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Air Force Plans to Add 1,200 Cyber Airmen

by Kris Osborn on September 17, 2013

121003-F-XM884-001The U.S. Air Force plans to add 1,264 new airmen in the cyber realm over the next few years as part of a broader service-wide strategy to improve cyber defense efforts, service leaders said Tuesday.

The cyber community is one of the few that is growing as the rest of the service prepares for significant cuts to its end strength in connection to the budget cuts associated with sequestration.

Lt. Gen. Robert Otto, deputy chief of staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), said the cyber domain continues to present mounting challenges in dealing with the hordes of data collected by government. The National Security Agency has received quite a bit of scrutiny for the manner it has probed international and domestic data.

“This is a big data problem on steroids. If you look at the amount of data that is transmitted every day, it is going to take a tremendous amount of investment,” Otto said at the 2013 Air Force Association Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition, National Harbor, Md.

Lt. Gen. Michael Basla, the chief information officer, mentioned that the pressures of the current fiscal environment are adding some stress and uncertainty to the services’ cyber programs.

“It is a delicate balance between efficiency and effectiveness. We will strive to bring greater capability to our warfighters with cost in mind,” Basla said. “The demand for full-spectrum cyber capability across the department has increased significantly.”

Otto also said Air Force cyber strategy should focus on improving integration with ISR.

“This is an exciting time for cyber military planning. We will see a lot of progress over the next few years,” Otto said.

Service leaders also talked about improving cyber capabilities by addressing vulnerabilities and “technical gaps.”

“Identifying technical gaps includes the ability to identify key cyber terrain and pair it to vulnerability,” said Maj. Gen. Brett Williams, director of operations, US Cyber Command.

Gen. William Shelton, Commander, Air Force Space Command also told reporters the service was spending time examining cyber vulnerabilities.

“We’re doing reviews of vulnerabilities of every network. We’re trying to build in information assurance from the outset,” Shelton said.

Shelton talked about an Air Force approach which is both looking to identify and “plug” holes in current networks while simultaneously building new systems for the future.

“We want to ensure that Air Force IT capabilities are designed to support Air Force missions and effectively integrate with the joint community,” Basla said.

He also mentioned a cyber-weapons course at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., designed to train Air Force personnel for cyber operations and made reference to a broader service-wide cyber strategy. Training the next-generation of capable cyber professionals will be necessary to address the growing threat.

“As a nation, we need to encourage our kids and grandkids to get into STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). These are the skill sets doing the high end stuff,” said

 

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

blight_ September 17, 2013 at 2:57 pm

My inner Dr Who fan approves of more cybermen.

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Rest Pal September 17, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Get your Con-gressmen to update H-1B Visa rules so that you can import low-cost high-performance cybermen from China. I think there might be millions of them waiting to be hired. They probably require little training because many of them are already familiar with US cyber war setups.

Few American students study Computer Science these days.

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Big-Dean September 17, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Question, how man 'airmen does it take to monitor an an air force computer? Apparently it takes 24,000!!!!!

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Stephen N Russell September 17, 2013 at 9:32 pm

recruit Boomers for TAD as cyber airmen type IE 4 years service, modified PT & basic training pre assignment to AF Cyber unit alone.
Hire Boomers strong on Internet.
& Gen Y teens.
cut down other personnel & or X train for Cyber Units.

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blight_ September 18, 2013 at 10:34 am

…what cyberstrategy is the air force executing that isn't executed by the NSA? Is it DIA to the CIA? Or is the military trying to usurp all "offensive" roles, physical and electronic from other government branches?

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aegis September 18, 2013 at 10:39 am
tmb2 September 17, 2013 at 10:50 pm

Sounds great. What are they cutting to pay for it?

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tiger September 18, 2013 at 1:45 am

The Stargate program

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guest September 18, 2013 at 8:22 am

they must likely cut down on buying fuel that will be the biggest savings

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Ed C September 18, 2013 at 9:34 am

One less vacation per year for the Obamas.

