By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (Aug. 02, 2006) -- As does its enemies, the Air Force considers cyberspace a warfighting domain.
The Air Force has always been in the business of flying and fighting in the air, and in past decades, has included space in that mission. This year the Air Force expanded its mission to include cyberspace -- the domain of information -- said Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne, during the Senior Leadership Orientation Course here July 31.
Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne speaks to the newest group of brigadier general selectees and their spouses during the Senior Leaders Orientation Course in Washington, D.C., on July 31. The weeklong course prepares future generals for issues they may encounter when they take on their new leadership role. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Cohen A. Young.
Both the secretary and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley addressed SLOC attendees.
"You always wonder what it is to be 'netcentric,'" said Secretary Wynne. "I think it's a warfighting domain. I see our enemies think it's a warfighting domain. So let's make it an Air Force domain."
Air Force officials cemented cyberspace into its mission statement after realizing the service was already heavily involved in the transport, packaging and protection of valuable warfighting information.
"It turns out, we are the logisticians of information," Secretary Wynne said. "We pick it up everywhere, we send it through space, we get it up there -- like a pachinko machine -- through our satellite network, and back down to the ground station. (We put it) into the hands of the commander, just in time, and we figured we have to defend it."
The protection and maintenance of information systems involves defending the nodes of cyberspace to include the satellite dishes, satellites, routers and the development and deployment of new satellite systems. The Air Force designs, deploys and defends information systems for the joint warfighter and for itself, Secretary Wynne said.
"We are netcentric, and we actually deliver and we depend upon cyberspace to get this done," he said. "We put a lot of trust in the messages we receive and the targeting we get ... because we drop stuff from way up there, and we shoot from huge distances (away). We need to trust the messaging traffic and imagery and geolocators when they come over our network."
Taking on the domain of cyberspace will not pull resources from other missions, Secretary Wynne said, because the Air Force already has as many resources committed to cyberspace it needs and will simply focus on the ones it has.
"I found out we have over 20,000 people working in cyberspace," he said. "We are now ... trying to figure out how to organize, train and equip (them). We always did. But it was more of just a pickup game. Now it is becoming more organized."
"With the chief of staff's support, we are moving in that direction," he said. "We are doing a lot of scouting, feeling around and forward looking. This is a domain the Air Force could now be dominating."
The secretary also addressed potential concerns about cutting manpower, or force shaping, during wartime. He said force shaping efforts will result in better managed resources that can be redirected at other areas of concern for the Air Force, including recapitalization of the aircraft fleet.
"We have got to figure out how to make sure the people who are here in 2015 to 2020 have the best equipment for the next fight," Secretary Wynne said. "We need to offer this nation the maximum number of options so (it) can deter, defeat and dissuade any enemy over the next period of time."
General Moseley discussed the Air Force's efforts to posture itself for success in both the war on terrorism and in future wars, while trying to avoid mistakes it has made in the past.
The general told course attendees the air forces of the past have failed because they did not understand their enemies, they were not interdependent with a joint team, they didn't increase training and infrastructure to support their fights, and because they didn't begin their fights with the right amount of aircraft, munitions or support.
The priorities and initiatives of today's Air Force, General Moseley said, are designed to ensure the service doesn't repeat the past. The three priorities today include prosecuting the war on terrorism, developing and caring for Airmen and their families, and recapitalizing and modernizing the air and space inventory.
The Air Force has 67 specific "executable initiatives" to help it achieve its priorities, General Moseley said. Those initiatives include ensuring 100 percent of uniform-wearing Airmen are in an aerospace expeditionary force bucket, enhancing combat skills training during basic military training, finalizing total force integration efforts, and expediting the acquisition process on programs like the KC-X, F-22 and the joint cargo aircraft.