Keep The Network in the Fight

Today, the network is the foundation of many Air Force operations and to lose access to it would have catastrophic consequences, Maj. Gen. Richard Webber, 24th Air Force commander, told attendees Thursday at AFA’s Global Warfare Symposium in Los Angeles. The ability to see and detect threats in the cyber realm is critical. That’s why one of 24th AF’s top priorities is building cyber situational awareness, said Webber. He recalled a previous assignment in his career several years back when the network was experiencing an attack. The response then was to go into “turtle shell” mode by switching the network off to keep the attackers at bay. But in the process, then-NORAD and US Northern Command boss Gen. Ralph Eberhart lost access to 26 classified network feeds that were informing him on topics ranging from air alerts to border traffic. “That’s when I said there has to be another way,” explained Webber. He added, “This is no longer about intelligence or communications, this is about operations.” That’s why 24th AF personnel work every day to find ways to operate networks through attacks, and isolate threats—the key to mission assurance.