Air Force shifting to classified systems

The Air Force is looking to move more of its electronic traffic off its open networks and onto more secure, classified systems, the Air Force's deputy chief information officer said.

"We're making significant efforts robusting our classified capabilities," said John Gilligan, who is also co-chairman of the CIO Council's security, privacy and critical infrastructure committee.

"An enormous amount of information is processed in our unclassified networks," he said. But as a result of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Air Force is moving activity off those unclassified networks onto more secure, classified systems, he said.

Soon after the attacks, the decision was made fairly quickly that the Air Force was operating on a war footing, Gilligan said, and that the United States was under attack. Therefore, the Air Force needed a more protected means of communication, he said.

"That is probably going to be the way we are operating in the future," he said Oct. 11 during a forum about how agencies are reacting to the terrorist attacks. As a result, the Air Force is making a "fairly significant effort to invest in our classified network," he said.

Across government, the attacks have changed the way agencies assess risk. A month ago, few thought it was feasible to turn a commercial airplane into a missile. That has changed, he said.

"Things that we thought were unthinkable before have become possible," he said. That has resulted in a reassessment of the government's security defenses.

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine,, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


  • Workforce
    White House rainbow light shutterstock ID : 1130423963 By zhephotography

    White House rolls out DEIA strategy

    On Tuesday, the Biden administration issued agencies a roadmap to guide their efforts to develop strategic plans for diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA), as required under a as required under a June executive order.

  • Defense
    software (whiteMocca/

    Why DOD is so bad at buying software

    The Defense Department wants to acquire emerging technology faster and more efficiently. But will its latest attempts to streamline its processes be enough?

Stay Connected