WASHINGTON, (AFNS) — Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Mark A. Welsh III signed a memorandum on March 20, establishing Task Force Cyber Secure, to address challenges of the cyberspace domain in synchronization, operations and governance within the Air Force and with those organizations it supports.
“This task force is fundamental to understanding the inherent risks within the cyberspace domain and instituting a culture change, in which our Airmen realize the impact cybersecurity has on all the Air Force core missions,” Welsh said.
Lt. Gen. Bill Bender, the Secretary of the Air Force chief of information dominance and chief information officer, outlined three main focus areas the task force will be responsible for.
“The task force will diagnose the extent of the cyber threat and the vulnerabilities that currently impact our core missions and will plan to develop a risk management plan that will allow the Air Force to fly, fight and win in a cyber-contested environment,” Bender said. “Finally, the task force will recommend investment priorities to the SECAF and CSAF for how best to address the cybersecurity challenges.
“The Air Force focuses the majority of the cybersecurity effort on protecting the information technology we’ve always protected the last 20 years, but that’s only 20 percent of the problem,” Bender continued. He envisions a “comprehensive, enterprise-level look at the cyber threat as it relates to everything outside of that 20 percent.”
The concepts of mission assurance and cybersecurity were addressed and studied across the Department of Defense and the Air Force across multiple functional lines and major commands. A top priority of Task Force Cyber Secure is to be inclusive of all stakeholders who are working this cyber challenge already and to begin synchronizing and coordinating efforts for securing and mitigating operational risk to the most critical nodes and “centers of gravity.”
Pete Kim, the Cyberspace Operations and Warfighting Integration acting director, will lead the daily task force operations and direct an organization that will include cyberspace stakeholders throughout the Air Force.
“Many efforts for securing the core missions in cyberspace are currently distributed across multiple organizations and commands throughout the Air Force,” Kim said. “We have great leaders moving out on fixing ‘the problem’ within their functional areas, but the time is right to look into opportunities to synchronize and maximize resources at the corporate level in order to establish a foundational, consistent enterprise-wide approach in the future.”
The task force efforts will inform Air Force strategic planning and programming for fiscal year 2017 and beyond. It will provide a governance plan for Air Force corporate board management and synchronization of cybersecurity investments of the future in the planning, programming, budgeting and execution (PPBE) process. The task force will also integrate multiple efforts and studies, attempting to address cybersecurity across the Air Force, focusing on Air Force core missions and provide a prioritized cybersecurity investment strategy for SECAF and CSAF.
“We’re already seeing benefits of a focused task force standing up to address the cybersecurity challenge,” Bender said. “At a practical level, sharing information across the Air Force, education on the seriousness of the threat and the vulnerabilities, and connecting the dots are the benefits I’m beginning to see. We are also connecting with academia and commercial industry because we recognize their contributions as significant force multipliers in this domain.”