Civil Air Patrol
  • Aircrew returing to base

Civil Air Patrol cadets come to Maryland to sharpen cyber skills in National Security Agency’s backyard

July 1, 2018 — LAUREL, Md. – Near one hundred Civil Air Patrol (CAP) cadets and adults have gathered at the District of Columbia National Guard’s Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy, just outside of Fort George G. Meade, for an intensive week of cyber security skills training. Named the Cyber Defense Training Academy (CDTA), this is its second year the CAP National Special Activity is being held in Maryland, having originated in 2014 at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, headquarters of Air Forces Cyber. Due to the academy’s popularity, it expanded last year to include campuses in New Mexico and Maryland supporting over 170 members. The CDTA introduces cadets, middle & high school students 12-18 years old, to career opportunities in defensive cyberspace operations, covering topics from basic computer security concepts, introductions into networks and operating systems, workstation and server fundamentals, as well as advanced topics such as cryptography, web technology security, and intrusion detection systems.

The CDTA features instructors and distinguished guests from the industry who share real world experiences with the cadets. The Maryland campus this year will have guests and instructors from both the public and private sectors including the Central Maryland AFCEA Chapter, members of the United States Air Force in the 7th Intelligence and 315th Cyberspace Operations Squadrons, Virginia and West Virginia Air National Guard, Cisco, and more. The entire week culminates with a five hour “GRADuation EXercise,” an exercise in which cadets must apply all skills that they learned to resolve a simulated scenario and compete for the title of “Outstanding Team” in CDTA’s cyber defense competition.

Utilizing the skills they have learned, cadets become more effective in competitions like the Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot, and the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, further developing their cyber expertise. Many others use the foundation established to complete final studies for industry certifications such as CompTIA Security +, Network +, or Cisco’s Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certifications, setting themselves up for success in the IT and/or cyber workforce. The ultimate goal is to usher in a new era of “cyber operators.” The academy could not be successful without the $10,000 donation provided by the AFCEA Central Maryland Chapter.

Nearly 1,500 CAP members serve in Maryland. Last year wing members flew 13 search and rescue missions. The wing was credited with four finds. Maryland Wing flew 32 missions for the State of Maryland. Members flew 2,245 hours in all mission categories. Volunteers contributed services estimated at $4.6 million. For more information, contact the Maryland Wing at or follow the wing on Facebook at

Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force. In this role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 80 lives annually. CAP’s 60,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. In addition, CAP plays a leading role in aerospace/STEM education, and its members serve as mentors to over 25,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs. Visit or for more information.



Capt. Jacob Bixler, CAP
Public Affairs Officer, Cyber Defense Training Academy

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