Army Reserve cyberwarriors joined multinational partners during an exercise to game defend critical infrastructure assets from cyberthreats.

Cyber X-Games took place June 7-16 at the 63rd Readiness Division Headquarters at Moffett Field, California, and was hosted by the Army Reserve Cyber Operations Group.

The X-Games featured a combination of training and instruction and actual on-keyboard exercising against red teams. The event’s theme this year was “Combating APT’s in Defense of DoD Critical Assets” as a means of advancing U.S. and NATO interests in the face of continued aggression, according to the event’s agenda. APT refers to advanced persistent threats, a term typically associated with nation-state caliber actors.

The scenario involved teams defending a combatant command network against two known threat actors as to ensure effective mission command within the region.

Teams of 5-10 persons had to fulfill various functions to include network analyst, intelligence analyst, firewall administrator and incident detection.

NATO partners observed the exercise, studying how it was planned and how the Army Reserve builds a force.

U.S. Cyber Command has stressed the importance of partnerships in cyberspace, to include domestic agencies, private sector agents that run and operate the majority of systems and infrastructure globally, as well as partner and allied nations.

“The Cyber X-Games is a valuable training event for cyber and could possibly open up opportunities for NATO partnership corporation,” Lt. Col. Mark DE Wolff, a NATO liaison officer assigned to the Army Cyber Center of Excellence, said in an Army release.

The Army is in the process of building and maintaining 10 cyber protection teams within its reserve ranks. This is in addition to the 11 it is building with the National Guard and 20 teams on the active-duty force within the cyber mission force.

“The Cyber X-Games is a culminating training exercise for soldiers,” Lt. Col. Michael Lewis, a lead coordinator for the X-Games, said. “The benefit of Cyber X-Games as an annual training exercise — is that it allows for nine days or more to include mission prep — where the soldiers have a blocked amount of time to do small unit planning and a practical exercise, basically injecting all the factors of a real cyber mission into the X-Games.”

Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.

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