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oldbrokendownretiree September 18, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Other AFSC's. These people are going to be moved from job's considered "less" important to the worl of Big Brother

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misanthrophe2 September 18, 2013 at 8:41 am

Milcom has become so heavily censored that only politically correct comments are accepted. What good is the content of your articles if no one is permitted to express opposition? I am done with Mil.com and will move on over to Veterans Today. I don't expect this comment to make it past your censors either.

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Arbroath September 18, 2013 at 10:32 am

There is a huge difference between opposition and diatribe. It is one thing to have a jaundiced view of the world, it is quite another to revel in it and wear it as a badge of honor. It is also gratifying to know that your snarky missives will no longer be found here. Have fun with yourself.

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Doubtom September 18, 2013 at 11:43 am

Perhaps the seemingly vitriolic nature of Misanthrope's comments derives from the fact that his voice is a lonely one in a field of well established, flag-waving, war glorifiers,,,but that's just a guess on my part.

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Arbroath September 18, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Were his comments valid criticisms of policy or even Air Force leadership, there would be a place for that perspective. More often than not, however, Mssr Misanthrope's screeds have historically been to malign the men and women who have chosen to serve their country in a branch of the military he disdains. These individuals have, in good faith, committed a portion of their lives to America and done nothing to warrant his, or anyone else's, bile.

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don September 18, 2013 at 10:33 am

Stephen above has some great ideas; in an electronic battlespace age is far less important than experience, and many unemployed or underemployed likely would jump at the chance to serve. Its similar to their insistence on youth in the UAV realm. Being that the uav mission by man-hours is 90% patience, 10% judgement and 0% hair-on-fire, giving the job to motivated and skilled older pilots or even (especially?) Sim pilots could fill the UAV pilot gap while leaving yhe physically demanding bomber and fighter jobs to the 20-somethings best suited for the jobs. As an “old man” myself, I’d gladly monitor a uav feed if I was allowed, but alas I was 1 year outside the range.

For cyber, I would take the concept of age-unimportance one step further, and eliminate it. Treat cyber jobs like a civilian interview, with an extra emphasis on bg checks and compatibility with the military mission. Take anyone with proven capacity to help the mission.

As for misanthrope above: when you smear crap on someone’s wall, and they clean it off, that’s upkeep, not censorship.

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tiger September 19, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Finally a job for the bad eyesight, Hated PT & can rule the skies of ACE Combat 5 kinda guy…… Where do I apply?

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don September 18, 2013 at 10:35 am
don September 18, 2013 at 10:36 am

Stephen above has some great ideas; in an electronic battlespace age is far less important than experience, and many unemployed or underemployed likely would jump at the chance to serve. Its similar to their insistence on youth in the UAV realm. Being that the uav mission by man-hours is 90% patience, 10% judgement and 0% hair-on-fire, giving the job to motivated and skilled older pilots or even (especially?) Sim pilots could fill the UAV pilot gap while leaving the physically demanding bomber and fighter jobs to the 20-somethings best suited for the jobs. As an “old man” myself, I’d gladly monitor a uav feed if I was allowed, but alas I was 1 year outside the range.

For cyber, I would take the concept of age-unimportance one step further, and eliminate it. Treat cyber jobs like a civilian interview, with an extra emphasis on bg checks and compatibility with the military mission. Take anyone with proven capacity to help the mission.

As for misanthrope above: when you smear stuff on someone’s wall, and they clean it off, that’s upkeep, not censorship.

Reply

Doubtom September 18, 2013 at 11:44 am

UH,,,I think we got it!

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LtKitty September 18, 2013 at 11:40 am

All I see is an empty room filled with computer monitors…

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Cyberdude September 18, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Hopefully the AF will vett these new 'Jr Cybermen' with more aplomb than NSA and others have done recently. One loose cannon can potentially do irreperable damage….taking a lesson from two recent serious incidents. Just sayin'

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Growler157 January 23, 2014 at 11:14 am

Any thoughts on the Air Force training cyber warriors only to have them fulfill their first enlistment then go work a higher paying contract or GS job?

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