Science and Technology News

Monday, December 7, 2015

688th Cyberspace Wing activates new operations group

by 1st Lieutenant Carly Costello and Jessica Turner
688th Cyberspace Wing and 24th Air Force Public Affairs

12/4/2015 - JBSA-LACKLAND, San Antonio, Texas -- The 688th Cyberspace Wing activated a new group and two squadrons Dec. 1, 2015, at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, and three additional squadrons at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Dec. 3, 2015.

Col. Michelle Hayworth, 688th Cyberspace Wing commander, presided over the group activation, and Col. Roger Vrooman, 688th Cyberspace Operations Group commander, presided over the activation of the group's squadrons.

"The lineage of the 688th COG goes back to this exact day, Dec. 1, 1952, with the designation and activation of the 1913th Airways and Air Communications Service Squadron at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia," Hayworth said during the group activation.

The 1913th held many different names until its deactivation in 1991. Sixty-three years later, it is reactivated as a cyberspace operations group with a mission to perform cyberspace operations and provide mission assurance for National, Joint and Service-level mission partners.

All five of the cyberspace operations squadrons will be comprised of three Cyber Protection Teams tasked with defending priority Department of Defense networks and mission systems.

"Today's [group] activation ceremony is significant because it officially marks yet another milestone in the growth of Air Force cyberspace operations capabilities," Hayworth said. "You cannot have a great unit without a great leader and I am absolutely thrilled that the Air Force selected Col. Roger Vrooman to be that leader."

Vrooman will lead more than 500 cyberspace professionals conducting cyberspace operations to protect Air Force and DOD cyber assets. Vrooman previously served under Hayworth as the Deputy Director for Communications at Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Ramstein Air Base, Germany. He has more than 30 years of Air Force experience to include commander of the 644th Combat Communications Squadron at Andersen AFB, Guam, and the 99th Communications Squadron at Nellis AFB, Nev.

"Col. Vrooman, as we pass the guidon to you, we are entrusting you to care for and to lead the men and women of the 688th Cyberspace Operations Group as its first commander, I have no doubt that you will excel," Hayworth said.

After taking command, Vrooman addressed his troops for the first time as group commander.

"What a historic day for the Air Force, Space Command, 24th Air Force and the 688th Cyberspace Wing," he said. "I'm going to do my upmost best, you have my dedication and commitment. Standing up new units and missions is never an easy task, if it were they could have anybody do it, but it would not be as fun at the end of the day. I think these hard chargers are going to do great with the new mission and tasks, you are going to see great things from these men and women."

The group's five squadrons will take their place among many units under 24th Air Force organized to support the cyber mission forces tasked to defend the United States in the cyberspace domain.

Co-located with the group, the 835th COS is the descendent of the 835th Communications Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Lt. Col. David Chaboya will lead the 835th and its three Cyberspace Protection Teams responsible for defensive cyberspace operations supporting Air Force and DOD missions.

Lt. Col. Kevin Biggs will command the 837th COS, a new squadron responsible for defensive cyberspace operations supporting DOD and Combatant missions.

The three remaining squadrons activated under the group at JBSA-Lackland Dec 3.

The 833rd COS, also a new unit, activated under the command of Lt. Col. Travis Howell, and is responsible for National defensive cyberspace operations.

The 834th COS, led by Lt. Col. Theophilus Jackman, traces back its lineage to the 2068th Communications Squadron under the Air Force Communications Service organized Jan. 1, 1963 at Eglin Air Force Auxiliary Field, Fla. It was redesiginated twice before it was deactivated March 24, 1993. The 834th is responsible for defensive cyberspace operations supporting Combatant Command missions.

The 836th COS, led by Lt. Col. Jarrod Norris, traces back its lineage to the 185th Airways and Air Communications Service Squadron organized June 1, 1948 at Williams AFB, Ariz. It redesignated three more times before it was deactivated May 1, 1992. The 836th is responsible for National defensive cyberspace operations.

"It's essential we have good, solid leaders in charge of our units. The Air Force has done a good job choosing these five to be the first commanders," Vrooman said. "Defense of the Nation's cyberspace assets is an extremely important mission and I have the upmost confidence in my commanders' abilities to lead the newest Air Force Cyberspace Operations Squadrons."

The group and its squadrons have been building up its staff over the last year, and the units will continue to grow over the next year, according to Vrooman.

"Prepare yourselves, there will be many challenges to face," Vrooman said to the squadrons. "I see a very, very tough two to three years as we have growing pains from standing up the units, to seeing new members daily, to moving [buildings and offices] possibly multiple times."

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