Science and Technology News

Thursday, February 5, 2015

AFSPC leaders among key speakers at AFCEA Cyberspace Symposium 2015

by 1st Lt. Samantha Degnan
AFSPC Public Affairs

2/5/2015 - Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. -- 2/5/2015 - The 2015 AFCEA Cyberspace Symposium was held Tuesday through Thursday at the Broadmoor Resort, Colorado Springs, Colo.

The theme of this year's Symposium was "Protecting Cyberspace- Policy, Partnerships, and Practical Solutions," with each day of the conference focusing on one of these three principles.

The week's schedule was filled with various panels, covering a wide range of topics to include policy matters, industry partners, the sharing of information and intelligence, bridging inter-agency gaps in cyber warfare, and rising cyber leaders.

Each day of the symposium also featured keynote speakers of various backgrounds, to include several senior military leaders.

General John E. Hyten, commander of Air Force Space Command, was the week's top speaker. In his speech he stressed the need for innovation and partnerships as we look to the future, saying, "If we don't partner with industry, not only are we missing an opportunity, but we are failing to take advantage of the best and brightest in the world that face the same problems and threats that we do fundamentally and we have to figure that out together."

Retired USAF Brig Gen Gregory J. Touhill, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Cyber Security Operations and Programs for the Department of Homeland Security, used the metaphor "Cyber Security Neighborhood Watch" in his panel focusing on the sharing of information and intelligence, stressing that "we are united as a team with both the public and private sector."

In his keynote address, General Hyten also focused on the importance of two huge additions the Air Force is building for the future. These two additions are the Joint Information Environment (JIE) and the Cyber Mission Force (CMF).

General Hyten stressed the importance of the JIE, saying, "We have one Department of Defense and we need one network so that is what the JIE is going to be at its basis."

Lt Gen William J. Bender, Air Force Chief of Information Dominance and Chief Information Officer for the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, elaborated on the significance of both JIE and CMF, saying, "For us this is a complete and total transformation of the workforce."

While the symposium revealed many achievements and future goals for the cyber world, many challenges faced in the cyberspace domain were also highlighted over the course of the week.

Maj Gen Burke E. Wilson, 24th Air Force Commander, highlighted the unique attributes of the cyberspace domain,  calling it a manmade domain that grows and changes every day. He also said, "The primary architect is private industry. That presents a different set of challenges. Opportunities, but challenges. Private industry drives the technology, the terrain, and the capabilities in most cases."

Maj Gen Wilson also touched on how cyberspace is contested and therefore presents risk.

This discussion of risk and the US military's ability to keep up with the challenges presented by a constantly changing environment was present throughout the symposium.

"Security is being redefined, by the bad guys as much as anyone. But it is being redefined and you still have to do the three dimensional physical security stuff, and you have to have persistent preservation of the data and persistence of timing all because of the speed of everything," said retired USAF Lt Gen Robert Allardice, Chairman of Allardice Enterprises, Inc.

"All of our capabilities and all of our operations in both cyber and space are very focused on delivering a service, and they are not as focused on assuring the delivery of that capability in a highly threatened, contested domain and against a very agile and gifted adversary," said Col Paul Welch, Deputy Director of Integrated Space, Cyberspace and ISR Operations for AFSPC.

Timeliness was another theme of the week. One of the questions posed numerous times throughout the symposium was "What century are you in?"

Lt Gen Robert Allardice was the first to ask the question. He set the scene by saying "We live in a pervasive information environment. This concept of information flowing everywhere certainly drives us to a change of culture."

Maj Gen Wilson applied this change of culture to the military, stating that "Every Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine is relying, whether they know it or not, on cyber in some capacity to make their job more effective."

General Hyten addressed the same question as a challenge we have to address, saying "We are in the 21st century, but in the USAF and across our military most of our conversations that I hear us having are 20th century conversations when it comes to the cyber business."

He then highlighted the need to harness innovation and figure out how to do the business of a 21st century construct.

"I'm optimistic. Really, I can sit here today and say we are on the right path. But, oh my gosh, it is a hard path," said General Hyten.

"We owe the future our best effort at working together and trying to figure this out," said Lt Gen Bender. "We owe the partnership that we talked about today and the effort to get after very serious problems against a determined enemy that is bound and determined to prevent us from being as successful as we have in the past going forward."

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