JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas --
A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the 543rd Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group Joint Collaboration Facility, or JCF, took place at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Jan. 29. The ceremony, presided over by U.S. Air Force Col. Ty Gilbert, 543rd ISR Group commander, was attended by the facility’s current class of out-of-access joint force service members.
The JCF is the first collaborative environment of its kind at JBSA-Lackland and is designed to bring together out-of-access service members who are currently awaiting security clearances together to collaborate on intelligence and cryptologic projects supporting the joint environment.
“There are a lot of fingerprints and lot of vision on this effort, the team from the 543rd, the 16th and the other joint service commanders,” Gilbert said. "This will bring joint members together to think boldly and collaboratively to build relationships and learn things that will sharpen their trade crafts and serve them throughout their careers."
The 543rd ISR Group completed the initial operating capability almost exactly a year ago, Feb. 6, 2020. Due to COVID-19 protocols and various circumstances, they have now achieved full operational capability, or FOC.
“We are excited; FOC means we have a plan and the ability to take in our service members and give them the ability to work on their tradecraft and not allow those skills to atrophy,” Gilbert said.
Out-of-access service members are those in a limbo status as they await the process of receiving their proper security clearance.
“Having a place like the JCF, and to be available to prepare the service members and train there, means a lot,” said a U.S. Army staff sergeant stationed at JBSA.
As he reminisced about his first duty station, the staff sergeant said it is a blessing to be a part of the JCF and to help the junior service members prepare for their career, helping them hit the ground running. He wanted to be able to give back to the community the way he was brought into the community.
The JCF is a place that allows joint service members to continue working on their skills while supporting unclassified projects such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, cyberspace network operations, publicly available information analysis, research, and service-related training. The facility will keep service members actively involved in their community versus being assigned to other units outside their career field while they await their clearances.
"The members assigned to the JCF were a previously untapped joint multi-domain resource that now have a workspace to showcase talent and innovative ideas," Gilbert said. “Don’t consider this mission complete, consider this a step forward where we can build on our service member’s skills.”
The 543rd ISR Group is a force provider for national cryptologic operations and serves as the Sixteenth Air Force's primary service cryptologic component to the Department of Homeland Security. The group provides air, space and cyberspace signal intelligence analysts for National Security Agency/Central Security Service Texas as well as Air Force National-Tactical Integration for Air Forces Southern and Air Forces Northern air operations centers. The group also supports cryptologic mission sets within North American Aerospace Defense Command, United States Northern Command, as well as United States Southern Command.
Editor’s note: Soldier's name omitted for security reasons.