News Search


NY Air Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing upgrades base computer network for more secure system

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Cheran Campbell

A $1 million upgrade to the computer network at Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base, the home of the New York Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing, will make the system more secure, according to leaders of the wing’s communications flight.

The 106th Communications Flight completed the information technology upgrade at the Westhampton Beach air base in February.

According to Master Sgt. Richard P. Beetstra, 106th Rescue Wing Cyber System Operations Manager and project lead, the upgrade project increased the base port and computer security, and standardized equipment with active duty Air Force which allows for faster adaptability into deployed locations.

Known as the Base Information Transport Infrastructure, or BITI, the upgrade prevents “rogue” computers from being plugged into base ports, lessens virus vulnerability and reduces member’s movement of phones and computers around the base.

“What’s improved was our security posture on the network…we’re not as vulnerable for viruses or malicious logic,” Beetstra said

Malicious logic is defined as hardware, firmware, or software that is intentionally included or inserted in a system to perform an unauthorized function or process, he explained.

Making the system better, means putting in new equipment. Beetstra said.

Air National Guard bases not only had different equipment compared to their active duty counterparts, each Guard base was configured differently, which made it harder to work at different bases and deployed locations, he explained.

Because the hardware upgrade was extensive, the National Guard Bureau gave each unit in the Guard around $100,000 to spend on equipment. The equipment plus the contract made this a million dollar project, he said.

According to Beetstra, uplink pieces, switches and other equipment had to be purchased for the base upgrade to be accomplished.

During the upgrades, the whole communications flight was involved in escorting contractors into secure locations. Shifts were created to support equipment swaps done at night to avoid network downtime during the day.

“We came in, say around 11 or 12 and worked throughout the night,” Beetstra said.

Chief Master Sgt. Robbie Hunt, the 106th Rescue Wing Communication Flight Senior Enlisted Leader, said he was very impressed with the outcome and with Beetstra’s project management.

“This upgrade is a game changer for our wing and it links directly to the wing commander’s priority to modernize capabilities,” Hunt said.

“Updating our infrastructure gives us improved hardware that is more efficient. In addition, we have less chance of failure as it relates to our IT network. This will also give us a chance to access more computer and storage space capabilities and provide us with enhanced scalability for more streamlined future growth,” he added.

The 106th Rescue Wing, based at F.S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach, New York, operates and maintains the HC-130J Combat King II search and rescue aircraft and the HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopter. The 106th Rescue Wing is home to a special warfare squadron with pararescuemen and combat rescue officers, specializing in rescue and recovery, and deploys for domestic and overseas operations. Currently the wing also supports statewide COVID-19 missions.