JACKSONVILLE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, FL -- Officials from the 125th Fighter Wing recognized the activation of the 125th Communications Squadron during a ceremony held at the Jacksonville Air National Guard Base, Florida, April 2, 2023.
Redesignating the flight to a squadron will position the unit for future growth to better meet the growing technology demands of mission readiness and execution.
“The redesignation as a squadron is a recognition of the dedication, hard work, and excellence of the past and present communications and cyber-Airmen here at the 125th,” said Maj. Joshua McDermott, 125th CS commander. “We owe a debt of gratitude to those current and former members who paved the way to reach this important milestone in our unit’s history.”
The squadron was recently tasked with establishing a Mission Defense Team (MDT) to provide functional mission assurance to the 125th Fighter Wing. MDTs provide specialized cybersecurity to mission systems across the Air Force, according to the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association website.
“This increased responsibility moves the 125th Communications Flight beyond its base communications and information technology focus,” said Capt. Stephen Sizemore, 125th CS director of operations.
The MDT will field one segment of the Wing’s mission-relevant terrain-cyber (MRT-C) with five new positions allotted. Future expansion of MDTs to protect elements of the Wing’s cyber terrain will be facilitated easier by slotting the MDT into the Special Mission Flight under the squadron architecture, said Sizemore.
Additionally, as the 125th FW prepares for the first arrival of the F-35 Lightning II aircraft in 2024, the unit is poised to grow again to support requirements for the new aircraft, said Sizemore.
“Converting to the F-35 will increase our responsibility to directly support the cyber and information technology requirements for the Fighter Wing,” said Sizemore. “As a result, our mission will grow to include supporting the F-35’s operational requirements through Agile Combat Employment (ACE).”
Chief Master Sgt. Michelle Conaway, 125th CS Senior Enlisted Leader, emphasized the importance of the squadron’s formal federal recognition.
“As the Wing adapts and prepares for potential conflict with near-peer competitors, mission requirements will continue to evolve and grow,” said Conaway. “Redesignating to a squadron gives the federal recognition you’ve earned and deserve and highlights the importance of what we do. IT, comms, and cyber hygiene are critical to every [Florida Air National Guard] mission, and you make it look easy every day!”
The 43 Airmen of the 125th Communications Squadron are entrusted with the challenging mission of providing daily communications support for the Fighter Wing, including support to several geographically-separated units spanning the entire state. They maintain the Wing’s communication and cybersecurity posture, and execute plans and programs to modernize the Wing’s voice and data communication infrastructure. Finally, the unit trains and provides combat-ready cyber-Airmen to deploy worldwide in support of contingency operations.