The Air Force’s efforts to turn Scott Air Force Base into a major cyber-security hub are set to launch officially Tuesday, when two newly-minted squadrons under the auspices of the Air Force Space Command are scheduled to be activated.
Their official activation was marked during ceremonies Tuesday morning at the base outside Mascoutah.
The 835th Cyberspace Operations Squadron and the 837th Cyberspace Squadron both were launched Tuesday at Scott. Also taking place was the activation ceremony for the 688th Cyberspace Operations Group, a subsidiary unit of the U.S. Space Command, which has headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.
The new squadrons and ops group will bring a total of about 200 active-duty troops to Scott, along with 59 civilian staff and 20 contract support personnel, according to Air Force announcements.
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The Air Force has already budgeted $16 million to upgrade and expand existing buildings at Scott to house the new cybersecurity units.
The new squadrons at Scott will answer to the 688th Cyberspace Wing, which has headquarters at Joint Base San Antonio, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. The wing is subordinate to the 24th Air Force, which is also based at Joint Base San Antonio.
Cybersecurity has in recent years become a top priority for the the federal government in general, and the Air Force in particular.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Walsh III signed a memorandum in April that established the Task Force Cyber Secure to “address challenges of the cyberspace domain in synchronization, operations and governance within the Air Force and with those organizations it supports.”
Two weeks ago, the Department of Homeland Security announced plans to fast-track the hiring of up to 1,000 new cybersecurity personnel by June, according to a notice set to be published tomorrow in the Federal Register.
And last year, the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee released a report on the committee’s yearlong investigation into cyberattacks conducted against the U.S. Transportation Command, based at Scott. The report concluded that Chinese hackers had breached the computer networks of contractors working with the command 20 times over the course of a year, but that the command was aware of just two of those intrusions.