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CAMP WILLIAMS, UTAH. — Cyber Shield 17 kicked off Sunday here with participation from the Army and Air National Guard, United States Army Reserve, federal and state government agencies, and industry partners.

Cyber Shield 17 is a National Guard exercise designed to assess Soldiers, Airmen, and civilian personnel on response plans to cyber incidents. This is the sixth iteration of the exercise with more than 800 participants involved.

“Cyber is a new domain of warfare,” said James Gunter, exercise director for Cyber Shield 17, who also works as the information technology strategy division chief for National Guard Bureau. “It’s invisible to most people, but you have to understand you can do things in cyber that affect everybody’s daily lives.”

The National Guard is working closely with its interagency partners and the private sector to strengthen network cyber security and capabilities to support local responses to cyber incidents. “We get over a million hits per day of people trying to get unauthorized access across the 54 states and territories,” said Gunter, who emphasized that this number indicates the number of event alerts the National Guard network alone finds across the United States each day.

“Exercises like this not only bring awareness, but also give us an opportunity to work with different agencies such as the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the United States Army Reserve, and the list goes on and on — as well as our mission partners,” said Lt. Col. Henry Capello, exercise commander for Cyber Shield 17, also a member of the Louisiana Army National Guard.

sm170425-Z-WL838-018.jpgMission partners from federal agencies such as the FBI and DHS, state Departments of Justice, as well as private companies such as Microsoft, Lockheed Martin and Monsanto, are participating in Cyber Shield this year.

Capello stated that 24 separate exercises will be taking place within Cyber Shield 17 with participation from 24 enclaves of trainees and supporters from these entities.

The intent of Cyber Shield 17 is to provide a collective training event for Defensive Cyber Operations Elements (DCO-Es), Cyber Protection Teams (CPTs) and cyber security detachments to help mitigate challenges to incident response through interagency partnerships and collaboration.

“The first step in securing and defending our homeland and our states is really helping them become aware of what’s going on,” Capello said.

Among the many organizations involved, the FBI has committed resources to the exercise highlighting the importance of their experience, guidance and support.

“The FBI’s role here is to provide support, training and guidance to the National Guard and it’s entities to help them build their ideal cyber program,” said FBI Special Agent Randy Jordan, the FBI logistics team lead for Cyber Shield 17.

Jordan has participated in two previous Cyber Shield exercises and expressed the value in collaborating with the National Guard.

“With the growing cyber threat, our main goal is to collaborate,” Jordan said. The desired outcome of the exercise aims to achieve training requirements and refine standards of performance.

“We’re going to solve these problems together, and that’s what this is about,” Capello said.