LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --
On May 10th, 2019, Governor Asa Hutchinson, along with key community leaders and the 189th Airlift Wing leadership, signed state bill 632, carrying the Arkansas Cyber Initiative one more step in the direction of cybersecurity and cyber education within the state of Arkansas.
The bill allows the Arkansas cyber community to readily engage in outreach efforts to rural and regional communities, build awareness of threats and teach basic cyber hygiene needs. Additionally the initiative will assess state infrastructure of cyber risks and develop exercises in conjunction with the public and private sector, teaching communities how to respond during cyber events.
The new bill also presents new cyber opportunities within Arkansas’ borders, adding classes to the education system as well as within the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics community. Students attending a STEM program or cyber class at their school or as an extracurricular activity would potentially be able to fine-tune their cyber skills by taking more advanced classes, which progress the bill supports.
“I think this bill will enhance and create new opportunities and merge existing ones within programs like STEM,” said Maj. Scott Anderson, the 189th Operations Group detachment one commander. “The ACI will be a launching point or a ‘garden’ to expand Arkansas cyber capabilities, including academia of all levels.”
As cyber operations become more desired throughout the world, the need for realignment to support the mission is more apparent. Postured for growth with no end in sight, the detachment upped their game, adding a new squadron to the wing.
Recently, the detachment became the 223rd Cyberspace Operations Squadron. On June 9th, 2019, the re-designation occurred during the wing’s super drill. The event allowed the cyber Airmen to gain a new level of support to the wing, state and the Department of Defense.
“This is a step in the right direction,” said Anderson. “We will now need to figure out to what level we will be able to support, such as coordinating with Joint Force Headquarters, Joint Operations Center, Arkansas Department of Emergency Management and more. The possibilities are endless and ‘cyber’ isn’t going anywhere and neither is the demand for cyber training and operations, we just need to be resourced accordingly.”
Anderson expressed his excitement for what the future of cyber holds for the wing and the honor they feel to carry the name of the 223rd Combat Communications Squadron which was based out of Hot Springs, Ark.
“What a great lineage we come from. There’s nowhere to go but up,” he said. “A few years from now, we’ll have manpower growth. Let’s create a Cyberspace Operations Group under the 189th. Who knows what’s in store.”