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NEWS | April 1, 2024

Washington Guard Assists with Collegiate Cyber Competition

By Joseph Siemandel, Joint Force Headquarters - Washington National Guard

CAMP MURRAY, Wash. - Washington Army National Guard Soldiers supported the 16th Annual Pacific Rim Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition at South Puget Sound Community College March 22-24.

“Events like PRCCDC are critical for bridging the gap between academic theory and real-world cyber threats,” said Maj. Sameer Puri, chief information officer, Washington Army National Guard. “It also fosters collaboration between academia and military experts to enhance cybersecurity readiness for our state and nation. “

Puri said the collaboration also enables students “to seek career opportunities within the Washington Army National Guard, further blending professional development with national service.”

Twelve Department of Information Management team Soldiers participated as competition officials and opposing forces. Washington Army National Guard Soldiers coach and mentor the students.

“You must be prepared and almost predict what will happen after you run a program/script/exploit so that you can maximize your time on the Local Area Network while you have it,” said Sgt. 1st Class Lance Shimamoto, information technician chief, Washington Army National Guard. “Life is short, and so are shell sessions.”

The three-day event focused on the operational aspects of managing and protecting a commercial network. The competition allowed students and industry professionals to interact and discuss the security and operational challenges students will face as they enter the job market. It also raises awareness of the Guard’s role in cyber defense.

“PRCCDC staff was greatly appreciative of our efforts and volunteers for all the Soldiers from the Washington Army National Guard,” said Staff Sgt. William Fritts, a judge for the event.

The Pacific Rim Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition enables students from two- and four-year colleges and universities to develop their cybersecurity and information security abilities. Participants attempt to maintain a secure corporate network, with successful teams moving on to the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition.

“The experience was a blast, being able to work with professionals in the industry to get the feel of being on an actual ‘Red’ team,” said 1st Sgt. Daniel Papp, senior system administrator.

The Washington Army National Guard has participated with the college staff for over a decade.

“We look forward each year for our Soldiers to integrate, perform functions, and build confidence that reminds them of the level they perform (on a) daily basis for the Guard,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Michael Olmsted, deputy chief information officer. “To be able to interact with college students and provide their knowledge of the Army National Guard and potential growth opportunities as Citizen-Soldiers, it is also a great recruiting event.”

The Washington National Guard’s cyber program is nationally recognized for its partnership with Washington’s Secretary of State’s office to help secure the state’s election system and the infrastructure vulnerability assessments completed with utility companies across the state. 



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