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Air Force Suspends Cyber Command Program

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the less-qq-more-pewpew dept.

The Military 166

AFCyber writes "The Air Force on Monday suspended all efforts related to development of a program to become the dominant service in cyberspace, according to knowledgeable sources. Top Air Force officials put a halt to all activities related to the establishment of the Cyber Command, a provisional unit that is currently part of the 8th Air Force at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, sources told Nextgov. An internal Air Force e-mail obtained by Nextgov said, 'Transfers of manpower and resources, including activation and re-assignment of units, shall be halted.' Establishment of the Cyber Command will be delayed until new senior Air Force leaders, including Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz, sworn in today, have time to make a final decision on the scope and mission of the command."

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166 comments

Coincidence? (4, Informative)

longacre (1090157) | more than 5 years ago | (#24584221)

Perhaps just coincidence that they shut it down the day after this look inside Cyber Command [popularmechanics.com] was published online:

"The black boxes are ClearCube computer terminals, and the fact that there are two of them at each station points to perhaps the most important defensive strategy of the Pentagon's Global Information Gridâ"known to its operators as the GIG. The box on top is plugged into the Nonclassified Internet Protocol Router Network, or NIPRNet, which is linked to the public Internet. The other black box connects to the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, or SIPRNet, which contains the military's classified information. There are no physical connections between the two anywhere in the Defense Department's 5 millionâ"computer network, yet in the AFNOC, the Ethernet jacks are only 1 1/2 in. apart. That proximity got me wondering. 'What if someone connected them?' I asked information officer 2nd Lt. Mike Forostoski. He laughed in disbelief, as though I had asked him what would happen if a flaming nuclear blimp headed for the building. Then he answered with cautious understatement: 'That would be bad.'

Re:Coincidence? (3, Interesting)

drspliff (652992) | more than 5 years ago | (#24584449)

What a load of rubbish, the black boxen are ClearCube "Digital Fiber C/Port" thin terminals connected to a workstation somewhere in a cabinet, if you were to swap them around you'd have the computer connected to the top-secret network on the other side of your desk.

It's not like if you did that packets would magically leak out and allow Chinese hackers to read their e-mails...

This is quite a neat setup because everything can be stored away, centrally managed and physically secured from a single location.

Re:Coincidence? (2, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#24585381)

What a load of rubbish, the black boxen are ClearCube "Digital Fiber C/Port" thin terminals connected to a workstation somewhere in a cabinet, if you were to swap them around you'd have the computer connected to the top-secret network on the other side of your desk.

The question wasn't "what would happen if you swap them around" it was "what would happen if you plugged them into each other with an ethernet cable"

Why would the SIPRNet box/terminal even have an empty ethernet port?

Re:Coincidence? (1)

drspliff (652992) | more than 5 years ago | (#24587163)

They're dumb terminals and have no switching capability...

Re:Coincidence? (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 5 years ago | (#24585675)

Where I work (contract company to gov't), our standards are a bit more strict. No standard network/classified network wiring/ports/equipment to be closer than 4'. The only thing they allow that bridges this are specified KVM switches, so one monitor/keyboard/mouse can be used. Not sure why the military is so lax

Re:Coincidence? (0, Offtopic)

pdxp (1213906) | more than 5 years ago | (#24585879)

This is quite a neat setup because everything can be stored away, centrally managed and physically secured from a single point of failure .

Fixed.

Re:Coincidence? (1)

Fallon (33975) | more than 5 years ago | (#24587103)

<quote> if you were to swap them around you'd have the computer connected to the top-secret network on the other side of your desk.</quote>

Actually Top Secret is yet another completely different network than SIPR with a heck of a lot more security measures in place.

Re:Coincidence? (4, Informative)

Lt_Kernal (11104) | more than 5 years ago | (#24585245)

What a load of crap. There are many multilevel systems that hook to multiple classification networks at the same time. One box, connected to both SIPR, and NIPR, for example.

Here's one of them, Radiant Mercury: http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/systems/radiant_mercury.htm [globalsecurity.org]

Here's another. DTW, the DoDIIS Trusted Workstation. It has the capabilty to hook up to many networks at the same time, from NIPR to SCI: http://www.sun.com/solutions/documents/business-cases/go_DTW_cc.pdf [sun.com]

But, hey. Truth doesn't sell magazines, does it? Ironically, the technology that allows more than one classified network to hook to another is pretty freaking awesome. PopMech should take a look at that, instead.

Re:Coincidence? (1)

afabbro (33948) | more than 5 years ago | (#24585457)

"Airwalls" are very common in classified setups. Go figure - the best and brightest still trust physical separation more than promises of unbreakable firewalls.

Re:Coincidence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24585561)

Hey Airman Snuffy, where did you put that extra crossover cable we had lying around?

Re:Coincidence? (2, Interesting)

Bugs42 (788576) | more than 5 years ago | (#24586025)

What worries me far more is that in the picture accompanying that article, the computers are quite obviously running Windows.

Re:Coincidence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24586179)

All access points to the secured networks/computers are placed in locked secured rooms. No unsecured networks/computers are allowed in these rooms. Once a secured network wire is visible outside the locked room, it has already been heavily encrypted.

