HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. — Thirty Army and Air National Guardsmen from four of the New England states came together March 7 and 8 for a Computer Network Defense Team exercise here, receiving joint training on cyber technologies.
The CNDT exercise was in preparation for the Cyber Yankee exercise scheduled to occur in May. Cyber Yankee will be the culmination of the joint training effort that has been ongoing since January.
“Everything in cyber is joint,” said Army Lt. Col. Richard Berthao, the Director of Information Management for the Massachusetts Army National Guard at Hanscom. “We all do the same job, the same way regardless of branch. We all function according to the same, joint Department of Defense standard.”
The Guardsmen trained over the weekend and covered a variety of cyber technologies and tools that will be utilized during the upcoming exercise, preparing them for real world scenarios. Tools used included Security Onion, Cobalt Strike, Vyatta Firewalls, Network Mapper, or NMAP, Wireshark, and various other potential tools to have in the cyber man defense belt. These tools help security monitoring, build simulated networks, capture network traffic, detect and protect against intrusion, and more.
“Our capability to train Army and Air together on emerging cyber concepts ensures that we have a collaborative skill set moving forward,” said Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Melissa Theriault from New Hampshire.
The Army National Guard CNDT has partnered with the Active Duty Air Force to utilize the Hanscom Air Force Base Collaboration and Innovation Center for conducting joint cyber protection training with the Air National Guard and other regional partners.
“We are starting to build a robust relationship with the Active Duty at Hanscom in cyber as we have in the past with radios,” Berthao said.
The 30 guardsmen present were from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire: 20 enlisted and 10 officers. Maine was represented during the training in January and is also scheduled to participate in Cyber Yankee.
“We are actually partnering with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security during Cyber Yankee,” said Army Capt. Peter Kurek, Information Assurance Manager for the Massachusetts Army National Guard at Hanscom. “We have seen some excellent displays of skills and talent this weekend. Each state stepped up and volunteered to teach a certain class.”
While the Guardsmen were training, they were visited by the Adjutant General of Massachusetts, Air Force Maj. Gen. L. Scott Rice. He came to see their training, talked to them about the direction of the training in their field, and thanked them for all their work.
“When I look around this room, I see one capability, not four separate states,” Rice said. “We have one Army-Air cyber force. We are the only region that is deliberately working together in this capacity.”
After an informative discussion with the group, Rice thanked the group prior to departing. “Thank you for this capability,” Rice said. “Everyone at the table has a role and brings value to the team.”
The Guardsmen assembled enjoyed the joint training environment and expressed their support for the value of hands on training.
“Although we do not yet have a clearly defined long term goal, the value of this evolving training in a joint atmosphere cannot be stressed enough,” said Army Warrant Officer Chris Curtiss from Connecticut. “We will be more prepared for any situation; preparation is the key to success. Continually building all the states skills and teamwork will definitely have an exponential return on the investment.”
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