Air Combat, Cyber, and Staying Connected

Data assurance will be crucial not only to the global strike mission, but to activities across the combat air forces, said the heads of several Air Force major commands on Thursday at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando. “We are good at predicting kinetic effects; we’re less sure when it comes to cyber,” said Gen. Frank Gorenc, commander of US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa. “I really think this [issue] is part” of the Defense Department’s third technology-offset initiative, said Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, head of Air Force Global Strike Command, when discussing the ability not to be influenced by adversaries trying to interfere with lines of communication in a crisis. Denied or degraded environments present unique challenges for combat air forces, said Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Lori Robinson. It’s relatively easy to know whether you have communications or not, but understanding whether those comms are degraded is a different matter, she said. “With vast distances and the need to command and control forces, what is our ability to continue operations should we need to? Do you do [C2] forward, or do you do it with reachback?” asked Robinson. “That’s what I think about when I think about theater airpower: the continuation of operations,” she said.