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NEWS | July 28, 2016

Real World Scenarios Help Drive Learning at Cyber X-Games

By Lt. Col. Gregory Majewski 335th Signal Command (Theater)

The Cyber X-Games give Soldiers the opportunity to engage potential adversaries on a virtual battlefield so they can improve the ways they protect their own military network, while also learning how they could assist civilian partners as well.

"This exercise strives for a blend of training that brings industry, academia, and Soldiers together in a hands on environment in an effort to make our networks better by improving the way we defend them," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Christopher Manuel, Cyber X-Games Planner, assigned to the Western Cyber Protection Center, Army Reserve Cyber Operations Group. 

The scenario driven exercise exposes the Soldiers to realistic training designed to improve their ability to react and detect intrusions on a military network while also teaching them how to counter and limit a hacker’s impact on a network.

Maj. Michael Lewis, Information Systems Manager from the Army Reserve Cyber Operations Group, said the practical exposure these Soldiers face at the Cyber X-games will help to boost the Army's ability to protect itself from a cyber invasion.

"These Soldiers are among our front line guardians of the net," said Lewis.  "We had a lot of guys who said they learned a lot from this exercise and being able to show them visually becomes an important part of learning."

Many of the Soldiers in attendance said they loved the life-like challenge the training exercise provided, which will ultimately make them better at doing their jobs.

"This is my first cyber protection real world scenario exercise," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Hermes Yen, Western Cyber Protection Center.  "This platform is providing me with real world exposure and is an experience gain for me."

"Using the same tools we use when we go down range is very important," said Master Sgt. Mohamed Omar, National Capital Region Cyber Protection Team. "Any kind of cyber invasion is going to be realistic because an adversary will use any tool they have to come at you."  

The Cyber X-Games also provided the partnering with civilian experts in cyber protection allowing Soldiers to be exposed and taught the latest techniques in cyber security.

 "They have gotten the chance to touch a lot of tools they don't get to normally use and an opportunity to work with different operating systems and that is a good thing," said Austin Whisnant, Instructor at Carnegie Mellon University.  

The 335th Signal Command (Theater) is based out of East Point, Ga., and provides oversight of nearly 400 cyber Soldiers located in ten states across the United States.