AF ISR, cyber link for stronger Air Force operations
By Col. Timothy Haugh, Air Force ISR Agency assistant vice commander
/ Published November 08, 2013
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas --
The Internet, software, cell phones, communication technology, satellite transmissions and secure transactions impact virtually every aspect of our daily lives.
Those capabilities, collectively, make up what we've come to call "cyberspace." Cyberspace has become so entrenched and so vital to U.S. interests that attacks on our cyber enterprise have been likened to another "Pearl Harbor" in terms of the devastating impact it could have on us.
If cyber is that important to us, then we know it is just as important to our enemies, today and in the future, especially as we focus on highly contested environments - that is, against peer or near-peer enemies.
Cyber is and will always be a contested environment. It will require specialized intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to defend AF networks, and leverage cyberspace as a unique intelligence source.
At the Air Force Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency, headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, we understand the critical importance of integrating cyber and ISR to meet increasing combatant commander demand now and in future operations, as do our partners at the 24th Air Force, responsible for maintaining and defending Air Force networks.
After a decade of fielding and operating new ISR capabilities in Iraq and Afghanistan, the AF ISR Agency is well postured to advance cyber ISR and integrate intelligence derived from cyber into the myriad products produced daily for combined forces air component commanders and combatant commanders and national decision makers at the highest levels.
ISR and cyber are inextricably linked. To find and fi x problems in the cyber realm, operators first need to know where their target sits. AF ISR Airmen find those targets, whether individuals or countries, who are working actively in the cyber realm to damage the U.S.
As a contested domain, cyberspace requires specialized ISR operations to defend Air Force networks and leverage cyberspace as a unique intelligence source. Cyber operations, in turn, feed ISR Airmen intelligence on enemy locations and targets.
One operation supports the other and creates a synergy that improves the nation's defensive and offensive capabilities. Intelligence resulting from cyber ISR operations will continue to increase, driving operations in air, space, and cyberspace.
Today, the AF ISR Agency continues to partner closely with the 24th Air Force at Port San Antonio to establish the Secretary of Defense-directed Cyber Mission Force. The force creates 1,264 Airmen positions focused on cyber operations and cyber ISR.
Cyber Mission Force teams will defend Department of Defense networks and also provide offensive, defensive and ISR operational capabilities to meet combatant command joint warfi ghting needs. Approximately 50 percent of these new positions will be cyber ISR Airmen from the AF ISR Agency.
As the lead element for the Cyber Mission Force, the 24th Air Force will gain the other
50 percent. As the Air Force component to U.S. Cyber Command, the 24th AF extends, operates and defends the Air Force portion of the DOD network, as well as providing full spectrum capabilities for the joint warfighter in, through and from cyberspace.
The ISR Agency provides the 24th AF the same decision advantage for its missions in cyberspace that we have for the other component numbered air forces in air and space. The growth coming in Air Force Cyber ISR balances today's ISR portfolio and will allow us to operate as needed in all domains - air, ground, space and cyberspace.
Innovation is central to effective ISR and cyber operations. During the last decade the Air Force gained platforms and sensors to meet the demands of counterinsurgency operations. The next decade will be marked with innovation in cross-domain, allsource ISR operations in air, space and cyberspace.
The AF ISR Agency, 24th Air Force and its mission partners are ready for the challenge.