Two wings re-designated as "cyber"

67th Network Warfare Wing

The 67th Network Warfare Wing, located at Kelly Field Annex, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, is set to be re-designated as the 67th Cyberspace Wing Oct. 1. The re-designated unit will maintain the history and heritage accrued under its old name. (U.S. Air Force graphic)

The mission of the 688th Information Operations Wing is to
deliver proven information operations and engineering
infrastructure capabilities integrated across air, space and
cyberspace domains. Headquartered at Lackland Air Force
Base, Texas, the 688 IOW consists of more than 1,200
military, civilian and contractor personnel skilled in the areas
of systems engineering, weaponeering, engineering and
installation, operations research, intelligence,
communications and computer applications.

The 688th Information Operations Wing at Kelly Field Annex, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas is set to be re-designated as the 688th Cyberspace Wing Sept. 13. The re-designated unit will maintain the history and heritage accrued under its old name. (U.S. Air Force graphic)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- What is in a name? In the Air Force, legacy, history, emblems, unit colors and mottos are just a few of the things that are a part of a unit's designation.

The 67th Network Warfare Wing, located at Kelly Field Annex, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, and the 688th Information Operations Wing at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas are being re-designated as the 67th Cyberspace Wing and 688th Cyberspace Wing, respectively. The two units will maintain the history accrued under their old names, stretching back more than half a century each.

"From a historical perspective, it's nice to acknowledge a new mission, while still maintaining past lineage and traditions," said Dr. Gregory Ball, command historian for 24th Air Force.

To change a unit's name first requires a request by the unit commander. Once approved, the major command under which the unit falls will then issue the order to change the unit's designation and the date at which the name change will become effective.

Once the re-designation is approved by the Air Force, the Air Force Historical Research Agency, which is responsible for determining organizational lineage and honors, forwards the approved re-designation request to the U.S. Army's Institute of Heraldry.

The Institute of Heraldry, which, by law, provides heraldry services to the Department of Defense, will then create a new emblem and flag drawing with the approved designation.

Finally, units hold a ceremony in which the organizational flag with the old designation is cased, and the new flag is unfurled.

Unit re-designations can occur for many reasons, but in this case, the purpose is standardization.

"Throughout the Air Force, you have fighter wings, bomber wings and training wings," said Ball. "Renaming these units as 'cyberspace wings' is a logical step, since it says very clearly what we do."

The 67th Cyberspace Wing was first activated in 1947 as the 67th Reconnaissance Wing. The unit flew combat reconnaissance missions during the Korean War, providing photographic coverage of enemy activity. The 67th RW continued its flying mission until 1993, when it became an intelligence wing and, eventually, a network warfare wing.

One of the 67th RW's squadrons, the 91st Network Warfare Squadron, has a unique history dating back to 1917. It was established at Kelly Field, Texas as the 91st Aero Squadron and flew photographic reconnaissance missions in Europe during World War I as part of the Army Air Service.

The 688th Cyberspace Wing started out in 1953 as the Air Force Special Communications Center at Kelly Field, where it produced and disseminated intelligence data for the Air Force Security Service Agency. By the 1960s, the center had become involved in electronic warfare, and in 1975 became the first U.S. Air Force electronic warfare center. The early 1990s saw the rise of information warfare, and the organization became the Air Force Information Warfare Center in 1993, ultimately becoming the 688th Information Operations Wing assigned to the 24th Air Force. Since its inception, the unit has remained in San Antonio.

"It's interesting how you can start on either end of the spectrum--reconnaissance and electronic warfare--and eventually meet in the middle as cyber," said Ball.

The re-designation will become effective officially on Sept. 13 for the 688th and Oct. 1 for the 67th.