CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. -- While National Guard teams from across the nation tested themselves on their cyber defensive capabilities at Cyber Shield 18, senior military leaders, federal and state agency partners, and civilian experts met for a panel on the National Guard's role in the rapidly expanding field of cyber warfare."The most important operation that the Army conducts 24/7 is the security and operation of our networks," said Maj. Gen. Stephen G. Fogarty, the commander of U.S. Army Cyber Command. "We are almost absolutely dependent on our ability to communicate." Other members of the panel included Maj. Gen. James E. Taylor, the special assistant to the Director of the Army National Guard for Operations, Plans, and Strategy; Brig. Gen. Neil S. Hersey, the Commandant of the U. S. Army Cyber School; and Dr. Russell Glen, the director of plans and policy G-2 at U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.The panelist discussed the National Guard's efforts to build and equip service members to take on expanding cyber security roles as part of the U.S. military's cyber mission force, as well as the emerging cyber challenges posed by the influx of new technologies around the world."We are committed to providing our participants with challenging and realistic training in order to protect American citizens," said Lt. Col. Teri Williams, the director of information management, Ohio National Guard, and the Officer-in-Charge for Cyber Shield 18. "At the end of the day that is our collective purpose."The forum also gave attendees an opportunity to ask questions of the panel, ranging from future roles for specific career fields to the best ways to build inter-agency cooperation. The discussion continued after the formal event, with attendees deep in conversation long after the panel, building relationships and discussing best practices."What I get from this forum is the networking from across components, across the country, on how to solve problems and who to go to in order to solve problems," said Maj. Chad Pittman, the detachment chief of U.S. Army Cyber Protection Team 172, made up of members from the Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio National Guard. "Working as a tri-state unit was an advantage for us, it was three different ways to see problems, and then solve problems."Cyber Shield 18 is an Army National Guard exercise bringing together more than 800 soldiers, airmen, and civilians from 40 states and territories at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, from May 6-19, to test their skills in response to cyber-incidents.