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Oklahoma Guardsmen Finish First at Cyber Shield 2023

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Erika Chapa,
  • 137th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - For the second year in a row, Oklahoma National Guard members won first place in a two-week cyber defense exercise, outperforming teams from more than 20 states and territories and five National Guard State Partnership Program groups.

The joint OKNG team, including three 137th Special Operations Communications Squadron Airmen, participated in the June 2-16 exercise alongside approximately 800 military and civilian cyber professionals at the Professional Education Center in Little Rock.

Cyber Shield 2023 focused on industrial control and protection, including a virtual competition to test each team’s ability to capture key information about enemy activity on a network.

“It goes without saying the cyber domain is a dynamic, fast-paced, and ever-changing environment and requires highly trained and prepared Airmen,” said Maj. Tyler Davis, commander of the 137th SOCS. “Cyberspace dominance is paramount to effectively projecting global air and space power, and the Airmen of the 137th Special Operations Communications Squadron are at the leading edge.”

As cyber warfare continues to evolve, the Department of Defense is developing, training and exercising cyber forces.

“Cyber is an entire different domain of warfare,” said 2nd Lt. Chad Chudoba, officer in charge for the 137th SOCS mission defense team. “We’re essentially coming onto the battlefield and assessing the terrain to conduct reconnaissance, determine where the enemy is and clear them out of that terrain. And then, once we take that terrain, we do what we can to build up our defenses and hold that terrain from the enemy.”

Cyber Shield is the largest DOD unclassified cyber defense exercise. It provides cyber challenges to participants through hands-on exercises and workshops. Participants could obtain additional cyber-related certificates through volunteer courses.

“This exercise not only improved the training, skills and knowledge of the Airmen who were able to physically attend Cyber Shield 2023, but it also allows them to bring this information back to the unit and provide critical training and information to all our other 137th Special Operations Cyber professionals once back in garrison,” Davis said.

For the first time, Cyber Shield attendees included cyber professionals from Azerbaijan, Oklahoma’s partner in the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program. 

Davis said the exercise enabled Oklahoma National Guard Airmen “to participate and have the opportunity to improve their skills and collaborate with other governmental agencies, other Guard units and with our partner nations.”