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CHIPS Articles: DISA teams in Europe participate in Exercise Austere Challenge

DISA teams in Europe participate in Exercise Austere Challenge
Providing cybersecurity and defensive cyber operations
By DISA News - February 22, 2017
Teams from DISA Europe, Defense Information Technology Contracting Organization (DITCO) Europe, and Data Center Europe participated in Exercise Austere Challenge 2017 (AC-17) earlier this month.

AC-17 is one of European Command’s (EUCOM) flagship exercises. Executed biennially, its overall purpose is to exercise pertinent aspects of EUCOM’s mission.

Communications and cyberspace operations played an integral part in this year’s exercise scenario.

The exercise provided DISA Europe with an opportunity to demonstrate their direct role in theater communications, which includes: being a Tier II cybersecurity service provider, defensive cyber operations — internal defensive measures, current operations, satellite communications missions, authorized service interruptions, Enterprise Operations Center situational awareness and coordination, transport planning and implementation, and the full range of joint and coalition mission partner communications.

During the exercise, DISA Europe operated from multiple locations in Germany, including the Joint Multinational Simulation Center in Grafenwohr, and two locations in Stuttgart. Team members physically embedded in the 24/7 EUCOM J6 planning cell on Patch Barracks and the 24/7 DISA Europe Enterprise Operations Center.

In these roles, the DISA Europe team provided critical transport, cyber defense, and future communications planning. They also coordinated with and provided situational awareness to the J6 staff and the theater military service components playing the key roles of joint force air component command, joint force land component command, joint force maritime component command, and joint force special operations component command.

The team provided the daily operational update and the state of cyber play, scenario injects, and status of requests for information from the EUCOM J6 planning and current operations cells to Air Force Maj Gen Sarah Zabel, DISA vice director, who joined them during the exercise.

The DISA Europe team also embedded with EUCOM J6 planners in the white cell — or exercise assessment team — to control all actions within the exercise.

Finally, the team demonstrated an integrated plan, train, and assess cycle (PTA) that aligns the DISA Europe Theater Support Plan with EUCOM J6 strategic objectives and deliberate planning, uses the Defense Readiness Reporting System (DRRS) to identify tasks and make assessments, and validates assessments in the Joint Training Information Management System.

AC-17 served as DISA Europe’s full test of the PTA cycle and full implementation of DRRS — to include documenting training results and lessons learned — ultimately demonstrating DISA’s readiness to support warfighters in EUCOM.

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