97th cyber warriors perform first MDT exercise > Altus Air Force Base > News


The 97th Communications Squadron used its recently built cyber-training range for their Mission Defense Team to participate in its first cyber defense exercise on Sept. 30, 2021. This exercise was in partnership with the U.S. Air National Guard’s 229th Cyberspace Operation Squadron from Vermont. The 229th COS runs a Multi-Application Practical Learning Environment Range, which runs the server for the exercise.   

The objective of the exercise was to detect and block unauthorized or malicious network traffic, while maintaining legitimate traffic and services on the network. Simulated attackers from the 229th COS MAPLE range provided accurate, simulated cyber threats. This was all made possible by the local finished range, which is comprised of five high-performance computer stations capable of running multiple cyber defense scripts at once. The range was built after nine months of waiting for equipment and parts to assist the MDT by providing a centralized location for proper team communication and cyber defense execution.

“At some point, we might get (cyber defense) tasking’s from our headquarters. If we don’t have mission-ready personnel on the base, the base would never really be able to get those taskings,” said Christopher McMall, 97th CS MDT special missions flight director. “This exercise is important for items like the KC-46 (Pegasus) if they have some kind of cyber threat coming against it. This also allows us to integrate into an actual comm exercise a little bit easier.”

Throughout the scheduled range time, members of the 229th COS members monitored the range and provided support to the participants. This training environment helps cyber operators develop some of the hands-on skills they will need as members of MDT and Cyber Protection Teams.

“To give a little background information on the 229th COS, our primary mission since 2003 has been training members of the Total Force,” said Senior Master Sgt. Mark Huntington, 229th COS cyber warfare operations flight chief. “Since our inception, we have offered several informational and cyberspace operations courses, many of which have been pre-requisites for…