Network manager fends off cyber-attack and keeps mission alive

by Renee Hatcher
Office of Strategic Communication and Public Affairs

 network manager at DISA receives award

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Zachary Hensinger, a network operations manager assigned to DISA Europe, protected $6 billion worth of command-and-control networks by identifying vulnerabilities and coordinating DISA Europe’s response to a large cyber-attack across DOD.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Robert J. Skinner, DISA director, announced Aug. 25 that this work earned Hensinger the agency’s nomination in the non-commissioned officer category for a Lance P. Sijan U.S. Air Force Leadership Award. Next, Hensinger will compete at the Air Force District of Washington level.

The Sijan award is named in honor of the late Capt. Lance P. Sijan, an Air Force Academy graduate and combat pilot, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his intrepidity while evading capture by the North Vietnamese, and during his subsequent captivity as a prisoner of war. The award recognizes the accomplishments of officers and enlisted leaders who demonstrate the highest qualities of leadership in the performance of their duties and the conduct of their lives.

“This award is meaningful because it is not just an IT award but a leadership award,” Hensinger said. “I greatly enjoy being able to take an active role in what I do and winning this was only possible because of the great team I am a part of here.”

Hensinger is responsible for overseeing a 24/7 operations center which supports 157,000 users and $6 billion worth of DOD infrastructure across Europe and Africa. He coordinated the European response to the cyberattack by liaising with Defensive Cyber Operations teams to uncover and secure 39 network vulnerabilities.

“The vigilance of our battle watch captains is the heartbeat of our small but mighty DISA Europe team,” said Navy Command Master Chief Carl Thompson, DISA Europe’s senior enlisted leader. “Tech. Sgt. Hensinger is a true professional, committed to supporting joint warfighters around the globe. Being recognized with this award is a testament of his leadership and support to our great nation.”

According to the award nomination, Hensinger directed more than 2,000 Defense Information System Network actions which guaranteed command, control, communications, computers and intelligence for three areas of responsibility. His superb leadership ensured the successful execution of 8,900 mission sorties, and led to 19 enemies killed in action.

“Being able to support the warfighter directly is incredibly rewarding,” Hensinger said. “Every new issue is a challenge that I enjoy being able to work out, with the reward not only being the teams in theater being fully mission capable, but also learning how to better support them in the future.” 



Published November 3, 2021


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