NEWS | April 25, 2017

Cyber Shield17 Final Planning Conference Wraps Up

By Maj. Ray McCulloch 102nd Information Operations Battalion

The four-day conference focused on operation synchronization between the states, finalizing attendance, and ensuring that all the behind-the-scenes coordination was identified and finalized.  During the exercise, members of the U.S. Army Reserve Command’s 75th Training Command will support the command and control element, the training analyst cell, and the assessments cell.

“We integrate Subject Matter Experts from other Army Reserve and National Guard units to provide assessments, command and control, and embedded observers to ultimately provide the [participating] units with a take home packet so they can conduct training when they get home,” said Col. John Zierdt, 75th Training Command, Gulf Division.

Cyber Shield is an annual exercise designed to train National Guardsmen from across the United States on cyber protection, network defense, forensic analysis, and Tips, Techniques, and Procedures, or TTPs, for defense against cyber-attacks, hackers, or other malign actors.  

Cyber Shield is a culmination training event that supports the National Guard’s Defense Cyber Operations missions to defend Department of Defense assets by conducting cyber command readiness inspections, and critical infrastructure and vulnerability assessments.

“We have over forty states and two territories represented here and they plan their own training objectives and training plans based on the needs of their states,” said Lt. Col. Henry Capello, exercise commander from Louisiana Army National Guard.  “This is an exercise by the soldiers for the soldiers.”

Cyber Shield started small and has grown tremendously over the last four years under Capello’s leadership and guidance.  The growth of the exercise reflects the importance of the cyber domain on today’s rapidly changing environment.

“As time has evolved, we realized that we needed to focus on [non-military] networks,” said Capello.  “When a governor asks for help, we have to understand what [the problem] looks like.  What do your state systems look like? What does your critical infrastructure look like?”

According to Capello, what makes Cyber Shield so important right now is that this is where the National Guard gets to practice their plans so that if a “Katrina-like” event occurs, the U.S. Government is not figuring it out for the first time.

“We have an opportunity here to get ahead of the threat,” stated Capello.  Cyber Shield 2017 will take place in April of this year.