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Lord compares current cyber ops to early flying ops
LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas — Lt. Gen. William Lord, the Air Force's chief information officer and chief of warfighting integration, speaks about the future of cyber operations during his visit here Jan. 13. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott McNabb)
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Lord compares current cyber ops to early flying ops

Posted 1/30/2012   Updated 1/31/2012 Email story   Print story


by Tech. Sgt. Scott McNabb
24th Air Force Public Affairs

1/30/2012 - LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The top communications officer in the Air Force visited here Jan. 13 and spoke to cyber Airmen about the road ahead for operations.

Lt. Gen. William Lord, the Air Force's chief information officer and chief of warfighting integration, talked about changes in the Air Force, compared current cyber operations to flight operations between World War I and World War II and spoke on the importance of the cyber mission.

"The first thing I will tell you is to relax," he said. "It's OK, your Air Force has been through change for a long, long time. I would argue since our inception."

Lord talked about the development of air power based on operations that gave way to changes by the adversary that, in turn, called for more innovation.

"What happens when you put a camera in the cockpit of one of those little airplanes and, in World War I, fly over the enemy's battlespace and take a picture," he asked "What did we just create with that airplane? ISR - an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform. So what was the bad guy's reaction to that? Yeah, shoot them down. So what was invented next? The fighter. What happens when you arm that guy with a bunch of hand grenades and he's flying over a bunch of trenches and drops them in the trenches? We invented the bomber."

"I think that's what we're doing with cyber right now," said Lord. "We know that we can do some kinetic things with a non-kinetic weapon. We know that we're moving information, but we haven't realized the full potential. We will. And we're doing some very cool things now, just like we were doing some very cool things with early aviation in military history."

Lord said the cyber mission has become so important to joint military capabilities that some Army units consider not operating if cyber capabilities are not in play. He said Battlefield Airborne Communications Nodes are one of those capabilities.

BACN facilitates tactical edge information exchange among airborne and ground systems.

He said network operations continuously evolve such as using Internet Relay Chat (mIRC) as a force multiplier. He said when mIRC was enabled on the Air Force network more than a decade ago, people wondered how and why Airmen would use it, but left the program in the hands of younger Airmen, non-commissioned officers and Air Force civilians to figure it out.

"Do you think we could take mIRC off the network now," he asked. " What capability do we use when a Marine sniper is peering through a long scope at a cave entrance looking at a predator feed, talking to an [intelligence] analyst who's listening in to a conversation and chatting back via mIRC saying, 'No, don't get the guy on the left; get the guy on the right?'" Lord said, "It wasn't invented for that reason, but adaption of the tool by smart people in the Air Force made it happen."

"I have no idea what we'll use social networking for, but I'm smart enough now to know that we ought to put a Facebook-like capability on the Air Force Portal," he said. "And we did and over 400,000 of you have signed up for it."

He said an example of Air Force members adapting that tool came from correspondence between an Airman working on an aircraft engine at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, and communicating with another Airman at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, to fix a problem.

"That's what we're going to use it for," he said. "You're going to figure out better ways of doing our business if we arm you with some of that capability."

Lord said he foresees wireless capabilities replacing fiber-optics and a multitude of other changes, some budget related.

He said people in the Air Force from the 1980s on have seen increased budgets each year.

"Well guess what? Those days are over!" he said. And in February, the new budget will be rolling out."

Lord said the Air Force secretary and chief of staff have charged him with using his Title 40 chief information officer hammer on the business systems and the Air Force's combat systems. Even with budget cuts, the Air Force will still be required to modernize and protect the network at the same time.

"It's breathe in a bag time," he reiterated. "The potential for confusion and turmoil exists. We want to try to eliminate that. We won't, but I do want you to know that there are people who think about it and are concerned about it and that you have a voice in helping with how this ride ends. I think it's a glass half full. While it was Lieutenant Lord who bought an IBM Selectric III [typewriter] and leaves with kinetic effects happening as a result of non-kinetic activity, the future is wide open, and it's an exciting time to be in your Air Force."

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