US Army and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Conduct Bilateral Exercise, Demonstrate Cyber Capability

The US Army and Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force recently conducted a bilateral exercise – Cyber Blitz-Orient Shield 2019 – to demonstrate their cyber warfare capabilities. Cyber Blitz focuses on synchronizing science and technology for multi-domain operations and operationalizing innovative technology development, according to the Army.

“It was a great training opportunity for us to be able to operate in the [multi-domain operations] environment, to be able to work with a reliable partner that has the capacity and the will to be able to do this,” said Maj. Gen. Viet Luong, commanding general of U.S. Army Japan. “I think the beauty of that is to be able to do it in the [great power] competition zone.”

Richard Wittstruck, associate director for field-based experimentation and integration at Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s C5ISR Center, said the Army integrated its new intelligence, information, cyber, electronic warfare and space unit – also known as I2CEWS – into the effort.

“We distributed them several places [in the continental United States] so that they could do live, virtual, constructive training with real equipment and real threats presented to them, and then synchronized their products and activities with the multi-domain task forces part of Orient Shield,” Wittstruck said.

Scenarios were developed by Orient Shield planners and Cyber Blitz personnel who would then be able to integrate into those and tie into both live and virtual operations. The scenarios took into account the current strategic environment in the Asia-Pacific region.

“What we look at are characteristics or trends that we see evolving in” the region and among peer competitors,” Wittstruck said. “We don’t sit there and say, ‘It’s this one or that one,’ but it’s more like what are the capabilities that the force of the future is going to have to engage in? How do we best represent that to characterize to operators a realistic environment?”

Cyber Blitz-Orient Shield was considered effective from both a mission perspective and cost effectiveness perspective, according to Wittstruck

. “It not only gave our soldiers an efficient means by which to train and to interact with higher headquarters, but it also was efficient to the taxpayer,” he said. “We’re trying to find integrated ways to marry experimentation with exercise, not just for the soldiers, but also for the taxpayer. We don’t need to be doing silos of excellence and experiment and then handing a report for someone to then pick up and try to ingest.”