Master Sgt. William Edwards
Regional Cyber Center-Pacific
FORT SHAFTER — In September, Soldiers and civilians from the Regional Cyber Center-Pacific (RCC-PAC) participated in the Network Enterprise Technology Command cyber defense exercise Elite Mercury, designed to test the cyber network defense capabilities of the Army Cyber Centers across the globe.
The annual NETCOM-sponsored “gaining cyber dominance” (GCD) training event began in November 2013. The initiative of GCD is to standardize and refine defensive cyber operations (DCO) tactics, techniques and procedures among the five RCCs and enhance the abilities of each team by presenting them with three four-hour exercise events and an eight-hour culminating training event named Elite Mercury 14 (EM14).
The top performer among the five was selected as the RCC of the year. This year’s winner was “Team Signal” from RCC-Pacific.
Recently, the RCC received its award during a presentation ceremony conducted via video with the senior leaders at NETCOM, 311th Signal Command (Theater), 516th Sig. Brigade and the 4th RCC.
Teamwork key to success
“This event solidified that concept by effectively leveraging the combined skills and resources of both DOD IN NETOPS and Defensive Cyber Operations to meet the network cyber challenges introduced during EM14,” said Danny Torrez, battle captain, GCD and DCO-Division operations officer.
Each quarter, over the past year, a virtual sandbox was established where players from each of the five Cyber Centers faced off against adversarial forces attempting to gain access to networks, disrupt communications and disable critical infrastructure. The sandbox is a crucial element in honing the cyber defense capabilities of Soldiers and civilians with realistic scenarios based on likely tactics employed by enemy or insider cyber threats.
“The sandbox is our playground, an area to test our skills and techniques without damaging the actual network,” said Master Sgt. Michael A. Britt, Internal Support Division, RCC-PAC.
“Seeing the employment of systems not used on a daily basis to detect, defend and defeat the adversary was awesome,” said Melissa Naula, assistant battle captain, GCD and information assurance security analyst.
The goal of the RCC-PAC director, Lt. Col. Donald Peterson Jr., was to ensure that leaders at each level were fully committed to enabling the success of their individual branches/teams and dedicated to contributing to the group effort for a successful exercise. “I was determined to share what I knew about the 4th RCC-PAC by engaging the entire team of teams in the event, sharing situational awareness across all teams and allowing their actions to convey a message about the immense talents in the Pacific,” said Peterson.
The most challenging part of the four GCD exercises and EM14 was effectively managing and tracking the response activity required for multiple simultaneous events. To facilitate intra-team communications and create an efficient environment for knowledge exchange, a phone-bridge conference room was created.
Goal-oriented teamwork was the crucial, deciding factor for RCC-PACs success. Innovative ideas and a cohesive team of civilian and military cyber warriors who were supported and enabled by senior leaders guaranteed a decisive victory.
EM14 demonstrated the cyber prowess and skill of Team Signal to provide a robust, hardened and protected network environment for the Pacific region, and it validated their standing as the No. 1 RCC in the Army.