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Cyber update: Air Force cyber operations evolve into numbered Air Force.

As Senior Airman Robbie Arp sits down at his computer on a normal Monday morning, he is about to enter another dimension.

With a turn of his wrist the Air Force broadcaster swings his common access card into place. As the high-tech circuits connect, his computer flickers and he is instantly transported into the realm of cyberspace.

A domain controlled and secured in part by America's Air Force, cyberspace is a critical part of today's warfighting mission.

"The mission of the United States Air Force is to fly, fight and win ... in air, space and cyberspace," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz.

But, cyberspace isn't just a bunch of computers. According to the Department of Defense definition, cyberspace is a "global domain within the information environment consisting of the interdependent network of information technology infrastructures, including the Internet, telecommunications networks, computer systems, and embedded processors and controllers." Simply put, if an electronic device emits, transmits or reflects--it is in the cyberspace domain. It is an operational domain equal to land, sea, air and space. Cyberspace contains and controls America's communication networks, transportation, finances, and standard utilities--the nation's critical infrastructure. These domains must be defended against enemy attack.

In fact, the nation's dominance in cyberspace is critical for command and control operations for America's 21st Century warfighters. It is also an integral part of today's joint operations as well as America's national security. In September of 2007, the Air Force officially activated the Air Force Cyberspace Command (Provisional) to help develop cyberspace operations as an Air Force functional area. To better meet tomorrow's need for dominance in cyberspace, the Air Force is establishing a Component Numbered Air Force to support the joint warfighter.


"Inside the Air Force, I think there was a recognition of the need for a combat organization that pays attention to the cyber domain, which we are so dependent on not only in warfighting, but also in humanitarian operations and in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations," said Maj. Gen. William T. Lord, Commander of AFCYBER (P). "All of those are so heavily dependent on cyber that it has caused a dialogue that led to an organization which will be focused on this domain."

As the provisional command transitions under Space Command, Air Force cyber warriors will soon be fighting as part of the 24th Air Force--a Cyber Numbered Air Force. This unique numbered air force will capitalize on existing systems and relationships between the cyberspace operational capabilities and Space Command's impressive digital operations. kinder AFSPC, the new Air Force Cyber Numbered Air Force will directly support U.S. Northern Command as well as U.S. Strategic Command in their missions, which include everything from hurricane relief efforts to defending the United States.

"With this move we'll be able to take advantage of a common technical expertise while facilitating career development for our space and cyber warriors," said Gen. Robert Kehler, AFSPC commander. General Kehler stressed that aligning cyber operations under Space Command will bring together two missions that depend on each other to survive, and join together Airmen who have similar technical skills.


The evolution of the Cyber NAF is just another example of the numerous steps the Air Force has taken to improve its capabilities in the realm of cyberspace. This evolution is expected to help the Air Force streamline cyber operations and allow Air Force cyber warriors to provide a more personalized, combat capable and highly-effective cyber mission to its joint operations around the globe.

While the evolution of the Cyber NAF will cause some changes to career fields in the Air Force, Airmen around the world will continue to perform their day-to-day mission with the same degree of excellence that the Air Force is known for.

"There is, and has been since about April of 2008, a career field roadmap that shows exactly what the transition is from today's career forces to tomorrow's career forces for both officer and enlisted members," said General Lord. "It includes a variety of the communication skills, the intelligence skills, space and electronic warfare officer skills, and how that transition will go."



The evolution of the Air Force's cyberspace operations will also allow for the expansion of Wing commands, organizational restructuring, new operational capabilities and even basing opportunities. As the Air Force completes its decisions on how best to mold the 24th Air Force, the Cyber NAF looks to the future as a key member of today's and tomorrow's Air Force team, something General Lord is excited about.

"Being a numbered Air Force gives us direct connectivity not only to United States Strategic Command but to all of the Combatant Commanders to provide trained and equipped cyber forces for not only today's defense, but for tomorrow's fight," he said.

To learn more about Air Force cyber operations and updates affecting the Cyber NAF, visit

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Author:Rosine, Matthew; Pampe, Carla
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2009
Previous Article:Nuclear weapons technician: Staff Sgt. Chris J. Misenheimer.
Next Article:Global Strike: Air Force activates provisional command.

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