FORT McCOY, Wisconsin – Exercise Patriot Warrior fostered the close relationship among Army and Air Force communication elements, as members of both services integrated to test out their capabilities, marking the first time that the two entities have ever partnered in a cyber combat support training exercise Wednesday at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.
The exercise provided Airmen and Soldiers with opportunities to integrate cyber skills in highly challenging environments in order to ensure success in future missions.
“We have to stay ready at all times to defend our networks at home and abroad,” said Senior Airman Christopher Hillen, 911 CS Cyber Defense Team operator. “This exercise is so important, once we get deployed and experience different situations we’re going to lean on the training we received here and apply it to real-world situations.”
One part of Patriot Warrior enabled Air Force and Army personnel to interact and train together in realistic scenarios providing both services with a unique perspective on the exercise and future missions.
“These scenarios provide our Soldiers and also the Airmen with a very realistic outlook on what both entities could expect in the real world,” said Major Robert Bell 261st Theater Tactical Signal Brigade operations and plans officer. “Everyone learns great lessons in trainings like this, it develops different skills that each other has learned and also builds confidence in our Airmen and Soldiers.
Patriot Warrior is an exercise comprised of joint forces from around the country to showcase deployment capabilities and was hosted at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. The exercise hosted Army, Navy and Air Force personnel from 22 different bases.
“Working with other services is an invaluable experience for our Airmen and their development as cyber operators,” said Maj. Bennett Reid, 911 CS director of operations. “With this being the first time that we’ve integrated with the Army in a cyber combat support training exercise, it allowed us to see areas in which we aren’t as strong and fix the issue as team. We got to work with a network we’d never seen before and we had to learn how to get plugged into our weapon system which we had to learn but it helped us understand how to operate other networks outside of our comfort zone.”
Exercises like Patriot Warrior provide critical contingency oriented skills for all members who participate, but there is also a bigger picture in mind for some.
“The way the fight is won nowadays is through cyberspace,” said Tech Sgt. Christian Coleman, a reserve Citizen-Airman from the 911th Communications Squadron cyberspace operations controller and member of the Cyber Mission Defense Team. “All branches continue to evolve as the battlefield changes and now the World Wide Web is where we have to maintain dominance.”
In order to remain a dominant force, Airmen must remain steadfast in their pursuit of learning. Since the battlefield has evolved, so to have our reserve Citizen-Airmen and their counterparts.