8 December 2015

Air Force reorganizing to integrate cyber

Amber Corrin, Senior Staff Writer December 3, 2015

The Air Force is making some big changes to its internal mission and personnel structures in order to better protect assets and interests from cyber threats, according to top Air Force officials.
The service is in the process of creating cyber squadrons that will be part of operational groups at various wings across the Air Force – many have not yet been specified, as it's being done essentially on a pilot-program basis.

Air Force leaders also want to empower a cybersecurity role that would oversee the integration of information security into the service's networks and systems.
"We're in process of strengthening the senior information systems security official in the Air Force and making that something of an entity that can actually drive change and prioritize fixes for major weapons systems platforms," Peter Kim, deputy director of Air Force cyber operations, said Dec. 2 at AFCEA's Air Force IT Day in Vienna, Virginia. "We're looking at an internal Air Force structure that starts at the base. So at [the annual Corona Top meeting of Air Force chiefs], the four-stars [made] the decision that we would establish cyber squadrons. The cyber squadrons will be in the operations group. The cyber squadrons in the operations group would be responsible for the mission assurance for that wing."
Some of the cyber squadron reorganization already is under way. Kim pointed to the 92nd information operations squadron, which is under the 688th Cyberspace Wing at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, as a potential trailblazer for how the Air Force will implement cyber squadrons more broadly. At Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, the 835th Cyberspace Operations Squadron and the 837th Cyberspace Squadron were activated in a Dec. 2 ceremony, according to the Associated Press.

The move at Scott Air Force Base is a bid to boost cybersecurity efforts as well as entice the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which is considering an adjacent area of land for its western headquarters.

The cyber squadrons are just one piece of sweeping Air Force cyber-focused initiativesdirected in a March memo from Air Force Chief of Staff Gen Mark Welsh. The security of existing and legacy weapons systems are a particular area of concern about vulnerability to threats to information and network security.

"We need someone at the base level who can answer that question, does the F-22 mission still have integrity, confidentiality, is it assured, can it still fight missions? Someone needs to answer that question, like no kidding answer that question," Kim said. "We have pilot programs, projects [and] experiments at multiple bases on what the cyber squadron will look like – how many people, what toolsets they'll use, what is the process they'll go to when they work day-to-day in this mission-assurance mission."

Kim also said to expect changes in personnel makeup and training as the Air Force shifts toward the Defense Department's push toward enterprise IT.

"There are changes within the organizational structure we are going to have to wrestle with" because of the Joint Information Environment, the launch of cyber-specific organizations, the move to joint regional security stacks and changes in how the Air Force conducts defensive cyber operations in a joint environment, he said.

No comments: