Det. 2, 318th COG reaches 10 year anniversary

  • Published
  • By Daryl Crissman
  • Det. 2, 318th Cyber Operations Group weapons and tactics chief
The year was 2004 when Col. Larry "Turbo" Thompson, Air Force Information Warfare Center commander, decided to bring life to his vison of information operations integration into the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center. Thompson gathered his key leadership and started on the path to bring requisite knowledge of what is now referred to as non-kinetics to the USAFWC by placing a small AFIWC detachment at Nellis AFB. 

His first concern was who he could trust to carry out his vision and lead such a detachment. He looked around the AFIWC directorates and squadrons and came upon Maj. Robin "Montana" Williams. Montana was a member of the 92nd Information Operations Squadron and was well versed in vulnerability testing of base infrastructure.

It was an intuitive choice since he was also a graduate of the 340th Weapon School, knew the Nellis AFB community well and was a highly regarded "patch" wearer.

Now that he had a commander, Thompson needed to fill in the rest of the detachment. He sent his trusted chief master sergeant out to search for the right senior NCO to work with Montana on creating his vision. The chief looked far and wide and ended up interviewing Master Sgt. Daryl Crissman from Detachment 5, 67th Information Operations Group -- now the 526th Intelligence Squadron -- at Nellis AFB. 

After a couple of hours, the chief gave Crissman the option of staying in Det. 5 or moving over to help stand up Det. 2. Many months later in November, Crissman was asked to attend a meeting at the USAFWC. 

Thompson and Williams were going to give a brief on the new detachment that would be responsible for integrating information operations into the USAFWC's events. When Thompson came to the point of who was going to stand up the detachment he casually mentioned Williams and Crissman as the first commander and superintendent of Det. 2. This was the beginning of what is now called Detachment 2, 318th Cyber Operations Group.

In the following months, Montana and Crissman handpicked the initial staff to stand up the detachment. One of the initial members was James "Sheep" Hird, who was selected to perform the duties of the technical advisor. 

Next was Capt. William "BH" Poe, coming from the 705th Combat Training Squadron, who had invaluable knowledge of the exercise environment. 

Montana was a true salesman in how he convinced Hird and Poe to help stand up a detachment with the marching orders of "integrating information operations into the Warfare Center" is amazing. The detachment officially stood up in February 2005.

Williams had some interesting views back in 2005 as to how the detachment was created and how we were going to integrate into the USAFWC. Williams recently shared some of his experiences in standing up Det. 2.

"In the beginning, the commanders of the four existing warfare centers (Air Warfare, Mobility Warfare, Space Warfare, and IO Warfare) envisioned the need to integrate information and cyber operations into existing combat operations and training," Williams said. "In early May 2004, I was finishing up a deployment to Iraq when I was notified I had a new job upon my return, but no details were provided. As I stepped off the jet, and greeted my family, Maj. Gen. -- then Lt. Col. -- John Bansemer welcomed me home and said to report to Colonel Larry Thompson the next morning for my assignment.

"The following day we were on an airplane to Nellis AFB to meet with Lt. Gen. -- then Maj. Gen. -- Steve Woods, the Air Warfare Center commander, to discuss IO and cyber integration into all warfare center activities. I ask the general what he wanted as an end-state and he stated 'I don't know, but I will know it when I see it.' For myself, those were dream marching orders; I had a blank canvas to work with all my fellow patch-wearers to think outside the box," Williams said. "First and foremost the vision was to make cyber operations part of every future combat operation. Cyber would be as important as air, space, sea, and land maneuver. As with any change to the status quo, my team met with resistance, the old guard struggle to accept that you did not always have to use 2,000 pounds of TNT to destroy, deny, or disable an adversary's warfighting capability. We worked very hard to convince and sometimes even strong armed the vanguard to think in five domains."

The vision was simple, give the warfighter an additional arrow for his/her quiver. Give warfighters the confidence to use non-kinetic effects to achieve a mission objective without putting a human-being at risk over a target.

The men and women of Det. 2, 318th COG knew that this effort was not simple, nor near term, and they would be in it for the long haul. The delivery to the warfighters was based on a simple principle "under promise and over deliver."

During the early years, it was the team that did all the work and made the difference; they deserve all the credit and should be applauded. As 2009 approached, the efforts began to pay off, the Secretary of the Air Force and Chief of Staff put the world on notice when they changed the Air Force mission statement to: "We fly, fight, and win in air, space, and cyberspace."

The hard work and perseverance of the men and women of Det. 2 had a small part in changing the way the Air Force fights today.

"Congratulations on your 10th Anniversary, it was the greatest honor of my life to be your first commander.  Godspeed and best wishes during the next 10 years," said Williams.

Through numerous name changes over the years, Det. 2's role of integration and education has largely remained unchanged. Today's name reflects its primary focus in the cyberspace domain though it continues to be an advocate for non-kinetic effects including the use of military information support operations, electronic warfare, military deception and support to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance through cyberspace.