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Provisional team prepares for cyber mission assurance

by Karen Petitt

Air Force Cyber Command (Provisional) Public Affairs

10/1/2008 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. (AFNS) -- The Air Force Cyber Command (Provisional) staff here has spent a year defining and shaping the future of the service's cyberspace operations.

There have been numerous contributions from the team that will assist the Air Force as it decides how it will "fly, fight and win" in the cyberspace domain, said Maj. Gen. William T. Lord, the Air Force Cyber Command (Provisional) commander.

"We recognize how dependent we are on this domain, not only for warfighting and intel operations, but also for humanitarian missions or crisis response," he said. "Because of our dialogue, the Air Force recognizes the need to have some kind of an organization that's focused on this domain. It has also led to recognition that we have near-peer competitors, which is something we've not had with other traditional warfighting assets. In the cyber domain; however, we have to run to stay ahead."

To meet these challenges, the provisional team identified how the Air Force should organize, train and equip its forces. They also identified resources, in terms of people and money, required to have a capability to defend its portion of the cyber domain and, if necessary, deny an enemy's portion of the cyber domain.

"That's something we didn't have a year ago," General Lord said. "We've figured all that out. We've outlined how to organize cyber forces, i.e., what capabilities fall into, or not into, a cyber organization ... and that will be a topic of much discussion as our chief of staff meets with other senior Air Force leaders in the next few days to decide the way forward."

The Air Force had planned to stand up a new cyberspace command by Oct. 1 in an effort to integrate systems and capabilities, and establish a command and control structure for its cyber warfighting forces. However, those plans were put on hold in mid-August as a new Air Force chief of staff was appointed and instructed to solve other pressing issues before deciding if making a new cyberspace command was the most efficient way to proceed.

"No matter what organizational construct may result, the work we've done the past year laid the foundation for our future efforts," General Lord said. "All this has fostered better integration of air, cyber and space assets."

What's not on hold are the communication and information career fields that will transform during the next year into cyberspace career fields. The provisional team outlined the skill sets and the training needed not only in the technical complexities of this business, but also with leadership and management issues.

The development of new career paths will continue, along with developing more educational and training opportunities such as a master's degree in cyber operations program that is now offered for Air Force members. As a result, other U.S. academic institutions at the collegiate level are beginning to incorporate cyber activities, both exercises and curriculum changes, to produce undergraduate-graduate students who have cyber expertise.

"This certainly leads to expanded career fields in both government and private business," General Lord said. "We've also created new initiatives with the Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard commands that has positive national implications as those citizen-Airmen carry the cyber messages, skills and training back into the civilian workforce."

The Air Force Cyber Command (Provisional) team also helped resolve some cyber issues and are now better integrated with its sister services and other government agencies that play a role in providing security for the nation's cyber infrastructure.

General Lord and his team also led the effort to help shape an industrial base that thinks about bringing and inventing new capabilities into the cyber arena that have military and commercial applications. They've worked to expand opportunities with small businesses offering cyber capabilities that gives faster processes for acquiring technology needed in this domain. Also, national laboratories are working on solutions to Air Force (and sister service) concerns in this domain.

"I'm really pleased with all the work that has been done on behalf of our Air Force this past year," he said. "We have a tremendously talented and dedicated group of people who've worked through some tough issues all along our journey. We're now looking forward to implementing decisions on moving the Air Force forward with a strong cyberspace capability."

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