Success of AFCYBER depends on the ESC team

  • Published
  • By Col. George Kramlinger
The Electronic Systems Center here and it's predecessors have always played a key role in defending the nation. With an ominous threat to the nation emerging on the cyberspace frontier, ESC is once again poised to play a key role in defending the Republic.

The United States increasingly depends on cyberspace to maintain our way of life and employ the instruments of national power. Control of essential processes in manufacturing, utilities, banking, health care, public safety, communications and national security now rely on networked computer systems.

This trend toward networked cyber systems continues to expand. Consequently, our economy and national security are fully dependent on the cyberspace infrastructure. Unfortunately, resources for exploiting the vulnerabilities in cyberspace are widely available and inexpensive.

Our adversaries - even those considered unsophisticated - actively seek to exploit this vulnerable center of gravity by developing capabilities to cripple our military forces, critical infrastructure, and commerce. As a result, cyber warfare is emerging as the preferred asymmetrical means to strike the United States.

With the advent of Air Force Cyber Command, the USAF will present cyber warfighting forces and capabilities to U.S. Strategic Command, geographical combatant commanders, and joint task force commanders. AFCYBER will organize, train, and equip to: deter and prevent cyberspace attacks against vital U.S. interests; rapidly respond to attacks and reconstitute networks; integrate cyber power into the full range of global and theater effects; defeat adversaries operating through cyberspace; ensure freedom of action in cyberspace for US and Allied commanders; and maintain persistent cyberspace awareness.

AFCYBER will work through the joint force to rapidly engage, degrade, or destroy an enemy's networks and network attack systems. We will provide the means to render an enemy deaf, mute, and blind in the first hours of a conflict, making it impossible for that enemy to effectively challenge U.S. and allied forces. Dominating the cyberspace domain makes it possible to paralyze an adversary before the first kinetic engagement. Thus, cyber paralysis is a critical element of 21st century warfare.

In 1965 Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, observed that that the number of transistors per square inch had doubled every year since the inception of the integrated circuit. Over time, his observation morphed into the theory commonly known as "Moore's law". This theory suggests almost every measure of digital electronics improves by an order of magnitude every 18 months.

Unfortunately, "Moore's law" drives a cyber technology refresh rate that seriously challenges the USAF in a fiscally constrained environment. Thus, USAF dominance in the rapidly changing cyberspace domain requires an agile acquisition strategy to rapidly field new systems that easily integrate with existing capability. Avoiding stove piped systems creates synergy and enhances freedom of action in cyberspace. Fortunately, ESC has the requisite expertise to partner with AFCYBER and overcome the challenges of Moore's law.

In December 2006, Air Force Materiel Command gave ESC primary responsibility to acquire and sustain USAF cyberspace systems. In this capacity ESC manages program objectives and executes total life cycle responsibility for assigned cyberspace systems. ESC program managers develop acquisition strategies then manage cost, schedule, and performance. This framework combined with ESC's disciplined Systems Engineering approach creates integrated solutions that can quickly deliver high-quality, affordable, and sustainable capabilities. However, acquisition does not occur in a vacuum.

AFCYBER will lead the requirements management process throughout the entire cyber acquisition and system life cycle in coordination with warfighters, MAJCOMs, ESC, and the Air Staff. In addition, AFCYBER will lead development and submission of the integrated cyberspace program objective memorandum in collaboration with appropriate stake holders to capture life cycle costs, ensure sustainment, and develop a sound investment strategy.

Furthermore, we will lead development of the USAF cyberspace roadmap as part of the USAF Capability Review and Risk Assessment process to identify gaps, shortfalls, and recommended courses of action. With an eye toward the horizon, AFCYBER will lead development of future cyberspace concept of operations to guide science, technology, and experimentation. Finally, we will provide a cyberspace "hot bench" for integration and developmental testing, procedures development, and proof of concept evaluation for emerging technology.

Unfortunately, the urgent genesis of cyberspace capability, dynamic evolution of AFCYBER, and ownership of the cyber "hot bench" may generate fog and friction between AFCYBER and ESC relating to experimentation, testing, and demonstrations.

However, fog and friction are easily overcome by formalized communication that seeks to deconflict, coordinate, and synchronize overlapping areas of responsibility especially relating to the smooth transition of initiatives into sustainable systems of record.

Regular communication will enhance ESC's ability to rapidly deliver cutting edge, integrated, and open architecture capability to the warfighter without wasting time, effort, or money. The Global Cyberspace Integration Center - formerly the Air Force Command Control, and Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center - now part of AFCYBER (P), has successfully collaborated with ESC on numerous programs and initiatives over the last seven years.

Of particular note is the success our organizations have had working together on the Air Operations Center weapon system, Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment and Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration. These examples in particular highlight the capability to successfully transition emerging, newly created, or existing technology into systems of record that meet warfighter requirements.

The cyber domain follows the exponential change of Moore's law and therefore requires innovative processes to thoroughly identify requirements then rapidly field systems that integrate across the breadth and depth of this new frontier. The success of AFCYBER - and our dominance of cyberspace - is heavily dependant on the AFCYBER relationship with ESC.

AFCYBER will execute a disciplined and responsive requirements process while at the same time providing a cyber "hot bench" to test new initiatives and technologies early in the development cycle.

Given the intellectual and technical prowess that characterize all Airmen, the partnership between ESC and AFCYBER gives the USAF a distinct advantage over any potential adversary in the cyber domain just as it has in air and space.

AFCYBER in partnership with ESC will create a dynamic warfighting enterprise that integrates capabilities, systems, and warfighters to establish the cross domain dominance necessary to fly, fight, and win in cyberspace.