NE National Guard to deploy cyber protection team

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - The Nebraska National Guard has fought battles and helped around the globe. Now a new unit is deploying, offering a new kind of protection in our nation's Capital.

The Nebraska Army National Guard's 179th Cyber Protection Team has been training for this moment for the past two years. (Source: Ellis Wiltsey)

The Nebraska Army National Guard's 179th Cyber Protection Team has been training for this moment for the past two years. Now these Nebraska soldiers will join guardsman from two other states in D.C. to defend the nation from cyber attacks.

The 11 soldiers set to deploy are fighting a battle that's often unseen.

"So it's not all about planes and tanks and infantry, it's almost a passive form of attack," said Major Greg Veys, Nebraska Army National Guard. "It's a very unique feature of how we fight in cyber space"

The group was formed in 2017 with National Guard Units also training in Missouri and Arkansas for the task. Nebraska has the biggest team of the three states.

"We've trained more than a standard unit, that is to say we've gone to months long training events," Veys said. 'We've gone to extra long exercises to practice all of our cyber skill sets."

Many of the soldiers in the group have been previously deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, but they have shifted their specialties to adapt and grow into their new roles within this group.

"When we were in Iraq things were a little bit more technical, we were out in the dirt a little bit more, at this unit we'll be a little bit more on the cyber-side of the house down in the dungeon," said Captain Avery Walker, Nebraska Army National Guard.

While most of the group's work couldn't be discussed, the timeline of their deployment will overlap with the 2020 presidential election.

"That election's gonna have to be protected just like everything else to the best degree we possibly can," Walker said. "At that point if we are involved in that we'll have to do what we can to ensure that that mission is successful."

When the team from all three states is together, they will have 19 army national guard soldiers. The team will deploy for one year to serve in support of U.S. Cyber Command.