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Cyberspace exercise prepares 67th NWW for Guardian Challenge

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The 624th Operation Center, 561st Network Operations Squadron, and 561st NOS Detachment 1, all associate units of the 67th Network Warfare Wing, participated in Black Demon 2010 cyber exercise Feb. 22-26, gearing up for their upcoming participation in Guardian Challenge.

"It was a great exercise and a lot of valuable data was gathered to be used in establishing new tactics, techniques and procedures," said Master Sgt. Christopher Soltysik, chief of operations training and exercise coordinator at the 310th Communications Flight, the 561st NOS Reserves associate unit, located at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.

The exercise focused around the use of the above mentioned tactics, techniques, and procedures to produce network operations effects on behalf of 24th Air Force. The events in the exercise included building evacuations, relocating to an alternate location, command and control, loss of key personnel and an interoperability analysis of the Air Force network operations compliance tracker.

"The members of the 67th NWW performed superbly," Sergeant Soltysik said. "Command and control was exercised in all aspects of the exercise and the crews learned what it takes to be part of the best units in the Air Force and what it takes to defend against the cyber enemy."

The members from the 310th CF who participated in the exercise were also an integral part of that exercise.

"Master Sergeants [David] Risnear, [Jaime] Guerra and I were integrated into the BD10 team as trusted agents," Sergeant Soltysik said. "Sergeants Risnear and Guerra were trusted agents for the Black Cell and gathered data at the 624th OC. I was on the White Cell at the 561st NOS gathering data and releasing white card injects to the crews. The data collection was invaluable. It can be used to change standard operating procedures ensuring crews have the best possible processes to perform their mission."

With everyone one working together to determine best practices, BD10 helped the 561st NOS leadership determine that they will be incorporating the Simulated Training and Exercise range into all upcoming exercises. The SIMTEX range is a tool that gives the crews hands on training and a realistic view of the operations floor without adversely impacting real-world network operations. The range mirrors what the crews will see during normal day-to-day operations and allows the crews to practice their procedures.

"The SIMTEX provides our cyber warriors a risk-free environment to practice and hone skills. It is comparable to that of an aircraft simulator which allows pilots to safely practice routine procedures, or tactics and techniques in highly stressful situations. SIMTEX based training is effective for all Cyberspace Personnel from the new accession going through "A" school to the general officer participating in an exercise," Sergeant Soltysik said. "The SIMTEX environment and simulator-based education, training and exercises provide the critical hands-on realistic experience needed to perform the mission under the pressure of real-world incidents."

The 67th NWW is focused on organizing, training, and equipping cyberspace forces to conduct network defense and full-spectrum operations in cyberspace. Participating in exercises like Black Demon provides the personnel of the 67th NWW with essential training. This kind of preparation not only hones skills for real-world application, but also ensures the wing is coming home with the Guardian Challenge Prolifka Trophy, the Oscar of the challenge.

"The members of the 67th NWW are extremely motivated to be participating in the first ever Guardian Challenge that involves cyber competition. To be in the unit that wins that first trophy would be a historic event for those involved," Sergeant Soltysik said.