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National Guard Members Test Skills at Cyber Shield 2024

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Hannah Tarkelly,
  • 449th Combat Aviation Brigade

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Almost 1,000 participants flooded the Virginia National Guard State Military Reservation in Virginia Beach for the longest-running and largest Department of Defense cyber defense exercise May 31 to June 15.

Cyber Shield is an annual National Guard event that hosts National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers, Airmen, civilian cyber professionals, and international partners worldwide.

A number of National Guard State Partnership Program countries, including Poland, the Republic of Moldova, Lithuania, Romania, the Republic of Georgia and Kosovo, joined this year’s cyber shield exercise.  

“The importance is international outreach,” said North Carolina Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Todd Webster, a cybersecurity team leader. “Not only are we able to help cyber developing companies and countries, but we’re also able to provide outreach across the globe.”

Cyber forces were brought together in Virginia Beach to develop, train and test their limits. Those involved had the opportunity to attend rigorous courses, conduct cyber exercises, and test their skills in this year’s NetWars competition.

Cyber Shield held training classes tailored to various skill sets, including Pen+, Security+, Linux+ and CISSP.

“Our overall goal for Cyber Shield is to train and learn on the cyber domain,” said North Carolina Army National Guardsman Lt. Col. Brian Dodd, Cyber Shield’s defensive cyber team chief. “We learn how to better respond to incidents in the cyber domain and how to better react to the problems that we see.”

This event was designed to increase participants’ ability to infiltrate, defend and enhance the cybersecurity network for global defense measures.

“We continue to see increased severity and increased frequency of cyber attacks regularly,” Dodd said. “There are more threats than there have ever been in the cyber domain, so we need to come to an event like this and train together.”