Cyber Command -- the new frontier
By Col. David Thompson, 45th Operations Group commander
/ Published November 13, 2006
PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Last week, the Secretary of the Air Force announced that Eighth Air Force would become the Air Force's lead command for Cyberspace. The Eighth is now responsible for organizing, training and equipping the Air Force for cyberspace operations. This is an important next step in securing a new frontier, something the Air Force has always been good at.
Seventy years ago, Airmen developed doctrine that allowed us to fight and win the nation's wars in the air. Those Airmen of the 1930s prepared for a future that they knew was coming, and so had the tools they needed when that moment arrived. It was the same Eighth Air Force that led the way in the strategic bombing offensive in Europe, paving the way to victory in World War II.
Fifty years ago, the Air Force led the nation into space, developing the medium- and long range missiles that protected us throughout the Cold War and allowed us to lay claim the high ground of space. Even today we deliver space effects that are unmatched on the battlefield and provide vital civil services as well.
Now the Air Force is taking steps to exploit cyberspace - to secure it for our use and when directed, deny the same capability to our enemies. Every Air Force member is on the front line of that war. We have taken steps recently to secure our networks.
As much as we might like to complain about CAC log in or initiatives that limit one's ability to exploit our networks, they are steps we have to take to secure cyberspace. Even the administrative LAN has become a vital part of an efficient and effective fighting force, a tool we can't afford to lose. It has forced us to change some of our habits and the ways we've used computer systems in the past, but it's necessary to meet the threat.
Someday "Air Force Cyber Command" may join Air Force Space Command as we learn to fully secure and exploit the electromagnetic spectrum. It is a sign that the Air Force is still on the leading edge of technology.
These are important steps, because the threat is real, and as close as your desktop. Welcome to yet another battlefield of the twenty-first century.