Cyber Training Arch Enabling Digital Twin Environment
In 2019, The U.S. Army Program Executive Officer for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI) released an initial cyberspace operations training platform prototype called the Persistent Cyber Training Environment (PCTE). The PCTE mission is to solve significant U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) gapsâ€”specifically, the capability to effectively plan, prepare, and execute Cyber Mission Force (CMF) training. Today, CMF training scenarios are manually deployed on a variety of cyber training range resources using varying technologies that often lack fidelity, interoperability, reusability, and the ability to scale to support projected CMF demands. The PCTE platform addresses these gaps by delivering tools to rapidly create â€˜Digital Twins' that replicate cyberspace operational environments in a virtualized platform for the CMF to execute realistic training and mission rehearsals. PCTE provides virtualized cyber assets, tools, and environments to manage and deploy them as a service through a web application accessible anywhere for members of the CMF. Additionally, PCTE is laying the groundwork for these virtualized assets to connect to real world physical security assets such as industrial controls systems (ICS) that are otherwise not practical to emulate. To address this challenge, PEO STRI and the larger DoD cyber training community are working together to rapidly identify frameworks, use cases, and agile prototyping initiatives to integrate PCTE with remote physical assets, enabling the realistic replication of â€˜Digital Twin' environments.
The Product Manager Cyber Resiliency and Training (PdM CRT) uses an agile acquisition and development approach in partnership with designated cyber training ranges, other cyber training providers, and the user community to deliver functional virtualized environments integrated with remote physical assets at an unprecedented level of speed and relevance to user missions. The framework agreed on by the cyber training community is to 1) identify the need, 2) conduct agile prototyping to pilot integration, 3) standardize, and 4) manage interoperability standards. It aims to improve the overall mission readiness of the CMF through improved, reusable, and interoperable training capabilities. The intent is for the cyber ranges to create high fidelity virtualized environments and physical assets, that are interoperable with PCTE, that provide the CMF with operationally realistic training "maneuver space".
The CMF cannot continue execute training and mission rehearsal in low-fidelity environments that do not allow them to “Train as you Fight”. Our iterative approach for interoperability between PCTE and remote physical assets enables the Reality-Simulation-Reality cycle, which near-seamlessly fuses virtual environments with real-life assets, increasing the fidelity of training environments. This paper provides an overview of the agile framework, current pilot efforts, and resulting interfaces that will become standards. Finally, this paper discusses challenges of integrating virtualized environments within PCTE with remote physical assets and offers lessons learned and best practices. Our approach will rapidly enable the CMF to create high-fidelity environments for training and mission rehearsal, enabling CMF readiness.