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Md. Cyber Soldiers share knowledge with Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina

By 1st Lt. Dylan Bradford

LAUREL, Md. – The Maryland Army National Guard’s 169th Cyber Protection Team (CPT) hosted a team-building cyber event for members of the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina (AFBiH), at the Pvt. Henry Costin Readiness Center in Laurel, Maryland, July 10-14, 2023.

The 169th CPT, a team of full-time cyber professionals established in 2017, gives the Maryland National Guard the ability to protect against increasingly pervasive cyber threats. One of its primary functions is to assist with validation of other cyber protection teams. This includes supporting events intended to develop, train, and exercise cyber forces in the areas of computer network internal defensive measures and cyber incident response.

“We are defensive in nature,” said Maryland Army National Guard Capt. Clarence Nowell III, the 169th CPT operations officer. “Our duty is to respond to incidents that take place, in concert with our four core competencies of hunt, clear, harden, and assess.”

Since 2018, the 169th CPT has supported military-to-military knowledge transfers and developing new skills with the AFBiH through the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program (SPP).

“Of course, the more friends you have, the better off you are on the world stage,” said Nowell. “With the SPP, we’ve been able to help our partners around the world defend their networks as well as our own. We’ve built relationships and we’re also gaining knowledge through the exchange of information.”

The Maryland team of cyber professionals worked with several members of the AFBiH to increase their knowledge of how cyber threats can be detected and effectively countered.

“It has benefited our organization in a great manner,” said AFBiH Capt. Slaven Goluza, head of the cyber security team. “It has enhanced our capabilities and our knowledge because this is very new for some of us. We have just started dealing with cybersecurity recently and any help that we can get from our partners is very beneficial. And [169th CPT] is very good at this, so we try to learn as much as we can.”

The SPP provides a two-way flow of information sharing and experience for the Maryland team and members of the AFBiH.

“The partnership with Bosnia and Herzegovina has illuminated a lot more threats for us, and it helps us better understand what could also affect our country,” said Maryland Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 2 Marcus Vendittuoli, the 169th CPT SPP-BiH project lead. “The techniques they are using to fight their adversaries, we can adopt as well.”

This year the Maryland National Guard and the AFBiH celebrate 20 years of partnership through SPP.

“It’s been very rewarding,” said Nowell. “We get to work with like-minded soldiers from different countries who bring a lot to the table. They [AFBiH] have a different perspective on events that take place, a different set of eyes, and that’s always good to have in your tool bag.”

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