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U.S., Australia Partner on Virtual Cyber Training Range Development

The United States and Australia on Friday announced a partnership for the continuous development of a virtual cyber training range.

The Cyber Training Capabilities Project Arrangement, which was signed on November 3, results in the incorporation of Australian Defense Force feedback into the U.S. Cyber Command’s simulated training domain, the Persistent Cyber Training Environment (PCTE).

A cyber-training platform for defensive missions, PCTE is meant to provide a collaborative environment for cyber forces worldwide to leverage existing content to train at all times.

Cyber-training ranges that the U.S. and allied cyber forces built were only designed for specific scenarios, meaning that they would only be used once. Courtesy of shared use and development, PCTE is expected to constantly evolve and keep pace with tactics, techniques and procedures.

“This project arrangement is a milestone for U.S.-Australian cooperation. It is the first cyber-only arrangement established between the U.S. Army and an allied nation, which highlights the value of Australia's partnership in the simulated training domain,” commented the U.S. signatory and deputy assistant secretary of the Army for defense exports and cooperation, Elizabeth Wilson.

The U.S. Army leads the PCTE development, working with the program executive office for the implementation of the cooperative cyber project with Australia. PCTE, which saw its first production version released in February 2020, is part of the U.S. military's Joint Cyber Warfighting Architecture.

The platform delivers a series of reconfigurable environments, such as virtual emulations of live networks, to enable simultaneous training activities. PCTE also includes an iterative development process, to ensure continuous evolution.

Through partnerships, all allied cyber-forces gain better insights of threat actors and can improve their defenses, and training platforms “enable lethal cyber mission forces” for both the U.S. and its allies, the U.S. argues.

In the long term, PCTE is expected to provide the cyberspace workforce within the U.S. Department of Defense with the ability to develop and conduct “full-spectrum, combined and joint cyberspace training, exercises, certification and mission rehearsal in a training environment” capable of emulating a realistic operational environment.

“To counter known and potential adversarial threats, the Army has recalibrated our strategic thinking; we've made smart decisions to refocus our efforts to invest in the new, emerging and smart technologies that will strengthen our ability to fight and win our nation's wars,” Wilson said.

The new U.S.-Australia project arrangement is valued at $215.19 million over a period of six years.

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