Defense

Air Force setting up Silicon Valley office

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A week after the Defense Department announced it would open an office in Silicon Valley, the Air Force CIO said his service is ahead of the curve setting up shop in Northern California. The Air Force's presence in the Valley is meant to "rapidly turn technologies toward operational capabilities," Lt. Gen. William Bender said May 1.

Given that Bender has had an Air Force liaison in Silicon Valley building relationships with academia for a year, “I didn’t see fit to wait on” getting it set up, he said at a luncheon hosted by AFCEA’s Northern Virginia chapter.

Solidifying a presence in Silicon Valley is Bender’s latest move to shake up the Air Force’s approach to IT since becoming CIO in September. In December, he announced plans for a cybersecurity task force to thoroughly examine the Air Force’s network vulnerabilities.

Bender said the Air Force’s emphasis on cybersecurity aligns well with that of Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. The secretary’s first Saturday briefing of military service officials was on cybersecurity, said Bender, adding that, in Carter’s eyes, about 80 percent of DOD’s cyber mission is network defense. Bender did not fill in the blank for the other 20 percent of the mission, but added: “We need to know what our offensive capabilities are so that when the president asks following a Sony, ‘What can you do about it?’…We have to have an answer to that.”

Bender was referring to the crippling cyberattack that hit Sony Pictures Entertainment in November, which U.S. officials have blamed on North Korea. Pyongyang blamed Washington for an Internet outage in North Korea the following month. Though U.S. officials have generally avoided commenting on that accusation, Texas Republican Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said in March that “there were some cyber responses to North Korea” after the Sony Pictures attack.

Correction: This article was updated to reflect that the USAF office in Silicon Valley is part of a larger Department of Defense site, and not its own facility.

 

About the Author

Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.

Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.

Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.


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