By Joshua B. Good, U.S. Army Cyber Command
AUGUSTA, Ga. – At the Georgia Cyber Center on the banks of the Savannah River here, Israeli and U.S. military cyber units trained together on defeating threats in the information dimension.
The allied cyber forces fought off a fictional Mediterranean island dictator and his aligned hackers as part of Cyber Dome VII, an exercise in which cyber planners designed complex and realistic scenarios that challenged the coalition of Israeli and U.S. forces’ ability to effectively conduct operations against a highly advanced threat, while defending key cyber terrain.
The exercise fits in with the coalition’s philosophy to prepare and train together to fight off future cyber threats, said Brig. Gen. Paul Craft, Deputy Commanding General of Joint Force Headquarters-Cyber (Army) (JFHQ-C(A).
The five-day challenge, which began Dec. 4, 2022, was organized by U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) and hosted by JFHQ-C(A) and the Cyber National Mission Force (CNMF), and was designed to emulate real-world threats, synchronize partner cyber operations and build interoperability.
“This year, for the first time, it’s an opportunity for (Israel and U.S.) to do full-spectrum cyber operations,” said Paul Mays, one of the event’s organizers, who works for the CNMF. “The intent here is to have a dialogue and share and learn from each other.”
The Israeli team included members of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Joint Cyber Defense Division (J6) and Cyber Defense Directorate, and the Israeli’s J2 intelligence group. On the U.S. side, Soldiers and Civilians from USCYBERCOM, the CNMF, JFHQ-C(A) and U.S. Army Cyber Command (ARCYBER) participated in the exercise.
Israeli and U.S. cyber teams worked side by side at their laptops. The training network for the exercise’s allied teams and opposing forces was on training servers set up by USCYBERCOM for a dedicated cyber range environment, said Bob Peters of ARCYBER’s intelligence directorate, who helped create and oversee the training.
“We are trying to give them what they need so the intelligence is driving what they do,” Peters said.
Israeli and U.S. participants said they learned new techniques from each other, as the exercise-built interoperability between the two forces and helped forge new friendships that will strengthen their relationship and better prepare both teams to work together on real-world conflicts.
"I think we're getting some good experience, both with our analysts and the Israelis, our partners. ... We're kind of sharing with them how we do things, they're sharing with us,” said a participating Soldier from the U.S. Army Cyber Protection Brigade. “It's a good training exercise, simulated a little bit more of a high-stress environment with like actual kinetic operations combined with the cyber, multi-domain, stuff."
“We all are very highly trained -- that's apparent on both sides -- and it's just kind of neat seeing the different things come together," the Soldier added.
“I am proud of the fantastic work and cooperation our ally Israeli and the U.S. cyber teams have done together as part of Cyber Dome VII,” said Lt. Gen. Maria Barrett, commander of ARCYBER. “The United States and Israel have been longstanding friends and partners from the beginning. In 1982, the same year author William Gibson coined the phrase cyberspace, Israel and the United States signed the General Security of Information Agreement. Israel and U.S. have been strong cyber partners ever since. The Cyber Dome VII joint defensive exercise further strengthens this partnership with USCYBERCOM, JFHQ-C(A), and Israel’s Joint Cyber Defense Directorate. The teams trained as both blue forces and opposing forces. This exercise fits in with our philosophy of Persistent Cyber Training Environment and will help Israel and U.S. forces work more closely together to fend off future cyber threats.”
IDF Maj. Gen. Eran Niv, head of the J6 and the Cyber Defense Directorate, visited the Georgia Cyber Center to watch and evaluate the training.
"Cyber is a combatant dimension that has been developing at a significant pace in recent years,” Niv said. “Cyber warfare takes place continuously around the world and has a diverse potential for influence in different circles. This joint exercise expresses the deep cooperation between the IDF and USCYBERCOM in the cyber dimension, which is reflected in joint and daily operational action in various arenas and diverse combat dimensions.''
In closing comments for the exercise, Craft and CNMF Commander Maj. Gen. William J. Hartman, the co-hosts for the event, emphasized the value collaboration and partnership between the two forces adds to making their cyber teams and militaries technically and professionally stronger by sharing ideas, techniques, and processes for conducting full-spectrum operations in cyberspace.
ABOUT ARCYBER: U.S. Army Cyber Command integrates and conducts cyberspace operations, electromagnetic warfare, and information operations, ensuring decision dominance and freedom of action for friendly forces in and through the cyber domain and the information dimension, while denying the same to our adversaries.
ARCYBER ON THE WEB: https://www.arcyber.army.mil
ARCYBER TWITTER: https://twitter.com/ARCYBER
ARCYBER LINKEDIN: https://www.linkedin.com/us-army-cyber-command
ARMY CYBER ON THE U.S. ARMY WEBSITE: https://www.army.mil/armycyber
Interested in the challenge of joining the Army Cyber team? Check out military and civilian cyber career and employment opportunities by clicking on the "Careers" tab at www.arcyber.army.mil
Members of the Army Reserve and Army National Guard in the Signal, Cyber, Military Intelligence, Information Operations, Electronic Warfare, Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations fields interested in tours with Army Cyber Command can get more information at https://www.arcyber.army.mil/Careers/Reserve-Affairs/