Air Force to Create Cyberspace Command

By Jim Wolf

The U.S. Air Force plans to set up what could become a major command aimed at safeguarding U.S. military and civilian cyberspace, Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne said on Thursday.

Wynne, speaking at a military communications and intelligence conference, said U.S. vulnerabilities in cyberspace included financial networks, satellite communications, and radar and navigational jamming.

"The capital cost of entry to the cyberspace domain is low," Wynne said. "The threat is that a foe can mass forces that weaken the network that supports our operations."

Wynne said the new command would be part of the 8th Air Force based at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, a unit made famous during the combined armored offensive in Europe during World War II.

The mission of bombers now within the 8th Air Force would remain, and the new cyber-command reflects the Air Force's growing reliance on computer networks, data and electronic warfare.

Wynne said he hoped the new command would eventually be on par with such major Air Force units as the Space Command and the Air Combat Command. In creating what could become a unit led by a four-star Air Force general, the Air Force would set the stage for significant budget resources and congressional interest.

The new command will be led by Lt. Gen. Robert Elder, who would reach across all Air Force commands to draw the right people and capabilities, Wynne said.

The Air Force will seek funding for the cyber-command in fiscal 2009, which begins October 1, 2008, he said.

In December 2005, the Air Force mission statement was amended to include cyberspace as an operational area, along with air and space.

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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