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6/5/2009
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Air Force Names Cyberwarfare Commander

The 24th Air Force, which will likely be based at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, will focus exclusively on cyberwarfare as part of the larger Air Force Space Command.

The Air Force announced Thursday that Maj. Gen. Richard E. Webber would become the first commander of the Air Force's first numbered cyberwarfare component.

The 24th Air Force, which will likely be based at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, will focus exclusively on cyberwarfare as part of the larger Air Force Space Command. It will be a stripped-down version of the planned major command for cyberspace operations that had been headed up by Maj. Gen. William Lord, who was announced as the new Air Force CIO last month.

The Pentagon is reportedly setting up its own cybercommand that would include the National Security Agency and likely supersede earlier Air Force plans to be the hub of cyberwarfare for the U.S. military. It's unclear how this unit would work with the larger Pentagon-led cybercommand.

Hackers have reportedly recently accessed the Air Force's air traffic control systems and stolen terabytes of sensitive data on the Air Force's $300 billion Joint Strike Fighter project, while Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told Congress that the military spent $100 million on cybersecurity in the six months before his testimony in April.

By setting up a numbered Air Force command focused on cyberwarfare, the Air Force says it will be able to better consolidate and align common technical expertise on cybersecurity and have a flexible approach to fighting cyberattacks.

Webber is currently in a policy role as assistant deputy chief for air, space, and information operations, plans, and requirements at Air Force headquarters in Washington, D.C. He has also played a number of different IT leadership roles in the last decade.

The Air Force announced the creation of a cybersecurity arm in October, and announced last month that Lackland was the preferred spot for its base. Before making a final determination on Lackland, an environmental review will have to be carried out.

The Air Force chose Lackland after considering a number of factors, including access to expertise, bandwidth capabilities, access, and built-up facilities.


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