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Senior leaders discuss need to control cyber domain, build new command

by Ed Gulick
Air Force Public Affairs

6/19/2008 - BOSTON (AFPN) -- In separate speeches June 18 during the second annual Air Force Cyberspace Symposium in nearby Marlborough, Mass., two senior leaders explained the critical need for the Air Force to control the cyberspace domain and reasons why a new command is needed to do so.

First to speak was Lt. Gen. Robert J. Elder, 8th Air Force commander, who also serves as the air component commander to U.S. Strategic Command for strategic deterrence, global strike, strategic reconnaissance and cyberspace operations, and is responsible for the security and defense of the Air Force's global computer enterprise network. He stressed the critical importance of controlling the domain to safeguard the information used to conduct operations.

"Cyber is absolutely critical to everything we do," said General Elder. "You can't just be an air or space operator . . . if you are not a cyber operator, you are going to fail. If you can't control and ensure your cyberspace, and you haven't been prepared to deal with the fact that [this domain] will come under attack, then you will not be successful as a military operator."

Next was Maj. Gen. William T. Lord, who is the commander of Air Force Cyberspace Command (Provisional). He is responsible for overseeing the standup of the new AFCYBER command by Oct. 1 and is responsible for the organization, training and equipping of cyber forces.

"What is the standup of an Air Cyber Command about?" said Gen. Lord. "It's an Air Force focus on the Air Force protection and defense of the Air Force's abilities to command and control our forces that we bring to the joint fight."

He clarified that AFCYBER is an organization designed to protect and defend Air Force networks and provide forces to combatant commanders when needed for operational missions.

In defining what it's not, he stressed that it is not the Air Force protecting all of America or even the Department of Defense as has been stated by some. Cyberspace, he said, is complex and many federal organizations will work together to ensure safe operations in every aspect of cyberspace.

The generals also were joined by a number of other key Air Force and DOD leaders who discussed the emerging and ever-expanding cyber challenges facing the nation. The theme for the symposium was "Equipping the Cyber Warrior to Fight in Cyberspace."

It was the second cooperative symposium to focus on the Air Force's efforts to develop its warfighting cyberspace capabilities. The first, hosted by AFCYBER (P) and 8th AF officials was held in November 2007. This year's event also was co-hosted by Hanscom AFB's Electronic Systems Center and the Air Force Association's Paul Revere Chapter.


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