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83 NOS brings airpower to cyber warfare

This is the 83rd Network Operations Squadron Detachment 4 patch. The 83 NOS uses their weapon system, known as the Cyber Security and Control system, to ensure 24-hour network operations, management functions and enable key enterprise services and defensive operations within the Air Force’s networks. The CSCS is one of seven Air Force cyber weapon systems and is operated every day at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (U.S. Air Force graphic)

This is the 83rd Network Operations Squadron Detachment 4 patch. The 83 NOS uses their weapon system, known as the Cyber Security and Control system, to ensure 24-hour network operations, management functions and enable key enterprise services and defensive operations within the Air Force’s networks. The CSCS is one of seven Air Force cyber weapon systems and is operated every day at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (U.S. Air Force graphic)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- On any given day, there are threats from the virtual domain which could wreak havoc in the physical world. To help defend against this invisible enemy, Airmen with the 83rd Network Operations Squadron, Detachment 4 operate a weapon system that brings airpower to the cyber war.  

Stationed at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, approximately 197 Airmen within the 83rd NOS are charged with defending more than 30,000 personnel across Europe. However, with their Cyber Security and Control System weapon system the support they provide can reach much further.

"Prior to the CSCS, our support was limited to the U.S. Air Forces in Europe theater," said Capt. Nathan Waters, 83 NOS director of operations. "Now that we have this capability, the backing we can provide extends far past Europe and reaches all over the world."

Though their focus is primarily USAFE's networks, if necessary they are able to work with  three other network operation units, and their detachments, located across the globe to surge cyber capabilities where required. This also means that cyber forces from around the globe can be leveraged to support the USAFE area of responsibility.

The core services which they provide include telephone communications, cyber vulnerability scanning, digital patches and other various network monitoring tools.

"The services we provide are the infrastructure that all communication goes through between geographically separated installations," Waters said. By utilizing the CSCS, we can ensure 24-hour network operations, management functions and enable key enterprise services and defensive operations within USAFE and the Air Force Enterprise."

As the tempo of cyber operations increases, so does the demand for exceptional Airmen who can accomplish the cyber mission.

"We previously all worked in the same building doing support and maintenance, however we have modified our structure to   better operationalize how we support mission in our area of responsibility," Master Sgt. Joseph Friesenhahn, 83 NOS assistant director of operations. "In the end we created two groups which were inspired by the flying community; to carry out mission tasks, this coupled with the rigor of operational and tactical level planning provided faster more thought out impact to those we support. While this required more man power, I believe leadership agrees and has made this a priority which is why we have grown so quickly."

While the restructure has its benefits the schedule can be rigorous, Friesenhan noted. 

"The rotation is 16 months and is broken up into four month cycles of conducting operations and training," Friesenhan said. "Due to our operations we are considered deployed in place which ensures our cycle is not hindered, otherwise the USAFE missions may be degraded."

Cyber warfare is a battle raged on a field untouched by traditional weapons; however the 83 NOS Airmen stay prepared with sharp minds and keen skills ready to defend against the invisible threat.