Science and Technology News

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Increased space, cyber threats top concerns for AF Space Command

By Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie, Air Force Public Affairs Agency, Operation Location - Pentagon /

 LOS ANGELES (AFNS) --There are increased threats to the Air Force’s space and cyber capabilities, said an Air Force senior leader during Air Force Association’s 2013 Pacific Air & Space Symposium, Nov. 21.

Gen. William L. Shelton, the commander of Air Force Space Command, discussed the heavily contested space and cyberspace arenas during the symposium in Los Angeles, Calif.

The cyber and space arenas have made significant strides during the Air Force’s lifespan. The first desktop computers the Air Force employed were originally used just for word processing. Slowly, the Air Force began to network those computers together, creating the network we now use daily.

Keeping up with the ever-evolving cyber domain, Shelton discussed the command’s number one cyber priority, the Air Force Network Migration.

“What we have done is adopted a defense in-depth strategy, which starts with collapsing down the network as part of the Air Force Network Migration,” Shelton said. “This is the initial step into a Joint Information Environment for the Air Force.”

Keeping up with the rapidly evolving space and cyber threats, AFSPC is training their Airmen to higher standards and requiring higher advanced training and education. According to Shelton, this is designed to enhance the Air Force’s capabilities and standards.

Like cyber, there is no shortage of threats in the space domain. “We know for a fact that adversaries are very actively working on counter space threats, trying to take away our space capabilities that they know we are dependent on,” Shelton said. “We are also concerned about the debris problem in orbit around Earth.”

There is an estimated 500,000 objects in orbit that are one centimeter in size or greater.  To track the abundance of objects, space operators are using radar sensors, which allow them to track approximately 23,000 of these objects.

During his remarks, Shelton mentioned the importance of situational awareness in space.  According to the general, space situational awareness gives the Air Force the ability to see and understand threats on Earth and in space, allowing the Air Force to operate successfully in multiple domains.

Looking to the future, Shelton said, he feels confident that the Air Force will efficiently utilize resources to carry out the mission.

“We are the pros in this business,” Shelton said.  “We are working hard to provide the required capability for our warfighter that is affordable and resilient.”

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