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Embracing change: 55th CG builds Developmental Program, Warhawk Thinking Facility

A 55th Communication Group member writes binary Oct. 22, 2019 in the Warkhawk Thinking Facility (WTF) at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.

A 55th Communication Group member writes binary Oct. 22, 2018 in the Warkhawk Thinking Facility at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. The facility is an area used to bring ideas to life. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob Skovo)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- Through the collective efforts of its group and squadrons’ leadership, the 55th Communications Group stood up a new development program in order to ease the career field’s pivot from traditional information technology to cyber defense operations.

With the mindset of bringing the future faster, the group’s first move was to build partnerships with outside entities to advance their goals.

“We must find new and resourceful ways to secure, defend, and protect our mission and to ensure success, we must partner with academia and industry, in turn, providing our Airmen the requisite skillsets to be successful cyberspace defenders,” said Lt. Col. Scott Papineau, 55th CG deputy commander.

Papineau previously hosted video-based training sessions, teaching basic Python programming language to the group. However, he knew there were more resources they could tap into with the goal was of providing Airman with the tools, training and opportunities required to stay relevant.

It didn’t take long to find an opportunity. Thirty six seats were reserved for Airmen to attended two one-day workshops called Take Back Work recently held by Metro Community College at the Fort Omaha Campus, Nebraska.

The first day focused on three topics: motivation by self-direction, a sense of purpose and being contributing to something greater, and getting better at something that matters.

The second day taught Airmen problem solving techniques, demonstrated how to develop strategies, gaining new vocabulary, practicing better brainstorming sessions and seeing things in a new perspective.

“It felt good to be a part of this training, learning a way to take back our work, to find a purpose in what we do” said Tech. Sgt. Wendy Dupre, 55th CG executive assistant. “As we move away from our career field, we can see what mission set we have to the 55th Wing to protect programs, people and mission.”

Meanwhile back at base, the unit also stood up a new area called the Warhawk Thinking Facility. The facility, open to anyone on base looking to bring ideas to life, will also be used to host more training sessions with academic and industry partners.

There is currently a proposal in development for some additional workshops through various colleges and universities, to include Bellevue University, Nebraska, Stanford University, California, and University of Omaha, Nebraska.

The 55th CG are also looking into pairing up with outside companies to learn about their best practices.

The unit hopes their efforts impact the overall 55th CG mission by providing challenging training opportunities and the freedom to innovate, reinforcing retention efforts and further strengthening the cyberspace force.

“This is a big culture and skills shift for our Airmen,” Paineau said.

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