Arkansas National Guard Conducts Cyber Training Exercise


The Arkansas National Guard conducted a cyber training exercise here last month.

The exercise was part of the Cyber Security Incident Response Training in which participants took part in a three-day course to discover how best to respond to a cyber incident and how to safeguard against potential cyber vulnerabilities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Kayla K. Edwards)
Air Force Maj. Eroica Waggoner analyzes the coding necessary to maintain operational capabilities for the power grid of a simulated city during a cyber exercise involving the Arkansas National Guard and other agencies at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., Dec. 7, 2017. Participants took part in a three-day course to discover how best to respond to a cyber incident and how to safeguard against potential cyber vulnerabilities. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Kayla K. Edwards
The exercise was part of the Cyber Security Incident Response Training in which participants took part in a three-day course to discover how best to respond to a cyber incident and how to safeguard against potential cyber vulnerabilities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Kayla K. Edwards)
Cyber Training Exercise
Air Force Maj. Eroica Waggoner analyzes the coding necessary to maintain operational capabilities for the power grid of a simulated city during a cyber exercise involving the Arkansas National Guard and other agencies at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., Dec. 7, 2017. Participants took part in a three-day course to discover how best to respond to a cyber incident and how to safeguard against potential cyber vulnerabilities. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Kayla K. Edwards

Part of a program developed by a civilian entity accredited by the Department of Homeland Security, the exercise targeted critical infrastructure within a simulated city created by Metova Cybercents, and it uncovered potential cyber security susceptibilities, officials said.

The training environment is a new concept within an already established learning curriculum, officials added, and was designed specifically for this exercise.

“We know that critical infrastructures are susceptible to a cyberattack,” said Scott Terry, associate divisions director at the Texas A&M engineering department’s Cyber Readiness Center. “The important role that cyber operators play is so vital, we know we need to help them. The unique training environment helps the participants get some hands-on training that they won’t have the opportunity to get anywhere else.”

Integrating Cyber Practices

Cyber specialists from multiple fields and backgrounds were able to participate in the training. Arkansas businesses, state and city departments joined in the event, along with members of the state’s Army National Guard and Air National Guard, members, strengthening their cyber capabilities. The ability to integrate cyber practices across multiple sectors and platforms is integral to successful cyber security incident response, officials said.

“The Arkansas National Guard already has the ability to coordinate, train, assist and advise on anything cyber,” said Air Force Maj. Scott Anderson, director of operations for Detachment 1, 189th Operations Group. “If one of the state agencies or co-ops in Arkansas needs help, they are able to go through the emergency management process to request assistance from the National Guard. We work for the governor and the state as well as support our federal mission. All they have to do is ask.”

The training is part of a six-delivery grant cycle, officials said, noting that a limited number of courses are available for cyber operators. An organization’s ability to find value in the training and promote it within their unit upon completion is key to developing further training opportunities such as this response course, they added.

“As a whole, building and executing cyber events like this is key to successful cyber operations,” Anderson said. “The class is geared toward people who will benefit seeing this in a controlled environment so they will know how to react in a real-world situation.”