Tenn. Guard participates in virtual cybersecurity exercise
2nd Lt. Curtis Rookard, a Cyber Operations Officer with the Tennessee National Guard’s 175th Cyber Protection Team, participates in Cyber Shield 2020, in Smyrna, Sept. 22. Cyber Shield 2020 is an annual exercise designed to increase response capabilities and preparedness among more than 540 cyber professionals across the National Guard, as well as government agencies and industry experts. (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Timothy Cordeiro) VIEW ORIGINAL

SMYRNA, Tenn. – Tennessee National Guard members participated in a joint cybersecurity training event at Volunteer Training Site – Smyrna, Sept. 12-25.

Hosted by the National Guard Bureau, Cyber Shield 2020 is an annual exercise that brings together more than 800 Army and Air National Guard members across the country and local, state, and federal government agencies. Also involved are industry experts and election and utility officials.

The exercise is designed to increase response capabilities and preparedness by simulating malware and phishing attacks and hacking attempts in our network. This year, the event has gone virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the training quality hasn’t faltered.

“This is some invaluable training,” said Maj. Ryan Henry, Deputy Chief of the Defense Cyberspace Operations Element. “To be thrown into the deep end in a mock event like this, it gives everyone a sense of realism, which better prepares our Soldiers.”

Initially, the exercise was to be held in Utah, but the pandemic changed it to a virtual event with participants mostly training from where they are based. This year, the exercise will showcase how National Guard cyber elements can respond to and mitigate future threats despite outside, unforeseen challenges.

“Cyber exercises are uniquely qualified to operate in a distributed environment,” said Maj. Dallas Clements, Systems Operations Chief for the Tennessee National Guard. “However, for those cyber Soldiers and Airmen that are defending networks from opposing forces, the view from their screens has not changed.”

With all that has been affected by the current COVID-19 pandemic, training in the Tennessee National Guard is not one of them. The engagement and readiness of Tennessee’s Soldiers and Airmen remain at an all-time high. For these cyber-security specialists, they will continue to train and prepare for whatever comes next.

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