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Ohio National Guard works with Serbian partners during Cyber Tesla 2017 exercise

By Bill Pierce | Ohio National Guard | October 13, 2017

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Members of the Ohio National Guard and Serbian Armed Forces joined together to carry out the second annual Cyber Tesla exercise Sept. 11-14 at two locations — in Ohio and Serbia.

"The exercise consisted of identifying gaps in group effort mechanisms and communication, with the main focus on examining the cyber incident response and preparation process," said Lt. Col. Terri Williams, G6/J6 chief information officer for the Ohio National Guard. "The incident process to a cyberattack consists of six steps — preparation, identification, containment, eradication, recovery and lessons learned. Cyber Tesla is the preparation phase but it rehearses the actions of the remaining five steps."

Since 2006, the Ohio National Guard has been paired with Serbia through the State Partnership Program,which pairs states with countries around the world for the purpose of supporting security cooperation between the U.S. and other nations.

Maj. Kevin Mamula, Ohio's Computer Network Defense Team (main) lead, relocated with his team to Gornji Milanovac, Serbia, to give the exercise the feel of a real-life scenario.

"The Ohio National Guard partnering with the Serbian Armed Forces, in a common goal of Cyber Security for public welfare, has been very gratifying and hope for continued effort against unlawfulness toward public interests," Mamula said. "While cyber exercises provide a controlled environment to practice the complexity of incident handling, this exercise also helped show the Serbians how to refine their cyber security range."

Capt. Scotty Jackson, a member of the Joint Force Headquarters-Ohio cyber team and team lead (for the stateside effort), along with other members of the Ohio National Guard cyber team, worked alongside Capt. Marko Papovic, Serbian Armed Forces desk officer for information technology, and Capt. Bojan Milosevic, SAF analyst for information systems security, from the Maj. Gen. Robert S. Beightler Armory in Columbus, Ohio.

"The Cyber Tesla exercise was a remarkable event," Jackson said. "The partnership I observed between Ohio and Serbia's cyber warriors was highly effective and both organizations benefitted from this successful exercise."

Cyber Shield, the national exercise, has yet to open its doors to states' partner nation pairings through the National Guard State Partnership Program, so both parties said that having the chance to practice one-on-one with each other proved highly advantageous to both parties.

"This was the first year that system assets were distributed across country borders," Jackson said. "This is impactful, due to it is more representative of a geographically dispersed enterprise network."

Added Williams: "Maj. Mamula's planning experience and technical expertise have been an underlying reason that the exercise has continued to increase exponentially in just two short years. The Serbians have countered with an outstanding level of enthusiasm, participation and skill that has contributed to the exceptional success of the program."