U.S. National Guard plays a critical role in defending computer networks and mitigating cyber-attacks that occur almost daily, said Guard senior leaders during a roundtable discussion Tuesday.
“Cyber incidents are an ongoing and substantial threat,” said Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau. “In 2021 alone, America’s power plants, food supply, water supply, health care, law enforcement, and defense sectors have all come under attack.”
That’s why upcoming exercises like Cyber Shield 2021 – which helps prepare “Guard cyber warriors to deter, disrupt and defeat malicious cyber activity” – are important, he said. Adding the Guard plays a key role in the Department of Defense’s cyber enterprise while partnering with outside agencies.
“We have also emerged as a trusted and valuable resource in helping our local, state and federal partners defend and mitigate against cyber-attacks,” Hokanson said.
More than 750 Army and Air National Guard members will be working with those partners during Cyber Shield 2021, scheduled for July 10-24 at Camp Williams, Utah. Some teams and individuals will participate virtually.
Air Force Maj. Gen. Richard Neely, the adjutant general of the Illinois National Guard and a master cyberspace officer, said the exercise exemplifies how “the best solutions come from those with hands-on [experience] and then are implemented across organizations.”
Cyber Shield helps strengthen the hands-on aspect, he said and includes the “best of the best” from both in and outside the military.
This year’s training scenarios are largely based on real-world events, said Army Lt. Col. Brad Rhodes, the officer in charge of the exercise