Guard Spotlight: North Carolina

Preparing Cyber Warriors for State and National Duty

A Soldier updates computers at the NCNG's Joint Force Headquarters in Raleigh. NCNG is Always Ready against any threat, including cyber attacks. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Robert Jordan)

A Soldier updates computers at the NCNG's Joint Force Headquarters in Raleigh. NCNG is Always Ready against any threat, including cyber attacks. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Robert Jordan)

What do major online and storefront retail giants, Federal and State Government agencies, and national banks/financial institutions have in common?

They all have suffered malicious cyber attacks over the past several years. Cyber intrusions and attacks expose sensitive personal and business information and disrupt essential operations, negatively affecting business and the economy.

Unlike many Government programs, cyber defense is growing in its budget and personnel. The North Carolina National Guard (NCNG) is poised to support the National Guard Bureau and its intent to stand up multiple Cyber Protection Teams (CPT) for U.S. Cyber Command’s Cyber Mission Forces.

Over the past five years, NCNG has built an impressive group of information technology (IT) professionals who make up its Joint Cyber Defense Team. The majority of the team also work as IT specialists in a wide range of state, national, and international industries and corporations.

“A distinct characteristic of North Carolina Guard’s cyber team is its deep bench of experienced industry professionals,” said Captain Robert Felicio, a 15-year cyber defense expert and NCNG cyber team member.

“North Carolina’s robust financial sector in Charlotte, our university system’s research and development programs, and Raleigh-Durham’s Research Triangle Park with its cutting-edge biomedical, engineering, software, data systems, and networking firms, breeds a quality of IT professional rarely seen in other locations in the U.S.,” Felicio said. “We regularly recruit from, train, and collaborate with this remarkable local talent pool.”

The results of this local talent pool are evident in the team’s exceptional performance in recent cyber training events.

NCNG’s Joint Cyber Defense Team, along with 300 Soldiers, Airmen and civilians from 35 States and Territories, participated in Cyber Shield this spring. The exercise was designed to challenge teams with real-world scenarios where their networks were maliciously attacked again and again.

In July, the team participated in U.S. Cyber Command’s Cyber Guard exercise at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Cyber Guard was the largest exercise of its kind, comprised of international partners, Active Duty, National Guard, Reserves, National Security Agency, and U.S. Cyber Command teams who performed their cyber missions in support of the Department of Homeland Security and FBI.

The scenarios revolved around response to foreign-based attacks on Government and privately owned critical infrastructure networks while promoting collaboration and information sharing across all levels of Government. In both exercises, evaluators ranked the North Carolina Guard in the top tier of participating teams.

The same way governors may call their Guard force to respond to natural disasters, National Guard cyber teams will stand ready to answer the call for a cyber emergency. Teams will support Federal, State, and critical infrastructure networks by providing proactive network security assessments, and if necessary, by actively protecting those networks when requested during a time of emergency.

“The Joint Cyber Defense Team assembled in the NCNG is a highly trained, dedicated and motivated group of quiet professionals,” said Maj. Gen. Greg Lusk, adjutant general of North Carolina. “They protect and defend our information networks and communications systems across the State, every hour of every day, and stand ready to assist other State and Federal agencies, and others that are part of our critical infrastructure.”

Recently, NCNG’s cyber team supported the National Democratic Convention in Charlotte and the January 2013 Presidential Inauguration. The team also has travelled to Moldova and Romania on several occasions providing network security information sharing with former eastern-bloc countries as part of European Command’s efforts to increase cybersecurity awareness with these potential partners.

If you have what it takes to be a cyber warrior, visit our jobs board today and contact a recruiter.

Original article by Lt. Col. Matthew Devivo, North Carolina National Guard, appeared in the news section of NationalGuard.mil.

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Guard Snapshot: Denver, Colorado

Volunteering in the kitchen makes for better cooks and a chance to help others.

