1 ACOS demonstrates advanced cyber capabilities to COMUSAFE

Story and photos by Capt. Jacob Murray
435th Air Ground Operations Wing Public Affairs
U.S. Air Force Gen. James B. Hecker, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa, and Lt. Col Phillip Alvarez, 1 ACOS Squadron Commander greet one another before the 1 ACOS capabilities demonstration. The demonstration showcased the unique cyber capabilities of 1 ACOS (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Jacob Murray)

The 1st Air and Space Communications Operations Squadron recently demonstrated its unique cyber capabilities to U.S. Air Force Gen. James Hecker, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa and NATO Allied Air Command, and other senior leaders. The squadron showcased its leading-edge technology in modern warfighting, demonstrating what is known as Combined Joint All Domain Command and Control.

The only unit of its kind in the Air Force, the 1st ACOS presented capabilities that integrate air, land, sea, space and cyberspace operations. The demonstration featured an overview of many of the tools 1st ACOS has in its communications spectrum including the Theater Network Operations Center.

“The TNOC is the eyes and ears of the commander of the squadron and provides real time insight into network status across USAFE-AFAFRICA,” said Senior Airman Pedro T. Giron, 1st ACOS TNOC lead technician. “TNOC provides 24/7 services to ensure Europe and Africa can meet their classified mission needs, and we are the first call for any operation or mission-related event.”

The delegation was then briefed on BlackNet, a cyber-transport enabling secure access to any network, adaptable to both garrison and deployed locations. BlackNet can be accessed in multiple ways, such as through a cellular network, satellite or Ethernet cable, to name a few examples. Attendees observed near real-time, reliable, resilient network capability using BlackNet.

“BlackNet is not just a network but a backbone supporting all others,” said Billy Nix, 1st ACOS Lead Network Engineer. “It creates a resilient network that integrates many networks under a single, robust and adaptable framework.”

The team also discussed their Cloud Outpost initiative with the Chief Technology Office. This enhances cloud integration and edge computing, allowing access to critical data even in degraded environments.

The leadership team was then introduced to 1st ACOS’s Global Command and Control System.

U.S. Air Force Gen. James B. Hecker, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa, takes a moment to recognize the work of 1 ASOS Senior Airman Corbin Sheleheda. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Jacob Murray)

“Our advanced version of GCCS offers a comprehensive operational picture for Europe and Africa, significantly enhancing our response capabilities,” said Daniel Erb, 1 ACOS Lead Command and Control System Administrator. “Cloud integration will revolutionize warfighter ability. More powerful edge devices reduce the hardware footprint without sacrificing compute and store power.”

The mission of 1st ACOS is to deliver, operate and defend C5ISR, Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance capabilities to enable the kill-web anytime, anywhere.

The visit concluded with a demonstration of 1 ACOS’s deployable tactical classified equipment. This equipment is vital for expanding the reach of Command and Control capabilities to the forward edge of operations.

“Our capabilities enable high-level decision-making that reduces the uncertainties of warfare,” said Lt. Col Phillip Alvarez, 1 ACOS Squadron Commander. “This aligns with the combatant commander’s strategies for distributed control and decentralized execution. These capabilities are essential for maintaining superiority in today’s Great Power Competition.”

Gen. Hecker praised the squadron’s efforts, “1 ACOS is effectively tackling some of our most challenging command and control issues. By integrating and enhancing our capabilities, they’re meeting the strategic demands of the European theater.”