JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO–LACKLAND, Texas —
(Editor’s note: Last names were omitted for security reasons)
When Airmen at the 363rd Intelligence Support Squadron discovered an issue with the three dimensional functionality on computer workstations vital to target analysts, one of their own highly-skilled Airmen found a solution and prevented $100,000 in equipment from becoming useless.
“Airman 1st Class Nathaniel, a cyber systems operations apprentice, researched and automated a fix action to establish 3D functionality in 36th IS’s newly purchased KVM (keyboard, video and mouse) switches,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew, the Airman’s supervisor.
When the issue arose, Nathaniel contacted the KVM’s manufacturer and was told by their engineers there was no solution, but he did not let that stop him from supporting the squadron’s vital mission.
On his own accord, he spent hours studying beyond his level of expertise to build his understanding of how the various systems were operating. Then, he learned how to modify those systems in an authorized manner, his supervisor said.
The apprentice worked hard to find the correct solution.
“For solving the problem, I just did some research on how KVM's are supposed to work and identified where the error was occurring during the process. After that, it was just a lot of reading on how to manually send signals to and receive signals from the KVM and how to force an output configured for the specific monitor's we were using,” he said.
Solving problems and completing missions is something this Airman strives for.
“I’m always excited to try to fix issues that others have trouble solving. New technology will sometimes have obscure issues when it comes to some of our specialized systems at Langley Air Force Base. We are encouraged by our leadership to solve some of these problems,” he said.
The workstations Nathaniel ensured were functional are essential to the 36th IS mission.
“The 3D functionality of these products is vital to our target analysts as they perform JASSM (Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile) and JDPI (Joint Desired Point of Impact) target creation,” Matthew said. “A1C (Nathaniel’s) efforts ensured that $100K worth of equipment would not be put to waste.”
The Airman’s innovative solution has also improved workstations and KVMs at other locations and is being sent to National Guard and Reserve partners for their use.
“At a basic level, this solution allows our intel operators to have a more functional workspace,” the proud supervisor said, adding that Nathaniel’s work is just one example of the change in mindset he sees in all the squadron’s cyber operators.
“Nathaniel is a tireless worker,” he said. “Once he is assigned a task, he always comes through with optimal results, no matter what issues arise during the process,” the staff sergeant said. “He completed his 5-level training eight months early and earned the required credits to receive an associate’s degree in Information Systems Technology from the Community College of the Air Force.”
Earning that degree was just the first step in this motivated Airman’s long-term plan.
“The CCAF degree is a milestone for the bigger picture of finishing my bachelor’s degree in Cyber Security and eventually finishing my master’s degree in a related field,” Nathaniel said. “It was very important to complete this degree to progress further in my Air Force career, but it’s not the end goal.”
Nathaniel said it is important to complete objectives, whether they affect the mission or personal goals.
“If I have something that needs to be finished because it has an impact on the mission, or my goals, I go out of my way to try to complete the objective. Personal training is a requirement not only for self-improvement, but also to expand your skillset, which allows more trust to be placed in you when it comes to handling more responsibility,” he said.
It was the trust and power his leaders allowed him to have that allowed Nathaniel to accomplish personal goals while also completing his duties.
“Our leadership in the 363rd ISS gives us the time and resources we need to complete our goals while also focusing on the mission,” he said.
Nathaniel’s hard work and dedication to the mission did not go unnoticed. He was recently recognized by the 363rd Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing commander, Col. Jonathan C. Rice IV.
“Because of Nathaniel’s innovative effort with the 3-D issues, the 36th IS was able to move forward with no interruption in operations,” the commander said. “It is because of audacious Airmen like him that the 363rd is able to exercise dynamic adaptability and solve problems for warfighters around the world."