SGT Robinson and 1LT Merrick prepare beef hamburger patties at the Denver Fisher House. Colorado Army National Guardsmen of the 193rd Military Police Battalion’s food service section prepare dinner for guests of the Fisher House once a month. The volunteer effort is part of an ongoing initiative for the Colorado Guardsmen to further develop their culinary skills while saving money and providing healthful meals.
SGT Robinson and 1LT Merrick prepare beef hamburger patties at the Denver Fisher House. Colorado Army National Guardsmen of the 193rd Military Police Battalion’s food service section prepare dinner for guests of the Fisher House once a month. The volunteer effort is part of an ongoing initiative for the Colorado Guardsmen to further develop their culinary skills while saving money and providing healthful meals.

For some, cooking is a means to an end, but for a select group of Colorado Army National Guard members, it’s a recipe of unqualified love.

“My joy is in watching others eat,” said Sergeant Joel Robinson as he began preparing the kitchen countertop at the Denver Fisher House.

Fisher Houses provide a home-away-from-home for military families, allowing them to remain close to their loved ones during hospitalization for an illness, disease, or injury. And just like home, guests normally prepare their own meals – but not at this Fisher House.

On the menu on a recent summer night: An all-American barbecue, complete with pulled-pork sandwiches, grilled burgers, corn on the cob, pork and beans, and all the fixings.

Sergeant Anthony Patterson began cooking his signature pulled pork at his house the day before arriving here.

“Pork shoulder. Bone in. Just a slow simmer before it falls off the bone,” he said of his process that began 10 hours prior.

“We only get a chance to cook at drill twice a month,” said Captain Mark Tommell while slicing a hearty, crimson tomato. “By doing this, we train more often and get the opportunity to volunteer.”

CPT Tommell, the 193rd Military Police Battalion adjutant, has led multiple efforts to improve both the morale and the cuisine of the Soldiers in his charge. As the commander for Company E, 2-135th General Support Aviation Battalion in 2011, CPT Tommell recruited Chef Ronald Lavallee from Johnson & Wales University in Denver to further develop his cooks’ culinary skills. Not only did the ongoing effort provide decadent and healthful cuisine for all the members of his battalion, it also lowered the cost of contract meals by nearly 70 percent.

In addition to cost savings, CPT Tommell said he encourages creativity when designing meals to be served on drill weekend.

“It’s very common for units to order ‘heat ‘n’ serve’ food or cook bland Army recipes. It’s safe to say that no commander, food service officer, or Army food service specialist would ever prepare an Army recipe at their house,” he said. “We’re continuing this training at Johnson & Wales, cooking at the Fisher House, and preparing creative menus that focus on a variety of cooking methods.”

“I like ’em thick,” said 1LT Mackenzie Merrick as she mashed 2 ½ pounds of ground beef into dense patties for grilling.

SGT Robinson prefers his burgers just a little thinner, and made his assigned portions so, adding green chilies to the raw meat for a savory effect on the grill.

CPT Tommell said his intent is for everyone in the 193rd’s food service section to help prepare a meal at the Fisher House at least twice. With the initiative in full motion, he hopes to engage enough volunteers in the unit to keep the program going after he moves on to his next assignment.

“Captain Tommell has a great passion for supporting our troops, along with rallying other Soldiers to help with this cause,” said Army Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Martinez, the 193rd’s battalion commander.  “I’m very proud I belong to a team of Colorado Guardsmen and veterans who want to give back to their own brethren.”

“Milk in the corn, makes it juicy and brings out the sweetness,” SGT Robinson said as he added a cup of creamy liquid to the pot of vegetables steaming on the stove.

“… Then debone and shred, add some barbecue sauce,” SGT Patterson said as he tore his main dish into bite-sized morsels for the dozen or so Fisher House guests. “Adding some of the original juices back in also helps keep the meat moist and retains its original flavor.”

For the completely self-funded initiative, the 193rd Soldiers also use their own time when it comes to preparing the guests’ meals.

“One of the missions of the Colorado National Guard is to serve our community and help our neighbors when they’re in need, and by cooking dinner for our fellow veterans and their family members while they’re staying at the Fisher House, we’re doing just that,” CPT Tommell said.

If you enjoy serving your community in its time of need, a career in the Army National Guard might be the right choice for you. Visit our jobs board and contact a recruiter today.

Original story and photo by 2LT Cheresa D. Theiral, Colorado National Guard Public Affairs, appeared in the news section of co.ng.mil/.

