It’s received little notice (at least so far), but there was an Air Force announcement in Washington on Thursday that will have a major impact on the future of warfare. Speaking during a media conference in Washington, Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne revealed that 8th Air Force will become the service’s new “Cyberspace Command,” with responsibility for offensive and defensive operations in that arena.
Like the rest of DoD, the Air Force has had “compter warfare units” (for lack of a better term) since the early 1990s. But creation of the Cyberspace Command underscores the importance of that domain in future warfighting. As a former Air Force general once observed, “why send in a flight of B-2s if you can shut down your enemy’s air defense system or power grid with a few keystrokes?” Realizing that possibility–and preventing adversaries from doing the same thing to us–will now become the responsiblity of 8th Air Force, and its commander, Lt Gen Bob Elder.
Wynne’s announcement ended speculation over which Air Force command would run the new cyberspace organization. In recent months, there has been something of a turf war over the cyberspace command, with both Air Combat Command (ACC) and Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) competing for control. ACC controls 8th Air Force, so yesterday’s decision gives that command (headquartered at Langley AFB, Virginia) the overall lead in controlling cyber-warfare in the USAF.
But the real winner in yesterday’s announcement was the Air Intelligence Agency (AIA), based at Lackland AFB in San Antonio. AIA and its commander, Major General Craig Koziol. General Koziol, a career intelligence officer, has been a key player in Air Force efforts to better organize its cyber-warfare capabilities, and in his present position, he already serves as the senior 8th Air Force commander in charge of information operations. While General Elder will have overall command of the cyberspace organization, General Koziol will actually run the operation on a day-to-day basis. One of the organizations that will figure prominently in the Air Force cyber-warfare command, the 67th Network W arfare Wing, falls directly under AIA and General Koziol.
However, Koziol’s tenure in the post may be relatively brief. Air Force insiders believe he is the leading candidate to become the service’s next A-2 (formerly Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence) in early 2007. The Air Force A-2 was recently elevated from a two-star to a three-star billet, and the incumbent, Lieutenant General Dave Deptula, is expected to receive his fourth star next year, and take control of an operational command. Koziol has been a rising star in the Air Force intel world for some time; prior to assuming leadership of AIA, he was the first intelligence officer to command a flying wing, the 55th Wing at Offut AFB, Nebraska. The 55th Wing is one of the largest in the Air Force and controls may of the services key reconnaissance platforms, including RC-135 Rivet Joint and Cobra Ball aircraft.
Utilizing AIA as the backbone for the cyber command (and entrusting its daily management to an intel officer) is a further example of the blurring between operations and intelligence, a necessary move in an era where the outcome of future conflicts may well be determined on a digital battlefield.
Closed circut for the NYT Editorial Board, the ACLU, and others who get their knickers in a wad at the thought of a military presence in network warfare: the activities of the 67th Wing (and similar organizations) are strictly regulated, and pose absolutely no threat to our privacy or civil liberties. In fact, the cyber-command is a requirement for our national security, much like the NSA terrorist surveillance program. Of course, we know what the Times and the ACLU thought of those efforts. We can only wonder how long it will take the ACLU legal staff to file their first lawsuit against the Air Force’s new cyber organization.