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Scott Cyber Mission Defense Team supports Red Flag exercise

Team members monitor critical systems looking for indicators of aggressors preparing to impact friendly ops during Exercise Red Flag 18-1. The Mission Defense Team from Scott worked closely with 24th Air Force and Air Operations Center teams to deliver Command and Control capabilities to the commander.
Team members monitor critical systems looking for indicators of aggressors preparing to impact friendly ops during Exercise Red Flag 18-1. The Mission Defense Team from Scott worked closely with 24th Air Force and Air Operations Center teams to deliver Command and Control capabilities to the commander.

A Cyber Mission Defense Team assigned to Scott Air Force Base spent three weeks at Exercise Red Flag 18-1 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, building the skills necessary to defend an Air Operations Center.

Red Flag exercises allow for operational and tactical command and control, air-to-air, air-to-ground, air mobility, combat search and recovery, intelligence, cyber, space, and electronic warfare capabilities to plan, brief, execute, and debrief together contested, degraded, and operationally limited advanced training environment on the Nellis Test and Training Range prior to arriving in a combat zone.

In my experience with previous Red Flag scenarios, there was a critical piece missing in defensive cyber operations, and the 375th’s Mission Defense Team filled that gap effectively.

Capt. Imad Mohammadi, a 24th Air Force cyber weapons officer

For this exercise, personnel at the Combined Air Operations Center-Nellis provided advanced operational-level command and control of the simulated combat operations. And, as with any Air Operations Center, the success of its mission was highly dependent upon multiple computer and radio networks.

Due to the nature of information in the AOC, these networks required added protection. The 375th Communications Group’s Mission Defense Team stepped up to the plate and prevented numerous cyber-attacks from interfering with these critical networks.

“In my experience with previous Red Flag scenarios, there was a critical piece missing in defensive cyber operations, and the 375th’s Mission Defense Team filled that gap effectively,” said Capt. Imad Mohammadi, a 24th Air Force cyber weapons officer.

When they returned to Scott AFB, the Mission Defense Team continued work toward full operational capability certification. The experience they gained at Red Flag 18-1 will be used as they work with mission owners across the installation to identify the areas of greatest risk and generate defensive measures to reduce that risk to operations.

These skillsets were thoroughly tested at Red Flag, and played a very specific role in defending the network, he added.

“MDTs understand how operations are conducted, what processes are required, why they exist and how they are used,” Mohammadi said.

“Once all relevant details are documented, the team shapes how cyber defenders prevent adversaries from impacting the air mission.”

Mohammadi said the team’s ability to rapidly integrate with U.S. and coalition forces was key to training forces across the spectrum of warfighting operations.

For instance, in the final week, the MDT was tested on their overall defensive effort during a cyber attack during a “Base X” scenario. Second Lt. Jared Schlak successfully led his team of U.S. Air Force, Royal Air Force, and Royal Australian Air Force assets against advanced adversary tactics—a defensive concept previously approved at an Air Force Space Command Weapons and Tactics conference. The team frustrated “aggressor” team actors and ensured the day’s air mission was successful, which earned them recognition.

MDTs understand how operations are conducted, what processes are required, why they exist and how they are used. Once all relevant details are documented, the team shapes how cyber defenders prevent adversaries from impacting the air mission.

Capt. Imad Mohammadi, a 24th Air Force cyber weapons officer

In addition to the lieutenant’s team recognition, Senior Airmen Matthew Evans, Devon Overstreet and Christopher Povlich were selected as Superior Performers, identifying them as the top five percent across all exercise participants.

When they returned to Scott AFB, the Mission Defense Team continued work toward full operational capability certification. The experience they gained at Red Flag will be used as they work with mission owners across the installation to identify the areas of greatest risk and generate defensive measures to reduce that risk to operations.

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