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Air Force Suspends Cyber Command Program 166

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the less-qq-more-pewpew dept.
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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Air Force Suspends Cyber Command Program

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  • Coincidence? (Score:5, Informative)

    by longacre (1090157) * on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @11:35AM (#24584221) Homepage
    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? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by drspliff (652992) <harry.roberts@NOSPAM.midnight-labs.org> on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @11:47AM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TubeSteak (669689)

        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?

      • by Gilmoure (18428)

        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

      • by Fallon (33975)
        <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? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Lt_Kernal (11104) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @12:31PM (#24585245) Homepage

      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.

    • by afabbro (33948)
      "Airwalls" are very common in classified setups. Go figure - the best and brightest still trust physical separation more than promises of unbreakable firewalls.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Bugs42 (788576)
      What worries me far more is that in the picture accompanying that article, the computers are quite obviously running Windows.
    • Re:Coincidence? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Fallon (33975) <Devin.Noel@G[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @01:41PM (#24586581) Homepage Journal
      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.

       
  • by realmolo (574068) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @11:40AM (#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.

    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @11:51AM (#24584541) Journal

      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: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        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.

      • What is this "80s" you speak of?

        Some sort of code?

      • by Dun Malg (230075) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @04:48PM (#24589821) Homepage

        Reducing the number of branches in the command structure will lead to even more institutionalized thinking

        More or fewer branches has little effect on the amount of institutionalized thinking, it just varies the amount of parochialism. The Air Force was formed in 1948 on the premise that the US Army shouldn't be in the business of strategic bombing and air superiority. Unfortunately, the agreement that split the AF off from the Army also forbade the Army to operate aircraft. As a result the Army still has trouble getting the AF to provide adequate close air support. Under consideration at the same time was a proposal to attach the Marine Corps to the Army (where it more logically belongs) and transfer naval aviation assets to Air Force control; but Navy Secretary Forrestal had spent WW2 building up the Navy into his own little self-sufficient kingdom with its own air and ground assets. It's a completely asinine duplication of effort, but he had enough pull to kill the consolidation proposal. As a result of this sort of bureaucratic feudalism, we have:
        4 1/2 air forces
        Air Force, Naval aviation, USMC aviation, Coast Guard aviation, and Army helicopter aviation

        1 1/2 armies
        the real Army, and the Navy's light infantry, the USMC

        2 1/2 navies
        the Navy, the Coast Guard, and all the small watercraft operated by the AF and Army to fill the gaps the Navy won't cover.

        So you see, while splitting up the services seems like it should promote efficiency by allowing each service to specialize, what you end up with is services narrowing their focus to the stuff that's completely "theirs", while neglecting the "overlap" areas where other services need their support. As it turns out, the Army is inevitably the biggest loser in all of this. They are the backbone of any sizable conflict, but can't get decent close air support or timely theater airlift support from the Air Force, and are forbidden by law to provide it for themselves. Likewise they can't get theater level waterborne transport from the Navy. Meanwhile, naval aviators whine about the Air Force getting to drop all the bombs in Iraq, when the justification for having them flying over Iraq is already weak at best. Then there's the USMC lobbying to be given sole operational responsibility over Afghanistan because they want to get out of Iraq, as their tactics there have only resulted in a greater casualty rate, rather than "upstaging" the Army as is their normal goal.

        The root of the problem is that all the branches are run by politicians. They may wear uniforms full of ribbons and stars, but they're no different than your typical pork-barrel politician. They're always looking for some way to expand their power base so they can justify a bigger bite of the defense "pie". This silly Air Force "Cyber Command" is just more of the same. The Air Force hasn't a single justification in its charter for claiming "cyberspace" as their own, but they hope to get it by virtue of being the only service with applicable combat assets in-theater when the time comes to decide whose responsibility it is. Frankly, I think the military is ill suited to the job. I reckon the NSA is the better tool for the job. I wouldn't be surprised if at some point the Air Force was told "your Cyber Command is a needless duplication of assets already fielded by the NSA--- kill it". Heck, they may have been told that already...

    • 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: (Score:2, Informative)

      by iamweezman (648494)

      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.

    • by JeanCroix (99825)
      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 (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DesScorp (410532)

      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

      • by Molochi (555357)

        I don't see any reason to try to remerge the army and the airforce. You would just wind up with SAC, ACC, material cmd and space cmd with a new service flag and wearing brown instead of blue. Air power is every bit as important as ground and sea power. It's not like our armed forces don't already share real estate. So, what do you gain?

        That being said, I would like to see a wider expansion of dedicated air tools for the army (tactical attack craft like predators, ac130s, fighters, etc...) instead of trying

        • by Dun Malg (230075)

          I don't see any reason to try to remerge the army and the airforce. You would just wind up with SAC, ACC, material cmd and space cmd with a new service flag and wearing brown instead of blue.