Cyber Command Meets Fate at Hands of 2nd Lt. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24586241)

Yet again the fortunes of thousands of men are held in the hands of a lowly butter bar...

Re:Coincidence? (4, Informative)

Fallon (33975) | more than 5 years ago | (#24586581)

I have a SIPR machine sitting a foot or 2 away from me right now as I type this on a NIPR machine... SIPR is a completely separate network that never touches the Internet. They both are monitored very heavily and if traffic from one showed up on the other, it would get noticed very quickly and fixed. It would be bad and heads would roll, but it wouldn't be the end of the world.

The U.S. military world wide has setups not unlike this, it's nothing new in the slightest, along with appropriate systems and procedures to protect them.

 

Oh shit! (0, Offtopic)

Subm (79417) | more than 5 years ago | (#24584289)

Skynet's become active!

The Air Force is doomed (2, Interesting)

realmolo (574068) | more than 5 years ago | (#24584307)

We just don't need them anymore. We have better missiles, and better drones.

The only thing we need actualy piloted aircraft for are close-in ground support, where things are too crowded/messy for computers to do a good job. And even then, remotely-piloted drones are taking over.

Re:The Air Force is doomed (3, Interesting)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#24584541)

We just don't need them anymore. We have better missiles, and better drones.

Reminds me of an old short story I read in the 80s...

The premise was that two superpowers, in a state of constant war, launch programmed missiles at eachother, since it was decided that manned craft were not necessary, and it was not worth risking pilot lives. However, the defenses for the superpowers were able to adapt quickly, and therefore very few missiles ever got through the defense systems.

Eventually, one of the superpowers decided to make the missiles human pilotable, in order to defeat the defenses; they lost many pilots on their suicide missiosn, but obliterated their opponent and won the war.

The point is, human action is less predictable, and harder to defend against.

Of course, remote piloting and drones provide the capability of human piloting without all the mess of needing to carry meat, but the air force as a separate command is a different issue.

The Air Force will, IMO, always be needed, if only as a balance to the other two major forces. An additional chain of command leadin to the top means that a different insititionally biased way of thinking comes into play, and it is more likely that a dissenting (but not necessarily wrong) opinion will be heard at the highest level.

Reducing the number of branches in the command structure will lead to even more institutionalized thinking, which, IMO, would hamper the ability of the military to come to the best solutions to problems it faces.

Re:The Air Force is doomed (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24585115)

We just don't need them anymore. We have better missiles, and better drones.

Reminds me of an old short story I read in the 80s...

"The Feeling of Power" by Isaac Asimov.

Re:The Air Force is doomed (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#24585363)

We just don't need them anymore. We have better missiles, and better drones.

Reminds me of an old short story I read in the 80s...

"The Feeling of Power" by Isaac Asimov.

The text: http://downlode.org/Etext/power.html [downlode.org]

Re:The Air Force is doomed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24586099)

You know where the best pilots in the US armed forces are?

The Navy, launching from carriers. (Remember Top Gun? That was about Navy pilots.)

The Air Force has never been needed.

Re:The Air Force is doomed (1)

Minwee (522556) | more than 5 years ago | (#24586453)

The Air Force has never been needed.

I believe that the United States Air Force may disagree with you.

They may also disagree that the USAF needs its own planes, cars, missiles, submarines, space program, paper clip assembly plants, and surprisingly profitable second hand ballpoint business.

Re:The Air Force is doomed (1)

encoderer (1060616) | more than 5 years ago | (#24586103)

What is this "80s" you speak of?

Some sort of code?

Re:The Air Force is doomed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24586587)

Another fun thing about remotely operated units is that, if you take out the remote operators, not usually known for their provess in the Art of War, you have disabled the drone as well.

Re:The Air Force is doomed (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#24585237)

We just don't need them anymore. We have better missiles, and better drones.

No, the traditional manned Air Force may be scaled back, but it will continue to adapt its missions toward exploitation of whatever spaces(outer, cyber) that the other branches can't touch. Their toying around with this "cyber-command" is a good example of this idea(though cyber-command is not necessary as there are plenty of civillian proxies who would love to hack for the US). Right after I graduated AF basic training, they even started to have new airmen chant "Space Power" along with "Air Power".

Re:The Air Force is doomed (2, Informative)

iamweezman (648494) | more than 5 years ago | (#24585483)

We do have better missiles, and better drones...all flown and developed by the Air Force.

The AF also controls and commands the AFSCN - the Air Force Satellite Control Network, GPS, and much of the ISR satellites. Flying planes is actually very little of what they do.

Re:The Air Force is doomed (1)

JeanCroix (99825) | more than 5 years ago | (#24585511)

Maybe you're forgetting a few things? Materiel and personnel transport, for starters. Nobody's working on a drone to replace the C-130 yet. Nor are they quite willing to allow drones to shuttle around high-ranking officers.

I won't even get into the air superiority debate...

Doomed? Yes and No (2, Interesting)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 5 years ago | (#24586721)

We just don't need them anymore. We have better missiles, and better drones.

