Air Force seeks information-driven transformation

The Air Force is working to incorporate cyber and information dominance into its traditional operations, missions and core capabilities, according to top service officials.

Cyber and mobility as they relate to Air Force missions will continue to receive more attention as the service adjusts to meet requirements of modern warfare, according to members of a panel of Air Force officials who spoke Feb. 23 at the AFCEA Air Force IT Day in Vienna, Va.

That will include high-tech communications, command and control in the operations of unmanned or remotely piloted aircraft and the cybersecurity and infrastructure concerns inherent to the needs of modern warfare, they said.

“We need to move away from thinking of communications and software development [in the traditional sense], and more toward thinking of cyber warriors,” and how it all fits together, said Col. Chris Beasley, director of communications and information at the Air Force Air Mobility Command.

That includes incorporating command and control into cyber warfare, he added.

Now, the Air Force is evaluating how cyber fits in across its entire spectrum of missions and capabilities, according to Brian Burns, deputy director, warfighter systems integration, Office of Information Dominance and CIO, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force.

“Cyber cuts across all traditional physical domains…we need an information-centric approach” to integration, Burns said.

To do that, the Air Force must determine what information is needed and in what context and format, how that information is filtered and protected, where it’s stored and how and when it is transmitted and disseminated, Burns said.

Information is the driver behind Air Force cyber, he indicated.

“Maybe it won’t be C4ISR anymore. Maybe it will be C3I2SR,” or command, control, communications, information, intelligence and reconnaissance, he said.

The cyber shift also has an effect on the service’s workforce, who must train and prepare for a different kind of fight than in past years and decades.

Young airmen now will have to be trained in both kinetic and non-kinetic warfare to conduct precision engagement in cyberspace, Burns said.

“Our traditional communications airmen are not the cable guy/IT help desk…they are the strategic enabler,” Burns said.

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a staff writer covering military networks for Defense Systems.

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