BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — The Battle Creek Air National Guard formally activated its cyber unit Saturday in a rare event attended by Guard members, their families, generals and both of Michigan’s U.S. senators.
“The world is a very dangerous place and it is critically important for the defense of this nation that we continue to stand up to these kinds of capabilities to defend these colors, those children, our families, our loved ones and our future,” Maj. Gen. Gregory Vadnais, adjutant general and director of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs for Michigan, said at the event.
In a ceremony during which the flag was officially unfurled for the first time, the 272nd Cyber Operations Squadron was activated. It is one of only five in the nation.
In attendance was Democratic U.S. Sen Gary Peters, who is on the Homeland Security and Armed Services committees.
“The face of warfare is going to change in dramatic ways, in ways we may not fully comprehend right now,” Peters said.
He was joined by Michigan’s senior senator Debbie Stabenow, also a Democrat. She noted that 10 years ago, the Battle Creek base was slated to close.
“So they, literally, have grabbed onto the opportunity to look at the future,” Stabenow said. “I would say we’re more secure today than we have been in a long time.”
In addition to regular Guard training, the cyber squadron keeps the Department of Defense systems safe from cyberattack.
“Our mission focus is all defensive in nature,” said Maj. Dan Guy, who is credited with leading the base through the journey to become a leader in cybersecurity.
“If our country is attacked by an adversary, that first attack will be a cyberattack, so truly this unit will be at the tip of the spear when it comes to defending our country,” Peters said.
Hosted by the 110th Attack Wing, the squadron will add 70 jobs at the base.
Also in Battle Creek are the pilots of the MQ-9 drone, described as the most feared drone in action. The remote-control aircraft is used throughout the world for surveillance and attack.
“As I travel around the state, most folks don’t realize they have pilots sitting in Battle Creek flying aircraft in Afghanistan in missions every single day of the year,” Peters said. “It’s incredible technology, it’s state-of-the-art technology, it represents the future of the United States Air Force and Air National Guard and it’s happening here in Battle Creek.”