Joint Base San Antonio-Medina Annex, Texas --
Nearly 200 Reserve Citizen Airmen filled the seats of the Inter-American Air Forces Academy on Saturday, June 2nd, to witness the 960th Cyberspace Operations Group change of command ceremony.
Col. Lori C. Jones assumed command of the Group, which consists of 17 direct-reporting units and 1,300 personnel, is the U.S. Air Force Reserve's only cyber group and is headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Medina Annex, Texas.
"I'm happy to be back in the 960th," said Jones, who served as the 860th Network Warfare Flight commander from July 2012 until July 2015. "They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. I left the 860th Network Warfare Flight in 2015, and it really taught me to appreciate even more so what a great organization this is, and how much it meant to me to be a part of it. I'm so happy and excited to be back here with you guys doing great things in cyberspace."
She went on to thank Maj. Gen. Bruce Miller, who served as the presiding official of the ceremony.
"Thank you General Miller for giving me this opportunity and privilege to be a commander -- and particularly to be the commander of the 960th Cyberspace Operations Group; it is a great honor for me to be leading this organization," Jones said before addressing the outgoing commander, Col. Anthony M. Perkins.
"Colonel Perkins, we've only worked together for a few short months, but I feel like I have known you forever," said Jones. "I appreciate your hard work in getting me back here to the 960th and back to San Antonio. And although he couldn't make it here today, I also want to give a shout out to Colonel [Lloyd] Terry, for his leadership and mentorship and for advocating on my behalf to get me into this seat.
Col. Lloyd Terry and Perkins are the only two officers to have commanded the 960th CyOG since it stood up in March 2013.
"It takes great leadership, perseverance and optimism to do the work you all did to get this organization to where it is today, so thank you Colonel Perkins and Colonel Terry for your leadership and efforts in standing up the group," said Jones.
She then addressed the Cyber Gladiators.
"It's an exciting and challenging time to be cyberspace and working in this great domain; I look forward to working with you guys as we build this foundation and how to best operate in this contested domain. We have a lot work to do -- although a lot of work has been done already -- to fly, fight and win in highly contested domain."
In closing, Jones shared a four things that are important to her to help the Group understand how she will lead into the next phase.
"I'm a simple person -- very straight forward, very transparent," she said. "There are a few that I think are really important and what I believe in. One of those things is the Air Force Core Values -- integrity first. I believe that, I live it, and I expect everybody to live that, too, as a part of this organization.
"I believe in working hard," Jones continued. "You will see no one that works harder than me, and I expect you to be by my side working every bit as hard as I will be working for you. I also believe in teamwork; I don't believe in working by yourself – we can accomplish so much more as a team than we can individually.
“And last, but certainly not least, I believe in respect,” said Jones, wrapping up her remarks. “Respecting each other as individuals, as human beings, above all regardless of rank. I will respect all of you every day as professionals in this great Air Force, and I expect the same of you.
“I look forward to walking beside you guys as we move forward and make this the greatest organization in the Air Force Reserve,” Jones said in closing. “Thank you all for being here, and God bless!”
Perkins briefly addressed the crowd, which also consisted of a number of Perkins and Jones’ family and friends, before Jones spoke.
“I’m honored to have commanded the Gladiators the past 21 months,” Perkins said after thanking a number of personnel in attendance. “I would like to take a few moments to talk about the importance of what we have accomplished, where we are going and to embellish a tad.”
Citing Air Force Chief of Staff’s assessment that the squadron is the heartbeat of the Air Force, and the words of the 24th Air Forces commander, Maj. Gen. [Chris] Weggeman, that in cyber, the most important element is not silicon or lithium; it’s carbonate, the human element, Perkins shared the Group’s successes during his tenure.
“As the 960th Cyberspace Operations Group commander, I stressed priority #1: taking care of Airmen,” Perkins said. “By focusing on our Airman in a turbulent period, in arguably the most contested domain, the Gladiators of the Grid stood in the gap to support 8,725 sorties in [fiscal year 2017], with cyber vulnerability assessments on the F-16, F-35, E-3, and unmanned early warning radar platforms. We ensured those physical weapons systems had freedom of movement in highly contested environments.
He went on to discuss the more than 35 unit awards and 10 individual accolades the Group claimed in 2016 and 2017, as well as the work of the 960th CyOG Airmen who he said stretched themselves to accomplish tasks outside their Air Force Specialty Code.
“Without a team concept, most of this would not be possible,” Perkins said. “With our team assembled, we couldn’t failed, regardless of all seemingly impossible obstacles and short suspenses in front of us. None of these achievements can be attributed to any one of us, but accomplishments by all of us.
“Colin Powell once said that great leaders are almost always great simplifiers who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand,” said Perkins. “I challenge each of the commanders and chiefs to this mantra, and I hope I lived by that task…only time will tell.”
Perkins then addressed Jones.
“Colonel Jones, as you take command today, I challenge you with simplifying your leadership going forward. I know you will continue the legacy began by Col. Lloyd Terry and continued by myself,” he said. “I wish you all the best in your command.”
After the official ceremony, attendees has the opportunity to congratulate Jones on taking command and were treated to light refreshments, which included cake, a chocolate fondue fountain with various fruits, cookies, and cake for dipping, and punch.