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Georgia Guard strengthens cyber capability at exercise

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Patrick Shirley, a cybersecurity noncommissioned officer with the 283rd Combat Communications Squadron, 116th Air Control Wing, Georgia Air National Guard, monitors cyber activity during exercise Cyber Dawg 21 Sept. 14, 2021, at the Georgia Cyber Center in Augusta, Georgia. Cyber Dawg 21 participants learned how to expose and correct weaknesses in cyber operations policies and procedures.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Patrick Shirley, a cybersecurity noncommissioned officer with the 283rd Combat Communications Squadron, 116th Air Control Wing, Georgia Air National Guard, monitors cyber activity during exercise Cyber Dawg 21 Sept. 14, 2021, at the Georgia Cyber Center in Augusta, Georgia. Cyber Dawg 21 participants learned how to expose and correct weaknesses in cyber operations policies and procedures.

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Members of the Georgia National Guard participated in Cyber Dawg 21, a live-action cybersecurity exercise Sept. 13-17 at the Georgia Cyber Center.

The Georgia Technology Center created and led Cyber Dawg 21 to practice and refine cyberattack response by state agencies. 

Soldiers and Airmen from Georgia’s Army and Air National Guards trained alongside civilian counterparts from various state agencies. Also participating were soldiers from the countries of Georgia and Argentina. The Georgia National Guard maintains formal relationships with the countries under the National Guard’s State Partnership Program. 

“The Georgia National Guard continues to play a huge part in our plan for cyber defense in Georgia,” said David Allen, chief information security officer of the Georgia Technology Authority. “Any chance we can get together and train together pays big dividends.”

Soldiers participating in Cyber Dawg 21 came from the 170th Cyber Protection Team, 781st Troop Command Detachment, 78th Troop Command, Georgia Army National Guard.

The Georgia Air National Guard sent Airmen from the 202nd Engineering Installation Squadron and the 283rd Combat Communications Squadron, 116th Air Control Wing, and the 224th Joint Communications Support Squadron, 165th Airlift Wing.

Cybersecurity is a relatively new and rapidly growing field developing in response to the challenging, destructive threats of the digital age.
The U.S. Army created its cyber branch in 2014, making it the newest branch of America’s land-based force. The Georgia Army National Guard’s 170th CPT organized in 2015 and is one of the first three cyber protection teams formed in the National Guard.

The crucial need for cyber warfighters in the Department of Defense has made Georgia Guardsmen highly trained and experienced partners to other state agencies. Cyber Dawg 21 brought these professionals together to train and learn from each other.

“The Georgia National Guard has performed very well [in the exercise],” said Allen. “The state employees that participate always have nothing but great things to say about how much they learn from the Georgia Guard team when they come and participate.”

The Georgia Technology Authority organized Cyber Dawg 21 participants into blue, red and white cells. The blue cell simulated a fictional organization defending itself from cyber threats and responding to attacks. Red cell participants represented the exercise’s adversaries, seeking and exploiting vulnerabilities in the network environment. The white cell facilitated Cyber Dawg 21, monitoring, training and ensuring the exercise occurred without stoppages.

Georgia Guardsmen embedded in all three cells were able to share their knowledge with other state agencies while gaining unique approaches to cybersecurity from their civilian counterparts.

“This exercise has been great,” said U.S. Army Master Sgt. Tammy Giles, a cyber operations noncommissioned officer assigned to the 170th Cyber Protection Team, 781st Troop Command Detachment, 78th Troop Command, Georgia Army National Guard. “I’m extremely happy that Georgia does something like this.”
 

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