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CF prepares for new cyber defense mission

Tech. Sgt. Christopher Erhart, 190th Communications Flight IT technician (right), and Chief Master Sgt. Shawn Willard, 190th CF superintendent (left), prepare for the transition to the new Cyber Defense Mission the CF will be adapting in 2021.

Tech. Sgt. Christopher Erhart, 190th Communications Flight IT technician (right), and Chief Master Sgt. Shawn Willard, 190th CF superintendent (left), prepare for the transition to the new Cyber Defense Mission the CF will be adapting in 2021.

FORBES FIELD ANG BASE --

On October 15, 2020, the 190th Air Refueling Wing Communications Flight visited Wichita, Kan. to collaborate with the 184th Wing in preparation for the new cyber defense mission to begin implementation at Forbes Field in fiscal year 2021.

After a course of three phases, CF plans to be entirely transferred over to the new Mission Defense Team, with the last phase completed by 2024. Following the transfer, the previous CF mission will still be performed although some functions may be supported through a contractor. Going forward, those falling under the new mission will still be interacting with the rest of the base, but in a less visible way.

“We will have a designated Mission Defense Team, with its own officer lead and enlisted members and they will be doing reports, analysis, and up channeling and working with an Intel cell,” said Lt. Col. Janet Dial, CF commander. “You will still have traditional CF that helps with maintenance or mechanical, and you will have your admin side, and your normal functions that go along with that. There will still be the guys and gals we need to help set up all the wiring, to help with the SCIF, those kinds of things. But most of the main functions of CF will be outsourced, probably via contract.”

Compared to the previous mission, CF will see less call center activities and more data oversight and defense as the core aspects are now focused on monitoring cyber traffic and cyber interaction with our KC-135s. CF will be working with all sections of the Wing on how they touch or interact with the airframe to mitigate any vulnerabilities. Airmen in CF will be focusing and learning more about cyber traffic, software, and the new equipment set to come in for our operational security and defense.

“Our biggest threats and what our adversaries do is via cyber now,” said Chief Master Sgt. Shawn Willard, 190th CF superintendent. “Everything runs off of computers so the biggest way to cripple somebody is through cyber.”

“Let every Airman know, their computer is considered a weapons system,” Dial said.  “That sounds very advanced and forward thinking, but when you now have a Cyber Command I tell you that one Airman’s computer can wreak havoc if it’s mistreated and not thought of as a weapons system.”

With the new mission, CF Airmen can monitor the network and create a baseline reference for normal functions that will make spotting attacks and dangers that much easier. The approach to this new mission is based in analytics and computer software, which members from CF got to see in action during their trip to the 184th. Going forward, the CF workplace will change as the traditional CF section and the new cyber defense section will split into different office spaces.

“I hope we keep pushing in the direction we’re going right now and bring in more sharp Airmen, get them trained up, keep pressing forward, and still provide the customer service that we do,” Willard said.