Capt.James D. Nicholson – Individual Category (Second Place- tie) – DoD CIO 2015 Annual Awards

Name and Rank: Air Force Capt. James Nicholson

Position: Network Operations / Director of Operations

Background: Network Operations and Enterprise Services

Functional Areas: Enterprise Services, Cybersecurity, Network Operations (Customer Support), Information Technology (IT) Efficiencies

Judging Criteria: Management Efficiency/Effectiveness; Improved Processes; Mission Impact


BLUF: Leveraged exceptional technical expertise and leadership to significantly improve the Wing’s C4ISR capabilities. Led several IT related initiatives that enhanced how the organization conducts its global cryptologic operations. According to the nominating official, “the mission simply would not have been executed without Capt. Nicholson’s impeccable skills in planning, time management, and executions.”

  • Directed comprehensive cyber operations; detected/eliminated threats, and protected critical data on White House network – the President of the United States thanked the Incident Response team
  • Led cyber, space, nuclear, and signals intelligence (SIGINT) operations across the National, DoD and cryptologic enterprises that resulted in mission success and a host of “firsts” for the Wing
  • Led 24/7 defensive cyber ops on $1 billion global network and screened 15 trillion packets, supporting a priority of the Secretary of Defense and saving more than 2,000 from cyber-attack
  • Oversaw cyber ops and maintenance of global C4ISR and delivered integrated SIGINT transport capabilities--enabling 280+ captures/enemy kills via airborne ISR/strike assets
  • Delivered 24/7 communications and network ops; enabled Distributed Common Ground System enterprise--provided airborne ISR to 27 airstrikes, 175 enemy kills, & 65 capture ops
  • Executed deployed IT capabilities for ten national leaders; ensured secure/persistent communications for the President on four occasions, three international events, and five national-leader meetings
  • Drove the Wing’s Classic Associate Unit beddown; led in-house systems installation; saved AF intelligence community $60K in contractor costs – and as a result, the Wing’s first AF Reserve Command unit was fully mission capable one-month early
  • Implemented the “Secure the Net” initiative, drove compliance for more than 240 cybersecurity controls, and reduced 1.2M vulnerabilities to seven – garnering an “Excellent” score in Wing’s first-ever Cyber Command Readiness Inspection
  • Quarterbacked network test lab install/$92K suite; delivered the Wing’s first lab for National Security System training--simulator for 3 Squadron & 350 Cyber professionals
  • Created cloud-based website that met National Security Agency requirements three months early, with real-time data flow, providing intelligence to Joint warfighters 65-times faster
  • Championed the Defense Information Systems Agency’s secure enterprise e-mail migration; transitioned more than 350 user mailboxes and set benchmark for AF Space Command migration—saving the AF $80M in future costs
  • Delivered Wing's 1st AF Information Network (AFIN) Instant Messaging (IM) collaborative tools; deployed real-time messaging suite two years early – enhancing collaboration for 550,000 users
  • Developed first-ever base network blueprint; engineered circuit diagrams – providing five-year network architecture upgrade plan for higher headquarters advocacy and sustainment