It’s been one year since the activation of the 835th Cyberspace Operations Squadron on Scott AFB. It has been a busy year for these Airmen standing up a new unit, so much so that referring to them as newbies, junior varsity, or rookies would be selling short this team of all stars.
The Guardians, as they are known in the cyber community, maintain three Cyberspace Protection Teams, known as CPTs. They provide premier Defensive Cyberspace Operations maneuver/mission assurance capabilities to their mission partners.
The 835th COS has administrative control over each of the three, 39-person CPTs and is responsible for organizing, training, and equipping those forces. Each CPT is postured to conduct tailored Defensive Cyberspace Operations missions with a three-phase employment methodology by surveying, securing, and protecting.
The 835th COS presents forces to the United States Cyber Command as part of the Cyber Mission Forces construct. Forces are presented as Cyberspace Protection Teams, each comprised of five squads with specialized capabilities: mission protection, cyber readiness, cyber support, discover and counter-infiltration, and cyber threat emulation.
The unit conducts defensive cyberspace operations by employing the Cyberspace Vulnerability Assessment/Hunter weapon system. The CVA/H weapon system is designed to identify vulnerabilities and provide supported agencies with a comprehensive assessment of the risk of existing vulnerabilities on critical mission networks.
In addition, the teams uses the CVA/H weapon system, in concert with other friendly network defense forces, to provide AFCYBER and Combatant Commanders a mobile precision protection capability to identify, pursue, and mitigate cyberspace threats.
The three CPTs assigned to the unit are the 853rd “Raging Roosters,” led by Maj. Magina Lamberson; the 854th “Reapers” led by Maj. Michael Murphy; and the 855th “Los Cazadores,” led by Maj. Sebastian Kwon.
Tech. Sgt. Jason Scott, a cyber warfare operator for 855th CPT, said, “Demand for our services is growing daily as end users realize what we bring to the fight, and we can’t blame them. We stay extremely busy assisting our mission partners with cyber security.”
Staying busy is the easy part of the Guardians’ mission. Trying to stay ahead of the enemy’s tactics while operating within DoD and Air Force instructions provides new challenges that the teams are eager to meet.
Staff Sgt. Angel Dingui, 854th CPT, explained, “With each mission tasking, we have to think of creative ways to leverage our tools and ‘hunt’ the bad guys. It’s an exciting time to be cyber!”
Staff Sgt. Timothy Parker, 853th CPT, added that “through continuous refinement of our processes, training, and defenses, we can secure our most vulnerable resource—information.”
While the Guardians stay busy with operations, supporting efforts such as the Office of Personnel Management breach and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, they also engage in base activities with Team Scott and fellow mission partners, looking to recruit talent from across the Air Force onto this emerging battle front.
While the unit is excited to be on the cutting edge of cyber security, they are also trying to change the persona Airmen might have about the cyber professionals within this community. They are focused on embracing the whole Airman concept and ensuring that the foundational pillars including physical fitness are tantamount to how they fly, fight, and win.
The Guardians are committed to ensuring all Air Force cyber defense forces are ready to meet not only today’s challenges but tomorrow’s as well. Known as trailblazers in the industry, they are constantly sharing their innovations and processes with other cyber protection units, especially with their sister unit, the 837th COS also located at Scott.
Kwon said, that “with the speed that cyber is changing, it can seem almost impossible to stay ahead of the enemy. The Air Force is very lucky to have this team of brilliant cyber warfare operators, network infrastructure specialists, and all-source intelligence analysts on their side, hunting down and ensuring the eradication of anyone who dares attack our network infrastructure.”