CAP Cadets Trained on Cybersecurity by Air Force Airmen
Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes
70th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing Wing Public Affairs
U.S. Air Force
Note: Some last names are omitted for security reasons.
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. -- Cyber is the frontier of the future, and when it comes to our future, we must think of who will replace us. Who will carry on and create better and faster ways of doing things? The Airmen of the 7th Intelligence Squadron are working to answer that question by reaching out to their local Civil Air Patrol Squadron.
For the second year in a row, CAP cadets were able to meet with Airmen from the 7th IS for a National Cyber Training Camp. More than 70 high school level cadets and nine 7th IS cyber warriors were in attendance.
“The Cyber Defense Training Academy began in 2014 in San Antonio, Texas, sponsored by the 33rd Network Warfare Squadron,” said Capt. Andrew, 7th IS course director, Cyberspace Familiarization Course.
Led by Lt. Col. Jacob Stauffer, former head of the forensics lab at the 33rd Network Warfare Squadron and the Lackland CAP squadron commander, members of the 33rd NWS and CAP built a five-day curriculum spanning topics including networking, operating systems concepts, Windows and Linux.
In subsequent years, an advanced and networking track were added to the program, the captain said. Then, in 2017, the academy was expanded to two additional campuses in Maryland and New Mexico.
With three states in the mix, more opportunities will be on the horizon for cadets around the United States, and for those in the Mid-East Region, cybersecurity education is at the forefront and is full-steam ahead.
“Our first plan is to continue building a joint relationship with the Washington D.C. Youth Challenge Academy to foster cybersecurity education,” said retired Lt. Col. William Sydow, director of Cyber Programs, CAP Middle East Region. “Over the next year, we'll help the Academy participate in the Air Force Association-run CyberPatriot Computer Network Defense Competition, a national competition open to all high school students.”
“CAP was the first player in AFA's CyberPatriot nine years ago (at the AFA Symposium), and the organization has continued to field many teams each year as participation has grown to include JROTC and high schools,” said Andrew.
The CDTA academy is yet another piece of CAP's commitment to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. The academy currently boasts nearly 500 graduates across almost every state in the nation, Andrew said. Graduates often return home to field CyberPatriot teams and go on to pursue careers in cybersecurity, both in the private sector and public service.
Cyber is CAP’s primary focus when it comes to education.
“As we grow, there may be opportunities to add cyber to our operational Emergency Services and Disaster Response mission,” Andrew said.
In the early years of the program, there were only 50 students in the Cyber Fundamentals Course. Today, there are 64 cadets. Within the CFC, there were two separate courses added, the Cyber Advanced Course and a Cyber Networking Course.
It may seem pretty hectic to run a cyber-learning program with teenagers, but the cyber Airmen helping these cadets seem to think otherwise.
“Being able to take high-school-aged students, some who have a little cyber background and many who'd never touched Linux prior to the activity, and walk them through nearly 400 pages of curriculum, leaves me with a sense of accomplishment each year,” Andrew said.
At the end of the training, cadets are given an exercise to show off what they learned during the week. Presented with the tasks of removing adversaries from networks or overcoming security challenges, the cadets proved they could be the future of the Air Force, he said.
“Because of the large footprint of adult participation the program, CAP has been able to increase their training programs,” Sydow said. With the help of the 70th ISRW Airmen, they have been given an opportunity to grow and learn at an even larger caliber, he said.