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NEWS | Aug. 5, 2014

McLaughlin reflects on tenure at 24th AF

By Senior Airman Krystal Jeffers 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The departing 24th Air Force commander called his assignment at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland a "great honor" and he credited the Airmen under his command with pushing the numbered air force forward in cyber defense.

"I am thankful for the opportunity to be the commander here; it is a great honor and a lot of responsibility," said Maj. Gen. James K. "Kevin" McLaughlin, who served as the commander of 24th AF and Air Forces Cyber from June 2013 to July 2014. "Some of my favorite parts were interacting with the Airmen, the importance of our mission, being a part of such a great team and making friends among the mission partners and the local community."

The commander, a native of Marble Falls, Texas, spoke highly of both the numbered air force's mission and the unit's Airmen's ability to meet it. That mission is to operate, extend and defend the Air Force Information Network, defend key mission systems, and provide cyberspace capabilities for the joint warfighter in, through and from cyberspace.

"Cyber operations, and its complexity and importance, is a relatively new thing," McLaughlin said. "The Air Force has a long history of operating in the air domain and decades in the space domain, but cyber domain is still brand new and we've taken a major step towards how we defend in the cyber domain."

Taking steps to defend and protect the digital plain was not a result of his efforts, the exiting commander emphasized, but that of the Airmen who compose his command.

"It isn't about what I have done, but what the team has done," McLaughlin said. "What makes me really satisfied about my time here is witnessing the accomplishments of the people at 24th Air Force. There are great Airmen out in our wings spread out across the United States and the world, and what I am most satisfied about is how our talented Airmen take on tough challenges head on. They have really facilitated a critical transition in cyber security.

"There is a serious threat to our cyber security and it requires a different approach," he continued. "Previously, we had a static defense posture; we updated software and protections in defense. Now we are transitioning to a more proactive stance and actively shaping and defending the cyber terrain. I am really proud of all the work the teams did."

Though senior leadership will be changing, cyber defense is ever evolving and requires a long-term commitment.

"We are right on tract, but this is a long-term commitment and there is a lot more work to do to take us to greater heights," McLaughlin said. "What they have done so far is magnificent, but we can't rest and have to keep pushing forward; an organization that stops trying to get better starts to die."