Fighter Mindset in a Cyber World

One of the profound challenges that 24th Air Force faces as it grows USAF’s cyber capabilities is treating the network like a weapon system and prioritizing its functions, including its defenses, says Maj. Gen. Richard Webber, 24th AF boss. “If you try to defend everywhere, you defend nowhere,” he said Thursday at AFA’s Global Warfare Symposium in Los Angeles. Critical to being able to target resources for defense is standardizing and rigorously testing new capabilities, he said. Upgrading the network or installing a new tool is much like adding a new weapon on the F-22. Since cyber operators “are not just technicians,” the Air Force must alter training, testing, and operations doctrine—developing technical data, operational testing, and expertise before employing new network functions, he said. “We need to get away from drive-by fieldings,” he said in describing the ad hoc approach of the past. Cyber defenses must first focus on the service’s “crown jewels,” Webber said. Among them are the Theater Battle Management Core System, Tanker Airlift Control Center, and Joint Space Operations Center. “These are the systems which are special. . . . They need to operate, not matter what,” he said.