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Homeland Security

Cyberspace: Fundamental to joint fight

by Maj. Christina Hoggatt
Air Force Space Command Public Affairs

4/10/2013 - COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AFNS) -- Cyber operations are a clear catalyst for change in the art and science of modern warfare, Lt. Gen. John Hyten, the Air Force Space Command vice commander, said during the Space Foundation's Cyber 1.3 luncheon here, April 8.

Hyten emphasized the importance of getting back to the basics in cyber, the efficacy and potential sticking points in creating a joint information environment, and the distinctions between cyber operations, information technology, and weapon systems.

'The chief of staff of the Air Force just approved weapons system designation for six of our cyber weapons systems,' he said. 'We're gaining ground in normalizing cyber operations in the Air Force.'

The Air Force is also integrating those cyber capabilities with other joint capabilities to meet combatant commanders' requirements. He noted that all services are endorsing a force presentation model that will build mission ready teams to support both U.S. Cyber Command and combatant command missions.

He went on to speak in support of the joint information environment.

'As the cyber core function lead integrator for the Air Force, we're committed to the goals of the JIE, but we need to make sure we don't reset any of the progress we've made in network defense, network security and cyber normalization,' Hyten said.

Though the general believes in the JIE concept, he is concerned that the single security architecture remains undefined, rigorous operational processes have not been put in place or tested, and there are still significant questions about resourcing this endeavor.

'Commercialization can also reduce our need for larger server infrastructures -- they shift the significant operations and maintenance burden onto the commercial sector,' he said.

He also pointed out that since cyberspace is such a sophisticated environment, both the Department of Defense and the private sector need to agree on some basic definitions.

'While our Airmen have mastered the ability to communicate through cyberspace, our inability to communicate about cyberspace, the domain, and cyberspace operations in particular, frequently causes confusion and the inability to effectively and efficiently bring cyber capabilities to the fight,' Hyten said. 'We won't operationalize cyberspace until we operationalize our lexicon.'

Using the three recently approved lines of operation for cyber to illustrate his point, Hyten said the key to understanding this new warfighting domain will be to understand the difference between cyberspace operations and information technology.

'Each of these lines of operation is pivotal to maintaining the freedom to operate in and through cyberspace and enable the exchange of information for space and cyberspace operations,' he said.

The different areas of cyber all have unique definitions, Hyten said, adding that many times cyberspace and information technology are often confused.

'If we allow these definitions to become more than that, if they become too unwieldy, they lose their meaning and they become weapons in a religious debate between different elements of our force,' he said.

The general went on to suggest that by using the foundational definitions found in the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 and Joint Publication 3-12, Cyberspace Operations, the joint force will develop a more clear understanding of cyberspace, cyberspace operations and information technology.

'Despite the changes ahead, one thing remains certain, the cyberspace domain is a priority for this Nation, for the Department of Defense and for the U.S. Air Force,' Hyten said. 'Our success on the battlefield is one that depends on the timely movement of information. We must be ready to meet any adversary in cyberspace that presents themselves.'

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