ASUNCIÓN, Paraguay – Two members of the Massachusetts National Guard, Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jeffrey Melendez and Air Force Master Sgt. Joseph Craig joined the Joint Combatant-Command Cyber Assessment Team (JCCAT) to participate in the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM)-led visit to Paraguay for the first cyber-focused State Partnership Program (SPP) engagement between the Massachusetts National Guard and Paraguay June 19-23.
The Cyber Team met with the Paraguayan Military Directorate of Information and Communication Technologies, Army, Air Force, and Navy and assessed their networks, policies and procedures. They also provided recommendations on ways to improve their cybersecurity.
“They were very well received, and all organizations were transparent with their current capabilities and gaps,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Hunt, Cyber Operations Officer, Massachusetts National Guard. “Each group expressed eagerness to continue working together.”
The engagement included an MWR (Morale, Welfare, Recreation) lunch event with the Paraguayan military officials that focused on getting to know each other and discussions on Paraguay’s offerings and places to visit.
The Cyber Team provided a collective out-brief highlighting initial strategic and technical observations, recommendations, due outs, and the way ahead.
Melendez said that the team could only influence a change in Paraguay’s cybersecurity posture after earning their trust.
“This is something that takes time to build and cannot be accomplished through one engagement,” said Melendez. “Continuity will be key in establishing these strong relationships. Only then will we be able to truly effect change.”
Paraguay expressed interest in future engagements focused on Network Administration, Security, Systems Administration, Virtualization, and Incident Response. They also want to participate in the next Cyber Yankee Exercise at Joint Base Cape Cod, Mass.
“The Massachusetts National Guard will work with SOUTHCOM and the Office of the Defense Cooperation, U.S. Embassy Paraguay, to develop a follow on SPP engagement in Paraguay and to invite Paraguay to CY24,” said Hunt.