          Army wears green.

          Air power is every bit as important as ground and sea power.

          Not really. Control of the air and the seas is a contributory goal towards the real goal of military action, which is control of real estate. We live on land. The land is where the vast majority of our resources and industrial capacity reside. No one ever defeated an enemy by sinking his navy with battleships, or by blowing up his cities with bombs. It takes grunts on the ground to conquer territory. This is Warfare 101.

          So, what do you gain?

          An aviation command that's under the direction of a commander that is a

  • Missing out (Score:5, Interesting)

    by perffectworld (973737) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @11:40AM (#24584313)
    A lot to be learned right now on cyberwar from Russia.
  • profit! (Score:5, Funny)

    by n3tcat (664243) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @11:41AM (#24584325) Homepage

    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)

    • 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: (Score:2, Funny)

        by JustOK (667959)

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

    • by Thelasko (1196535)
      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.
  • by R2.0 (532027) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @11:41AM (#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.

    • I thought it was obvious... All of the cushy jobs are in the Air Force... why change that now?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Gilmoure (18428)

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

        -welcoming speech by TI

    • by jellomizer (103300) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @11:57AM (#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: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      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.
      • by JWSmythe (446288) *

            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: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by AP31R0N (723649)

      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

      • by afabbro (33948)

        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.
        • by db32 (862117)
          Clear evidence that the Air Force enlisted force is much smarter than the Army.
      • by wasted (94866)

        ...The USAF needs technicians who can figure out things on their own...

        I think the services that have folks out in the middle of the jungle/desert/ocean need those types of techicians more than the service that can make a phone call and get parts/support.

      • by Dun Malg (230075)

        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.

        See, it's fucking dumbshit parochial 'tards like you that have turned the various branches of the military into little feuding fiefdoms. The Army has a fairly good collection of "meatballs", but none of us were trained to be "automatons".

        The USAF needs technicians who can figure out things on their own.

        Technicians are largely flowchart-following card swappers, and they're present in all the branches. You think an AF APG-66 (F-16 radar) tech is working on something more complicated than a Navy APG-73 (F-18 radar) tech, or an Army APG-78 (AH-64 radar) tech? It's all the sam

    • Why the Air Force?

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

    • by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp.Gmail@com> on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @02:02PM (#24587015) Homepage Journal

      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.

    • 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.

      And what about the NSA? Isn't that their job already? Or is the NSA limited only to spying/defending against Americans?

  • disaster (Score:5, Funny)

    by Peter La Casse (3992) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @11:43AM (#24584365) Homepage

    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.

  • Translation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by religious freak (1005821) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @11:45AM (#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.
    • That's what the Russians use! Can't learn from them blasted Commies, sonny! :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sholsinger (1131365)

      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 poster

      • by gnick (1211984)

        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.

      • Ok, if the reasons you outlined are truly WHY we're shutting this program down, I agree with you. However, I think something should be said for good PR. Regardless of the reason why, this looks bad.

        Now, there is a certain tactical advantage to disinformation, but I think it's important that the citizenry understand that there is some concerted effort being put into this area. Citizens at large are not aware of the potential threat but the citizens on /. are. Bringing to light a new initiative on cyber
    • by Minwee (522556)
      Hey, be careful how you talk about the Commander in Chief.
  • What a waste! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by sm62704 (957197)

    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?

    • by ColdWetDog (752185) * on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @11:57AM (#24584619) Homepage

      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! (Score:4, Informative)

        by sm62704 (957197) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @02:27PM (#24587483) Journal

        Actually, "Mighty Yar" is right when (s)he says "There are at least 13 people running - at least according to Wikipedia" [slashdot.org].

        I found a large list [politics1.com] that is broken into the two major parties - the Democrats and Republicans; the three major "third parties" - the Libertarians, the Greens, and the Constitution Party. There are a long list of other paties running.

        The corporate media tells you that a vote for anyone but a Republican or Democrat is wasted because the others have no chance of winning. Well, since I think Obama has no chance of winning I should go ahead and vote for McCain? That's just retarded!

        The Democrats and Republicans are all solidly for the Bono Act (AKA the "steamboat willie preservation act"), DMCA, PATRIOT act, FISA; are for outlawing drugs, prostitution, and gambling, while I am against all of these things.

        Why should I waste my vote on a candidate whose views are diametrically opposed to my own?

        I know the Libertarians are on the ballot in 49 states, and IINM the other two "third parties" are on the ballot in enough states to win should they carry them.

        Right now the only major party candidate in any race I can in good conscience vote for is Dick Durbin.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by MightyYar (622222)

      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>

      • by gnick (1211984)

        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!

