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NEWS | June 15, 2022

Sixteenth Air Force engages with San Antonio Chamber’s Cybersecurity and Military Affairs Councils

By Nadine Wiley De Moura 688th Cyberspace Wing Public Affairs

The San Antonio Chamber’s Cybersecurity and Military Affairs Councils joint meeting welcomed several guest speakers from Sixteenth Air Force and the 688th Cyberspace Wing at Port San Antonio June 1.

Air Force Lt. Col. Luis Palacios, Director of Commander’s Action Group, Sixteenth Air Force; and Air Force Col. Joshua Rockhill, 688th Cyberspace Wing A5/8/9 and commander of the 26th Cyberspace Operations Group, were guest speakers at the meeting. Air Force Col. Andrew Steffen, commander of NSA-Texas, was also in attendance.

The meeting discussed relevant cyber operations in San Antonio and highlight the relationship between the military and the San Antonio community.

Palacios provided a mission brief on the scope of Sixteenth Air Force services, mission and vision, and global presence. He highlighted the changing landscape regarding 21st century warfare and how offensive attacks are conducted, necessitating a need for a specialized technologically advanced branch within our military.

Before the Sixteenth Air Force stood up in 2019, there were information-related capabilities within the Air Force all operating in their own individual stove pipes, Palacios said.

“The information environment processes through all of these things -- the charge was simple. How do we integrate, synchronize and defend information related capabilities that aren’t siloed with our normal information capabilities of Weather, ISR, Cyber, Information Operations and the Electromagnetic Spectrum?”

The Sixteenth Air Force was activated to synchronize all of that capability to leverage the totality of the information environment, Palacios said.

“When Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh and the staff stood up the NAF they approached its development through three lines of effort: generating insight, competition, and preparing for escalation,” said Palacios.

Palacios emphasized the expansiveness of the NAF working in areas within the information environment to include global weather predictions, warfighter communications, Cyber and globally integrated ISR as the Air Force’s first Information Warfare Numbered Air Force.

With 128 worldwide locations and over 40,000 active duty, civilian, aligned Guard, and Reserve, the Sixteenth Air Force accounts for 10% of the entire Air Force – ensuring success in securing globally integrated information warfare outcomes.

Rockhill engaged in a discussion surrounding military presence and the San Antonio ecosystem. He brought up a personal observation detailing how units in other locations around the U.S. leverage the strengths of the communities they’re located in to substantiate the bond between the military and the community.

“We’ve aggregated and centralized securing the common day to day user experience IT network. We had to centralize the operation technology -- the AFIN,” Rockhill said.

Rockhill discussed the history of the Wing as well as the evolution of the Wing’s mission to provide, defend and extend the IT infrastructure and AFIN across the Air Force --  creating fusion and identifying cost efficiencies.

“Where we are headed is that airmen have to be very good with data flow”.

They need to understand data flow-- not just in the common user flow but understand in an operational sense, Rockhill added.

“Now what were worried about is end to end securing the mission experience and enabling those things that give you convergence.”