A VITAL LINK - Efforts during tsunami show how

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- From a windowless vault deep within the Pacific Air Forces Headquarters building, Detachment 1, 561st Network Operations Squadron, Airmen provided the critical network support required to allow more than 770 sorties to deliver aid workers and supplies to earthquake and tsunami torn Japan, starting March 12.

"I'm excited to be part of bringing cyber capabilities to the organizations helping Japan," said Senior Airman Zane Williams, a Detachment 1 directory and authentication services technician. "It's through missions like this relief effort that I'm reminded of the importance of what we do in the Air Force."

The 561st NOS Detachment 1, a sub-organization to the 67th Network Warfare Wing, is one of only five Enterprise Service Units in the Air Force and an extension of the 561st NOS located at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. The detachment delivers core network services and support to create integrated cyberspace effects primarily for the Pacific Air Forces area of responsibility. By operating 24/7 in support of more than 67,000 customers at 10 bases, Detachment 1 assures command and control and information dominance for Air Force Network Operations and U.S. Cyber Command.

The 9.0-magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami on March 11 temporarily severed computer communications between the continental United States and air bases in Japan, Korea and Guam. As part of what is now called Operation Tomodachi (Japanese for friendship), the assistance operation to support Japan in disaster relief following the Tohoku earthquake and resulting tsunami, Detachment 1 Airmen promptly coordinated repairs between the affected bases and the Defense Information Services Agency. They were able to restore network connectivity in less than five hours.

"The critical focus was to ensure that all equipment providing network core services throughout the Pacific Air Forces theater were online and operational," said Capt. Eric Rudolph, Detachment 1 director of operations. "The cyber capabilities we provide are the heartbeat to recovery operations, and I'm very proud of our cyber professionals who worked together with cyber units across half the globe to identify, repair and stabilize the network."

Detachment 1 immediately applied a USCYBERCOM order to limit the number of network service interruptions that could disrupt Pacific Air Forces' ability to move people and supplies through the region. These interruptions, normally scheduled for system upgrades and maintenance, were minimized to provide effective precision engagement to the relief effort.

The 561st NOS Detachment 1, which is responsible for operating PACAF's portion of the Air Force network, increased vigilance and monitoring of network services to allow units participating in the relief effort to operate their systems without the threat of data loss or cyber attack during this high operations period. Network services provided by Detachment 1 directly enabled several C-17 sorties flying out of Hickam Field and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

Through their quick network posturing they also permitted Yokota Air Base, Japan, to recover civilian airline traffic in the hours immediately following the earthquake, and helped turn Misawa AB, Japan, into a primary hub for relief airlift operations. As a result, by April 6, about 20,000 U.S. troops and 140 aircraft were involved in relief operations that brought more than 486 tons of relief supplies to the disaster-stricken areas of Japan.

"Through the network services and capabilities provided by Detachment 1 Airmen, Pacific Air Forces is able to successfully generate missions that are saving lives daily. Cyberspace operations are at the heart of Operation Tomodachi," said Lt. Col. Evan Watkins, Detachment 1 commander.

This is the detachment's first involvement in a large-scale humanitarian effort since its activation in 2007.

-- Senior Master Sgt. Alexander Hall
Detachment 1, 561st Network Operations Squadron