The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitic­s -

U.S. Cy­ber Com­mand re­cently con­ducted large-scale dig­i­tal war games that in­volved cy­ber­at­tacks and de­fense against for­eign strikes on crit­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture.

Cy­ber Com­mand — led by Navy Adm. Mike Rogers, who is also di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency — said in a state­ment that the ex­er­cise “Cy­ber Flag” was “forceon-force” train­ing, “fus­ing at­tack and de­fense across the full spec­trum of mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions in a closed net­work en­vi­ron­ment.”

The drills were held Fri­day at Nel­lis Air Force Base, Ne­vada, and sought to gauge mil­i­tary cy­ber­ca­pa­bil­i­ties that will be in­te­grated with other war-fight­ing com­mands.

Fu­ture con­flicts are ex­pected to in­volve cy­ber­at­tacks against crit­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture, specif­i­cally elec­tri­cal grids and com­mu­ni­ca­tions net­works that can be hacked and shut down or or­dered to con­duct self-de­struc­tive op­er­a­tions.

Few de­tails on ex­er­cise sce­nar­ios were dis­closed, in fit­ting with Cy­ber Com­mand’s NSA-like pen­chant for se­crecy.

“This year’s sce­nario, de­vised by ex­er­cise plan­ners, in­volved a sim­u­lated com­bined joint task force re­sponse to a no­tional re­gional cri­sis in­volv­ing fic­tional state and non­state ac­tors con­duct­ing sig­nif­i­cant ac­tiv­ity in cy­berspace,” the com­mand state­ment said.

A Cy­ber Com­mand spokesman did not re­spond to a re­quest for de­tails on the ex­er­cise.

Adm. Rogers, ac­cord­ing to the re­lease, wants the Pen­tagon to build cy­ber­war­fare ca­pa­bil­i­ties “to gen­er­ate mil­i­tary op­tions for se­nior mil­i­tary lead­ers and decision-mak­ers.”

Adm. Rogers “stressed that the U.S. can­not wait un­til a cy­berspace cri­sis af­fects the na­tion or DOD’s abil­ity to con­duct mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions to de­velop part­ner­ships, gen­er­ate cy­ber­ca­pac­ity and ca­pa­bil­ity and en­sure co­or­di­na­tion pro­cesses are in place for na­tional or mil­i­tary re­sponse.”

“Cy­ber is a team ef­fort, and given the re­source con­straints and ca­pac­ity short­falls, we need to part­ner in a way that op­ti­mizes op­er­a­tional out­comes,” the four-star ad­mi­ral said. “This ex­er­cise is an in­cred­i­ble op­por­tu­nity to strengthen our re­la­tion­ships with crit­i­cal part­ners.”

The ex­er­cise in­volved joint and coali­tion cy­ber­op­er­a­tions with air, land and naval forces, which prac­ticed iden­ti­fy­ing and de­fend­ing cy­bern­odes against im­mi­nent or ob­served threats.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the forces prac­ticed op­er­at­ing while un­der cy­ber­at­tacks af­fect­ing mil­i­tary com­mu­ni­ca­tions and com­mand and con­trol. The war games also were a re­hearsal for “how a coali­tion will con­duct com­mand and con­trol of cy­berspace forces at the tac­ti­cal and op­er­a­tional lev­els in re­sponse to a re­gional cri­sis.”

Spe­cific par­tic­i­pants were not iden­ti­fied, but they in­cluded Pen­tagon and other fed­eral of­fi­cials as well as al­lies in what the com­mand said were “re­al­is­tic sce­nar­ios against op­pos­ing forces.”

Among the forces that par­tic­i­pated were the Cy­ber Na­tional Mis­sion Force, which is trained to de­fend crit­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture against so­phis­ti­cated cy­ber­at­tacks, and the Cy­ber Pro­tec­tion Force, which is tasked with de­fend­ing Pen­tagon net­works.

“The ex­er­cise took place on a spe­cially con­structed closed net­work de­signed to sim­u­late the DOD and al­lied in­for­ma­tion net­works and ad­ver­sary net­works,” the state­ment said. “The event also fea­tured an ex­pert op­pos­ing force, which takes on the role of the ad­ver­sary us­ing a range of tac­tics and weapons to pro­vide a re­al­is­tic train­ing en­vi­ron­ment.”

“The coali­tion ex­er­cise en­vi­ron­ment was vi­tal to gen­er­at­ing in­sights into how to achieve mil­i­tary ob­jec­tives by con­duct­ing op­er­a­tions in and through cy­berspace,” said Coast Guard Rear Adm. Kevin Lun­day, Cy­ber­com’s di­rec­tor of ex­er­cises and train­ing.

“Push the en­ve­lope, ex­per­i­ment, and take ad­van­tage of this op­por­tu­nity by em­brac­ing con­trolled fail­ure for the learn­ing po­ten­tial it has,” Adm. Rogers was quoted as telling ex­er­cise par­tic­i­pants.


Ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease, Navy Adm. Michael Rogers, who heads U.S. Cy­ber Com­mand, wants the Pen­tagon to build cy­ber­war­fare ca­pa­bil­i­ties “to gen­er­ate mil­i­tary op­tions for se­nior mil­i­tary lead­ers and decision-mak­ers.”

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