Ensuring that all information moving through the Air Force-wide cyber network gets to the right place at the right time and gets there with privacy intact is the job of the Air Force’s 26th Network Operations Squadron based at Maxwell Air Force Base’s Gunter Annex. Ensuring the 26th NOS does this job well is the job of the squadron commander, Lt. Col. Brian Kirchner, and a year and a half into it, he couldn’t be more impressed with the members of his team.
Where are you originally from? Florence, Kentucky
How long have you been in the Air Force? I entered active duty in June of 2004, so I’ve been in for 16 and a half years.
How long have you been Commander of the 26th Network Operations Squadron? One and a half years.
What is the role/mission of the 26th NOS in the Air Force? The 26 NOS operates and maintains the Air Force Enterprise Network boundary, delivering cyber surety, availability and maneuverability through the employment of the Air Force Intranet Control cyber weapon system. In addition, the NOS maintains and operates the Air Force Wide Area Network, ensuring that information is routed properly and securely. We operate and defend the $14.2 billion Enterprise Network across 385 global sites in support of over 2.5 thousand applications and more than 1 million users.
Why is this role so important? All network traffic coming into and out of the Air Force network flows through 26 NOS equipment, which enables us to securely deliver necessary information, while denying our adversaries the ability to observe and manipulate Air Force network traffic. Our squadron operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to ensure that all Air Force users have continuous access to the data they need.
What are your duties and responsibilities as Commander? I lead and manage all aspects of the organization, including approximately 230 personnel and our weapon system, which is distributed at more than 30 locations worldwide.
What motivated you to serve in the Air Force? My primary motivation for joining the military was in order to serve our country while also taking advantage of the incredible leadership and growth opportunities that the military provides.
What is the No. 1 thing you’d like MBJ readers to know about the 26 NOS? The one thing I’d like people to know about 26 NOS is the professionalism and dedication of the members who provide enterprise IT services to the Air Force 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. IT is one of those services that is often taken for granted until something’s not working, but it takes a tremendous amount of work to keep it running, especially on the scale that 26 NOS covers.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your work? Without a doubt, the most rewarding aspect of my work is the people I get to work with every day. The airmen, civilians and contractors at the 26 NOS enable all aspects of the Air Force mission, from satellite launches to combat operations and everything in between, and their talent and ingenuity amazes me every day.
What are your interests and hobbies outside of work? I enjoy playing sports, reading, cooking and hanging out with my wife and four-year-old son, Charlie.
Secure information access is always key to Air Force missions, but during the COVID-19 crisis, it was even more important. The 26th NOS stepped up big and did award-winning work, according to Lt. Col. Kirchner: “Numerous members of the 26 NOS were personally recognized and presented with a special coin from the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force for their work in support of Air Force-wide telework capabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.”