More than training

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Andrea Williamson
  • 108th Wing Public Affairs

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. (July 2, 2019) - As a participant in the NATO led Military Reserve Exchange Program, 1st Lt. Chase Chemero of the 140th Cyberspace Operations Squadron, hosted German officer, Capt. Sebastian Strauch, here, from June 3-14. 

The international exchange program partnered the U.S. and Germany with a unique approach to the mission in mind.

“The goal is, first, to strengthen our partnership with our allies,” said Chemero. “Second, to allow members, in both Germany and the U.S., to see how we perform the same job.”

To accomplish this, MREP allows its hosts to create a personal itinerary, to share with the visiting member, that represents their day-to-day tasks and cultural activities in and outside the workplace.

With a similar professional background, Strauch was privy to information on organization structure, efficiencies, and leadership philosophies, said Chemero, a U.S. cyber warfare operations officer.

At the 140th COS, they are charged with defending Defense Department networks and weapons systems, and the nation's critical infrastructure against global cyber threats.

In cyber, we scan equipment to find vulnerabilities, said Chemero. As an Air National Guard squadron, the 140th COS’s skill set is unique for its ability to operate on a rotational basis as one of six cyber protection teams for the nation.

In comparison, Strauch, a penetration tester of the Cyber Security Center in Euskirchen, Germany, said that his domain service—an active duty equivalent to a military branch in the U.S.—does not have a guard or reserve component.

The Cyber and Information Domain Service was formed in 2017, of representatives from all established German military branches, said Strauch, an Army soldier. While all members remain in their original uniform they are visibly united with a unique cyber emblem and beret.

After learning about the National Guard and Reserve components, Strauch praised the U.S. services for its versatility.

“I like how there is a reserve group of people trained and ready to jump in to perform more missions—or needs,” said Strauch. “They have industry expertise. They can identify problems and improve them.” As a result, Strauch said, he looked forward to presenting the idea for a similar component to his domain service.

As he experienced a drill weekend and learned about Air Force specialty codes that make up the cyber section, Strauch made another notable comparison. His domain service does not have an intel member integrated into their cyber defense mission, something Chemero noted as a benefit to the unit.

“The 108th Intel is separate from cyber intel,” said Chemero. Cyber intel knows the mission and the needs of the cyber squadron. They can provide quick and accurate information for the section.

Still in keeping with the MREP’s cultural aim, Chemero organized a series of excursions that would submerge Strauch within the New York metropolitan area just north of here.

“I think he showed me the best restaurants in New York,” said Strauch.

“Not the best,” said Chemero with a laugh. “I can’t afford those. But some good ones.”

In addition, to sampling restaurants, the two also visited sites significant to the iconic city. The officers explored the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, the Freedom Tower, Grand Central Park, and the Seaport, enjoyable experiences that also doubled as educational, said Chemero.

"New York City has people from all different backgrounds," reflected Chemero, "so a lot of what is American, is actually people from everywhere.”

Nearing his last week in the U.S., Strauch and Chemero prepared for a trip to California to compete in a cyber challenge event known as the Cyber X-games. In this competition, the Air Force battles the Army in cyber related missions as an event both to network and strengthen their abilities in the field. Strauch, who began his U.S. experience with 24 other German military members in Washington, D.C., the previous week, said he learned a lot. He compared tools to adopt and share.

Chemero said, that in addition to what he learned from Strauch, this experience helped him to qualify and quantify all that the New Jersey ANG cyber security unit does.

The two officers hope to convince more military members, non-commissioned and commissioned, to participate in MREP moving forward.

“It is more than a training or tour,” said Chemero. “You really foster a partnership, where we are gaining and all the wing can benefit.”

In a few months, Chemero’s exchange in Germany will began in mid-September.

“[Strauch] will be responsible for planning my events,” said Chemero. “You have a lot to live up to,” said Chemero to Strauch.