The only thing we need actually piloted aircraft for are close-in ground support, where things are too crowded/messy for computers to do a good job. And even then, remotely-piloted drones are taking over.

First, we're a long way off from being able to turn airpower completely over to robotic drones.

Second, I think you touched on the real question while missing the larger point... we're always going to need airpower... the military projection of power via aerial weapons. The question is, why do we need an Air Force? Why do we need an individual military branch with an identity based on airpower, when airpower is simply one facet of warfare that all branches need? The Navy has their own aircraft because oceans have skies over them too.

  To me, splitting the Air Force from the Army was like establishing a separate military branch just for armor, or establishing an independent infantry branch. Why? What makes it imperitive to seperate airpower from ground power over the land? We did just fine with the Army Air Corps being a part of a larger Army. Ask any soldier, especially career soldier, and they'll likely complain about how USAF puts such a low priority on boring ground support missions... they aren't sexy enough to sell on recruiting posters.

Just as the Marines are tied at the hip to the Navy, the Air Force should more or less be a part of the Army. We don't live in castles in the sky. We live here on the ground, and ultimately, any air force's job is to support objectives on the ground when things are said and done. We have air superiority fighters because we don't want the enemy's aircraft hurting our guys on the ground.

I think our previous model of splitting defense responsibilities via geography between the Army and the Navy was a better model than our current one, with the Air Corps (or Army Air Forces, if you will) and the Marine Corps subordinate to their larger sister services. USAF went independent because of the argument that airpower in and of itself should fight separately, which was an outgrowth of Billy Mitchell's ideas. The problem is that Mitchell was wrong about a lot of things. He thought armies and navies were largely obsolete, and history has proven him wrong on that.

Airpower is just a tool, one that can be used by any branch. It doesn't justify a separate service, with all its associated costs duplication. Should we establish a separate service for submarines just because they're under the water? Of course not. Why establish a separate service just for airplanes?

Re:The Air Force is doomed (1)

ClientNine (1261974) | more than 5 years ago | (#24587267)

We just don't need them anymore. We have better missiles, and better drones.

The only thing we need actualy piloted aircraft for are close-in ground support, where things are too crowded/messy for computers to do a good job. And even then, remotely-piloted drones are taking over.

That's a credible argument against the need for combat pilots, but not so much against the need for military air power. Someone has to maintain and operate the drones and whatnot.

Missing out (5, Interesting)

perffectworld (973737) | more than 5 years ago | (#24584313)

A lot to be learned right now on cyberwar from Russia.

profit! (5, Funny)

n3tcat (664243) | more than 5 years ago | (#24584325)

Step 1) Release public statement regarding creation of cyber command to all nerd websites
Step 2) Recruit all the nerds that got interested in step 1
Step 3) Publicly announce the cancellation of the project
Step 4) Continu.......

(Connection Terminated)

Re:profit! (1)

volxdragon (1297215) | more than 5 years ago | (#24584999)

Step 5) Reassign all those nerds recruited in step 2 to the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan now that the cyber command is gone...

Re:profit! (2, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 5 years ago | (#24585321)

Step 6) Wonder why all those nerds suddenly got promoted to Air Marshall based on their marks stored in the computer

Re:profit! (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#24586959)

Your scope is too narrow. Think of the big picture.
Step 1) Get FISA bill through Congress.
Step 2) Recruit massive amount of computer nerds through phony cyber command.
Step 3) ??? (this is the scary part)

My head hurts. I think I better loosen my tinfoil hat.

I wondered about this (3, Insightful)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 5 years ago | (#24584333)

Why the Air Force? It seems like such a reach outside their normal scope. I would think that the Army would be the proper place for such a command.

Of course, the Air Force should never have been split off from the Army to begin with; they should have told Curtiss LeMay to go get bent when they still had the chance.

Re:I wondered about this (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 5 years ago | (#24584525)

I thought it was obvious... All of the cushy jobs are in the Air Force... why change that now?

Re:I wondered about this (2, Interesting)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 5 years ago | (#24585479)

In basic training ('87): We are the button pushers, we have the bomb!

-welcoming speech by TI

Re:I wondered about this (3, Interesting)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#24584613)

Ummm... Wi-Fi and Satellite. Yea it kinda vague. I think the air force had more command experience with high end technology. I much rather be in the air force in a nice chair doing my code then in the army in a tent with a laptop, trying to setup a network connection with the chances there are people who want to shoot me.

Re:I wondered about this (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24585347)

Because the Nerds all watched Stargate SG-1, and they know the Air Force is the place to go if you want to travel through wormholes.

Re:I wondered about this (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 5 years ago | (#24585525)

    The disinformation strategy has worked!

    Because you've seen wormholes and aliens visiting earth on Stargate, you believe anyone to leak any intelligence on said items are just crackpots who have watched too much television.

Re:I wondered about this (1, Interesting)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 5 years ago | (#24585349)

The AF run in an Army mindset? Egad, that would be terrible! The Army and Air Force use very different skills and for lack of a better term, types of people. The Army needs automatons that are essentially brainless, if they get smart they might start making their own decisions. The USAF needs technicians who can figure out things on their own. Autonamoustons? Retention of VERY expensive pilots and techies would be a nightmare. You can turn a kid into a tank driver or infantry goon in a few weeks. USAF training is typically months, sometimes up to a year.

