US Air Force Adds Electronic Warfare to New Intel, Cyber Office

 In Cyber/ICT, Air, Forces & Capabilities, Environment, Information

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force’s fresh intel­li­gence and cyber entity at the Pentagon is adding elec­tron­ic war­fare to its pro­file, con­tin­u­ing to build out a more robust infor­ma­tion war­fare port­fo­lio.

In 2019, the deputy chief of staff for intel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance and recon­nais­sance added in cyber effects oper­a­tions when cre­at­ing the A2/6. It’s leader, Lt. Gen. Mary O’Brien, said Tuesday that while cyber and ISR are the pri­ma­ry focus, there are other capa­bil­i­ties that must con­verge to deliv­er effects in the infor­ma­tion envi­ron­ment.

“It’s imper­a­tive to be able to influ­ence the entire elec­tro­mag­net­ic spec­trum to get after our pri­or­i­ties,” she said Sept. 15 during a panel as part of the vir­tu­al Air, Space and Cyber Conference. “Along those lines, ear­li­er this year the Air Force decid­ed to realign the Air Force spec­trum man­age­ment office form Air Combat Command. Starting on 1 October, the Air Force spec­trum man­age­ment offi­cer … is going to be on the A2/6 team.”

The mis­sion of the spec­trum man­age­ment office is to both defend assets in the elec­tro­mag­net­ic spec­trum and ensure spec­trum access for the Air Force and Defense Department activ­i­ties in sup­port of global mis­sions, O’Brien said.

She noted that the move is part of the mul­ti­year path from Headquarters Air Force to syn­chro­nize infor­ma­tion war­fare.

The Air Force embarked on this path in 2019 when it added cyber effects oper­a­tions to the A2 port­fo­lio. Next, it merged its cyber- and ISR-num­bered Air Forces in October 2019 to create the first infor­ma­tion war­fare-num­bered Air Force, 16th Air Force.

The Air Force released its cyber flight plan, aimed at guiding the service in the cyber realm for the next ten years. (J.M. Eddins Jr./Air Force) The Air Force released its cyber flight plan, aimed at guiding the service in the cyber realm for the next ten years. (J.M. Eddins Jr./Air Force)

The key dis­tinc­tion between the two is that the Air Staff focus­es on the work­force, con­cepts, train­ing, plat­forms and tools required so 16th Air Force can focus on actual oper­a­tions.

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The Air Force in 2019 char­tered a year­long study into elec­tron­ic war­fare to gain insight into how adver­saries have gained an edge and what oppor­tu­ni­ties exist for the U.S. to regain its edge. In fact, the leader of that study was select­ed to be the vice com­man­der at 16th Air Force.

O’Brien noted that the tra­di­tion­al func­tions of infor­ma­tion war­fare include cyber, ISR, infor­ma­tion oper­a­tions and elec­tron­ic war­fare, which she noted is now moving toward electromagnetic spectrum operations, which is a more all-encom­pass­ing ver­biage.

C4ISRNET source|articles

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