Warfare, as with technology, is changing quickly and dramatically. The U.S. Defense Depart- ment’s most recent Quadrennial Defense Review noted the link between this rapid evo-
lution and “increasingly contested battlespace in the
air, sea and space domains—as well
as cyberspace—in which our forces
enjoyed dominance in our most
These assertions have major implications for airpower
in future contingencies that will call for the Air Force
to emphasize cyber over its five core missions. Already,
these missions have been tweaked in content and appli-
cation—changes that leaders could use to set a course for
future cyber dominance.
But getting there will not be easy. Cyberspace seems
limitless, given the man-made malleability of the terrain.
The stakes are highest in part because the entry barriers
are lowest—courtesy of readily available technologies
that are being improvised to cause significant harm.
The low barriers to entry result in the cyber domain
presumably receiving the most focus in both contingent
and local operations. These comparisons of vast highs
and lows are described by the American Foreign Policy
Council’s Eric Sterner in his scholarly article “Retaliatory
Deterrence in Cyberspace.”
Airpower in future crises must stress cyber warfare.
But some experts fear that cyber effects could resemble
nuclear effects, and deterrence approaches are neither
the same nor effective. More answers are needed.
Meanwhile, the United States must work to remain
the global leader in science and technology to achieve
joint force dominance in cyberspace, as the Quadrennial
Defense Review envisions. Steps are being taken to attain
that holistic dominance by identifying ways to combat
full-spectrum cyber capabilities. That full spectrum
includes people, hardware, software, networks, technologies and irregular activities.
Furthermore, cyberspace is a global domain in an
information environment with interdependent networks that give way to a terrain unlike those of traditional ground, sea, air and space operations. Cyberspace knows no geographical boundaries. Cyber
The U.S. Air Force Must Aim
Higher in Cyberspace
BY JENNIFER A.
warriors require innovative approaches to how to fight,
how to posture forces and how to use technological
and other strengths to their advantage in this complex
space. Certainly, there is no shortage of options in this
But there is a serious shortage of cybersecurity talent. This spells trouble, given that the shift to cyber
within the Air Force will require meeting consistently
high demand for skilled cyber professionals. The
dynamic man-made domain needs highly trained people who are passionate about their work. It is widely
presumed that the Air Force will maintain the lead in
cyber warfare, especially in contingencies. As a result,
the Air Force will shoulder the burden of maintaining
a cyber force, from recruitment to retention to retirement. Fortunately, the Defense Department is investing in cyber capabilities, including recruiting, training
and retaining cyber personnel, especially the department’s newly hatched Cyber Mission Force.
The Air Force, and all the services, must leverage
private industry personnel and expertise to offset talent gaps compounded by a shortage of career and education opportunities for some Defense Department
cyber workers. While the value of these cyber-savvy
individuals and their wealth of experiences is second to
none, finding and wooing other sources of talent will be
paramount to developing the cybersecurity work force
necessary to meet the military’s needs.
Jennifer A. Miller is a cost analyst and a deputy branch
chief in the Resource Management Oversight Division of
the National Guard Bureau’s Joint Staff. She is a member of AFCEA’s Northern Virginia Chapter. The views
expressed are her own.
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“Airpower in future crises must stress cyber warfare.”