The army *should* have all the helicopters.

Having the USAF run the cyber show is a natural progression, since they already run the satellites and are tech oriented. Or we could establish a cyber corp. Folks would join that just because it would sound cool.

Re:I wondered about this (1)

afabbro (33948) | more than 5 years ago | (#24585487)

The AF run in an Army mindset? Egad, that would be terrible!

You're right, they're very different:

  • Army: Officers stay at base, enlisted go to fight.
  • Air Force: Enlisted stay at base, officers go to fight.

Re:I wondered about this (1)

db32 (862117) | more than 5 years ago | (#24586651)

Clear evidence that the Air Force enlisted force is much smarter than the Army.

Re:I wondered about this (1)

bradorsomething (527297) | more than 5 years ago | (#24585689)

Why the Air Force?

Because it's cyber-*space*. The army can operate on the LAN(d).

Home of the "Cybercommand"? (4, Insightful)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 5 years ago | (#24587015)

Why the Air Force? It seems like such a reach outside their normal scope. I would think that the Army would be the proper place for such a command.

The whole "Cybercommand" thing was yet another attempt by USAF to dominate an emerging military technology. It was a power grab. After WW II, they argued against other services having airplanes. They managed to get missiles and fixed wing aircraft taken away from the Army. They got the Army's Cheyenne gunship helicopter killed because it looked too much like a fighter plane. In Vietnam, they got SecDef McNamera to issue an order stating that Marine F-4's were to be limited to ground attack only... the fighter mission inland was for USAF alone. They could defend themselves if attacked by MiGs, but could not go MiG hunting on their own. Last year they tried to monopolize robotic aerial drones. And Cybercommand tried to monopolize military computer ops. USAF has a long history of not only protecting their turf, but moving in on others if it benefitted them. They have a reputation for arrogance. The Air Force Association's description of the branch was "first among equals"... as if any such thing could really exist.

Just like any other military tactic or technology... intelligence, airpower, any single military technology... each service should have their own "cybercommand", with a unifying leadership and authority over all branches at DOD. And I think we're heading in that direction, with SecDef Gates sacking the USAF leadership recently. There was a lot of resentment in the other branches at the Blues' attempt to hog the cyber mission, and I think this stand down is at least partly attributable to Gates trying to bring USAF leadership back on the reservation and play nice with the other kids.

disaster (5, Funny)

Peter La Casse (3992) | more than 5 years ago | (#24584365)

This is a potential disaster. Millions, or even billions, of cyber warfare dollars are at stake that cannot be allowed to fall into the hands of the Army or Navy.

Re:disaster (3, Funny)

drspliff (652992) | more than 5 years ago | (#24584527)

Yes, leave some of those monies for poor little phishers and hacking groups like us :)

Translation (2, Insightful)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 5 years ago | (#24584405)

Some old fuck that doesn't understand tech probably got wind of the idea and shut it down because he doesn't understand it.

So much for optimism in this arena.

Re:Translation (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#24584487)

That's what the Russians use! Can't learn from them blasted Commies, sonny! :)

Re:Translation (3, Insightful)

sholsinger (1131365) | more than 5 years ago | (#24585085)

Negative. Their mission must be clearly defined before they can proceed with that mission. If the mission isn't clearly defined, well... then they have no real bounds to what they can do. And the ClearCube boxen are part of a military-wide shift to thin client computing.

Not to mention without a clearly defined mission they could possibly step on toes of other similar divisions within other military branches. Even though they may not actually exist yet. This would be a large concern.

I agree with other posters that this should be a consolidated effort. Perhaps a new branch even.

Additionally the issues raised about SIPRNET and NIPRNET being physically close to each other has absolutely no merit. The SIPRNET network hardware is likely to be located in an entirely different building/room than the NIPRNET hardware. Which would be further physically secured than the NIPRNET hardware even. Although both would be physically secured. Not to mention that the users would probably have a separate smart card to authenticate themselves to each network.

Re:Translation (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#24585727)

Additionally the issues raised about SIPRNET and NIPRNET being physically close to each other has absolutely no merit. The SIPRNET network hardware is likely to be located in an entirely different building/room than the NIPRNET hardware. Which would be further physically secured than the NIPRNET hardware even. Although both would be physically secured. Not to mention that the users would probably have a separate smart card to authenticate themselves to each network.

I don't work for the Air Force, but we do have NIPRnet and SIPRnet access here. Having access to classified & unclassified connections in the same room isn't at all uncommon (although never on the same computer). There are physical protections to restrict access to the building and some offices, but authenticating on the networks is typically just a login/password.

Re:Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24586497)

I agree with other posters that this should be a consolidated effort. Perhaps a new branch even.

The United States Tech Geek Corps. Semper Wi-Fi!

Re:Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24585513)

Nah, just the Chinese and the Russians are so way much better than any American hacker would be even if-he-lives-a-hacker-life-for-thousand-contiguous-lives, the DoD ended up deciding to close down the program and instead of computers we should use the old nukes to defend ourselves...

