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910th Communications Squadron unit profile: Behind the digital curtain

Staff Sgt. John Priddy, a knowledge management operations technician assigned to the 910th Communications Squadron, works on a forum to upload onto the 910th Airlift Wing’s SharePoint, Jan. 11, 2019, at Youngstown Air Reserve Station.

Staff Sgt. John Priddy, a knowledge management operations technician assigned to the 910th Communications Squadron, works on a forum to upload onto the 910th Airlift Wing’s SharePoint, Jan. 11, 2019, at Youngstown Air Reserve Station. The 910th CS’s Knowledge Operations Section maintains the 910th Airlift Wing’s SharePoint, a secure system used to communicate and share information with Reserve Citizen Airmen who are largely spread out. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Noah J. Tancer)

Staff Sgt. David Johnson, a client systems technician assigned to the 910th Communications Squadron, opens the bottom of a laptop to replace the battery, Jan. 11, 2019, at Youngstown Air Reserve Station.

Staff Sgt. David Johnson, a client systems technician assigned to the 910th Communications Squadron, opens the bottom of a laptop to replace the battery, Jan. 11, 2019, at Youngstown Air Reserve Station. The 910th CS’s Client Systems Technicians Section maintains the 910th Airlift Wing’s computer equipment and responds to technical trouble tickets on the installation. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Noah J. Tancer)

Tech Sgt. Scott Ranostay, a cyber systems operator, and Tech Sgt. Lawrence Mulder, a communications computer systems operator, both assigned to the 910th Communications Squadron, troubleshoot their lab environment with a Cyber Vulnerability Assessment Hunt weapon system, Jan. 11, 2019, at Youngstown Air Reserve Station.

Tech Sgt. Scott Ranostay, a cyber systems operator, and Tech Sgt. Lawrence Mulder, a communications computer systems operator, both assigned to the 910th Communications Squadron, troubleshoot their lab environment with a Cyber Vulnerability Assessment Hunt weapon system, Jan. 11, 2019, at Youngstown Air Reserve Station. The CVAH allows the 910th CS to monitor the data packets on the 910th Airlift Wing’s network by sniffing the network for any anomalies or malice traffic. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Noah J. Tancer)

Staff Sgt. Malik Flowers, a radio frequency transmission systems technician assigned to the 910th Communications Squadron, packs radio equipment for an upcoming mission to Jacksonville Florida, Jan. 11, 2019, at Youngstown Air Reserve Station.

Staff Sgt. Malik Flowers, a radio frequency transmission systems technician assigned to the 910th Communications Squadron, packs radio equipment for an upcoming mission to Jacksonville Florida, Jan. 11, 2019, at Youngstown Air Reserve Station. The 910th CS’s Radio Frequency Section maintains the 910th Airlift Wing’s very high frequency and ultra-high frequency radios mostly used for ground to ground contact. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Noah J. Tancer)

YOUNGSTOWN AIR RESERVE STATION, Ohio --

The 910th Airlift Wing’s mission statement is, “Combat ready NOW… for tomorrow’s fight!” The 910th Communications Squadron provides digital infrastructure that helps keep the wing combat-ready, but also provides the assets required for day-to-day operations at Youngstown Air Reserve Station.

The 910th CS is made up of Airmen serving within five Air Force Specialty Codes, or jobs, alongside Department of Defense civilians. Although most installation employees only see the Communications Squadron’s work in customer service, providing technology solutions for end-users, the squadron is designed and trains for a wartime function.

“Most people outside the building assume that we all just do the same thing. It’s all Comm.,” said Maj. Russell Whitlock, commander of the 910th CS. “There is a ton of stuff people will never see or hear about that the folks here are dealing with and will increasingly deal with.”

The 910th Cyber Beasts, a nickname for the CS, build and improve information networks to advance communication and information distribution; repair, maintain and supply communication tools; defend and monitor networks of information and secure communication channels; and build offensive capabilities with the newly formed Mission Defense Team concept.

The Communications Squadron’s primary purpose is intended for war, but their skills are honed by the work they do to keep YARS connected safely and securely every day.

“In cyberspace, it (war-time) really doesn’t matter,” said Whitlock. “There are just as many, if not more, bad actors that are affecting things within the CONUS (United States) within normal day-to-day operations at bases here as there are forward-deployed locations.”

Whitlock said that there are a couple of publicly accessible websites out there that you can watch malicious internet traffic, or cyber-attacks, represented as lines on a map in real-time. Attacks come from all over the place and land all over the place.

In a world where malicious actors can use the internet to reach all the way around the planet in a millisecond, Youngstown Air Reserve Station’s Cyber Beasts are behind the digital curtain operating, sustaining and defending the 910th Airlift Wing’s cyber connectivity to information systems, assuring rapid global mobility.