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NZDF cyber capability tested in US military exercise

New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel have taken part in a United States-led exercise to develop military cyber capability to defend against today’s online threats.

20 September, 2023

Exercise Cyber Flag is a bi-annual US Cyber Command exercise designed to build capability to conduct Defensive Cyber Operations outside of standard IT networks. It also provides an opportunity to develop, assess and validate skills in a multinational environment.

The NZDF contributed to the exercise alongside other New Zealand government agencies both in the US State of Virginia, and remotely. There were two Cyber Protection Teams made up of Regular Force, Reserve Force, and civilian personnel.

One team was made up of operators from the Royal New Zealand Air Force, the Royal New Zealand Navy, and NZDF civilians from the Defence Cyber Service Centre. The second team consisted of NZ Army personnel and Special Forces. There were also personnel acting as opposing forces simulating attacks and exploitation.

Jared Licht, NZDF Chief Information Security Officer, said Cyber Flag was critical in continuing the development of NZDF’s cyber capability.

This multinational tactical exercise is designed to enhance the capabilities needed to conduct defensive cyber operations. It provided an opportunity to improve interoperability by giving us a valuable opportunity to collaborate with partners, and then test their skills against opposing cyber forces.”

Lieutenant Riordan Morrell said it was a beneficial training experience.

“The team did extremely well, keeping critical protected systems up and running in the face of an advanced threat.

Success in the exercise was serious testament to the qualities and training of non-commissioned officers and junior soldiers, he said.