Re:Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24585735)

A series of interconnecting tubes ain't gonna win you a war, son. Plumbers don't have a place in the battlefield.

Re:Translation (1)

Minwee (522556) | more than 5 years ago | (#24586505)

Hey, be careful how you talk about the Commander in Chief.

What a waste! (1, Interesting)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 5 years ago | (#24584451)

We're going to have a new Commander in Chief next January. Did they ask any of the five people running for President what their opinion on it was?

Re:What a waste! (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#24584619)

Did they ask any of the five people running for President what their opinion on it was?

Five people? Did your reality filter break again or do you just need new glasses?

Re:What a waste! (2, Funny)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#24584743)

any of the five people running for President

I really don't think that it's fair that you single out the top 5 people running for president. There are at least 13 people running - at least according to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] .

I mean, last time 'round 3rd party candidates scored huge wins. Few people are aware that the Prohibition Party scored almost 2000 votes in the last presidential election!

</sarcasm>

Re:What a waste! (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#24585833)

Hey - we've had four [wikipedia.org] 3rd party presidents! Of course, we only elected two... And one was ejected from the party after just a few months in office because his politics sharply conflicted with the party's views... And it's been more than 150 years since any 3rd party presidential candidate has been taken seriously on a national level...

But that doesn't mean it can't happen again! Prohibition Party unite!

Re:What a waste! (1)

Caboosian (1096069) | more than 5 years ago | (#24586535)

The Whigs weren't a third party. They were the Democrats only opposition - the "Republican" party hadn't even formed yet. The Whigs were in a way the successors to the Federalists, who weren't even a real party. It sort of worked like this:

Federalists vs. Democratic-Republicans
Whigs vs. Democrats (they dropped the hyphen)
Republicans vs. Democrats

Keep in mind, despite the Republican vs. Democrat situation existing for more than 150 years, each party has vastly changed its stances and constituencies.

If you want to talk third parties, you should talk about the Know-Nothings, the Bull-Moose, etc. Keep in mind that when it comes to American politics, in general, American third parties that have any success fracture from the majority parties because they disagree with one, or a few, issues, and are then rolled back in once a majority party endorses their view.

Air Force losing relevance? (4, Insightful)

BitterOldGUy (1330491) | more than 5 years ago | (#24584457)

Philip Coyle, senior adviser with the Center for Defense Information, a security policy research group in Washington, said he believes the Navyâ(TM)s Network Warfare Command and the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center have led the way in cyberspace. The Army engages in cyberspace operations daily in Afghanistan and Iraq, said Coyle, who served as assistant secretary of Defense and director of its operational test and evaluation office from 1994 to 2001.

I've never understood why the Air Force had to be split from the Army. It just ads more bureaucracy and as a result more overhead and costs to the taxpayer. I don't see any reason to keep the Air Force as a separate branch anymore. It should be folded back into the Army.

I think it would also improve its effectiveness. I'm greatly impressed with the air and ground integration of the Marines which, from what I've read, is lacking with the Air Force and Army. Reading some military history, many battlefield problems were the direct result of the lack of communication between ground and air: Has to go up one chain of command (Army), then over and down the other chain of command.

And now with "Cyber warfare", the other branches are currently doing the job; whereas, the Air Force is just getting started. WTF were they doing the last decade?

At least this is the way I perceive it.

Re:Air Force losing relevance? (4, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#24584821)

It just ads more bureaucracy and as a result more overhead and costs to the taxpayer. I don't see any reason to keep the Air Force as a separate branch anymore. It should be folded back into the Army.

Well, I stated my reasoning in another post in this thread, but did not explain it well or clearly, so apologies for some repeated material...

The military, as an institution, is pretty resistant to divergent thinking. People complain about the groupthink here at slashdot, but I imagine anyone with military experience would snigger at what gets called groupthink here.

The one thing that the Air Force provides that cannot be done by another branch of the military is an external thoughtline. The extra branch of the military creates more opportunity for different opinions, different strategies, and different analyses of strategies. It allows the high command an extra input for decision-making.

The downside of having the Air Force conatained within other branches is that it risks being a bastard stepchild, neglected for surface vessels and ground units. The Air Force has been a deciding factor in a lot of engagements, and I question whether the Navy's air capability would be anywhere close to what it is now without the Air Force looking over its shoulder. Having the Air Force as a separate branch has allowed, and will continue to allow, lots of focus on ensuring we use our air capability effectively, and continue to develop new capability.

Re:Air Force losing relevance? (1)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 5 years ago | (#24586253)

Why not role everything up into one branch, that way we eliminate the bureaucracy because making things bigger eliminates bureaucracy.

Tactically the Air Force plays a different role then the other 3 branches, they may be used to support the other branches but emphasis on certain practices will be lost if the army were to take over. Right now the US can dominate the sky providing close support for the troops on the ground. If the army took over their emphasis would be in supporting the ground troops (drones) and the development of new technologies to maintain air superiority would be lost against countries like Russia.

