Much like infantry soldiers need to practice their marksmanship on a shooting range, cyber mission forces need a virtual equivalent to hone their skills on an individual and team basis.
To establish such an emulation, the Army was tapped in 2016 as the lead for the joint services to develop the persistent cyber training environment, or PCTE.
While the PCTE is a Department of Defense-wide program, the Army’s PEO for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation is running the program, which will allow for both individual and collective training for Cyber Command’s cyber warriors through courses, full-scale, remotely disparate exercises and even mission rehearsal.
And now the Army is holding a PCTE industry day February 1 in Orlando, Fla., to provide interested parties with an updated overview of PCTE requirements, which will largely focus on integrated applications enabling increased automation to support multiple simultaneous training events.
In addition, the event will serve as a kickoff for the Cyber Innovation Challenge 2, which focuses on enabling user access to PCTE training aids through a portal, the notice states. This portal should include, the notice continues, a web-enabled user interface to provide the capability to check user authentication credentials, configure training, order training, schedule training, access training and disseminate training assessments following a training event.
The notice states that the Cyber Innovation Challenge 2 will be released through the Training and Readiness Accelerator with subsequent awards made as Other Transaction Agreements.
Top DoD cyber leaders have discussed the necessity for continued cyber training.
The PCTE will provide the “ability to test our tools and our capabilities, but also the sustainment training amongst the team that’s really important for us,” Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, commander of Army Cyber Command, told reporters at AUSA on Oct. 11.
“We see that as the piece that we have yet to focus on, which really is the collective training piece — when I say collective training, that’s the training of a squad, mission element, a team — that is so critical for us.”
Navy 10th Fleet/Fleet Cyber Commander Vice Adm. Michael Gilday has explained how he wants defensive cyber teams to participate in training simulations when they aren’t on a mission so they’re ready to take on a multitude of challenges in cyberspace.
Gilday’s concern, as relayed to conference goers at last year’s AFCEA West show, is that cyber skills can quickly atrophy.
He recently told C4ISRNET in an interview that if the Navy’s cyber warriors aren’t on actual missions, “they’re in a simulator training to maintain their skills at the highest level possible.”
The Navy uses virtual training environments in different locations, including Hawaii, Georgia and Texas that enable scenarios like simulated networks and adversaries that help teams better understand that network and develop a plan of attack for containing, conducting operations against and removing the adversary from the network.
Gilday noted his office is working closely with the Army in developing future requirements for the PCTE.
Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.