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Guard Snapshot: Virginia

Fake Quake Tests Guard’s Medical Evacuation Skills for State Disaster Relief Missions

Virginia Army National Guard aviators provide aviation support during a National Disaster Medical System Full Scale Exercise held June 7, 2014, at the Chesterfield County (Virginia) Airport. —Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti

Virginia Army National Guard aviators provide aviation support during a National Disaster Medical System Full Scale Exercise held June 7, 2014, at the Chesterfield County (Virginia) Airport. —Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti

Virginia Army National Guard flight crews from the Chesterfield-based Detachment 2, Company G, 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment provided medical evacuation support to a National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) full-scale exercise at the Chesterfield County Airport during their two-week annual training. The exercise included about 150 participants from more than 20 local, Federal, and State agencies.

“The NDMS exercise was a great opportunity to work with local agencies and exercise how we fall in on and support those agencies,” said Capt. J. Erin Jones, commander of the unit. “The NDMS exercise was also the first opportunity we have had to practice a patient transfer with the medical equipment configured on the aircraft and the medics providing en route medical care.”

The NDMS, a federally coordinated system, aims to create an integrated national medical response capability to assist State and local authorities in handling the medical impacts of a major peacetime disaster. NDMS identifies sites across the Nation where patients impacted by a major disaster can be transported in order to alleviate the strain on hospitals and medical facilities in the impacted area.

The Chesterfield County Airport is designated as a patient receiving site, and the county is responsible for having plans and procedures in place that outline the roles and responsibilities associated with the activation of the NDMS. A full-scale exercise is required to be conducted once every three years.

The scenario for this year’s exercise involved an earthquake affecting the Memphis, Tenn., area, with casualties from that incident requiring transport to medical facilities outside of the impacted area. In the scenario, two C-130 airplanes arrived with 50 patients each, all requiring medical attention. The majority of the “patients,” played by actors from various organizations, were transported via ambulance to local hospitals, but two “patients,” played by Soldiers of the 135th, were transferred to Charlottesville via HH-60 Black Hawk helicopters where they, along with two flight medics, traveled via ambulance to the medical center at the University of Virginia.

“From the beginning, my goal as commander has been for each of my Soldiers to be exceptionally proud to be a part of this unit and the unit’s mission,” Jones said. “I thought that if we could accomplish that, then everything else would naturally follow and the unit would be the best it could possibly be.” Along the way, the flight medics reacted to the mock injuries of the patients, monitoring their vitals and providing updates to the flight crews along the way.

“As a Guard unit, we must train for both our deployment mission and for state disaster-relief missions,” Jones said.

The opportunity to participate in the exercise allowed the Soldiers to experience working with multiple agencies and allowed them to solidify procedures for patient transport to the University of Virginia hospital.

“The NDMS exercise allowed our unit to demonstrate our capabilities and mission to a broad range of agencies at both the State and Federal level,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Shane Leipertz, one of the standardization pilots for the Virginia Guard and a member of the medevac detachment. “The exercise also allowed us to exercise our MEDEVAC plan for the use of the University of Virginia Medical Center furthering our Virginia Guard aviation medical air evacuation readiness.”

“It was an ideal partnership,” said Michelle Oblinsky, deputy coordinator of emergency management for Chesterfield County and exercise director, of working with the medevac detachment. “They’re fantastic to work with.”

During the unit’s two-week annual training, it also conducted live hoist training for the first time, worked with students at Fort Lee on medical evacuation techniques, trained with Soldiers from the U.S. Army Reserve at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach, and participated in an exercise with the Virginia Guard’s Chesterfield-based Detachment 1, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 151st Aviation Regiment and Chesterfield fire and rescue teams.

“Annual Training 2014 was purposeful and relevant,” Leipertz said. “We tested the unit and the unit performed. Superior performance is not something that comes easy – it’s deliberate, very deliberate. Job well done by all.

If you have what it takes to perform under pressure, visit the National Guard’s jobs board and contact a recruiter today.

Original article by Virginia National Guard SSG Terra C. Gatti appeared in the news section of arng.army.mil last month.

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