Re:Air Force losing relevance? (1, Insightful)

afabbro (33948) | more than 5 years ago | (#24585647)

I'm greatly impressed with the air and ground integration of the Marines which, from what I've read, is lacking with the Air Force and Army.

Well, yes, if you have a narrowly defined mission, a small force custom built for it consisting only of elite troops, and design your own stuff from start to finish, it's a lot easier to get tight integration with the components. The Marines exist for short duty assault and offensive operations. The army and air force have to handle everything else.

Comparing the two is like saying "boy, those Rangers sure fight better than the National Guard.

Re:Air Force losing relevance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24586355)

The Army and Air Force are very integrated, down even to the company level. When I was airborne infantry in Italy, we had Air Force Liaisons working with each company commander for calling in air strikes, coordinating close air support, etc. The approvals, if required for missions, were retained in the Air Force because they need operational control and have a better perspective on friendly and hostile locations in the immediate vicinity. Ditto the same for Air Force needing an artillery strike. Much of the time a joint tactical operations center would be created comprising all branches for a particular campaign for a single location and approval on missions. The Marines can operate somewhat independently thanks to their Navy support, marines organic close air support and aviation units.

Re:Air Force losing relevance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24586539)

At least this is the way I perceive it without researching any facts.

Fixed that for you.

The Air Force has been doing this for an incredibly long amount of time.

Air Force Information Warfare Center

The Air Force Information Warfare Center (AFIWC) was activated on Sept. 10, 1993. Formerly the Air Force Electronic Warfare Center, AFIWC was established by combining the securities functions of the Air Force Cryptologic Support Center with the functions performed by AFEWC. The center is the focal point for development and application of information dominance in future warfare. It provides commanders with products and services to wage command and control warfare.

They are seperate from the Army because they have seperate missions, which is in fact the reason they broke apart in the first place; this is also the reason why the average grunt doesn't have the phrase "strategic air dominance" tripping off of his tongue.

Why The Air Force? (to answer another post) Within the services, the Air Force is known for being the technology guys. The Navy and NRL are known for having some nifty stuff, but when you think of satellites, networks, global communications infrastructure, and the like...the Air Force is usually the pointy end of that stick.

The AOC and CAOC concept? Air Force driven and managed. If you aren't familiar with these concepts, go use "the google".

in the interest of full disclosure, I'm an Air Force guy, and I've been deployed twice. Both times, I've been sent to be in charge of other services' communications units. And I wasn't the only one in those shoes...

oblig (2, Funny)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#24584459)

All your base are belong to them.

One China (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24584537)

Why step down our efforts just as China is ramping up theirs?

Re:One China (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 5 years ago | (#24585357)

because they have more money than US?

Dismantle? No way, now its a black program. (4, Insightful)

molo (94384) | more than 5 years ago | (#24584555)

I think this is more likely a response to the Georgia-Russia "cyberwar". Having a public cyberwar program invites others to do so and provides a way to study and attack your program.

I think now this will be a black program to avoid drawing attention. They are probably doing this to prevent others from learning from our public information.

-molo

Re:Dismantle? No way, now its a black program. (1)

s4ck (895807) | more than 5 years ago | (#24584665)

mod parent up.

just a hunch..

Re:Dismantle? No way, now its a black program. (1)

janrinok (846318) | more than 5 years ago | (#24586897)

I don't agree. It is far too soon for lessons 'learned' from the current war between Georgia and Russia to be implemented into changes of military structure. Perhaps in 12-18 months when we have collected as much intelligence as we can on what happened, what we think each side thought was happening, what problems they each encountered and how they solved them etc. We are nowhere near that stage now. We know there is/was a war but we haven't analysed all the relevant int to decide how it affected decision making. And, until we have done that, there is no point in trying to devise the appropriate strategy to combat their current thought processes.

Learning from Bush (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24584557)

-Plan for best case scenerios only
-Put no second (or any) thoughts into consequences
-Pump yourself with optimism with wild stories

Many people blame the U.S. for every problem in the world, but in this case it seems that Georgia is guilty of trying to emulate the U.S. without having the trillions necessary to succeed. Presumably, Georgia must have informed the U.S. about attacking South Ossetta but with Bush watching the Olympics it's doubtful he ever got the message.

Oh well, live and learn!

WTF Air Force has to do with Cyber Security (4, Informative)

D3 (31029) | more than 5 years ago | (#24584603)

Look at the background of some of the prominent folks in the IT Security field. People like Ron Gula (Dragon IDS, Tenable) came from an AF background. The AF has some very smart people (smart enough to join the AF and not get shot at) with lots of strong ties to NSA. That is why they should be heading up military presence in cyberspace.

they disbanded due to laughter (5, Funny)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 5 years ago | (#24584609)

They would walk around the halls with their fist at their waists, and heads looking upward and off to the side and periodically bark nonsense like:

I'm Captain John Doe of... (then look off in the other direction) THE CYBER COMMAND!!!!

When people from other parts of the building would ask them - "hey where do you guys work?" They would, in unison, put their fist at their waists, look up to the left and say "We work for..." and then look in the other direction and shout "CYBER COMMAND!!!!"

And then promptly burst into fits of giggling...

