by Maj. Teresa Sullivan
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
2/12/2014 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- Maintainers
learn how to counter cyber threats on the flightline for the first time
through innovation and adaptability here during Red Flag 14-1.
Maintainers are not only expected to keep their aircraft in the fight
but are also being tested on scenarios they may face while in the combat
"What we've done is created what we call a 'contested, degraded or
operationally limited' environment, or CDO, for our maintainers, and
it's designed to prepare our Airmen for what they may face in a major
combat environment," said Maj. Christopher Vance, 414th Combat Training
Squadron maintenance division chief, and who's in charge of creating
maintenance training scenarios. "This is a beta test for maintenance.
CDO has never before been applied to maintenance during the exercise."
Red Flag leadership wants to ensure Airmen on the flightline are able to
problem-solve and respond to their environment if and when they are
faced with a compromise in technology or cyber threat. Scenarios were
devised to train maintainers in a similar format to Red Flag pilots.
"Our maintainers are very innovative and come up with solutions to
problems on their own all the time, but this has raised their awareness
to a new level," said Lt. Col. Tony Lombardo, 366th Air Expeditionary
Wing maintenance group commander at Red Flag 14-1, and who's deployed
from Mountain Home AFB, Idaho. "The good thing is our Airmen are aware
of technology, and they're adaptable. It's amazing to see them embrace
Red Flag maintainers also receive academics on cyber vulnerabilities, information operations and other CDO-related threats.
"Our Airmen want the feedback," Lombardo said. "At the end of the day, they want to know how they did against the scenario."
Instructors from the U.S. Air Force Advanced Maintenance and Munitions
Officer School, the weapons school of maintenance, are also on scene to
serve as observers and to document how these Airmen respond to the
challenges given to them. Their mission is to take that information and
create tactics, techniques and procedures, and recommend official Air
Force doctrine on how maintenance will counter cyber vulnerabilities on
into the future.
"This training is necessary for our maintainers. This is a new Air
Force, and we need to be prepared for all types of threats," said Chief
Master Sgt. Gerard Liburd, 366th AEW senior maintenance superintendent
at Red Flag 14-1, who's also deployed here from Mountain Home AFB.
When asked how the maintainers are responding to the new challenges
while working on the flightline, he said, "They have higher situational
awareness. If something looks out of place, they're all over it. If the
computer doesn't work, they create a workaround. We're hoping our Airmen
can take what they're learning here and incorporate it in to their
training back home."