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Washington Guard Hosts Multinational Cybersecurity Program

  • Published
  • By Joseph Siemandel,
  • Joint Force Headquarters - Washington National Guard

CAMP MURRAY, Wash. – Just like in conventional warfare, strong alliances are necessary to battle cyber criminals.

“To get just one country here, putting together a cyber plan with our folks is an accomplishment, but getting three together is incredible,” said Col. William Connor, J6/5 for Indo-Pacific Command. “It is very significant to do these kinds of events. It gets us together focusing on a common threat that is usually from a common enemy, both state and non-state actors.”

The Washington National Guard hosted the first of its kind Cybersecurity Capacity Building Program conference between INDOPACOM, cyber experts from the Washington Air National Guard, Royal Thai Armed Forces, Indonesian National Armed Forces and the cyberspace operations professional from the Vietnamese military.

Nearly 40 representatives from the four nations met at the Pierce County Readiness Center on Camp Murray July 11-15 to discuss how developing cyber capability and relationships is key to winning tomorrow’s wars.

“Recognizing our advanced cyber relationship with Thailand, INDOPACOM asked us to host the conference,” said Lt. Col. Keith Kosik, director of the State Partnership Program. “They also want our cyber teamwork with Thailand to serve as a model for other states and their partner nations.”

The Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act establishes this pilot program to improve cyber cooperation with Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam. 

During the week-long engagement, the attendees focused on cyber capabilities, learning about protecting critical infrastructure and MITRE adversarial tactics. The group also visited the Microsoft campus in Redmond to learn how the company is strengthening cybersecurity.

The Cybersecurity Capacity Building Program continues what the Washington National Guard and Thailand have been doing. The Washington National Guard and the Kingdom of Thailand — partners since 2002 under the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program — have been conducting subject matter expert exchanges to strengthen their cybersecurity programs for years. 

“As the world digitizes more and more, there is an acute realization the next conflict will involve cyberspace operations,” said Lt. Col. Jason Silves, who has been part of the group that has traveled to Thailand multiple times. “Programs like the Cybersecurity Capacity Building Program are designed to enable our partners to build cadres of defensive operators and learn best practices before such a conflict takes place.”