By Staff Sgt. J. Aaron Breeden
21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — In a command center packed with enough technology to rival that of the movie War Games, U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado’s 5th Congressional District, visited the 561st Network Operations Squadron to learn the ins and outs of their highly-complex daily mission.
Capt. Freddie Johnson, 561st NOS crew commander, spoke above the whirring computers as he escorted Lamborn through the facility, explaining the responsibilities of each section within the unit.
“We consider our mission to be the same mission of every other Air Force unit, and for that reason it’s forever changing,” said Johnson. “We have to be flexible and ensure planes can take off and missiles can launch. Our mission is global and we can touch any base in the Air Force.”
“We try to provide a balance between individual operational security and individual mission success,” Johnson said.
Considering the success of the 561st NOS and their ability to support a network valued at more than $10 billion with a client base exceeding 800,000 users, it’s no wonder that the Air Force’s network structure has been chosen as the model for a future shared Department of Defense network.
“The Air Force has built a proven concept of layered cyberspace defense to protect our air, space and cyberspace assets operating on the Air Force Information Network through a global enterprise security platform,” said Lt. Col. Roy Rockwell, 561st NOS commander.
Rockwell added that by taking lessons learned from building the AFIN, the Air Force is planning to partner with the Army and Defense Information Systems Agency to build and migrate to a shared network, which will be known as the Joint Information Environment. The Navy and Marine Corps are also expected to join the JIE in the future.
Rockwell also said the goal of his squadron, as well as other 24th Air Force units, is to grow their capabilities quickly, while still meeting the demands of their mission.
“Gen. Hyten (Air Force Space Command commander) has provided 24th Air Force units with his vision to mature cyberspace more rapidly than it took to mature space capabilities,” said Rockwell. “Air Force Space Command and 24th AF are taking the necessary steps to operationalize and defend the cyberspace domain to ensure the Air Force is able to generate, project and sustain combat power today and in future years to come.”
At the conclusion of the tour, Lamborn applauded the Airmen of the 561st for their around-the-clock efforts in minimizing threats to our nation’s security.
“The 561st plays a vital role in keeping the Air Force’s network safe and secure from all kinds of threats. I was really impressed by the work that is being done right here at Peterson AFB by smart, young Airmen,” said Lamborn. “The strategic importance of cyber only continues to grow, and the 561st is at the tip of the spear.
“If the Air Force network is compromised, that puts our nation’s ability to project power around the world at risk,” added Lamborn. “I commend the tireless work of the men and women of the 561st. It was an honor to visit with them and learn more about what they do to keep our Air Force and our country secure.”