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Cyberspace Defense Training Academy - Texas

Cyber Defense Training Academy - Texas

By Maj. Gary Van Cott, CAP

Two cadets from the Nevada Wing joined 50 cadets and 12 senior members from around the nation at the Cyber Defense Training Academy (CDTA) at Lackland AFB (actually Joint Base San Antonio) in mid-June 2018. This National Cadet Special Activity (NCSA) is now in its fifth year at the Texas campus and is also held in Maryland. 

Cadets underwent a week of intensive training in cyber defense through one of three courses, the Cyberspace Familiarization Course (CFC), the Cyberspace Advanced Course (CAC) and the Cyberspace Networking Course (CNC). CFC must be taken prior to the other courses even by cadets who have participated in Cyber Patriot. In 2018 the CFC course was taught by members of the 33rd Network Warfare Squadron while instructors for the other courses were CAP senior and cadet members. 

The Cyberspace Familiarization Course is an introduction into cyberspace operations. Cadets will receive an introduction into defensive cyberspace operations which includes: introduction to networks and operating systems, workstation and server fundamentals, how to secure a system and mitigate threats.

The Cyberspace Advanced Course is designed to instruct cadets on more advanced topics regarding cyber-security. Cadets will learn about cryptography, web technology security, how to setup and security Cisco based networks, intrusion detection systems, and basic mission planning. 

The Cyberspace Networking Course is designed to instruct cadets on more advanced topics regarding computer networking. Students will be immersed in networking devices. Actual network equipment was provided by Cisco for use in this course. 

On the final day of academics, a practical exercise called the Graduation Exercise or "GRADEX", tests each students' skills in computer defense and team dynamics. By the way, each cadet must complete the GRADEX to graduate, 

The requirements to attend are listed on the NCSA page for the activity. The basic requirements are to be at least 14 years old or in the 8th grade, a US citizen, have completed encampment and have the Wright Brothers Award. Because of the donations the academy receives, this activity is one of the least expensive special activities. In 2018 cadets were responsible for paying the fee of $50 and for their transportation to and from the campus. 

Make no mistake, this is a true Civil Air Patrol activity. In addition to the cyber defense training, cadets participated in PT, leadership training, and marching to and from the dining facility. One cadet said it was more academically rigorous and more like encampment than he expected. While there were no formal inspections, cadets lived in open bay barrack like those used for basic training and ate at an Air Force dining facility intended for foreign military members taking language training. 

Two cadets and one senior member from the Nevada Wing attended CDTA. They were Cadet 2nd Lt. Derek Yu from the Henderson Composite Squadron, Cadet Senior Master Sgt. Gerald Mon Pere from the Tahoe Truckee Composite Squadron, and Maj. Gary Van Cott from the Las Vegas Composite Squadron. Cadet Yu had attended CDTA previously and was the distinguished graduate from the Cyberspace Advanced Course as well as being a member of the support staff. 

If you have an interest and some experience with computers and meet the other requirements, I strongly suggest you apply for this special activity for 2019. I am planning to go back and am sure I will see graduates of the 2018 CFC course there as well. 

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