The whole idea was so stupid they couldn't stand themselves - it was like Buck Rogers without the cool costumes. They all knew the Real Heavy Lifting was being done at the NSA, and this was just an offshoot of the White House being a bunch of paranoid dicks who didn't trust the Pentagon brass, especially after they consistently scolded the WH upon retiring - combined with forces within the Air Force looking for relevance when clearly the future belongs to drones.

Other than mobile airbases (ACC's) I don't even understand why you need people on boats, for the most part... The only military than can't be replaced with machines and "at a distance" command is infantry.

CYBER COMMAND!!!!

BWAHAHAAAAAA...

RS

Re:they disbanded due to laughter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24586869)

What in the wide-wide world of sports is the parent talking about?

Momumentallty stupid (4, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#24584713)

I say that without fear of hyperbole. Perhaps senior command missed how Al Qaeda is running circles around us online, how China bats around like a cat toy in cyber-space, and how even Georgia and Russia are firmly entrenched in cyber-war right now.

The US has more to lose in a cyber-war than our enemies, we're more vulnerable, and we're not even going to try and focus on that battlefield.

Monumentally stupid.

Re:Momumentallty stupid (1)

fnj (64210) | more than 5 years ago | (#24584907)

Bwahaha. And you really believe there isn't some black op center set up for which this Air Force thing wasn't a shield/misdirection?

Re:Momumentallty stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24585153)

Or maybe we're so good we're able to do it without getting in the news. The best hackers are the ones you'll never hear about.

Outsourcing (5, Funny)

robmv (855035) | more than 5 years ago | (#24584987)

they will announce tomorrow the outsourcing of the Cyber Command operations to India

Re:Outsourcing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24586597)

Don't laugh, we've given critical surveillance/security jobs to h1b visas who haven't been in the country more than two weeks.

Amateurs (2, Interesting)

0racle (667029) | more than 5 years ago | (#24585099)

Air Force Suspends Cyber Command Program

It's THEM. This is just what they WANT you to believe.

I knew it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24585159)

Thank you John Connor

Immoral (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24585161)

Having interest, skill, and experience at computer security, I thought about applying to this program. Then I *really* thought about it.

What would the military do with an offensive computer network?

A likely scenario is disruption of the civilian infrastructure to "soften up" a target before sending in ground troops.

So, turning off water, electricity, traffic lights, television and radio broadcast stations, deleting all books on everybody's Kindle, etc.

I can't say I'm comfortable with the idea that my work would be used to destroy civilian infrastructure as part of a larger military objective. In fact, I'd call that "Terrorism".

Except the Kindle part; that's just doing everybody a favor and showing the public that DRM really sucks.

Re:Immoral (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24585707)

Better to bomb the water treatment plans, power plants, television and radio stations? At least Cyber Command (god I hate that name) isn't armed with anything but your poorly-secured network.

Re:Immoral (1)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 5 years ago | (#24587093)

The command structure of war is based on intelligence and the ability to transfer said intelligence from command to the troop level, and then send status reports back up the chain. If you can disrupt that line of communication, the enemy loses coordination. You have soldiers awaiting orders, armor in traffic jams, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria.

Or better yet, if you're able to intercept the intelligence/command and replace it with something else, you can set up an entire enemy regiment as target practice.

On the civilian level, you would expect to see media/communications shutdown (so the leader can't console his people or prod them on to fight) but actually targeting the civ population is still considered a warcrime (and whether we would participate in one of those is left up as an argument of the reader)

A job for Homeland Security? (3, Interesting)

Mizchief (1261476) | more than 5 years ago | (#24585577)

Not that I agree in the formation of the Department of Homeland Security, now that it is created shouldn't a "Cyber Command" be under it's jurisdiction for protecting the US military and commertial IT infrastructure? Offensive cyberwarfare should be an integrated tool in all of the millitary branches.

phew! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24585649)

Well with Cyber Command terminated at least we won't have to worry about it evolving into skynet......... .....or will we?

Canceled? I'm sure... (1)

moniker127 (1290002) | more than 5 years ago | (#24585745)

Im not that guy who claims conspiracy on every single millitary related news item, but what if they just got rid of the public command, and made it classified?
I mean, you wouldnt say "Hey, everyone, we are going to hack you! Check out our awesome center! This is where it all goes down! Our ip address is 166.128.72.0! So if you get hacked by 166.128.72.0, you know its us! Oh, and make sure to not reject the connection from 166.128.72.0, because remember, thats us.... the guys about to hack you!"

As the saying goes... (4, Insightful)

WDancer (1201777) | more than 5 years ago | (#24585855)

We are always prepared to fight the previous war. If the US ever goes against any country with a significant tech base, we will not be prepared. To be fair, though, the US is prepared to fight without the internet, it will just be an inconvenience. The Future Warrior program was supposed to rely heavily on digital information systems, but it is now mostly canceled. The military is still using the same methods they did in the 80's and 90's (dedicated sat-links and voice channels)before the net got so integrated into daily life. The real problem would be on the civilian front where massive cyber-attacks could blackout good-sized chunks of infrastructure. But, the civilian sector already has to deal with that from botnets attacking a company's online presence to coerce money out of them. Therefore, there is already defenses being designed to combat this. Maybe the military is just going to keep things totally separated from the net to make it hard for any attack to even start to cause problems.

