Organizational Safety and Security
The Minnesota National Guard is continuously making security upgrades and improvements to its facilities and infrastructure to ensure the safety of the Guardsmen who serve in our organization. We maintain detailed plans and conduct training to ensure we are ready to respond to any potential threats to safety.
On the cyber front, the Minnesota National Guard continues to expand and improve its capabilities to maintain and defend Department of Defense networks, as well as provide subject matter experts who collaborate with government and industry experts to improve information security and protect critical infrastructure at all levels.
The Minnesota National Guard has one of 11 Cyber Protection Teams in the Army National Guard. As we work to incorporate this new infrastructure into our organization, we will benefit from the advanced and highly-specialized skillsets these cyber warriors bring to the state of Minnesota. Already, our Cyber Protection Team is conducting training with other state agencies to determine ways the Minnesota National Guard could assist in the event of a cyber emergency impacting state networks.
In May, the Minnesota National Guard participated in Cyber Shield 2018, a National Guard Bureau exercise that involved specialized training as well as simulated exercises to test the ability of information technology specialists to solve problems and secure networks. In the Cyber Defense NetWars Challenge, a Minnesota team placed first out of 30 teams. The defensive cyber team partnered with Xcel Energy during a simulation to defend their notional network and assisted them in producing a risk management plan for their cyber operations.
The Minnesota National Guard’s collaboration with our state partner, Croatia, in technical cyber training is in its seventh year. In 2018, for the first time as part of this ongoing training, participants conducted a cyber exercise to put into practice the cyber defense skills taught in the class.
Information technology specialists from the Minnesota Army and Air National Guard attended the 2018 Croatia Cyber Security Symposium which brought together academic leaders from the University of Minnesota and University of Zagreb, as well as leaders in industry from General Mills to provide current, relevant instruction for the protection of critical infrastructure.
In 2018, the Minnesota Army National Guard made a switch to the resilience training that has been taught to Soldiers for nearly a decade. In its place the Minnesota Army National Guard is conducting Ready and Resilient training that focuses on a streamlined curriculum meant to make the training more accessible and relatable to Soldiers at the lowest levels.
The new program pushes resilience training down to the squad level, with the squad leader in charge of leading discussions on topics like relationships, risky behavior and overall wellness. Squad leaders are provided a booklet to help guide discussion and encouraged to tailor the training to issues identified in the unit risk inventory.
The new training is part of a larger focus to identify and mitigate mental health issues across the force. The Minnesota Army National Guard has trained suicide intervention officers, resilience trainers and victim advocates in every unit across the state.
The Minnesota National Guard also focused on educating the force on its sexual assault prevention and response program in the last year. We hosted nationally-recognized speaker Johnnetta McSwain, who spoke to our Soldiers and Airmen about overcoming adversity. Our sexual assault response coordinators participated in events in the community, educating stakeholders about military sexual trauma.
In our efforts to decrease the number of sexual assaults and mental health crises within our organization, the adjutant general tasked the force to document and learn from each case in which our Guardsmen are in crisis or at risk. Lessons learned from these cases are shared without identifying data quarterly to our leadership to ensure that we can provide a better outcome for Guardsmen in the future.
The Minnesota National Guard is committed to providing a workplace that is safe from internal and external physical threats and harassment. The MNNG must be cyber aware so as to execute sound practices that mitigate cyber-based threats. The organization has been entrusted with Minnesota’s most precious resources: the men and women who are the future of our state and nation. We demand a culture free of harassment and sexual assault. Additionally, we cherish and value the lives of all of those who serve in the Minnesota National Guard and vow to uphold all aspects of resiliency, in particular, assisting with service member health and suicide prevention.