175th Wing cyber operators fine tune skills during Cyber Shield 23

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Chris Schepers
  • 175th Wing

Four Airmen assigned to the 175th Cyberspace Operations Group traveled to the Army National Guard Professional Education Center on Camp Joseph T. Robinson Maneuver Training Center June 11-15, 2023 to participate in Exercise Cyber Shield 2023.

The Airmen from 175th COG were part of a group of 100 military personnel who were divided into 28 teams to act as the opposing force for CS23.

“Our team conducted over 50 cyber effects throughout the four days of the exercise,” said Maryland Air National Guard 2nd Lt. James Bradford, cyber officer assigned to the 276th Cyberspace Operations Squadron. “The actions of our team resulted in our assigned blue team [the U.S. Coast Guard’s 1790th Cyber Protection Team] completing all of their required assessment.”

The mission of CS23 is to develop, train and exercise cyber forces in the areas of computer network internal defense measures and cyber incident response. These capabilities facilitate National Guard Cyber Teams’ abilities to conduct missions to coordinate, train, and assist federal, state, and industry network owners threatened by cyberattacks.

“The Cyber Shield exercise is a venue that 175th Cyberspace Operations Group Airmen have been involved in over the years,” said Maryland Air National Guard Lt. Col. Eric Burdon, 275th Operations Support Squadron commander. “It provides Guardsmen from across the nation the opportunity to collaborate with civilian experts, train on industry practices and technologies and test their abilities to defend key terrain – cyber – in a simulated environment.”

Cyber defense trainers also conducted training courses for exercise participants including Security+, Linux+, Certified Information Systems Security Professional [CISSP], and more.

“Cyber Shield gives the 175th COG a unique opportunity to exercise their skills in a controlled environment so they can test new ideas and techniques,” said Bradford. “They can also validate skills they already possess, and it provides an avenue for networking and collaboration with cybersecurity professionals nationwide.”

In addition, when three Maryland Army National Guard Soldiers from the 169th Cyber Protection Team who were also supporting the exercise as OPFOR had to leave to respond to a real-world mission, one of Bradford’s Airmen was able to backfill to ensure exercise completion.

“As always, the 175th COG participants did a stellar job that garnered much deserved recognition. Our Airmen stepped up and filled critical roles as opposition forces to provide offensive cyber effects across the exercise for defensive teams to be assessed against their mission essential tasks,” said Burdon. “In turn, 175th COG participants were able to devise and test tactics, techniques, and procedures to circumvent the security controls implemented by the security team.”

Cyber Shield is an annual exercise that began in 2007 and involves more than 900 National Guard Soldiers and Airmen along with U.S. Navy Sailors from throughout the United States and its territories as well as partners from other government agencies and the private sector.