85th EIS enables Undergraduate Cyber Training

From left, 2nd Lt’s Mark Lebedzinski, Brett Cox, Calvin Perez and Nate Kendall examine a display of communication equipment Dec. 7 at a banquet honoring the first graduates of the Air Force’s Undergraduate Cyberspace Training course conducted at the 333rd Training Squadron. Lieutenant Perez, stationed with the New York Air National Guard’s 213th Engineering Installation Squadron, was part of the first graduating class. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue, 81st Training Wing Public Affairs)

From left, 2nd Lt’s Mark Lebedzinski, Brett Cox, Calvin Perez and Nate Kendall examine a display of communication equipment Dec. 7 at a banquet honoring the first graduates of the Air Force’s Undergraduate Cyberspace Training course conducted at the 333rd Training Squadron. Lieutenant Perez, stationed with the New York Air National Guard’s 213th Engineering Installation Squadron, was part of the first graduating class. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue, 81st Training Wing Public Affairs)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Several of the contributions of the 85th Engineering Installation Squadron to the Air Force's cyberspace mission culminated in the first graduating class of Undergraduate Cyber Training Dec. 7.

From the graduation, 16 second lieutenants received their cyber wings and headed off to their first assignments across the globe to defend the United States in this new warfighting domain.

Behind the scenes of all the fanfare of the graduating class stood the men and women of the 85 EIS, whose tireless efforts and dedication took the idea of UCT from concept to reality. Their efforts led to the installation of a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, a secure facility used to process sensitive information. Just a few months prior to the ribbon cutting ceremony, the SCIF for the UCT schoolhouse was nothing but an empty shell of classrooms and offices with zero communications infrastructure.

The 85th EIS' newest project engineer 2nd Lt. Brian Smith who had just graduated from the course said he appreciated how the SCIF enhanced the training.

"It was beneficial to us as UCT students to have the ability to use non-classified, secret, top-secret, and laboratory networks at a single terminal," said Lieutenant Smith who had seen many SCIFs in his previous 10 years as an enlisted Airman. "It was the most secure SCIF I have seen."

The installation was led by Capt. Joseph Kirk, 85th EIS project engineer, and Staff Sgt. Eric Hafner, 85th EIS team chief, who developed a plan to install state-of-the-art communications infrastructure to support the needs of the new training facility. The project included distribution of three classified networks, two unclassified networks, an in-house network, and voice services to 30 classrooms and offices. Sergeant Hafner led 15 installers working two shifts, 24 hours a day for 60 days. His team installed over 150,000 feet of network cable, 4,500 cable terminations, 5,000 feet of cable tray, and 36 equipment racks. The finished SCIF was turned over to the 333rd Training Squadron on the promised delivery date of June 1 despite more than 400 man-hours worth of additional changes identified by the customer during the installation.

"Partnering with the 85th EIS, the 333d was able to complete its UCT installation project eight months early and at a savings of more than $350,000," said Maj. Rodney Owen, 333rd Training Squadron flight commander in charge of UCT.

Lt. Col. Scott Solomon, now the 81st Training Group deputy commander, said "Without the organic capability and flexibility of the 85th EIS, we would have failed to meet our timelines for the standup of the 17D Initial Qualification Training courses. In a very short period of time, we had to double the size of our SCIF to meet the new 17D (cyberspace warfare operator) and 1B4 (network defense operator) career field classroom requirements. De-conflicting physical construction with infrastructure installation and changing infrastructure installation procedures on the fly due to new changes in DoD physical security policy were all possible due to the their capability and flexibility ... A+ work all the way!"

"It's important to understand the historic significance of this effort," said Lt. Col. Lonnie Hammack, 85th EIS commander. "For most of the Air Force's 63 year history, its focus was on the warfighting domain of the air. The domain of space was added after Air Force Space Command stood up in 1982. Now, the Air Force has a third warfighting domain, cyberspace, and this is the inaugural event for the training of the first forces that will operate in that domain."

In recognition of the 85th EIS' outstanding contribution to Undergraduate Cyber Training, 17 personnel were recognized with letters of appreciation from the 333rd Training Squadron and also awarded the 688th Information Operations Wing 2010 Second Quarter Large Team Award. Most importantly, the efforts of the 85 EIS will continue to bear fruit with the graduation of thousands of cyberspace operators in the years to come.