Cpl. Cedric Haller II
Defense Media Activity
Cyber security is one of the top priorities of the U.S. armed forces today. It takes a special group of people with a special set of skills to ensure American cyberspace remains defended at all times. The 252nd Group was recently reorganized as a Cyber Operations Group, making it one of the first Air National Guard Units to do so.
WHO THEY ARE:
Based out of McChord Field, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, the 262nd Network Warfare Squadron is one of 5 squadrons under the 252nd and traces its origin back to 1947, at which time their mission was combat communications. The unit then became an Information Warfare Team in 1998 with a new mission of performing multidisciplinary vulnerability assessments, including cyber vulnerability assessments.
Six years ago, 262nd IWT donned the title of Network Warfare Squadron, which centralized the focus of the team on cyber vulnerabilities. It later became a cyber protection team and eventually led the way for the Air Force in industrial control system protection, including toolset integration and training into cyberspace weapon systems.
WHAT THEY DO:
While this redesignation doesn’t really mean much when it comes to the unit’s mission, here’s a breakdown of what it is they actually do:
Despite the name, the 262nd is actually a cyber operations squadron, which means it provides mission assurance to Washington State and partners with joint warfighters to secure and defend select cyberspace assets. Additionally, the squadron is also responsible for providing mission assurance to the state-level public services and safety for the governor of Washington.
The squadron has been the go-to cyberspace operations organization for several high profile vulnerability and safeguard assessments for major combat weapons systems. The 262d NWS has also led studies to validate ICS safeguards for other government agencies around the world. The squadron has been integral in the development and exercise of DoD level cyberspace defensive tactics, techniques and procedures through leadership during national level exercises, collaboration on schoolhouse training curriculum development, and cyber weapons and tactics community initiatives.
At the direction of the governor, the 262nd NWS has and will continue to help safeguard critical public utility infrastructure.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter recently visited the unit to thank them for their continued service and stress the importance of their work. The secretary made it clear that whether it comes from a bomb or a keyboard, an attack on the United States is an attack on the States, and units like the Cyber Operations Group provide the necessary support to prevent these kinds of attacks.
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