Members of the 112th Cyberspace Operations Squadron at Horsham Air Guard Station participated in a week-long remote cyber defense exercise named “Amber Mist”. This exercise is intended to improve the defense skills for defending vital IT infrastructure.

Due to COVID-19, this is the first time the annual joint training exercise has been held remotely and not in Lithuania.

“Lithuania is the state partner for Pennsylvania,” said Capt. Dakota Kauffman, the chief of training at the 112th COS. “There’s a European counterpart for most of the Guard units in the United States.”

These partnerships are a part of the State Partnership Program which connects a state’s National Guard with the armed forces of an associated country to build jointly valuable relationships.

“Through SPP, the National Guard conducts military-to-military engagements in support of defense security goals but also leverages whole-of-society relationships and capabilities to facilitate broader interagency and corollary engagements spanning military, government, economic and social spheres,” according to the official National Guard website.

In addition to being the first remote exercise, this was also the first time the Air National Guard partook alone and not with the Army National Guard.

“Our counterparts from the Army National Guard had another commitment they had to do, so unfortunately they had to pull out of this year’s Amber Mist exercise,” said Tech. Sgt. Andrew Weaver, the Lithuanian ambassador at the 112th COS. “In the past, it was always a joint team from Pennsylvania that would travel to Lithuania.”

Although being on location is ideal, the 112th COS has been successfully able to conduct the exercise and receive valuable training along with Lithuania and other participating countries using online business communication platforms.

“We effectively have done everything remotely right now that we would have done over there,” said Weaver.

The only difficult part has been communicating through online platforms because Lithuanians are very social and prefer to collaborate in person.

“They have a lot of hospitality,” said Kauffman. “They’re very spirited, there’s a lot of comradery, and they normally like to go out after the duty day.”

Despite the lack of togetherness with their counterparts and minor technological hurdles getting set up, the 112th COS was able to successfully perform their annual training and gain pertinent knowledge along the way as a team.

“The team is doing great,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Love, the commander of the 112th COS. “They had some initial challenges with the remote logging in and also COVID, but the team has done a great job overcoming that. They’re getting in there and looking for advanced persistent threats in the network and doing a great job working with the Lithuanians.”

Date Taken: 09.23.2020
Date Posted: 09.25.2020 07:43
Story ID: 378440
Location: PERKASIE, PA, US 

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