Story By Tech. Sgt. Justin Jacobs
As the second hand of a watch ticks one tock, the Department of Defense networks have been probed 70 times, all with the hope of stealing information or intruding into our network and systems. The 184th Intelligence Wing is adding another cyberdefense capability to the DoD arsenal with the activation of the 127th Cyber Operations Squadron April 1. The 127th COS will be one of 68 cyber protection teams that the DoD recently created to strengthen the Air Force’s cyberdefense and deterrence posture.
The focus of the 127th COS and the 68 other teams revolves around the DoD’s three primary cyber missions—defend DoD networks, systems and information; defend the U.S. homeland and national interests against cyber-attacks of significant consequence; and provide cyber support to military operational and contingency plans.
Other countries or independent cyber groups threaten disruptive and destructive attacks against the United States’ technological and military advantage. The new squadron will be responsible for identifying and countering these threats to critical mission assets in support of the U.S. Cyber Command’s cyber mission force tasking.
The squadron will fall under the new 184th Cyber Operations Group and will add 71 military positions to the wing with; 19 of them being fulltime.
“The biggest challenge that we have had in the activation process has been recruiting new members for the highly skilled positions,” said Maj. David Hewlett, commander, 127th Cyber Operations Squadron.
A challenge that has affected the activation is limited training slots for technical school. This isn’t just a Kansas issue, it is a challenge for all state National Guards standing up cyber units.
Sen. Jerry Moran addressed the concern nationally about a shortage of cyber trainers for the number of Air National Guard cyber units.
“There is a sufficient number of people that want to fill those slots, but an insufficient number of people who are training those individuals to do so,” said Moran. “One of the new cyber squadrons at McConnell has 42 vacancies. I don’t think this is because we can’t find the individuals who want to fill those 42 vacancies. It’s because we only have three of those folks who are in a position to receive the training this fiscal year.”
Facility upgrades and modifications add to the difficulties of activating the new squadron. Unit leaders project construction will take approximately 18 months to complete.
Every organization within the wing has worked diligently with the 127th COS to assist in the activation process.
“It has truly been a team effort and we would not be where we are today without everyone’s assistance,” said Hewlett.