Military News

Monday, April 20, 2015

688th Innovates Cyber Training with Wing-wide Tournament

by 1st Lt. Carly A. Costello
688th CW Public Affairs


4/20/2015 - Joint Base San Antonio, Texas  -- The 688th Cyberspace Wing held its first CyberDome Tournament March 4-5 at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas.

The CyberDome consisted of hands-on cyber challenges intended to enhance Cyber Mission Force tactical skill sets for 688th Cyberspace Wing cyber operators, according to Robert Kaufman, 318th Cyberspace Operations Group deputy director.

The 39th Information Operations Squadron out of Hurlburt Field, Florida, led the event with the help of the 318th COG and the 90th Information Operations Squadron out of San Antonio.

"We hosted the CyberDome and provided access to the event," said Peter Dunn, 39th IOS Senior Mission and Student Training Systems manager. "[We also provided] support for the participants and guided the participants through the event."

Eleven units from the wing participated in the tournament, including a wing staff team comprised of Col. Michael Harasimowicz, 688th Cyberspace Wing commander, and Col. Chad LeMaire, 688th Cyberspace Wing vice commander.

"CyberDome was a chance to show our street creds," Harasimowicz said about his team. "It is important for me to demonstrate my commitment to cyber operations. The bottom line is I want the entire wing to know from the top down that I have an expectation that we are all operationally aware, relevant and ready."

The 92d Information Operations Squadron took first place, with the 39th IOS in second and the 688th Cyberspace Wing Leadership Team in seventh place.

"I thought it was a well-orchestrated event," said Tech Sgt. Dal Whelpley, 92d IOS team member. "[We learned] additional tactics, techniques and procedures from each member of our team. Each one of us brought different ideas to the table and it worked out magnificently. Our tenacious attitude for winning combined with our technical expertise in various specialized areas contributed to our victory."

The idea for a wing-wide cyber competition started last July at a strategic planning meeting, according to Harasimowicz.

"I listed 10 difficult events [and] programs to pull off in the next year," he said. "This specific effort was to innovate new ways for training, developing and competing with small unit tactics. I initiated a similar effort as squadron commander of the 33d Information Operations Squadron in order to bring different parts of the squadron together. I observed this type of competition in other parts of our Air Force. This recipe is proven [as] competition hones competency."

With the 688th Cyberspace Wing having several geographically separated units, the event helped bring several of these units together and fostered learning through a competition environment. And those involved saw it as a great success.

"The event was awesome," Harasimowicz said. "My goal was to bring the distant parts of our wing together in one unified effort. We have been building great synergy across the 38th Cyberspace Engineering Installation Group and the 318th Cyberspace Operations Group, and this proved that we are a team determined to improve ourselves and the Air Force every day."

"I thought it turned out great," said James Hird, 90th Information Operations Cyber Modeling and Simulation Flight chief. "The competitors learned a lot, especially from each other during the debrief as they dissected what worked and what didn't.  What stood out for me was the incredible level of experience and expertise in the facility. This was a grouping of some of the most advanced cyber warriors in the Air Force and the entire Department of Defense. It was a great team effort involving officers, enlisted, civilians and contractors coming together quickly to pull off a successful competition."

Units at the 688th Cyberspace Wing will hold more of these events in the future, and wing leadership plans to be a part of future tournaments.

"I want everyone in the wing to recognize that our leadership team is committed to staying relevant in the cyber fight," Harasimowicz said. "Between me, Col. LeMaire, the wing and Numbered Air Force executive officers, we fought hard and had a gallant finish. More importantly, I was really proud of all the teams. There were healthy rivalries at every level of competition. Hopefully next time, we can involve more people.  I want to express my sincere thanks to all involved in putting the plan into action, especially Rob Kaufman who was the visionary and motivator behind all of this innovation."

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