Air Force general emphasizes focus on nonkinetic warfare

A senior Air Force official said today the establishment of the new Cyberspace Command is a step toward preparing the service for future conflicts in which military strength through kinetic weaponry is expected to fade.

Air Force Maj. Gen. William Lord said the Air Force is hoping to use the emerging command and its capabilities to preempt armed conflicts that involve traditional weapons and often lead to heavy casualties.

Lord is director of cyberspace transformation and strategy in the Office of the Air Force Chief Information Officer.

He said the military could use cyber operations to confuse enemies by opening floodgates, controlling traffic lights or scrambling the banking systems in their countries.

At the same time, he added, the air service still needs bombs and missiles. “We’re not going to give up our...[Joint Direct Attack Munitions] because we want to be able to bloody someone’s nose,” he said at a luncheon in McLean, Va., sponsored by AFCEA.

JDAMs are a class of heavy bombs equipped with a Global Positioning System for increased accuracy.

Lord said officials are still working out a plan to assemble Air Force-wide professions under the auspices of Cyberspace Command. For example, service officials are wrestling with the question of whether it is permissible to use public affairs officers -- who are supposed to give truthful answers to the U.S. news media -- to help shape the press in targeted countries overseas, Lord said.

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