An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News : Article View
NEWS | March 20, 2023

Washington Guard, Thai Partners Strengthen Cybersecurity

By Joseph Siemandel, Joint Force Headquarters - Washington National Guard

CAMP MURRAY, Wash. - Since he first supported the Cobra Gold exercise in 2018, Washington Air National Guard Lt. Col. Jason Silves has focused on strengthening cybersecurity.

“I started at Cobra Gold 2018 working in the cyberspace defense operations cell before there was a cyberspace exercise. We called out the need for a cyberspace exercise following that Cobra Gold,” said Silves. “I got involved in the State Partnership Program shortly thereafter as we strengthened our relationship with the Royal Thai Air Force cyberspace security center.”

Silves is seeing his hard work pay off.

“This was my sixth Cobra Gold and fifth cyberspace exercise. As a matter of fact, the first Cobra Gold cyberspace exercise grew out of our State Partnership Program with the Royal Thai Air Force,” said Silves.

Held annually in the Kingdom of Thailand, Cobra Gold is a multinational Indo-Pacific military exercise to enhance the capabilities of participating nations to plan and conduct combined and joint operations, build relationships across the region, and improve interoperability over a range of activities, including homeland assistance disaster relief. While much of the exercise focuses on the physical, the cyberspace exercise provides real-world experience for participants.

“The goal for the cyberspace exercise is to provide a quality experience for operators where they can build or strengthen defensive skills and share information with partners,” said Silves. “We work hard to create a realistic scenario and environment that allows operators to learn from each other in an unclassified setting.”

Silves and his team have begun working their scenario into the Command Post exercise, leveraging the cyberspace exercise into other aspects of Cobra Gold. This integration has helped participants learn valuable lessons about the multinational forces’ standard operating procedures.

While the cyber exercise has become an integral part of Cobra Gold, this year’s “CyberEx” was the first in-person since 2020.

“During the pandemic, we had to separate the exercise control cell and range from the training audience,” said Silves. “Although it was a technically viable solution, there were some challenges.”

In 2021, teams spread across several time zones. Keeping up with the exercise meant a team at Camp Murray began its day at 6 p.m. and often finished around 4 a.m. 

Getting everyone together physically enabled operators to collaborate better with range engineers. The exercise control cell could also see the defensive cyberspace operations teams in action. This visibility allowed the exercise control cell to adjust the tempo of the exercise to ensure defensive cyberspace operations teams met their training objectives and to capture lessons to apply to future exercises.

“Our goal every year is to make the exercise better than the previous year. In the coming years, we plan to improve the virtual exercise environment to prevent a tougher challenge to our operators, which will help them operate in a real-world environment,” said Silves. “We also plan to weave events happening in the cyber exercise into the command post exercise, allowing non-cyber operators to better understand the impacts the virtual world can have on real-world operations.”

Silves and his team hope to work on initiatives linking parts of Cobra Gold into the cyber exercise, demonstrating how the physical world affects cyberspace operations and vice versa.

“Each of these initiatives is designed to help commanders and operators understand how intertwined the physical and virtual worlds really are,” said Silves. “By doing so, we can help everyone understand that a virtual problem can be solved in the physical or kinetic world or how a physical problem could be addressed in the virtual world.”



Related Articles
Royal Thai Air Force Gp. Capt. Piriyathrone Suwanruji presents Col. Antony Braun, 225th Air Defense Group commander, and Master Sgt. Matthew Brosius, 225th Air Defense Squadron NCOIC Plans & Operations, with a memento to commemorate Enduring Partners 2024 at the Western Air Defense Sector, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, May 3, 2024. EP24 is an engagement to improve readiness and combined and joint interoperability between the RTAF and WAANG.
Western Air Defense Sector Wraps Up Enduring Partners Exercise
By Kimberly Burke, | June 11, 2024
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Airmen from the Royal Thai Air Force and the Washington Air National Guard’s 225th Air Defense Squadron participated in a subject matter expert exchange during the Enduring Partners 2024...

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Gent Welsh, Washington Air National Guard commander, and Brig. Gen. Azman bin Jantan, deputy assistant chief of staff operations and strategy of the Royal Malaysian Air Force, sign a sister squadron agreement at Pacific Air Forces Headquarters, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickman, Hawaii, Feb. 22, 2024. This agreement formalizes the enduring relationship between the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s 320 Squadron, Control and Reporting Center 1, and the Washington Air National Guard’s 225th Air Defense Group, Western Air Defense Sector.
Washington Air Guard, Malaysia Sign Sister Squadron Pact
By Kimberly Burke, | March 1, 2024
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii - U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Gent Welsh, Washington Air National Guard commander, and Brig. Gen. Azman bin Jantan, the deputy assistant chief of staff operations and strategy of the Royal...

A member of the 116th Air Support Operations Squadron holds their position with a simunition modified M4 during training at Fairchild Air Force Base, Spokane, Wash., Feb. 6, 2024. Their training, Operation Sulaco, consisted of two days of refresher trainings covering static line parachuting and small team tactics.
Air National Guard Unit Trains for any Situation
By Joseph Siemandel, | Feb. 27, 2024
CAMP MURRAY, Wash. – When U.S. Army Special Forces enter dangerous situations, they often aren’t alone.“Our job as a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) or Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) is to integrate with the Army...