AUSTIN, TX– The Texas National Guard and the Chilean Army met Aug. 28-30, 2023 for a joint cyber security exercise in Santiago, Chile as part of the State Partnership Program (SPP), to exchange ideas, train to defend against cyber threats, and discuss the importance of the growing a cyber-defense program in the military.
Col. Christopher Howell, chief of the Cyber Operations Branch, Joint Force Headquarters, Texas Military Department, said that the exchange of knowledge is a valuable tool for improving cyber security in both countries.
“We want them [Chile] to further understand how Chile’s cyber operations and organizational capabilities employ tactical responses at a military level. Also, we discussed the communications within their country,” Howell said.
As cyber threats become more common, it is crucial to support the relationship amongst both countries and strengthen the bonds between military and their civilian counterparts, Howell said.
1st Lt. Jose Pantoja, with the Chilean Navy, said that these long-term partnerships are critical for international security for the future.
“I think keeping this relationship between Chile and Texas is fundamental to develop our capacities and our apprenticeships to improve our defenses. With this experience, the Texas National Guard shares with us their knowledge and training for maintaining our systems. We are also learning how they coordinate with their citizens,” said Pantoja.
The exercise included a simulated cyber-attack on a Chilean government website. Partners from both countries worked together to overcome challenges and address vulnerabilities brought to light during the exercise.
Sgt. Maj. Darla Wright, senior non-commissioned officer for the Cyber Operations Branch, Texas Military Department, said building junior soldiers’ knowledge is beneficial to both the military and the individuals.
“We wanted to share the different aspects that have been key to retain and recruit cyber personnel within the organization, and that is making every person understand their contribution and their effort is recognized and this will create growth within the cyber-intelligence field now and for the future,” Wright said.
The Texas National Guard leaders also discussed the importance of rewarding hard work, developing individuals’ skills, and allowing each member the opportunity to advance within the Chilean Army.
“Often the best recruiter is the person who is already doing that job. They have those skill sets, so the different things that we can help is to interview the talent within and train Soldiers to become instructors, “ Wright said.
The Texas National Guard and the Chilean Army will continue to work together to share information, develop personnel, and respond to cyber threats and guidance for the future.