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TACET VENARI ... Silent Hunt
by U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Renae Pittman
June 20, 2019

U.S. Air Force Airmen from across the Europe region participated in TACET VENARI 19-1, a two-week cyber exercise that focused on defensive cyber operations at the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Regional Training Center on  Ramstein Air Base, Germany during March 2019.

This now quarterly exercise is designed to train operationally focused Airmen to provide mission assurance to the warfighters by learning the skills needed to deliver defensive cyber operations.

Exercise support staff launch scenario injects for a training scenario as part of exercise TACET VENARI, held at the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Regional Training Center, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Mar. 8, 2019. The support staff simulated real-world conditions to drive mission defense teams to reach training objectives and further their defensive cyber operations capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Renae Pittman)
Exercise support staff launch scenario injects for a training scenario as part of exercise TACET VENARI, held at the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Regional Training Center, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Mar. 8, 2019. The support staff simulated real-world conditions to drive mission defense teams to reach training objectives and further their defensive cyber operations capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Renae Pittman)

“TACET VENARI is Latin for silent hunt, and accurately describes the mission defense team’s purpose to silently hunt for, identify and prevent potential adversary activity that could harm our networks,” said Capt. Kevin Taylor, lead DCO integration manager assigned to the communications directorate at U.S. Air Forces in Europe Air Forces Africa.

Mission defense teams, comprised of five or six Airmen, are being established throughout the command to provide a first line of defense for USAFE-AFAFRICA’s operational assets against cyber threats and to protect the command’s mission relevant terrain and weapon systems.

The TACET VENARI exercise series is designed to provide a realistic cyber threat scenario for the MDTs to think through and learn how to counter threats at the tactical level, using the same skills needed for real-world defense operations.

“The MDTs are being trained to actively monitor, identify and neutralize threats in order to protect networks from anyone degrading critical capabilities. This helps our Airmen at the wings provide another level of mission assurance to their commanders,” added Taylor.

USAFE-AFAFRICA is the first major command to fill a critical gap by providing DCO training in a realistic, hands-on cyber range. The training allows MDTs to increase their capability and readiness to provide cyber defense during real-world operations.

“Our goal is to provide self-sustaining training and continuous information sharing on tactics, techniques and procedures so Airmen are better equipped to provide their commanders what they need to execute their missions,” said Master Sgt. Joshua Albarran, a DCO integration manager with the USAFE-AFAFRICA communications directorate.

Staff Sgt. Tyler Ellingson (left), 100th Communications Squadron mission defense team supervisor, and Staff Sgt. Stephen Spor, 31st CS noncommissioned officer in charge, mission defense team, analyze information systems for potential malicious activity as part of a training scenario during exercise TACET VENARI, held at the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Regional Training Center, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Mar. 8, 2019. U.S. Air Forces in Europe Air Forces Africa is the first major command to designate a specific facility to train communication Airmen on defensive cyber operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Renae Pittman)
Staff Sgt. Tyler Ellingson (left), 100th Communications Squadron mission defense team supervisor, and Staff Sgt. Stephen Spor, 31st CS noncommissioned officer in charge, mission defense team, analyze information systems for potential malicious activity as part of a training scenario during exercise TACET VENARI, held at the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Regional Training Center, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Mar. 8, 2019. U.S. Air Forces in Europe Air Forces Africa is the first major command to designate a specific facility to train communication Airmen on defensive cyber operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Renae Pittman)

This iteration of TACET VENARI is the first time the newly designated facility and cyber range have been used to exercise defensive cyber operations.

“It took our team approximately six months to procure, design and equip the repurposed rooms to meet the needs of the exercise,” added Taylor. “The facility is the first of its kind, and can offer training for up to 25 people at a time.”

There are four iterations of the exercise planned for this year in order to maximize use of the new facility and help expand capabilities.

“We take cyber defense seriously and one of our focus areas is training. These TACET VENARI cyber exercises allow our newly formed mission defense teams to practice defensive cyber operations tactics, techniques, and procedures in a virtualized environment emulating the real-world cyber terrain they defend at their home stations,” said Col. Jonathan Sutherland, director, communication and chief information officer.

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