By J.D. Davidson
The Center Square

https://www.thecentersquare.com/

An Ohio National Guard unit officially became the U.S. Air Force’s first cyberspace wing following a yearlong assessment of the site.

Both the Air Force and the National Guard Bureau confirmed in August 2021 that Ohio’s 179th Airlift Wing in Mansfield was the preferred choice for the cyberspace mission but spent more than 12 months assessing the site.

“The 179th is the right choice for this mission, which will bring the unit, the Ohio Air National Guard and the surrounding community into the forefront of cyberspace capabilities with a clear stake in emerging National Defense Strategy," Gov. Mike DeWine said. "Gaining the new cyberspace wing involved a comprehensive effort at the local, state and national levels to ensure the unit remained in Mansfield and relevant into the future.”

Previously, the unit provided military cargo airlift capabilities both domestically and globally. The new mission will not impact current personnel numbers, DeWine said, but could offer new STEM and IT-focused positions.

“The Guard continues to demonstrate its ability to excel at cutting-edge missions. Our recruiting advantage increases as we allow Ohioans to serve their nation while remaining in Ohio,” said Maj. Gen. John Harris, Ohio’s adjutant general. “This cyberspace wing will produce individuals with tangible experiences and advanced training that will continue to improve the state's leadership in cybersecurity and advanced technology.”

It will take five years to transition the 179th as the unit reorganizes personnel structure and upgrades facilities.

Before the Air Force announced Mansfield was the preferred site in 2021, Ohio was one of two locations under consideration, with the other being the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in Minnesota. Among the criteria considered in the decision were manpower, recruiting, and retention; building capacity and connectivity; environmental; construction costs; and cost of living.