Complete Waste of Time (3, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#24585915)

In six months, Obama will be president, and this program will get changed yet again by yet another chief.

Since every Bush "Cybersecurity Czar" has resigned in disgust since Bush created the office, that entire program will also have to be ripped out, too.

America's Internet defense system also has to protect us from nonmilitary lawbreakers like phishers, crackers and leakers. Plus those somewhere between, like the Russian mob crackers who joined Russia's government to attack Georgia this week, but spend most of their time just breaking banks and extorting corporations and individuals.

I'm really glad that we're going to get a new president who's actually smart for a change. We're really dodging a bullet with the Internet-illiterate WcCain offering a third term of Bush's catastrophic failures to protect anything except his own ass. Heckuva job, brownnose!

Re:Complete Waste of Time (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24586031)

I'm really glad that we're going to get a new president who's actually smart for a change. We're really dodging a bullet with the Internet-illiterate WcCain offering a third term of Bush's catastrophic failures to protect anything except his own ass. Heckuva job, brownnose!

Yeah, a man with a world view from South Chicago is so much better than McCain.

Obama: Stop!
Putin: Fuck You.
Obama: No, I mean really stop!
Putin: Fuck You.
Obama: Stop or I'll use force!
Putin: Fuck you and your force.
Obama: Please Stop!!!

Re:Complete Waste of Time (-1, Flamebait)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#24586913)

"World view from South Chicago"?

I guess it's not just just San Francisco and New York that you Republicans hate - it's any city. Or maybe that's just code for "Black people", like a standard issue racist Republican.

Funny how South Chicago's "worldview" doesn't stop at asking tough guys nicely, but is known for utterly destroying its enemies. Just as Obama will utterly destroy Old Man WcCain.

Despite your typically Republican contradictory nonsense, Anonymous Republican Coward, I would indeed take the "South Chicago worldview" over WcCain's, which simply depends on which Republican lobbyist most recently handed him his marching orders. A worldview that hasn't been part of ruining this country, unlike WcCain who's never had a job that didn't have "Uncle Sam" signed at the bottom.

Re:Complete Waste of Time (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24586411)

I'm really glad that we're going to get a new president who's actually smart for a change. We're really dodging a bullet with the Internet-illiterate WcCain offering a third term of Bush's catastrophic failures to protect anything except his own ass. Heckuva job, brownnose!

Who do you think we'll be getting? It can't be the pro-Telecom immunity, pro-offshore drilling, pro-special interest, pro-PATRIOT act, presumptive Democrat nominee.

Can you say.... blackbagged (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24586371)

This may be a bit of tin foil hat moment but here it goes. Like any constitutionally illegal Operation (you know, that pesky 4th amendment, which the government seems desperate to circumvent) I would bet this is merely a fake out. A publicly known unit was created, advertised and then "shutdown". I think its has been made abundantly clear by the likes of CARNIVORE, TIA and others that there is a tendency to go through public channels and risk public scrutiny to get initial funding/approval, then "kill" the program, ending its public version and transferring the funds, equipment, maybe personnel to classified operations that do the same thing (or worse), just without the "obtrusive" (see: moral, legal, constitutional) oversight.

Sadness for Shreveport/Bossier (5, Insightful)

dragonxtc (1344101) | more than 5 years ago | (#24586643)

This is sad for the North-Western part of Louisiana, which is where I live and where Cyber Space Command was supposed to be put into place at Barksdale. I know many of the local universities have been pushing hard to put toghether cyber security circulums etc to give those in the local community a chance to work at this place once it was constructed. While I am sure it is not all for naught I do imagine a lot of time and money will have been wasted in the community by people other than the air force that were counting on this as a new job market especially with the layoffs we are having at our local GM plant and many other factories ( Not that the same people would work at these places )

The point was made earlier but (1)

xclr8r (658786) | more than 5 years ago | (#24586871)

The advantage of having AF do this is their access to air and space communications.

Hypothetically however, if I wanted to have my Cyber command be as 'flexible' as possible then I would make it its own agency. This allows Cyber Command to avoid doing things by the 'book'.

Make an order that AF will (hate) need to support on a com level the new cyber command and you bypass a lot of hoops.

mod 3Own (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24587047)

all along. *bSD [goat.cx]

Difficult to test airmen for promotions (1)

chiph (523845) | more than 5 years ago | (#24587299)

The USAF promotes on time-in-grade at the junior enlisted ranks, but as soon as you get into E-4/E-5 and up, it's a meritocracy, based on standardized tests for your job & skill classification.

These tests take a long time to develop and get approved (the military is a bureaucracy, after all). In a subject such as digital security, any promotion tests would be quickly out of date and irrelevant. Which would be like having your next promotion & raise at work depending on your knowlege of programming for the TRS-80.

So I don't think this is a result of any big conspiracy or power struggle, but simply an inability to fairly reward their people for their service.

Chip H.

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