Air Force delays decision on Cyber Command's location

The Air Force is delaying the decision of where to locate its Cyber Command by as much as three months.

Officials had hoped to choose the location by Oct. 1, when the command is scheduled to begin working. But Maj. Gen. William Lord, the command’s provisional commander, said in a press release issued Feb. 13 that the Air Force will now make its decision by Dec. 31.

“We are currently reviewing how well the locations that have been identified to us match up to the needs of the Air Force,” Lord said. “You can be assured that each location is receiving careful and thorough review, but in the end, the needs of the Air Force will carry the day.”

The Cyber Command is located temporarily at Barksdale Air Force Base, La. Gov. Bobby Jindal and local officials have proposed building an office park nearby to help promote Barksdale as a permanent home for the command. Several major contractors have pledged support as sponsors of the office park.

Barksdale is in competition for the cyber center with at least four other Air Force bases: Peterson in Colorado, Keesler in Mississippi, Offutt in Nebraska and Langley in Virginia, according to media reports.

Lord said Air Force officials still anticipate narrowing their choices to the top four places so the initial site surveys and environmental studies can begin. Six to eight months later, Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne will announce the final decision.

In late 2005, service leaders had declared protecting cyber assets to be one of the Air Force’s core responsibilities. Wynne announced plans to establish the command in November 2006.

The Cyber Command’s mission is to deter and protect against cyberattacks on military computer systems and networks. The command is expected to create about 500 Air Force jobs and bring potentially millions of dollars in economic benefits.

In related Air Force news, Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Air Force chief of staff, issued a white paper late last year detailing the service’s role for the next 20 years.

The white paper states that the Air Force’s responsibilities include cyberspace.

“Since the air, space and cyber domains are increasingly interdependent, loss of dominance in any one could lead to loss of control in all,” Moseley wrote. “No modern war has been won without air superiority. No future war will be won without air, space and cyberspace superiority.”

Moseley contends that adversaries are adapting their techniques to attack the United States, including using low-cost cyberwarfare, with relative impunity.

Moseley said that for the Air Force to gain and maintain superiority in all areas, the service must “refocus our organization and culture on the warfighting mission; implement advanced operational concepts to fly, fight and win in all domains; leverage game-changing technologies; and recapitalize our aging equipment.”

Part of that strategy, he said, involves accelerating “the deployment of evolutionary and disruptive technologies.”

“Deterrence is a function of capability, will and credibility and, thus, exists in the eye of the beholder,” Moseley wrote. “Its success — or failure — is measured only in the breach. To mitigate the risk, we must retain a modern, secure and well-trained force and evolve new deterrence concepts. In particular, it behooves us to rethink concepts such as extended deterrence and conceive new ways to deal with actors who might be deemed ‘undeterrable’ in the Cold War construct.”

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