The Minnesota National Guard has been selected to receive a new cyber protection unit by the end of 2019, according to a recent announcement by the United States National Guard.
The selection comes on the heels of a National Guard Cyber Defense Plan aimed at increasing the number of cyber security units nationwide by the end of the decade. The Minnesota National Guard was one of 13 statewide units chosen to receive the additional support, joining Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.
The new unit brings 39 new cyber security experts to the state, who will be responsible for protecting the Department of Defense Network, as well as coordinating, training, advising and assisting state partners with the goal of ensuring secure local systems. Training received could potentially help soldiers looking to enter the information technology sector upon completion of National Guard service, the release noted.
The strong information technology sector is what gave Minnesota an advantage in securing a unit, said Col. Stefanie Horvath, the Minnesota National Guard Chief Information Officer. Minnesota is home to numerous Fortune 500 companies, as well as one of the most educated workforces in the nation. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and Congressional delegates also helped push for inclusion in the new program.
“”The advantages really came down to the remarkable history the Minnesota National Guard has in readiness and mission accomplishment,” Horvath said in a Minnesota National Guard Press Release. “Also, when you look at the state of Minnesota as a whole, we have an amazing cyber ecosystem.”
The addition of 13 new Cyber Security Units allows the National Guard to fulfill Army and Air Force cyber missions while covering all 10 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) response regions. In addition to the 13 states receiving cyber protection units, the Air Guard, in partnership with the Air Force will activate four new Cyber Operations Squadrons in Idaho, Michigan, Texas and Virginia, while Cyber Information Surveillance Reconnaissance squadrons will start in California and Massachusetts.