New Mexico National Guard cyber teams train with Mescalero Apache Telecom

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Daniel Butterfield
  • 150th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

New Mexico National Guard Airmen and Soldiers teamed up with the Mescalero Apache Telecom Inc. (MATI) for training June 13- 16, 2022 as part of the Department of Defense Innovative Readiness Training program that aims to integrate Active, Guard and Reserve service members to train and serve American communities.

While most IRT programs involve medical and civil engineering training and assistance, the focus for this event was cyber, a historical event for the NMNG.

“We're essentially training a vulnerability assessment. This an opportunity for our team, A, to practice doing a vulnerability assessment and, B, practice training,” said Tech. Sgt. Estevan Ravencrest, 150th Communications Squadron, Special Missions Flight. “It’s also an opportunity for MATI to learn how to do their own mini vulnerability assessments on themselves.”

Besides the six members of the 150th CS, there were participants from New Mexico Army National Cyber Operations team, the Air Force Reserve and representatives from IRT headquarters in Washington, D.C. Some were there to observe one of the first cyber IRTs, others were there for hands-on training and to get their own programs up and running.  

“We have a new cyber team that we are trying to stand up and gain a baseline of training that we can build off of as we work more closely with the Air Guard to have a joint team to help the state whenever they are needed,” said Lt. Col. David Maestas, Deputy G6 commander, NMARNG.

This cyber IRT event was initiated by Central New Mexico Community College and PNM (Public Service Company of New Mexico). They submitted a request to the IRT program on behalf of MATI. MATI provides the residents on the Mescalero Apache Reservation with local telephone service, high-speed internet and data services to the largest businesses in the area. They sought out the opportunity to test their systems and get training from the NMNG cyber experts.

“We appreciate the time and resources provided by the participating entities in this important cybersecurity training event,” said Godfrey Enjady, general manager, Mescalero Apache Telecom, Inc.  “As the Tribal telecom and ISP (internet service provider), we are charged with providing and maintaining vital voice and data communications services throughout our reservation. These exercises stand to further fortify our facilities and enhance our service stability.”

The goal of the training was to defend critical infrastructure while leveraging military and community resources. The push started more than a year ago but because of COVID and funding, it was moved to this year.

The 150 CS put together an itinerary that would simultaneously assist MATI with their vulnerabilities, as well as provide training for those attending. Some of the other objectives included obtaining a terrain map of operational and data assets; assess network performance and behavior to obtain a baseline profile to compare to historical data and effectively detect anomalies; and to enable port and vulnerability assessment automated processes based on a risk management plan.

This could be the first of many cyber IRTs for the New Mexico Guard and communities throughout the state. It is a priority for many of the leaders here.

“This time we're building multiple relationships with the resources that we can bring to bear. This is a building block and the first step of many because cyber is not going to get less intrusive, it is going to be much more a part of our daily lives, as we continue to move forward. What we have established here is critical, serving as a model for us to actually go out and assist other entities throughout the state of New Mexico. You’ve set a benchmark that is going to leave lasting effects for the state of New Mexico,” said Brig. Gen. Jamison Herrera, deputy adjutant general, New Mexico National Guard.