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NEWS | March 9, 2021

616th Operations Center demonstrates cyber capabilities to ACC leaders

By Sharon Singleton Sixteenth Air Force (Air Forces Cyber) Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Gen. Mark Kelly, commander of Air Combat Command and Command Chief Master Sgt. David Wade, ACC, visited the cyber and intelligence Airmen of the Sixteenth Air Force (Air Forces Cyber) at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland March 2-4.

The 616th Operations Center Airmen demonstrated their role in monitoring and maintaining the Air Force Information Network, or AFIN, to the visiting leaders during a 616th OC cyber tabletop exercise demonstration and a series of cyber and intelligence briefings.

“There is no doubt that malicious cyber actors are looking for places to drop malware, use malicious code or make deliberate efforts to gain information through various networks,” said Capt. Joshua Miller, chief of AFIN plans. “Air Force networks are not exempt from these malicious efforts.”

The 616th OC is comprised of career fields ranging from cyber operators to intelligence officers who protect and maintain the AFIN from malicious actors.  

During his briefing, Miller described the 616th OC as overseeing two functions: cyber and Intelligence and Surveillance, and Reconnaissance, or ISR. The cyber function splits into three capabilities: offensive cyber operations, defensive cyber operations and network operations.

“Just as there are Air Operations Centers focused on air operations, we are the Operations Centers that focus on cyber operations,” Miller said.

The tabletop exercise focused on the defensive cyber capability, which consists of reactive cyber actions, and the network capability, consisting of network maintenance.

Exercise participants witnessed first-hand how a tasking order starts with U.S. Cyber Command and then flows to the OC for command and control. This C2 gives AFCYBER the ability to issue cyber tasking orders.

Miller explained the processes used by AFCYBER to remediate cyber vulnerabilities and detect indications of compromise across the AFIN. The processes include exercising operational C2 over AFCYBER forces, directing patching and remediation efforts of Air Force Major Commands, collecting mission results returned to OC, assessing the data and reporting any indicators of compromise to higher headquarters.

Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh, Sixteenth Air Force (Air Forces Cyber) commander, stressed the importance of leadership receiving a bird’s-eye view of how Information Warfare Airmen deliver outcomes for the nation.

Kelly concluded his visit to the 616th OC with several coin presentations for outstanding performers and by commending Airmen who bravely continued missions during the recent winter storm crisis.  

He finalized his tour with a visit to the 37th Training Wing where he attended the Basic Military Training parade and graduation.