A major project to explore employment of the total Army force to defend the nation's critical infrastructure from cyber attack developed by the Army Cyber Institute (ACI) at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point was recently codified into law, thanks in large part to the efforts of the first Cyber Operations Technician to serve at ACI.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Judy Esquibel, ACI research scientist and instructor in the academy's Department of Engineering and Computer Science, served as lead research scientist on the institute's "Jack Voltaic" program, which was codified as part of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019.

ACI conducts research focused on critical infrastructure by examining cyber-related exercises that build partnerships among academia, industry and government, Esquibel explained, and Jack Voltaic came from an evolving concept of cyber mutual assistance being explored in the energy sector to develop sharing of cyber assets and capabilities to coordinate disaster response.

ACI wanted to investigate developing this mutual assistance in the cyber domain, Esquibel said. The institute conducted a workshop in 2016 to provide an opportunity for practitioners and experts from across the public and private sectors to collaborate on "a holistic approach" to examining issues concerning the energy sector. One of the workshop objectives was to conduct a follow‐on experiment to examine interdependence among critical infrastructure sectors. As a result ACI conducted an experiment in the form of an exercise, she said, to further examine mutual assistance, looking at preparation, prevention and response. The exercise, Jack Voltaic 1.0 ‐ New York City, was developed alongside industry partners to enable ACI to conduct research to determine interdependencies among critical infrastructure assets. During JV1 ACI examined federal, state, and local government entities as well as private industry using a "cyber worst day" scenario.

The JV 2.0 Cyber Research Project followed in July 2018, Esquibel added, bringing the city of Houston, Texas together with the ACI, AECOM (an industry partner and engineering company that provided global expertise in critical infrastructure), the state of Texas, federal agencies, and other regional public and private sector organizations in an exercise designed to partner participants from multiple critical infrastructure sectors in employing an "innovative, bottom‐up approach" to critical infrastructure resilience.

"The ACI, associated with the Department of Defense and federal government, served predominately as an advisor and facilitator for the exercise, and is recognized for its role in academia and strategic-level thinking, which was key to facilitating the participating organizations," she said.

The success of the Jack Voltaic project is just the latest in Esquibel's achievements as a cyber warrant officer. Enlisting in the Army as a military intelligence professional, she distinguished herself as a junior warrant officer during an assignment supporting the development of the Army Network Warfare Battalion, part of the Army's original efforts in evolving cyberspace operations. Later, as an operational leader, her team's accomplishments led to nomination for a National Security Agency Director's Trophy and Team Excellence Award. She is also a 2015 recipient of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association's Saint Isidore Army Cyber Award. Currently the New Mexico native is awaiting approval to attend the Information Sciences PhD Program at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.

"The Warrant Officer Corps is very proud of Judy's accomplishments, from running Jack Voltaic to being the first warrant officer to teach cadets in the academic program at West Point," said Chief Warrant 0fficer 5 John O'Reilly, Command Chief Warrant Officer for Army Cyber Command. "She has made a lasting impact on our nation's security and our Army's capabilities."

"Judy is an exceptional officer and mentor as well. From leading a Cyber Mission Force team as a mission commander, to revamping the training and certification standards for offensive teams, to teaching cadets at West Point -- everywhere she goes she makes a noticeable difference," he added. "She's the kind of warrant officer that every leader wants at their side. She is highly technical, extremely competent, and most importantly, very humble. She is a quiet professional that always gets the job done."


For information on the Army's cyber warrant officer program, visit:
-- GoArmy.com: https://www.goarmy.com/army-cyber/army-cyber-training.html
-- U.S. Army Recruiting Command: http://www.usarec.army.mil/hq/warrant/prerequ/WO170A.shtml
-- U.S. Army Human Resources Command (CAC access): https://www.hrc.army.mil/content/WelcometoHRCCyberBranchAssignmentManagement

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