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Plan for cyberspace available in near future

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. (Sept. 05, 2006) -- Air Force leaders soon will define the service's plan for cyberspace.

"I would expect, in a matter of weeks, to see us rolling out what I would call a cyberspace campaign plan on where we are going to go next," said Lt. Gen. Michael W. Peterson, chief of warfighting integration and Air Force chief information officer, during a telephone media conference held here.

General Peterson said Air Force senior leaders had been "very active and demanding" of him and the service's information technology community to better define Air Force roles and capabilities in the cyberspace domain.

"The Air Force, as an entity, recognized how critical the cyberspace domain was to everything else we did, and (also) recognized we had to put the same emphasis in the cyberspace domain as we did in the space domain and before that, the air domain," he said. "As the Air Force embraces this mission area and this domain of operations, somebody may (say) the Air Force is probably the lead for cyberspace. But we are not there yet."

Today, the Air Force is working on moving its own information systems into alignment with the office of the secretary of defense's data strategy. The OSD's strategy requires the services to make information visible and available, tagging information with "metadata" to make it discoverable by users, making information accessible through posting to shared spaces, and enabling a "many-to-many" standard for information exchange.

The difficulty with compliance lies in the number of legacy data systems the Air Force is already relying on -- systems not necessarily compliant with OSD's net-centric data strategy, General Peterson said.

"We cannot take the key and turn off what we are doing today, harvest the resources and go build something new," he said. "These (systems and applications) will have to run in parallel until they can converge quicker, certainly better."

The Air Force is moving quickly towards convergence, the general added, especially in its air operations centers.

"The Air Force has done some terrific experimentation with our air and space operations centers in particular," he said. "We have built an underlying architecture delivering services as a data architecture that is enforceable and meets the OSD standards."

Next year, the Air Force will test its increased compliance when it demonstrates the Theater Battle Management Core System at U.S. Strategic Command's air operations center.

"We have offered to show (General James E. Cartwright) how he can leverage what we have already spent money on to run his command and control," General Peterson said.

While not strictly part of OSD's net-centric data strategy, the Air Force also is working on adoption of Internet Protocol version 6, or IPv6. The next generation of the protocol that runs the Internet, IPv6 provides a significant increase in the number of IP addresses available. Today, using IPv4, the Internet is limited to about 4.3 billion unique IP addresses. The new standard provides nearly 50 octillion (octillion = 10 to the 27th power) addresses for each person on Earth.

The federal government has mandated its agencies, including DOD, be IPv6-compliant by 2008. General Peterson said the Air Force is already moving toward compliance.

"The OSD has been developing an overarching implementation plan (and) we are in lock step with where they are going," General Peterson said. "But the real issue is going to come as applications are developed and built requiring IPv6 capability. We will make certain our architecture is ready as applications emerge. We will have basic capability by 2008."