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Minnesota National Guard
Minnesota National Guard to receive Cyber Protection Team

Cyber Protection Teams ST. PAUL, Minn. - The Minnesota National Guard will receive one of 13 additional cyber units by the end of fiscal year 2019, the National Guard announced in early December. The new Cyber Protection Team will bring an additional 39 Soldiers to the state who will be dedicated to training for cyber operations.

Minnesota was selected among all states that submitted a cyber protection stationing plan, explaining why the state thought it could support, recruit and retain cyber force structure. In recent years the Minnesota National Guard has exceeded readiness standards while continuing to support both state and federal missions.

"The advantages really came down to the remarkable history the Minnesota National Guard has in readiness and mission accomplishment," said Col. Stefanie Horvath, the Minnesota National Guard Chief Information Officer. "Also, when you look at the state of Minnesota as a whole, we have an amazing cyber ecosystem."

That ecosystem includes six educational institutions that are accredited as Centers of Academic Excellence Institutions by the National Security Agency and the Central Security Service as well as high rankings on the State Technology and Science Index in human capital investment and technology and science workforce. Coupled with the high density of Fortune 500 companies that call Minnesota home, Minnesota provides a large and talented pool to draw from to recruit a high-tech workforce.

The Minnesota National Guard maintains close relationships with the academic and industrial sector in Minnesota, as well as with local government. Horvath co-chairs Minnesota's Information Security Risk Management Governance Committee and the Minnesota National Guard collaborates with the state's annual Cyber Security Summit. The Minnesota National Guard also benefits from the support of Governor Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Congressional delegates who helped to advocate for additional cyber assets in the state.

"All of our operations in Minnesota are by with and through state agencies or with our state partners," Horvath said.

The Cyber Protection Team will be comprised of 39 Soldiers with a large number of the positions being warrant officer and enlisted Soldiers. Cyber Soldiers require more training than many conventional military occupational specialties and that additional training will provide the Soldiers with certifications in the Information Technology field that will also translate to the civilian sector.

"I think this presents more opportunities and greater career progression for not only signal and military intelligence, but all of the National Guard Soldiers who have either experience or education in information technology," Horvath said.

The Cyber Protection Team will focus on protecting the Department of Defense information network. The Soldiers will also be able to coordinate, train, advise and assist state partners in order to share technical information for securing local networks.

It's important to note that the Cyber Protection Team, and the Minnesota National Guard as a whole, will not conduct offensive network operations or monitor any network that is not part of the Department of Defense.

"The threat is more sophisticated and the call to serve in the cyber domain in certainly increasing," said Horvath.

December 18, 2015
by Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs

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