Air Force cyber trainees face final challenge: Black Demon [Video]

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A member of a Cyber Protection Team participates in the Air Force's Exercise Black Demon, designed to validate his ability to protect and defend specific critical missions or assests. Unlike other communications specialists who work to defend and protect an entire network, CPTs have advanced training and skillsets that go deeper into locating and then neutralizing the threats posed to high priority missions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Daniel Garcia)

The 845th and 901st Cyber Protection Teams validated their readiness to meet operational requirements set by the U.S. Cyber Command at a four-week training exercise directed by the 24th Air Force at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

According to an article by Karen Petitt, 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs, the CPTs at Scott AFB are part of the cyber mission force intended to locate and counter attacks targeting critical infrastructure, and the “Black Demon” exercise proved these mobile squadrons’ ability to utilize advanced tools and capabilities to examine cyber traffic, pinpoint issues and then secure critical systems.

Conducted on a cyber range simulating the asset needing protection, the exercise featured aggressors hosted at another base. In addition, support came from technicians of the 375th Communication Support Squad — a pathfinder unit that organizes, trains and equips forces contributing to each unit’s critical missions — and the 618th Air Operations Center playing the role of host communications unit.

“Even with advanced courses available, those still don’t compare to the practical experience our teams get while participating in exercises like Black Demon,” said Lt. Col. George Sconyers, 375th Communication Support Squadron commander. “Our team provides local expertise to the CPTs as they engage adversary actors. They will advise the CPTs on what is friendly traffic and what is most likely adversary activity. To accomplish this takes familiarity, and this is training we can’t recreate anywhere else. We’re able to build relationships and integrate everyone’s expertise together.

“Ultimately pathfinder units will assist the Air Force in charting the course for how best to integrate unit-level mission defense teams throughout all phases of mission planning to execution so that we can identify our ‘key terrain’ in cyberspace and safeguard our core missions against cyber threats.”

This was the first such endeavor at Scott AFB, and evaluators plan to continue validation exercises as part of Air Force initiatives to equip forces to identify and safeguard key terrain in 21st Century battles.

The entire feature, including an accompanying video report, can be found on the 24th’s website.

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