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960th Cyberspace Operations Group adds squadron

Col. Lloyd Terry Jr., 960th Cyberspace Operations Group commander prepares to unfurl the 854th Combat Operations Squadron’s guidon held by Senior Master Sgt. Kim MacFarlane, 854th COS superintendent at the squadrons activation ceremony April 5 at the Kelly Fitness Center auditorium, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.  Col. Mark Melcher (center), 854th COS commander, assumed command of the former detachment a year ago to build the unit to squadron strength and is continuing his focus on hiring qualified people to support the Air Force cyberspace command and control mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Lori Fiorello)

Col. Lloyd Terry Jr., 960th Cyberspace Operations Group commander prepares to unfurl the 854th Combat Operations Squadron’s guidon held by Senior Master Sgt. Kim MacFarlane, 854th COS superintendent at the squadrons activation ceremony April 5 at the Kelly Fitness Center auditorium, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. Col. Mark Melcher (center), 854th COS commander, assumed command of the former detachment a year ago to build the unit to squadron strength and is continuing his focus on hiring qualified people to support the Air Force cyberspace command and control mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Lori Fiorello)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- The Air Force Reserve Command deactivated the 960th Cyberspace Operations Group - Detachment 1 and re-designated the unit the 854th Combat Operations Squadron in a ceremony April 5 at the Kelly Fitness Center auditorium here.

The squadron, formerly one of two detachments designed to house cyber defense Citizen Airmen and grow to squadron strength, joins the 960th CYOG here.  It runs cyberspace command and control operations for the entire Air Force. 
 
 
"When we first began, I was an Air Force of one," said Col. Mark Melcher, 854th COS commander.  "We had our first (unit training assembly) January 2013 with only a handful of folks and we're growing from there." Melcher is charged with ramping up a squadron that has become the single cyberspace operations center.  The squadron's mission is to integrate Citizen Airmen into active duty's 624th Operations Center cyberspace command and control mission.  The total force works hand-in-hand to ensure the Air Force is postured to exert cyber superiority in a volatile, contested environment. 
 
  

"Our main focus now is hiring qualified people and getting them mission ready as soon as possible," said Melcher.  "This is how we can most quickly provide support to our active duty counterparts."

The commander, who formerly ran strategy for Air Education and Training Command, is proud of the accomplishments his Reservists have made so far and is eager to attract and retain more top talent to ensure mobilization readiness. 

Recently, the unit sent some of its members to the Intermediate Network Warfare Training course held at Hurlburt Field, Fla.  This course serves as initial qualification training for personnel actively defending global Air Force networks.  Culminating the course is a capstone exercise that involves simulated warfighting scenarios.

"This is the first team in the history of the course to beat the aggressors," said Melcher.  "We have pretty sharp people ... we're world class in what we do (here)."

The 'Scorpions' join an elite group of nearly 800 people working in cyberspace operations throughout AFRC.

 "The unique part of our unit is that we've been fully integrated with the (active-duty) mission since day one," said Lt. Col. Samuel McGlynn, 854th COS director of operations.  "Our operations tempo is always high, we're not training for a future mission ... our mission is now."

Closing out the ceremony, Melcher challenged his squadron to strive to be the best in the industry, and then proudly shouted the unit's vision statement, "Citizen Airmen leading cyberspace dominance!"

Those interested in joining the cyber team should contact Chief Master Sgt. William Fountas at 210-925-7224 or william.fountas@us.af.mil or check out www.usajobs.gov for a listing of current ART positions available.

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