AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas National Guard and the Chilean Army conducted a joint cybersecurity exercise in Santiago, Chile, Aug. 28-30, as part of the State Partnership Program.
Col. Christopher Howell, chief of the Cyber Operations Branch, Joint Force Headquarters, Texas Military Department, said exchanging knowledge is a valuable tool to improve cybersecurity in both countries.
“We want them [Chile] to further understand how Chile’s cyber operations and organizational capabilities employ tactical responses at a military level. Also, we discussed the communications within their country,” Howell said.
As cyber threats become more common, supporting both countries’ relationships and strengthening the bonds between the military and their civilian counterparts is crucial, Howell said.
First Lt. Jose Pantoja with the Chilean Navy said these long-term partnerships are critical for international security.
“I think keeping this relationship between Chile and Texas is fundamental to develop our capacities and our apprenticeships to improve our defenses,” said Pantoja. “With this experience, the Texas National Guard shares with us their knowledge and training for maintaining our systems. We are also learning how they coordinate with their citizens.”
The exercise included a simulated cyber attack on a Chilean government website. Partners from both countries worked together to overcome challenges and address vulnerabilities.
Sgt. Maj. Darla Wright, senior noncommissioned officer for the Cyber Operations Branch, Texas Military Department, said building junior Soldiers’ knowledge benefits the military and the individuals.
“We wanted to share the different aspects that have been key to retain and recruit cyber personnel within the organization, and that is making every person understand their contribution and their effort is recognized, and this will create growth within the cyber-intelligence field now and for the future,” Wright said.
The Texas National Guard leaders also discussed the importance of rewarding hard work, developing individuals’ skills, and allowing each member the opportunity to advance within the Chilean Army.
“Often, the best recruiter is the person who is already doing that job. They have those skill sets, so the different things that we can help is to interview the talent within and train Soldiers to become instructors,“ Wright said.
The Texas National Guard and the Chilean Army have been partners under the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program since 2008. They will continue to work together to share information, develop personnel, and respond to cyber threats and guidance for the future.
The 30-year-old SPP program has grown to include 88 partnerships with 100 nations.