“What is this day?,” asked Miller during his remarks. “Is this a benchmark or a milestone day in the life of this organization?”
The General set the stage by explaining the difference between the very similar common words in the Air Force vernacular. He shared that a benchmark is a significant event or an act that changes things forever, whereas a milestone is usually something that marks progress along the way and are typically significant in achievement as well. After highlighting several achievements in cyber and the Air Force Reserve as a whole, he posed the question once again and offered his assessment.
“So, benchmark or milestone? I think it’s both,” Miller said. “This is an incredible event. It’s the end of an achievement where we will unfurl a flag and make the newest wing in the Air Force Reserve – that’s the benchmark. You all have benchmarked all the way along the way when you look at all the awards you have won not just Air Force Reserve Command, but also active duty awards that you all have won – you all are part of a benchmark organization.
“I think today is also a milestone, but it’s an evolutionary milestone of what’s next. We got here…we worked hard, starting with Col. Lloyd “Ricky Bobby” Terry, who retires next week and began this unit five years ago – now you are over 1,000 folks! This is a milestone because this enterprise will continue to grow, this mission has incredible importance, and you all will be both setting benchmarks and milestones in the future of this organization.”
Miller thanked the nearly 150 Citizen Airmen gathered in the auditorium for their choice to serve, highlighting the limitless potential that is inherent to the Reserves as evidenced by the success of Gen. Maryanne Miller (no relation between the two generals), who is the first Airman in the history of the Air Force Reserve to pin on a fourth star while actively serving. In 2016, she also became the first female chief of the Air Force Reserve and commander of the Air Force Reserve Command.
The new 960th Cyberspace Wing flag was unfurled, officially activating the unit, and then Jones took to the podium.
“I actually can’t believe that I’m standing here today as the commander of the first cyberspace wing in the Air Force Reserve,” said Jones, before reflecting on her career that spans more than 25 years. “But this ceremony really isn’t about me. It’s the culmination of a strategy of the Air Force to improve our posture in the cyberspace arena. The 960th Cyberspace Wing will provide the construct to help organize, train and equip our Citizen Airmen, who stand ready to defend and operate in the cyberspace domain. It’s also the culmination of the hard work of many Airmen – some in this room and many who have since moved on.”
Jones took a moment to get a show of hands of the Airmen present who were a part of the Group stand-up five years ago, and thanked the dozen or so people in attendance, saying they were just as much a part of this history-making event as she is.
“Just as much as this may symbolize a culminating event, it is also a new beginning, she said. “While so much hard work has already been done, we are only just getting started.”
Jones sited the recently published Department of Defense Cyber Strategy which calls on Airmen to take action in cyberspace to preserve the U.S. military advantage and to defend U.S. interests and emphasizes the need to focus on states that can pose strategic threats to U.S. prosperity and security.
“As a Wing, we will do our part to conduct cyberspace operations to collect intelligence and prepare military cyber capabilities to be used in the event of crisis or conflict, said Jones. “In partnership with our active duty associate units, we will defend forward to disrupt malicious cyber activity at its source and we will strengthen security and resilience of our network systems that provide us with military advantage.”
She went on to remind those in attendance that the cyber is central to all things in the Air Force, in that every mission in the Air Force depends on cyber in some way, shape or form to accomplish its objectives.
Specifically to her Citizen Airmen brethren, she stated that to be successful, they must defend the U.S. objectives in cyberspace and assure the readiness of cyberspace operators to support in times of crisis or conflict.
“We must ensure that we are ready at any given time to be the most skilled and technically knowledgeable in our mission sets to carry out our assigned taskings,” said the new Wing commander. “Rest assured our adversaries are busy conducting cyber-enabled campaigns to erode of military advantage, threaten our infrastructure, and reduce our economic prosperity. We must respond to this by exposing, disrupting, and degrading cyber activity that threatens U.S. interests.”
In the fashion of a true leader, she turned the focus of the moment to the Citizen Airmen whose job it is to execute the mission each day.
“While I may be the one appointed to accept the guidon for the 960th Cyberspace Wing today – and I truly am honored to be the first wing commander for this history making organization – know that this is not a celebration of me, but rather more fittingly a celebration of all of you and your efforts in getting this organization to this point,” Jones said. “I hope that you believe like I do that this is an exciting time to be in cyber.”
In closing, Jones said the new Wing still has so much work to do, and that she believes this is an opportunity for cyber to make a tremendous impact as a Wing.
“Our service will continue to be in high demand, and I know we will do our part to be ready to step into the battle,” Jones said before wrapping up. “And I look forward to what we will accomplish as a wing together over the coming years!”
In addition to the Wing activation, six new subordinate units were also activated: Headquarters 860th Cyberspace Operations Group at Robins Air Force Base, Ga.; 960th Operations Support Flight and the 50th Network Warfare Squadron, both at JBSA-Lackland AFB, Texas; 51st Network Operations Squadron Joint Base Langley-Eustis Air Base Station, Va.; 52nd Network Warfare Squadron at Offutt AFB, Neb.; and the 53rd Network Operations Squadron at Peterson AFB, Colo.
The 960th CW is the first and only cyberspace wing in the Air Force Reserve Command, and will consist of 16 direct-reporting units and more than 1,200 personnel in ten Air Force Specialty Codes. The missions of these units encompass full-spectrum cyber-operations: combat communications; command and control of all cyber activities, which includes defensive cyber-operations, DCO – Response Actions, and Department of Defense Information Network Operations across Air Force, joint and partner networks; cyber defense analysis; Initial Qualifications Training for cyber operations across six weapons and dynamic support to authorized Offensive Cyber Operations.