USAF locks and loads for digital combat

The United States Air Force (USAF) is preparing for a new role in defending the country from hostile cyber attacks.

“There’s a great threat to American security out there in the cyberspace domain, and it’s real, it’s significant, it’s persistent, and we are under attack every day,” Maj. Gen. Michael J. Basla, vice commander of USAF Space Command confirmed in a statement posted on the DoD’s website.

“The defense of our networks is essential for us to conduct all kinds of day-to-day activities – in the commercial sector, in the public sector, in the military sector.”

According to Basla, the Air Force is currently in the process of forming an “organic capability” so that it can quickly respond and defend against any digital offensive.

As such, the military branch is examining its core capabilities and determining how best to meet the DoD’s orders to defeat threats from cyberspace.

“That starts with teaching new officers and enlisted airmen how to fight on the digital battlefield. [For example], we wanted to have tech, math, science, and engineering degrees.

“[However], we were advised that there are some folks that could come from the social sciences that could contribute – you know, something about looking at the problem a little differently. So we’ve allowed for some exceptions.”

Basla added that the Air Force planned to recruit at least 220 digital warriors, while USAF academies are slated to graduate 50 cyber specialists on a yearly basis. 

“As I talk to the folks in the field and we get feedback from the combatant commands that are now starting to understand that cyberspace brings another aspect of warfighting capability to the fight, some of the things that we are hearing are that we want more of these.

“[Because] today, the operator must say first, ‘Is there some adversary that is getting into my networks that is trying to interrupt my mission assurance capabilities?'”