The National Guard exercise Cyber Shield 19 helped to build collaboration and shared knowledge as well as skills, bringing Army and Air Guard members together with a wide range of interagency partners and civilian tech professionals who represent the cutting edge of industry.

"We draw top-notch technology from a lot of different sources -- SANS Institute, Cisco Systems, Johns Hopkins University, the International Society of Automation -- to name just a few. A lot of federal and state agencies also are involved. We learn from each other," said Col. Teri Williams, exercise commander for Cyber Shield 19.

One participant in particular stood out.

Rob Lee of the SANS Institute built many of the vital tools used in today's cybersecurity, and holds almost rock star status among the exercise's military and civilian participants. As the time for Lee's presentation at the exercise neared, they filled seats eagerly, many almost giddy with excitement.

"There are a number of people in my life that I have met (that) I will remember vividly, and he will be one of them," said Ohio Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 4 Rich Kerwood. "One thing you have to know about Rob Lee is that he has an extensive background in (cyber) forensics. When you think of forensics, a lot of people think of Rob Lee."

Lee can definitely relate to the participants in Cyber Shield, too, having begun his cyber career as a founding member of the Air Force's 609th Information Warfare Squadron. Established in 1996, the 609th is thought to be the first military unit in the world focused on operationalizing information warfare.

"The military is where I got my start. If I didn't get introduced to the tech world in the Air Force, I wouldn't be where I am today. This is just my way of giving back," said Lee.

When asked about his star status among tech geeks, Lee -- who volunteered his time for the exercise -- laughed and said, "Well, I'm a lot more humble than that. I just really enjoy teaching."

Cyber Shield 19 included 800 Soldiers, Airmen and civilian participants from 40 U.S. states and territories. The exercise at Camp Atterbury, Ind., comprised a week of classroom training and preparation followed by an exercise week centered on a scenario-based cyber role-playing event. The exercise, which concluded April 20, gave participants an opportunity to work closely with interagency partners and the private sector to strengthen ties, capabilities and cyber readiness.

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For more stories, photos and video of Cyber Shield 19, go to https://www.dvidshub.net/feature/cybershield19