HANOVER, Md. – U.S. Army National Guard Soldiers from four Cyber Protection Teams (CPT) completed their validation exercise (VALEX) in Maryland in July.
U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) establishes the criteria for a CPT to attain Full Operational Capability (FOC), and the VALEX is an event the evaluators use to access the team’s performance.
Two of the CPTs made up of personnel from Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota fall under the 123rd Cyber Protection Battalion currently mobilized as Task Force Echo V, and the remaining two are composed of members from California, Arkansas, Missouri and Nebraska.
The teams were evaluated by a Maryland CPT in accordance with criteria established by USCYBERCOM. The VALEX ensures the teams can meet the core training objectives and competencies required to be mission ready, said a team lead with one of the CPTs participating in the exercise.
“In order to be considered an operationally ready CPT, and part of U.S. Army Cyber Command’s available forces, ready and prepared to support incident response, the team needs to be at FOC,” he said.
According to Lt. Col. David Garner, commander of the 123rd CPB and Task Force Echo V, said two teams were granted Initial Operating Capability status during TFE mobilization, and their next step was to pass the VALEX successfully. While engaged in the TFE mission, the team members worked after hours and on weekends to prepare for the exercise, he added.
Now on its fifth iteration, TFE is comprised of Army National Guard Soldiers mobilized from the 91st Cyber Brigade to support USCYBERCOM operations full time, and is a testament to the Army’s commitment to the Total Force in defense of networks against the nation’s adversaries.
Garner praised the Soldiers flexibility and adaptability in preparing for the VALEX.
One of the CPT’s cybersecurity operations officer and battle captain said citizen-soldiers have an advantage in being employed in cyber-related civilian careers, and also benefit greatly from partnering with their active-duty counterparts.
“The huge advantage we have is a lot of folks on the team are cybersecurity professionals and incident responders in their civilian careers. They do it for a diverse set of organizations, governmental, some private, some large, some small, so what you have is a wide variety of expertise,” he said. “Additionally, we’re working with very skilled, very professional Soldiers and Civilians, and getting the understanding on how they do things, some of the knowledge they have. We consume that knowledge, and we get to take it back to the state as a new set of experiences to enhance the capabilities that we have to improve our skills.”
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