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Letter to Airmen: Cyberspace Operations

  • Published
  • By Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne
As I travel the world to see our Airmen in action, they continually impress me with their incredible courage, enduring dedication, and amazing innovations. We're harnessing this spirit of innovation as we redefine air power by extending our Global Vigilance, Reach and Power into cyberspace.

Just as Billy Mitchell endeavored to prove the potential of air power to a skeptical nation, we must now prove the critical importance of cyberspace as a war-fighting domain. In the past, we viewed electromagnetic energy (e.g. computer networks, communications systems, Global Positioning System) as an enabler to air operations. Today, the Air Force recognizes cyberspace as a war-fighting domain, along with air and space, in which we must fight to gain and maintain dominance.

Our adversaries realize the asymmetrical opportunities of cyberspace. They attempt to access American industrial servers that contain sensitive data, exploit electromagnetic energy to try and jam or misdirect our precision weapons, and use radio transmitters to detonate improvised explosive devices, killing Americans, coalition allies, and innocent civilians. In response to these threats, Airmen are actively "flying and fighting" in cyberspace. Our cyber Airmen's work is a prerequisite to all military operations; ensuring freedom of action across the electromagnetic spectrum, which in turn contributes to freedom from attack and freedom to attack in all other domains; land, sea, air and space.

To help us operate more effectively in cyberspace, we created a new command - Air Force Cyber Space Command at Barksdale Air Force Base, La. - and are developing new career fields dedicated to cyber technology. Under Lt. Gen. Bob Elder's visionary leadership, AFCYBER's mission is to provide combat-ready forces, trained and equipped to conduct sustained offensive and defensive operations across the EMS. To fully integrate cyber technology with air and space operations, the command will leverage, consolidate, and integrate Air Force cyber technology capabilities and functions, creating synergies among organizations and teaming more effectively with the joint community. We are partnering with industry and academia to build cyber technology innovation centers allowing us to gain and maintain a technological advantage over our nation's adversaries. We are finding new ways to harness cyber technology's unique capability by delivering operational effects using non-kinetic means at the speed of light to set the strategic and tactical conditions for victory.

America's Airmen will continue to dominate air and space in the 21st Century. We're now also applying that same innovation, energy, and determination in cyberspace. As we extend our Global Vigilance, Reach and Power into this vital new war-fighting domain, we must continue to draw upon the pioneering heritage that has made us the world's premier air, space, and now, cyberspace power.