The Air Force has developed 12 master plans for each of its major priorities, and one of the strategies centers on cybersecurity superiority.
The plan is more “cyber defensive-centric” than focused on attack missions, said Lt. Gen. Bill Lord, the chief information officer of the Air Force, in an interview with Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller at the recent AFCEA Air Force IT Day in Vienna, Va.
This new direction shapes the current budget, as well as how the Air Force will spend funds on cyber for the next five years, he said.
One of the biggest shifts is an increased demand for cyber experts who were traditionally seen more in a support role, Lord said.
“All of a sudden, they’re beginning to be pulled into other areas that look at, how can you help me create a combat effect by manipulating the cyber piece of that? So all of a sudden there is a great demand signal for this type of expertise,” Lord said.
Lord said the Air Force currently has about 10,000 people in the cyber field, but added, “I don’t think we have them binned right.” In other words, the service does not have a corps that is “as well-trained as what U.S. Cyber Command needs us to do,” Lord said.
Cyber training falls into two categories — the targeted cyber corps and everyone else.
“So there are things we expect every airman — whether that’s an officer, whether that’s a civilian, whether that’s a contractor on our network or whether that’s an airman basic who’s getting ready to go to tech school — on cyber hygiene, on how you behave when your fingers touch a government keyboard,” Lord said.
Then, the Air Force will develop specialized skills in those employees in the cyber business, he added.
Lord likens the cyber training to driving: “Everybody knows how to drive a car. Then there are people who get special training to know how to drive race cars.”
Tom Temin is the host of The Federal Drive, which airs from 6-9 a.m. on 1500 AM in the Washington, DC region and online everywhere. Tom has 30 years experience in journalism, mostly in technology markets. Before coming to Federal News Radio, he was a long-serving editor-in-chief of Government Computer News and Washington Technology magazines.