Cyber warriors become pioneers as Minnesota Airmen join the Kentucky Air Guard

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kari Giles and Staff Sgt. Jonathan Young
  • 133rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
In an innovative move designed to meet the challenge of changing times, two Minnesota Airmen transferred to the Kentucky Air National Guard on Oct. 13, 2012 and became part of a unit designed to counter threats to the cyber domain. Master Sgt. Michael Wollenzien of the 133rd Communications Flight and Senior Airman Gunther Heeb of the 133rd Operational Support Flight in St. Paul were officially transferred to the 223rd Intelligence Flight in Louisville, Ky.

The Airmen volunteered for the positions and are part of a new way of doing business known as Geographically Separated Persons in the military. They belong to a unit in another state but will continue to work and train in Minnesota. They are excited to be a part of the evolving field of cyber warfare, they said.

Wollenzien said the technical factor was really alluring for this position with network analysis and other skill sets they will be using. "It's going to be a pretty deep field going forward, so it's going to be interesting and mind expanding," he said.

Wollenzien and Heeb will begin by doing cyber analysis and expand into other duties.

"This is a pretty exciting and historical day for the Wing," said Col. Greg A. Haase, the commander of the 133rd Airlift Wing. He went on to say that the two Airmen are like the model A of the cyber world, the first of the first of pioneers in new age technology. This will help achieve the Wing's goal to expand its role by having its own cyber mission in the coming years.

Lt. Col. Robert J. Niesen, the commander of the 133rd Communications Flight, said, "this is a great opportunity to participate in an innovative program that gives the 133rd a cyber mission role. There are a lot of people talking about cyber operations, but not many are able to get involved."

The Minnesota Airmen were sworn into the new positions by Brig. Gen. Worthe S. Holt, Jr., the Assistant Adjutant General-Air for the Minnesota National Guard. "The degree in which the Minnesota National Guard has demonstrated its incredible excellence across the board with its flying units and now its cyber opportunities really shows that we are on the leading edge, the tip of the spear," said Holt.

Holt went on to say that the equipment and facilities in place at the 133rd AW are five to ten years ahead of other wings and that coupled with their reputation made them the perfect candidate to partner with the 223rd Intel Flight.

The importance of this mission can't be understated and it's very likely that what we do in the cyber world will far exceed anything we have ever done in the flying world and, we're very excited to be a part of it, Holt said.