Science and Technology News

Thursday, June 19, 2014

24th AF hosts ANG GO Cyber Summit

by 1st Lt. Meredith Hein
24th Air Force Public Affairs

Air National Guard leaders from across the country gathered in San Antonio June 4-6 for the ANG General Officer Cyber Summit. 
"A lot of this cyber summit is about relationship building," said Col. Tony Burris, ANG advisor to the commander, 24th Air Force.  "The partnership is truly here in the 24th.  That's the way it's built and it provides great opportunities for the future in cyberspace."
During the summit, ANG leaders from 10 states met to discuss the way forward for ANG involvement in the Cyber Mission Force and building the force structure, according to Col. Kelly Hughes, Chief, Cyber Warfare Operations Division for the Air National Guard.
"The Guard has been involved in the full spectrum of operations, training and qualifications with our active duty counterparts," said Hughes.  In addition, there have been evaluators from the ANG performing certifications for active duty members to improve training. 
"Bringing civilian talents into the cyber arena to support the mission of the active duty component allows the Air Force to gain the civilian expertise, training and qualifications for the parent service," said Maj. Gen. Tom Thomas, ANG advisor to the commander, U.S. Cyber Command.   
"The processes we have here mirror the kinetic world.  I have Guard and Reserve members aligned with active duty," said Col. Bradley Pyburn, 624th Operations Center commander.  "This is total force integration."
Total force integration has been a critical piece of conducting cyber operations in 24th Air Force, with approximately 10,000 members coming from reserve components. 
"One of our significant challenges is capacity," said Col. Paul Welch, 24th Air Force vice commander.  "How do we support the joint mission and bring capabilities to support Air Component Commands?  There is a wonderful partnership with the Air National Guard to help support that."
"We are constantly working with the Council of Governors, Congress, Cyber Command and the National Guard Bureau, trying to get everyone moving in one direction for the joint fight," said Maj. Gen. William Reddel, New Hampshire's adjutant general.  "Active duty, Guard and Reserve work together in other areas, and cyber is no different."
Training and exercises, such as Cyber Flag and Cyber Guard, allow for integration across all Air Force components, according to Brig. Gen. Paul Maas, ANG Assistant to the Commander, Air Force Space Command. 
"The Guard provides much needed capacity to support cyber operations, along with the experience and skillsets of civilians working in industry, academia and other government agencies," said Maas. 
Retention of this knowledge is a necessity to moving operations in cyberspace forward, especially for active duty members transitioning out of the Air Force, according to Brig. Gen. James Witham, ANG deputy director. 
"Do we want to lose that expertise altogether or retain it in the reserve components?  We have some of the industry leaders on the technology side who are also serving their country," said Witham. The reserve components provide the needed capacity to serve on both the national and state levels, according to the general. 
"Cyber operations are critical to our national security," said Witham.  "As you look at it through the critical infrastructure perspective, it gets more important to the states.  The presence in the reserve components is crucial."
Maj. Gen. J. Kevin McLaughlin, 24th Air Force commander, highlighted the importance of Total Force Integration. 
"The Air Force knows how to build a powerful Air Force cyber force with the right combination of active duty, Guard and reserve components.  We have created powerful total force constructs in other Air Force domains and we will absolutely continue to do so in the future in Air Force cyber operations."

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