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News from the Oklahoma National Guard

NEWS | June 16, 2023

Oklahoma Guardsmen win Cyber Shield; a modern cyber warfare training exercise

By 1st Sgt. Mireille Merilice 145th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

With technology continuing to advance at an unprecedented pace along with its associated threats, members of the Oklahoma National Guard joined approximately 800 military and civilian cyber professionals from 35 states, including international partners, for this year’s Cyber Shield, June 2-16.

This year's exercise, won by the Oklahoma team for the second year in a row, was centered on critical infrastructure protection, incident response, network defense with a specific tie to U.S. Transportation Systems Sector and other crucial aspects of cybersecurity.

“The focus this year is industrial control,” said Ethan Hermans, senior security analyst, Oklahoma Office of Management and Enterprise Services. “We had to adapt pretty quickly to the new environments, figure out how they work and what things we need to take note of so that we can effectively respond.”

The training provided collaborative opportunities through workshops and hands-on exercises that enabled participants to forge connections with experts and practitioners in the field, including some from across the globe.

Oklahoma National Guard cyber professionals worked in collaboration with the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety, the University of Central Oklahoma, Office of Management and Enterprise Services Cyber Command, and Oklahoma’s state partner, Azerbaijan, with the State Partnership Program, to defend, search and eliminate threats throughout the training event.

“The main objective for Cyber Shield, with it being the largest unclassified cyber exercise in the DOD nationwide, it allows us to test and see where our skillsets are,” said Oklahoma Army National Guardsman Sgt. 1st Class James Johnson, noncommissioned officer in charge of the defensive cyber operations element.

According to Johnson, the training provides opportunities for each participant to link up with other teams to observe how they operate, study their standard operating procedures and use that knowledge to adjust their response and tactics, techniques and procedures.

“Cyber Shield directly translates to the skills that we use to conduct our missions," said Oklahoma Air National Guardsman 2nd Lt. Chad Chadoba, officer in charge for the 137th Special Operations Wing mission defense team. “These kinds of operations where we’re responding to a disaster can directly correlate and help out if the worst case scenario should happen.”
Video by Airman 1st Class Erika Chapa
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