Air Force planning makes major shift in cyber era

Cyber operations are causing a shift in Air Force priorities, driving the service to reconsider the established ways airmen and personnel are trained and money is spent, according to the Air Force CIO.

“With the evolution of the airplane in World War II…rapid changes in aircraft technology meant rapid obsolescence. Sound familiar?” Lt. Gen. Bill Lord said Feb. 23 at the AFCEA Air Force IT Day in Vienna, Va. “The world is changing and the cyber piece will be at the center of that.”

To deal with the changes the Air Force has to adjust the way it trains aimen, civilian employees and even industry partners, Lord said.

“We require a differently trained force than we have today,” Lord said. “Operators in cyberspace no longer just support the mission.”

While support functions are still part of that job description, these airmen and employees are being pulled into new areas, including creating combat effects in the cyber arena. That change means these people are developing a new area of expertise that requires a broader perspective operational picture, rather than the separate specialties that have long been the norm.

A new approach to training will be wide reaching, from the lowest-level airmen brand new to the force to highly developed military occupational specialties. The Air Force will also look to incorporate the skills of combat veterans re-entering the workforce, Lord said.

The Air Force also is developing a new core function master plan aimed at cyber workforce, investments and spending, and also tactics, techniques and procedures, Lord said.

The Air Force Space Command is developing the plan, which will include directives focused on the next five to 10 years, he said. The plan will be shaped by the mission needs relayed from combatant commanders, he said.

The goal is to drive progress in a world where cyber advancement is “akin to the World War I-World War II era of air power,” Lord said, adding, “You could argue the 20th century was the century of air and space power. Will the 21st century be the century of cyberspace?”

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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Reader comments

Fri, Feb 24, 2012 Yasser

Planning & Training are great... but let's get some basics out first. It would be great if the AF distro'd modern cyber tools to its airmen for any-where, any-time use like they did w/ the home-use anti-virus program. Imagine tablet/phone security tools, bootable CDs (like the AF's own Lightweight Portable Security), basic data protection (Encryption Wizard),and such.

Fri, Feb 24, 2012 30yr DoD Fed

I don’t disagree, but I hope the top level leadership coordinates the formulation of the policy with those actually doing the work to better ensure its applicability and usefulness. Normally policy is generated by top level officials who have no clue in reality of the impact or if actual performance gains are realized or impeded at the mission performance level. Exclusive uninformed policy formulation/dictation is part of the problem of the general inefficiencies of federal government; particularly in DoD’s mentality that the military leader is god over civilian mission performance of that which they have no functional level knowledge/understanding.

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