“Cyberspace as a Domain in Which the Air Force Flies and Flights”
Michael W. Wynne, Secretary of the Air Force
Address to C4ISR Integration Conference
Nov. 2, 2006
FULL TEXT VERSION
On Dec. 7, 2005, the Air Force released a mission statement which, for the first time, referred to “cyberspace.” The concept of USAF fighting in cyberspace was an odd one, and it didn’t catch on for nearly a year. Then, Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne raised the battle flag in a speech given not far from the Pentagon. He announced that the Air Force was forming an offensive and defensive cyberspace unit to deal with growing threats and opportunities in the cyberspace area. The idea of the Air Force dominating the cyber “domain,” however, proved too much for other service leaders, who mounted resistance. Eventually, DOD chose to go with a unified cyber command, but Wynne had made the point about the emergence of a new military “domain.”
All the [military’s command and control] information flow moves in the cyber domain, meaning the entire flow can be vulnerable to a cyberspace attack. … How shall we defend the communication net on which all our capabilities depend? This question is critical. Our ability to fight in ground, sea, air, and space depends on communications that could be attacked through cyberspace. The capital cost of entry into the cyberspace domain is low. The threat is that a foe can mass forces to weaken the network that supports our operations in any battle domain. The other side of the coin of netcentric operations is cyber vulnerability. The answer is that defending and fighting in the cyber domain is absolutely critical to maintain operations in ground, sea, air, and space. …
What new habits of thought do we need in order to create and develop technology, and to fight in the 21st century? … Our operations in each of our services all rely on trust. That is, the pilot can trust information that a target is the foe, not innocent inhabitants of a school building or hospital or embassy. The ground fighter with a communication device can trust that the device is not being tracked by a foe, potentially exposing the ground force unnecessarily. This new way of war is data-dependent. So we need to think in terms of trust and securing trust. …
What we are seeing is that the cyberspace domain contains the same seeds for criminal, pirate, transnational, and government-sponsored mischief as we have contended with in the domains of land, sea, air, and now contemplate as space continues to mature. …
In cyberspace, our military, America, and indeed all of world commerce face the challenge of modern day pirates, of many stripes and kinds, stealing money, harassing our families, and threatening our ability to fight on ground, air, land, and in space. …
Now, my duty, as the Secretary of the Air Force is to put the nation’s most technologically capable force on a path to do our share of the task of presenting to our combatant commanders, and so to the President and the nation, the trained and ready forces they may need to ensure the same security and freedom of cyberspace that Americans and indeed many in the world already enjoy in the oceans, in the air, and also in space.
This duty is joint, and, as I have noted, it is interdependent. The duty is to bring to the fight what the Air Force has to offer, and to exercise good stewardship of the Air Force personnel and resources that are in some cases already devoted to operations in cyberspace.
This does not mean “control” of cyberspace, any more than the other domains of ground or maritime. It does mean making our contribution to securing the benefits of cyberspace for our military and, indirectly, for our national and even world commerce.
This means recognizing that the idea of freedom of cyberspace may in time be the same kind of principle as freedom of the seas and freedom of the skies. This means that cyberspace is a domain on which many rely and in which warfighting can, and, actually by some definitions already, takes place. …
Just as the air domain is governed by aerodynamic forces, and the space domain by orbital mechanics, cyberspace has mathematical and electromagnetic principles at work. Due to the size of the global information grid and easy access to the electromagnetic spectrum, effects in cyberspace can take place nearly simultaneously at many places. Effects can be massive or precise, lasting or transitory, kinetic or nonkinetic, lethal or nonlethal. …
Today I am announcing the steps the Air Force is taking towards establishing an Air Force Cyberspace Command. The aim is to develop ultimately a major command that stands alongside Air Force Space Command and Air Combat Command as the providers of forces on whom the President, combatant commanders, and the American people can rely for preserving freedom of access and commerce in air, space, and, now, cyberspace.