Civil Air Patrol trains tomorrow’s cyber defenders

2d Lt Shane Turner, CAP, instructs the cadets at the 2016 VAWG Cyber Camp.

2d Lt Shane Turner, CAP, instructs the cadets at the 2016 VAWG Cyber Camp.

CHESTERFIELD, Virginia – Over 60 Civil Air Patrol (CAP) cadets participated in Virginia Wing’s second annual Cyber Camp held at Virginia Wing Headquarters on July 29th-31st, 2016.

Cadets with varying levels of knowledge participated in the weekend camp that focused on many topics including networks, operating systems, workstation fundamentals, server configurations, security, forensics, and mitigation of threats. Many cadets will continue to train and test their skills by competing in the CyberPatriot program sponsored by the Air Force Association.

Cybersecurity training is a new activity area for CAP and is already seeing significant interest by cadets. In only its third year, cadet applicants for cyber NCSAs had the third most applicants behind the Blue Beret and Hawk Mountain NCSAs. This year’s Virginia Wing camp saw a growth of over 50% over last year’s camp. Lt Col Sydow expects to see similar growth as this program is expanded throughout the Middle East Region over the next year.

Several cadets attending the camp arrived with no prior cyberrelated background. Cadet Airman Nathaniel Chichester shared that he chose to join the Civil Air Patrol after hearing about the Winchester Composite Squadron’s participation in the CyberPatriot competition over Thanksgiving dinner. When considering the topics covered in the camp, Cadet Chichester thought learning Linux was the most valuable learning experience he had over the weekend.

Twenty CAP adult members also supported the camp. With varying occupational backgrounds, they provided subject matter expertise on the topics presented adding value to the camp’s experience. Second Lieutenant Noel Morrison celebrated his one year anniversary of membership in CAP while attending the camp. He too, like Cadet Chichester, attributed the local squadron’s CyberPatriot participation as a major factor in joining CAP. “Taking initiative, and pursuing what you love about cyber security is the biggest driver to one’s success in the IT world,” 2d. Lt. Morrison shared with the group.

2d Lt Noel Morrison, CAP, engages cadets at the 2016 VAWG Cyber Camp

2d Lt Noel Morrison, CAP, engages cadets at the 2016 VAWG Cyber Camp

CAP members from West Virginia, National Capital, North Carolina, and South Carolina wings came to the camp and provided subject matter expertise. Many of them brought their experiences from having participated in the National Cadet Special Activities (NCSA) sponsored by CAP’s Cyber Defense Training Academy (CDTA). “We hope to run many of these camps throughout the Middle East Region in the next year,” Lt.Col. Bill Sydow, the Camp Director, commented. “This camp will be a model for cadet cyber training throughout the Civil Air Patrol.”

A highlight of the weekend was a presentation by 2d. Lt. Dan Olsher, a member of Andrews Composite Squadron. Second Lieutenant talk addressed the importance of cybersecurity training. He shared, “I was inspired by the cadets’ intense dedication to their craft, desire to learn, and self taught past experience; clearly, many of them are determined to put cyber to good use in their communities and in serving their country. By providing practice, guidance and a means toward certification, CAP’s Cyber Program is shaping up to be a key element on that path.”

Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force, which consists of regular Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, along with Air Force retired military and civilian employees. CAP, in its Total Force role, operates a fleet of 550 aircraft and performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 78 lives annually. Civil Air Patrol’s 56,000 members nationwide also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. Its members additionally play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 24,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet program. Performing missions for America for the past 75 years, CAP received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014 in honor of the heroic efforts of its World War II veterans. CAP also participates in Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans. Visit www.capvolunteernow.com for more information.

CONTACT: Captain Jacob Bixler, CAP, jacob.bixler at vawg.cap.gov

Additional photos can be viewed at Flickr, click here.

Lt Col Bill Sydow, CAP, addresses the cadets at the 2016 VAWG Cyber Camp

Lt Col Bill Sydow, CAP, addresses the cadets at the 2016 VAWG Cyber Camp

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