The US Army Cyber Protection Brigade, or CPB, held the 2017 Cyber Stakes for the first time Sept. 18-27 at Fort Gordon, Ga.
The CPB launched Cyber Stakes as a way to give brigade Soldiers a refresher on Soldier tasks and added cyber tasks to the challenge to get a sense of where CPB members excel and ensure the unit is doing well maintaining both skill sets.
The exercise was open to all members of the CPB and staff to have the opportunity to demonstrate their technical aptitude as an individual and a team member.
The Cyber Stakes technical lanes were executed in a simulated Cyber Protection Team operational environment where Soldiers and Civilians were able to access systems, navigate through the simulated network infrastructure, and execute command line tools as required by cyberspace operations.
"The Cyber Stakes is a two-pronged event -- half cyber, with a broad swatch of concepts in network defense," said Maj. Steve N. Feigh, team lead, 152nd CPT, 2nd Battalion, Army Cyber Brigade, Fort Gordon, Ga. "Each cyber team focuses on a particular skill such as Industrial Control System, or ICS; Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition, or SCADA; Windows, Linux etc."
The other half was the Army Soldier tasks - land navigation, evaluating casualties -- standard Army skill sets. This exercise provided the opportunity to train and maintain competency in Soldier skills the teams don't often exercise.
"Being in the technical field and working inside a building, we don't have weapons or Humvees assigned, said Feigh. "Doing some of these for the first time in long while is critical to staying current as a Soldier."
There are soldiers who are good in the networking -- other Soldiers are good at host analysis and forensics. This competition broadened their horizons -- they may discover they are interested in another cyber specialty. Also they can see what the other teams are doing. This was Soldiers teaching Soldiers.
"I think everyone just enjoyed it, the opportunity to learn something new, being able to branch out and see some other skills and see what's new," said Feigh. "It all comes down to having as much knowledge of the cyber domain as possible. Some tasks are basic knowledge -- some tasks are designed to learn more about finding possible breaches of a network."
For Master Sgt. Steven J. Case, NCOIC, 154th CPT, the Cyber Stakes was an opportunity to apply his present skills and learn new ones.
"During each course, we were provided directions and all the tools necessary to complete them," said Case. "For example, there was an NMAP course, a tool used to determine what hosts are available on a network, what services those hosts are running, and can also determine what operating systems they are running. It's a great tool to detect devices and services running on the network, one of my top classes"
The Registry Usage course is an in depth look on how to use GUI-based tools or Command Line Syntax to query, view, and analyze, modify and create registry values.
"I think the land navigation course gave me the edge in the competition as this was a timed event," said Case. "I came in an hour and ten minutes after finding all five points. Out of all the training we conducted throughout the week, the Land Navigation course was my personal favorite."
Spc. Zachary C. Smith, 101st CPT, cyber operations specialist, worked his way through the training lanes also.
He participated through the training in a variety of different classes -- at the end there was a practical exercise to apply what he learned.
"One of the cyber lanes was Network Monitoring -- that's monitoring what computers are communicating across the wire. For example, if I own a network and all the computers are talking together, there will be normal network traffic. Sometimes a rogue program may be there communicating where it shouldn't. Network Monitoring identifies anomalies. If something is not normal, then we would deal with that.
"In the tactical lanes, we disassembled an M-16 and then reassembled it and then conducted a functions check -- this is a basic level 10 Soldier skill.
"Another lane was the nine-line medevac. If there is a casualty in combat, that's how you would call for a medevac. There are nine lines, or steps to reporting a casualty for medical help. For instance, we need to provide an incoming radio frequency, information about how many casualties, types of injuries and the location."
Originally this came about with the need to do a refresher of the Army Warrior tasks and add in some cyber tasks to make sure we are doing a good job overall, said Feigh.
"It was more than a practice; it was a way to find where people excel," he said.