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Canadian Navy Team Wins DOD's Annual Cyber Defense Exercise

June 28, 2021 , DOD News

A team from the Royal Canadian Navy came out on top in the Defense Department's annual Cyber Flag 21-2 training exercise, besting 430 cyber professionals from across the U.S. military's joint services, other agencies and international partners, the commander of U.S. Cyber Command said Friday.

Army Gen. Paul M. Nakasone announced that Team 15 from the Royal Canadian Navy won this year's cyber defense-focused Cyber Flag 21-2 exercise, or "Big Flag," during the event's virtual closing ceremony.

One sailor and two soldiers pose for a photo with a plaque.
Plaque Presentation
Royal Canadian Navy Commodore Matthew Bowen, left, accepts a plaque from U.S. Army Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, U.S. Cyber Command commander and National Security Agency director, on behalf of the champions of Cyber Flag 21-2, June 25, 2021. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Sheryl D. Lyon, Cybercom and National Security Agency senior enlisted leader was also present for the presentation.
Photo By: Josef Cole
VIRIN: 210625-D-LA132-0024

Royal Canadian Navy Commodore Matthew Bowen, vice J5 Multinational Partnerships and Integration at Cybercom, accepted the award on behalf of the Canada-based team.

"Cyber Flag 21-2 tested the best and brightest cyber protection teams. This exercise assessed their tactical cyber skills while collectively improving our cyber resiliency. I'd also like to congratulate the Royal Canadian Navy's Cyber Protection Team, the winner of this year's event," Nakasone said.

The 17 cyber protection teams included international participants from Canada and the United Kingdom. The U.S. teams came from the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Postal Service, the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Guard and service cyber component commands.

A photo shows a plaque bearing the words Cyber Flag 21-2 champions.
Cyber Flag Plaque
Members of Royal Canadian Navy Team 15 were the champions of Cyber Flag 21-2, June 25, 2021.
Photo By: Josef Cole
VIRIN: 210625-D-LA132-0040

Cyber Flag 21-2 was executed using the Persistent Cyber Training Environment. This years' virtual training ranges were five times larger than previous exercises. Operating remotely across eight time zones and three countries, the PCTE enabled Canada, the U.K. and the U.S. with the flexibility to synchronize the virtual competition.

For the first time, the exercise not only trained cyber operators in a tough competitive environment, but also identified characteristics of successful cyber protection teams.

During the exercise, the teams performed their defensive tasks of countering the actions and injections within the scenario.

Two men wearing uniforms shake hands.
Plaque Presentation
Royal Canadian Navy Commodore Matthew Bowen, left, accepts a plaque from U.S. Army Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, Cybercom commander and National Security Agency director, on behalf of the winners of Cyber Flag 21-2, June 25, 2021. The exercise allowed cyber operators to train in a tough competitive environment and identify characteristics of successful cyber protection teams, enabling Cybercom to proactively develop successful teams at scale.
Photo By: Josef Cole
VIRIN: 210625-D-LA132-0022

Each team was assessed on its specific cyber defensive actions by Cybercom assessors, who recorded best practices and tactics, techniques, and procedures. Those insights were shared with all participants for use in future training and defensive cybersecurity actions.

The Cyber Flag exercises provide unique opportunities for government, industry and academia to train together and improve their skills to defend against future attacks.