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16th Air Force Represents United States During NATO Cyber Defense Exercise

  • Published
  • By Rachel Kibbe Williams
  • 16th Air Force (Air Forces Cyber)
16th Air Force was lead representative for the United States for participation in the NATO-hosted Cyber Coalition 2022 exercise, conducted Nov. 28 through Dec. 2, 2022, in Tallinn, Estonia.

Candace Sanchez, 16th Air Force senior joint cyber exercise planner, said, “The host nation, Estonia, provided a great venue for the exercise. Their support and care of the larger exercise team went beyond anyone's expectations.”

Cyber Coalition brought together NATO allies from across the globe in the cyber domain with the goal of strengthening cyber capabilities, achieving informational unity, and building cyber resilience.

“Coalition exercises offer a great and safe environment to establish and mature relationships with allies and partners, build and maintain trust, and assess each other's capabilities. Cyber Coalition 2022 presented opportunities for 16th Air Force to work closely with NATO and key allies and partners to share and integrate cyber security tactics, techniques, and procedures,” said Sanchez.

Allies work to share information, test new capabilities and practice cyber defense during simulated attack scenarios on NATO and national networks. Cyber scenarios include hacking, disrupting and ransomware attacks.

“The exercise provided opportunities for the team to engage with allies and partners at both the tactical and operational levels, which is something many 16th Air Force personnel have not had a chance to experience,” said Sanchez. “Through those interactions and collaboration efforts, not only did we gain insights into other nations' cyber security postures, but we also were able to share how 16th Air Force manages and reports incident responses and tackles cyber security.”

This year, 16th Air Force led the Air Component Command and brought operational leadership with knowledge of cyber tactics and defensive cyber expertise to global partners and allies during the exercise.

“As the senior U.S. representative at this critically important NATO exercise, the experience was enlightening and the collaboration encouraging. Along with our allies and partners, we are operating in the information environment on a daily basis to counter malicious cyber actors and exercises like this one allow nations to share knowledge, refine tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) and cultivate vital relationships,” said Brig. Gen. Jeff Hill, Mobilization Assistant to 16th Air Force Commander.

“Working with our Allies and partners to defend against malicious cyber operations in and through the information environment better prepares us for the high end fight of the future,” Hill said.

Plans are already being developed for the next iteration.
“As we prepare to host one of the Cyber Coalition 2023 planning conferences in May 2023 we will leverage Estonia's example,” Sanchez said.
Headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, 16th Air Force focuses on information warfare in the modern age.  Information Warfare requires integrating: Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance; Cyber Warfare; Electromagnetic Warfare; Weather; Public Affairs; and Information Operations capabilities. 16th Air Force ensures that our Air Force and Nation are fast, resilient, and fully integrated in competition, crisis, and conflict by incorporating Information Warfare at operational and tactical levels, capitalizing on the value of information by leading the charge for uniquely-21st century challenges in the highly dynamic, seamless, and global information domain.