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DISA Participates in Annual Exercise Focused on Cyber Operations and Defense

A team of personnel from the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) participated in the U.S. Cyber Command-sponsored joint exercise Cyber Flag 14-1, which took place at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Nov. 1-8.  

The exercise, which was first conducted in 2011, combined operational command and control (C2) and tactically focused training in a virtual environment. Cyber Flag set the conditions for force-on-force maneuvers against a realistic enemy — fusing attack and defense across the full spectrum of operations. 

“Cyber Flag 14 provided an opportunity for DISA to demonstrate capabilities as an enterprise service provider and a leader in operating and defending DoD Information Networks within a Joint Information Environment (JIE),” said Marine Maj Leonard J. Le Vine, chief of the Exercises Branch at DISA Europe.

The agency conducted two exercises, DISA Mini Flag 1 and DISA Mini Flag 2, in preparation for Cyber Flag. Objectives included:

  • Validating current operational capabilities and ensuring mission effectiveness in the tactical execution of DoD Information Networks (DoDIN) and Defensive Cyber Operations (DCO).  
  • Exercising  the operational framework and C2 construct for Enterprise Operations Centers (EOC), which are a major component of the JIE. 

Army COL Richard B. Price, commander of DISA Europe, said the Mini Flag exercises enabled the agency to assess capabilities and implement immediate improvements.

“During Mini Flag 1 [held in July], it became evident that we needed to further define command relationships; tactics, techniques, and procedures; C2 lines of authority, and reporting responsibilities,” he said. “By the time Mini Flag 2 took place in September, we had implemented new processes and procedures to more effectively align support relationships, information flow, roles, and responsibilities.”

Lessons learned from the Mini Flag exercises are have been leveraged by the Europe EOC to improve operational readiness.  In addition, the Mini Flag assessment report, which was prepared by the Joint Interoperability Test Command, is serving as a basis for revising the JIE concept of operations.

The DISA team integrated the Enterprise Operations Center into Cyber Flag 14 with the goal of advancing tactical, individual, and collective skill sets through realistic and relevant training. The EOC played a significant role in the exercise.

“The Cyber Flag exercise provided a very realistic training environment,” said Air Force Maj Gabrielle Bryant-Butler, lead planner for joint plans and exercises in DISA’s Operations Directorate. “DISA’s participation provided an unparalleled opportunity for the individuals who operate and defend the DoDIN to hone their skills.”

The DISA team also used the exercise to validate tactics, techniques, and procedures for the JIE, cyber C2, operational processes, coordination, and reporting.

“The DISA team conducted a lot of preparation activities and build up with our supported combatant commands and mission partners,” said Levine. “We had the right engagement at all levels to ensure our cyber forces were mission ready and our DoD networks were effective, defendable, and efficient.”

Cyber Flag 14-1 participants analyze an exercise scenario in the Red Flag building Nov. 5 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.  
Cyber Flag 14-1 participants analyze an exercise scenario in the Red Flag building Nov. 5 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.



Posted November 15, 2013