U.S. Air Force Blueprint for Cyberspace

The United States Air Force Blueprint for Cyberspace

  • 16 pages
  • November 2, 2009


The United States Air Force (USAF) Blueprint for Cyberspace provides commander’s guidance and intent, identifies opportunities and delineates objectives and strategies that will shape USAF actions over the next five years. This document describes the first phase of a two-phase approach. It defines specific actions to align cyber activities and functions, to evolve and integrate the unique capabilities the USAF brings to the joint fight, and to build cyberspace operational capacity, including:

• Positioning the USAF with enhanced and differentiated capabilities complementing those of our sister services
• Assuring the mission by securing the USAF portion of DOD-Global Information Grid (GIG)
• Fusing cyber and intelligence functions to create seamless operations
• Establishing cyber requirements and re-engineering acquisition processes
• Institutionalizing a cyber culture and mindset

The second phase addresses longer-range objectives, including:
• Creating unique capabilities through innovation and integration
• Building the next-generation network/cyber infrastructure
• Refining operations to create synergies and seamless capabilities
• Fielding and further developing operationally responsive capabilities
• Achieving cyber integration and acculturation

Phase II of the USAF Blueprint for Cyberspace will be shaped by the results of several efforts currently underway:

• A summary of the information gathered on the future of cyberspace, and how to get ahead of the curve and create a sustainable advantage
• The analysis and recommendations for developing a coordinated USAF-wide effort for cyber innovation
• The plan for the next-generation secure architecture including an analysis of network information flow, technology and mission needs
• The analysis and recommendations for developing an integrated cyber operations center
• The establishment and refinement of modeling and simulations to support real-time operations and rapid acquisitions
• The analysis of the options for threat fusion and the synergies with United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM), DOD, the Intelligence Community, law enforcement, other government agencies and industry
• Investigation of joint community, other service, government and international entity cyber initiatives for future collaboration opportunities

Phase II specifics will also be driven by lessons learned and several other factors: progress on Phase I; the Phase II Program Action Directive (PAD) and Programming Plan (PPlan); and further direction from USAF, other national leadership, and USCYBERCOM on supporting combatant commands and other national requirements.

The objectives of this blueprint align from the Presidential Guidance down through the USAF priorities and AFSPC 2010 goals, and will be integrated into the USAF Space and Cyberspace Service Core Function Plan. The results of this blueprint will contribute significantly to the AF vision to “Fly, Fight and Win … in Air, Space and Cyberspace.” Additionally, this blueprint incorporates the initial goals and guidance from the Secretary of Defense and joint community ensuring USAF cyber efforts complement those of other cyber participants, provide maximum benefits to the joint fight and contribute significantly to the national cyber effort.

Current Situation

Cyberspace touches practically everything and everyone every day. The security and prosperity of our nation is dependent on freedom of access to and freedom of action in cyberspace. While there are many benefits that come with this access, there are numerous inherent vulnerabilities. Threats via cyberspace pose one of the most serious national security challenges of the 21st Century. The threat is asymmetrical with a minimal cost of entry; events of the last several years show that one person, with one computer, can affect an entire nation. Growing arrays of adversaries are targeting the US military and our critical national infrastructure, commerce and citizens. The combined and coordinated efforts of government, industry and academia will be required to effectively counter many of these attacks and assure mission success in the future.

Cyberspace Culture

The USAF will strive to change its cultural mindset in the day-to-day execution of cyber operations. The importance of cultivating a new mindset cannot be overstated. It demands a fundamental shift in leadership that encourages creative, yet critical thinking and rewards innovative activities and solutions. Cyberspace does not function independently of other capabilities provided by the USAF or other DOD agencies. For example, the question of capability integration is broader than just the USAF and requires an understanding of how USAF cyber capabilities may leverage or be leveraged by the capabilities of the other military services and mission partners. In addition, the integration and acculturation of cyberspace must permeate doctrine development, accession and advanced training, professional military education, exercises, war games, recruitment and day-to-day operations.

A cultural change is also critical in the USAF operation and defense of the AF-GIG. Every USAF airman, government civilian, and contract partner must become a cyber defender. The United States is vulnerable to cyber attacks by relentless adversaries attempting to infiltrate our networks- at work and at home- millions of times a day, 24/7 planting malicious code, worms, botnets and hooks in common websites, software and hardware, such as thumb-drives, printers, etc. Once implanted, this code begins to distort, destroy and manipulate information, or “phone” it home. Certain code allows US adversaries to obtain higher levels of credentials to access highly sensitive information. Adversaries attack computers at work and at home knowing Airmen communicate with the AF network via email or transfer information from one system to another.

Airmen have a critical role in defending the USAF networks. They can significantly decrease the adversary’s accessto the USAF networks by:

• Not opening attachments or click on links unless the email is digitally signed, or directly verifying the source directly
• Not connecting any hardware or download any software, applications, music or information onto our networks without approval
• Encrypting sensitive but unclassified and/or mission critical information
• Installing the free Department of Defense anti-virus software on home computers

As always, USAF Airmen are the core of our mission success; and the civilians and contract partners of the USAF also play a unique and critical role. Technical competence alone is not sufficient to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Airmen must be technically astute, tactically competent, armed with warrior ethos and equally prepared to deploy forward or operate in place to accomplish the mission. The USAF will increase cyber expertise by implementing a focused recruitment strategy, a specific and carefully managed cyber career pathway and career-long professional development. The USAF will increase opportunities for education and provide specialized organic cyber operational training to include a centrally managed force of trained personnel with forensic and other specialized skills. The USAF will develop procedures to identify and track cyber professionals within the USAF personnel system and leverage the contributions of the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command to develop and present unique capabilities.

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