        • 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 yo

    • by AlHunt (982887)

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

      Five?! Did you forget me?
      Al For President! [alhunt.com]

  • by BitterOldGUy (1330491) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @11:47AM (#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.

    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @12:08PM (#24584821) Journal

      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.

      • 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 (dro
      • by DesScorp (410532)

        "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."

        So your justification for an independent Air Force is essentially an Apple Computer slogan? "Think Different"?

        Do you honestly think the other services are incapable of "thinking different", especially when it comes to airpower? I have to call BS

        • Do you honestly think the other services are incapable of "thinking different", especially when it comes to airpower? I have to call BS on that, especially since it's so often that USAF's different thinking involves the idea that airpower can win wars all by itself. That kind of "think different" we can do without.

          You make the case for me right there. You dismiss an external logical path from your own... even if that path is problematic, there are valid points to consider. You seem to be a willing parti

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by afabbro (33948)

      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

  • oblig (Score:3, Funny)

    by owlnation (858981) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @11:47AM (#24584459)
    All your base are belong to them.
  • One China (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

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

  • by molo (94384) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @11:52AM (#24584555) Journal

    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

    • by s4ck (895807)
      mod parent up.

      just a hunch..

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by auric_dude (610172)
      Another view of things http://blog.wired.com/defense/2008/08/air-force-suspe.html [wired.com] but if things turn black will we ever know?
    • by janrinok (846318)

      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 decisio

  • by D3 (31029) <daviddhenning@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @11:56AM (#24584603) Journal
    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.
    • Now that the Air Force is into space, networks, and pure research, due to the reasons you cite, perhaps it's time to just rename it "Smart Force" and make "Airplanes" a sub-division.

  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) * on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @11:57AM (#24584609) Journal
    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

  • by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@gmai l . com> on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @12:01PM (#24584713) Homepage Journal

    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.

    • by fnj (64210)

      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?

    • 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.

      Don't worry, John McClaine will save us.

  • Outsourcing (Score:5, Funny)

    by robmv (855035) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @12:18PM (#24584987)
    they will announce tomorrow the outsourcing of the Cyber Command operations to India
    • by rpillala (583965)

      Don't laugh, 70% of the CIA's budget goes to private contractors. To whom are they accountable? Not you and me. If someone in charge determines that this type of warfare is not "inherently governmental", look for the USAF to find a private company to do the job at 3x the cost of keeping it in house.

      Read Spies for Hire [timshorrock.com] by Tim Shorrock.

  • Amateurs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 0racle (667029) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @12:24PM (#24585099)

    Air Force Suspends Cyber Command Program

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

  • by Mizchief (1261476) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @12:47PM (#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.
  • 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!"

  • by WDancer (1201777) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @01:02PM (#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.
    • by Stray7Xi (698337) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @06:25PM (#24591269)

      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.

      It's worse then that, you're thinking only of warfighting elements of military life. How do you think the military would fare if its pay system was shut down? Do you think they have a backup system ready that isn't computerized? Okay they're military, you can compel them to work until the pay issues get sorted... but what about all the elements that moved to contractors, such as gate guards?

      And I'm still assuming they're only targeting military. Our whole economy is completely dependent on computers and telecommunications. If a true all out cyber-war was conducted I have no doubt many people will die. Perhaps simply because they were unable to call 911 because the cell system was out of service.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @01:06PM (#24585915) Homepage Journal

    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: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      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.
  • by dragonxtc (1344101) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @01:43PM (#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 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.
  • 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

  • On Hold Because... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gallenod (84385) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @02:28PM (#24587503)

    I think AFCyber may just be on hold because a new Chief of Staff of the Air Force started work yesterday and he want to see what this is before it goes any further. It's likely this may be part of a larger review of all the services cyber-warfare programs to make sure they don't overlap or compete in the same space.

    Also, this new CoS isn't a fighter pilot like the last 20 years of AF leadership, he's a special ops guy who flew cargo aircraft. He's probably more interested in business management than flash and, with a special ops background, may belive that if you're going to build a secret ninja hacker cyberforce, you might want to do it with a somewhat lower public profile.

    • by lennier (44736)

      "He's probably more interested in business management than flash and, with a special ops background, may belive that if you're going to build a secret ninja hacker cyberforce, you might want to do it with a somewhat lower public profile."

      It surprises me how few people are putting forward this, the obvious explanation.

      "Cancel" the program, heh, yes of course, Sir. Very good thinking Sir. Wink wink. Say no more.

  • This is a full-on lie.

    The air force in not suspending anything.

  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:41PM (#24588775)

    and this is a cover

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo. - Andy Finkel, computer guy

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