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Saturday, 05 December 2020 06:24

Australia signs US deal for joint development of cyber training range Featured

US Navy Lieutenant-Commander Mike Tomsik and Australian Army Colonel Hamish Ashman watch as Major-General Marcus Thompson signs the cyber training agreement in Russell, Australia, on 3 November. US Navy Lieutenant-Commander Mike Tomsik and Australian Army Colonel Hamish Ashman watch as Major-General Marcus Thompson signs the cyber training agreement in Russell, Australia, on 3 November. Courtesy US Cyber Command

The United States and Australia have signed a deal to continuously develop a virtual cyber training range, with the agreement initialled on 3 November and announced on Friday.

The Cyber Training Capabilities Project Arrangement will allow the US Cyber Command to include feedback from the Australian Defence Force into the training domain known as the Persistent Cyber Training Environment.

A statement issued by Cybercom said the training platform could simulate real-world defensive missions across national boundaries and networks.

"This project arrangement is a milestone for US-Australian co-operation," Elizabeth Wilson, the US signatory and deputy assistant secretary of the Army for defence exports and co-operation, said.

"It is the first cyber-only arrangement established between the US Army and an allied nation, which highlights the value of Australia's partnership in the simulated training domain.

"To counter known and potential adversarial threats, the army has recalibrated our strategic thinking; we've made smart decisions to refocus our efforts to invest in the new, emerging and smart technologies that will strengthen our ability to fight and win our nation's wars."

The Cybercom statement said prior to this, the US and allied cyber forces would build cyber training ranges for given scenarios and use them once, meaning that a lot of time was consumed in doing so.

The PCTE would provide a collaborative training environment, enabling cyber forces around the world to develop and re-use existing content to train at individual and group levels.

"Australia and the US have a strong history of working together to develop our cyber capabilities and train our people to fight and win in cyberspace," Australian Army Major-General Marcus Thompson, the Australian signatory and head of information warfare for the ADF, said.

"This arrangement will be an important part of the ADF's training program, and we look forward to the mutual benefits it will bring."

Added Wilson: "Agreements like this one are crucial to the efficiency of our joint modernisation. They lay the framework for our mutual growth, allowing us to become stronger and more interoperable as allies."

The PCTE training platform was first built in February and is "a distributed, secure, reconfigurable environment where numerous independent cyber operations training activities may occur simultaneously".

"PCTE continues to showcase training opportunities for our cyber equities, and, as we evolve this capability, we look forward to the ongoing progression and engagements with our partners," US Navy Rear Admiral Christopher Bartz, director of exercises and training for Cybercom, said.

"Our recent Cyber Flag events in June and September of 2020 were prime examples of Five Eyes partner training and collaboration."

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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