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Command chief outlines future of cyber warfare

by George Woodward
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

3/11/2008 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFPN) -- The Air Force is leading the way in controlling the warfighting domain of the 21st century, and the formation of the newest Air Force major command is progressing well, the command chief of Air Force Cyber Command (Provisional) said during a March 4 visit here.

"Cyberspace is a warfighting domain -- that's all there is to it," Chief Master Sgt. Todd Kabalan told a group of commanders, chiefs and first sergeants at the Sheppard Club.

"We've got to be able to operate in this domain efficiently and effectively," he said.

To illustrate the point, Chief Kabalan referenced a number of terrorist attacks, including the 1996 Khobar Towers and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, in which the cyber domain played a key role. He also referred to last year's cyber attack on the country of Estonia that nearly shut down government agencies and private organizations like banks, media outlets and other companies.

"We're already fighting in this domain, and have been for a while," the chief said. "Air Force Cyber Command will enable us to fight better."

When Air Force Cyber Command officially stands up Oct. 1, it will be structured like other MAJCOMs -- with a numbered Air Force and several operational wings. But it's not just a matter of building staffs and setting up organizational charts; it's about changing our culture and the way we think, Chief Kabalan said.

"For example, we tend to think of our (client support administrators) as support troops. That's why they're currently 'three-alphas,'" he said. "But in the cyber domain, they're operators -- and that's why we're making them one-bravos. They're operators in this warfighting domain."

The chief also talked about the need to think differently about how the Air Force trains, employs and retains cyber warriors.

"In order to fight effectively in the cyber domain, we need Airmen with specific skills and expertise, and we need the flexibility to use them where they have the most impact," he said. "At the same time, these skills make our Airmen very, very valuable in the civilian sector, so we have to think creatively about how to keep them."

Sheppard Air Force Base was the chief's first stop in a planned tour to educate the force on what Air Force Cyber Command (Provisional) is doing, and why it's important. Provisional commands are formed for a specific purpose -- in this case, to prepare for the stand-up of a fully functional major command.

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