Robins home to first AF combat communications wing

  • Published
  • By Wayne Crenshaw
  • 78 ABW/PA
At the Museum of Aviation on Monday, a banner that had been furled for 18 years saw the light of day again, and with it came the creation of a new wing at Robins.

The banner had been that of the 1931st Communications Group that deactivated in 1991. In Monday's ceremony, the unit was reactivated and then re-designated the 689th Combat Communications Wing.

The wing will be headquartered here, bringing with it approximately 40 new positions. The wing is about 6,000 personnel strong, made up of active-duty, reserve and guard units around the country. The 5th Combat Communications Group at Robins is part of the wing.

The 689th CCW's mission is to train, deploy and deliver expeditionary and specialized communications, air traffic control and landing systems for relief and combat operations.

The wing is under the newly formed 24th Air Force, and it will be the first combat communications wing in the Air Force. Col. Theresa Giorlando was installed as the first commander of the wing.

"We are going to be the pathfinders that lead the way," said Giorlando, who previously served as director for communications at Headquarters Air Education and Training Command at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas. "Ladies and gentleman, we are going to be a force to be reckoned with."

Maj. Gen. Richard E. Webber, commander of the 24th Air Force, also spoke at the ceremony. The 24th Air Force is part of the Air Force Space Command and plans and conducts cyber operations to "extend, maintain and defend the Air Force portion of the information grid," according to a release.

"Today is a historic day because this is the time when that consolidation of our cyber capabilities under a single operational warfighter really comes to fruition," Webber told the audience.

Also at the ceremony was Gen. Robert Kehler, commander of Air Force Space Command. He, Webber and Giorlando gave a press conference to local media following the ceremony.

"Through 24th Air Force, our service will present a full spectrum of cyber-space capabilities that are vital to the joint warfighters," Kehler said.

The initial focus of the 24th Air Force, he said, is to defend computer networks.

"The U.S. is vulnerable to cyber attacks by relentless adversaries, attempting to infiltrate our networks at work and at home millions of times per day," he said. "Through the activation of the 24th Air Force, we have begun a deliberate and focused effort to improve our cyber defenses."

The 689th CCW headquarters will occupy the first-floor offices of the current 5th CCG headquarters at Robins. The 5th CCG headquarters will move to the second floor of the building.

In addition to the 5th CCG, the wing will include the 3rd Combat Communications Group at Tinker AFB, Okla.