ongoing effort to be a versatile capability for governors of all 54 states and territories.
This is the seventh iteration of the training exercise. By working closely with interagency partners and the private sector, the National Guard seeks to strengthen network cybersecurity and leverage new and emerging technologies for homeland defense.
The exercise centers around two phases. The first week offers participants the opportunity to learn from leaders in military, government and the private sector on vital cybersecurity skills.
The second week challenges the National Guard soldiers and airmen as they face off against trained adversaries. The teams utilize their unique talents to defend networks and mitigate the effects of attacks against vulnerable infrastructure.
“This exercise provides a very technical defensive cyber ecosystem with a defensive cyber operations element training focus,” said Ohio Army National Guard Lt. Col. Teri Williams, the exercise commander. “Cyber Shield truly is a crucible where industry cyber talent merges with our military forces and the result is a more polished, tuned, and stronger response capability.”
Cyber Shield is also unique in the fact that it is planned and executed by a volunteer staff of National Guard and reserve soldiers and airmen over the course of 11 months.
“The exercise is planned by a staff that is truly passionate about improving the cyber defense of our nation,” Williams said. “In working with this group, I’ve witnessed, firsthand, many talented, dedicated volunteers who are passionate in their quest to improve homeland defense through cybersecurity.”
The National Guard is uniquely suited for cyber operations if an incident occurs. Because of their status as a state military force when not under federal mobilization orders, Guard units are uniquely positioned to respond quickly in situations where federal response may not have appropriate authority.
Moreover, many of these participants, being part time citizen-soldiers and airmen, work in the cyber field in the private sector, which provides an amount of experience to this exercise.
“Individual technicians must take their technical skills to collective and collaborative levels in order to be successful,” Williams said. “We are committed to providing our participants with challenging and realistic training in order to protect our homeland.”
The cyber experience gained throughout the careers of these soldiers and airmen will be put to the test over the course of this demanding and complex exercise.