Allies, Partners Observe Cyber Guard Exercise


More than 40 participants from 22 different countries, including several NATO allies, were invited to observe the complex, advanced training environment of Cyber Guard 2017, a weeklong exercise co-led by U.S. Cyber Command, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, which wrapped up its sixth annual iteration recently at the Joint Staff's state-of-the-art facility in Suffolk, Virginia.

Participants from across U.S. government, academia, industry, and allies rehearsed a whole-of-nation response to destructive cyberattacks against U.S. critical infrastructure.

""This was the second straight year in which the exercise featured a "Multinational Day." Air Force Lt. Gen. J. Kevin McLaughlin, Cybercom's deputy commander, welcomed the visitors, emphasizing the importance of continuously developing and fostering partnerships and continuing conversations about cyber operations.

"I think all warfare today requires interdependencies, coalitions and partners," he said. "But in cyber, I think there is a more profound requirement to have partnerships in ways that are different than other military warfighting domains."

U.S. partner and allied nations received an in-depth overview of the scenario, a visit with the numerous training elements and a detailed discussion with key leaders participating in and overseeing the exercise.

Building a Better Model

The goal for the event, officials said, was to allow participants the opportunity to see the various aspects of the processes and procedures required to conduct a successful cyber exercise in a team-centric approach.

"It will always be a requirement to bring together our coalition partners and move to combining doctrine with operations to create a better model," said Brig. Gen. Robert Mazzolin, vice director of plans and policy for the Canadian defense staff.  "We all go about cyber in a different manner, and by taking advantage of the visiting national military representatives and senior leaders being here, we help build the community framework."

The Cyber Guard scenario was developed based on whole-of-nation events, allowing operators to take full advantage of a realistic adversary with robust cyber-attack capabilities, officials noted. A major component of this scenario, they added, is learning how to operate with not only with U.S. agencies as well as private and public industry, but also with international partners. 

"The thing I would highlight is how important the coalition is to this effort," said Navy Adm. Michael S. Rogers, Cybercom's commander, who also serves as director of the National Security Agency and Central Security Service. "This is not just a domestic issue in the United States. We all know this is a worldwide challenge. With the events of last year, certainly you can see the challenges are just getting tougher."