24th AF hosts first cyber senior enlisted summit

Maj. Gen. Richard Webber, 24th Air Force commander, speaks to atendees of the inaugural Cyber Senior Enlisted Summit here Feb. 1. Eighteen cyber senior enlisted leaders from all military services gathered at 24th Air Force to pass on best practices and learn from each other. (Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott McNabb)

Maj. Gen. Richard Webber, 24th Air Force commander, speaks to atendees of the inaugural Cyber Senior Enlisted Summit here Feb. 1. Eighteen cyber senior enlisted leaders from all military services gathered at 24th Air Force to pass on best practices and learn from each other. (Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott McNabb)

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Eighteen senior enlisted leaders from all U.S. military branches gathered at 24th Air Force for the inaugural Cyber Senior Enlisted Summit Feb. 1.

Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Slater, 24th Air Force command chief master sergeant, offered to host the event so senior enlisted leaders across the U.S. military could pass on best practices and learn from each other.

"This is an opportunity for the senior enlisted leadership to establish the relationships we need to improve our commands," said Chief Slater. "Simply being able to engage in professional dialogue on topics such as training, education, capacity and joint capabilities was a 'win.'"

The command chief said the summit was important because one of the most significant challenges faced in the cyber domain is "capacity."

"Our best chance of meeting the capacity challenge is to build and leverage joint service partnerships," said Chief Slater. "This summit was an early, positive step in that direction."

The commander of 24th Air Force opened the summit with comments on several topics. His top message to enlisted leaders was that of teamwork.

"I want to thank you all for coming here," said Maj. Gen. Richard Webber. "We are changing the (cyber) culture in our nation as well as the DoD and this has got to be a 'team sport.'"

General Webber outlined the structure of 24th Air Force and how the organization operates. He said there have been growing pains, as can be expected, in a new numbered Air Force, but that the smartest decision the Air Force made was to present forces in the cyber domain the same way it does in the air and space domains.

General Webber said he relies on Air Force schoolhouses to provide combat mission ready cyber Airmen, but cyber training isn't just for members of 24th Air Force. He pointed out that our force of enlisted Airmen now learn a great deal about basic operating fundamentals on the Air Force network and the significance of defending the network to assure Air Force mission during a four-hour block in basic training. Future Air Force officers will also be made cyber aware through similar training at the academy and ROTC schools.

The enlisted leaders came away from the day better informed about what AFCYBER brings to the table in forces and in mission assurance.

"It gave me a better understanding of 24th Air Force and its functions," said Command Master Chief Daniel Miller, U.S. Cyber Command senior enlisted leader. Twenty-fourth and its elements have really been doing a great job."

Command Sgt. Maj. David Redmon, United States Army Intelligence and Security Command, called the summit a great opportunity to take a look at service similarities and differences.

"What I really took away from this was what a career cyber professional in the Air Force is like compared to a career cyber professional in the Army," he said.

Chief Slater said the ideal joint-service relationship is one where each service's capabilities are leveraged rather than duplicated.

"One of the most important things to accomplish during this summit was to introduce our joint service partners to Air Force capabilities so each could see where we fit into the joint team," said the 24th AF senior enlisted leader.

The SELs also visited the 624th Operations Center, 33rd Network Warfare Squadron, 91st Network Warfare Squadron and the 90th Information Operations Squadron to tour facilities, receive orientation briefings and see Airmen in action.

"I have no doubt our sister service SELs left with a better appreciation for the Air Force's cyber capabilities and commitment to joint service partnerships," said Chief Slater.