Air University students gain cyber perspective

  • Published
  • By Lori A. Bultman
  • 25th Air Force

Air University students gained an essential operational perspective by visiting real-world cyber facilities Nov. 8 - 10 in San Antonio, Texas.

“This is the second of two operational site visits for Air Command and Staff College (ACSC) and Air War College (AWC), students enrolled in the Foundations of Advanced Cyber Thinking and Strategy (FACTS) elective during their professional development at Air University (AU),” said Col. David Stone, faculty, Air Force Cyber College, AU.     

During their trip to San Antonio, the students were hosted by Air Force units developing and executing cyber missions at the operational and tactical level.

“Their trip began with 25th Air Force, ISR and multi-domain operations,” Stone said. “Following their visit with 24th Air Force cyber, the students met with the Life Cycle Management Center, Joint Information Operations Warfare Command and Joint Electronic Warfare Center.”

The AU visitors, from a variety of government organizations, learned how agencies work together to accomplish the ISR mission.

“The information we learn on these trips is very interesting from the perspective of understanding the missions of different agencies, commands and units, and how they are interrelated,” said Linda, an ACSC student. “For instance, knowing 25th Air Force’s mission is ISR, and understanding that it is much more than that, is helpful to our research topics.”

This AU class also included students from non-military agencies who were eager to understand the connection between agencies with similar missions.

“[This visit] gave me a better understanding of how the DoD [Department of Defense], especially the Air Force, supports the cyber mission,” said Frank Inhoff, foreign service officer, Department of State (DOS).

For his research on cyber threats and international policy, Inhoff said it was integral to see, from a whole of government perspective, how agencies work together and what they can offer each other. 

“It is fascinating, from the perspective of the Department of State, seeing the interagency work you are doing and the joint-ness of having multinational partners who support the national collection system,” Inhoff said.  

He looked forward to visiting the local, private cyber partners as well.

Inhoff and the other AU students visited several commercial organizations in San Antonio to round out their perspective on what it means for the United States to wield cyber power in a whole of nation approach to cyber statecraft, Stone said.

This was not the students’ first on-the-go learning experience.

“In September, the students met with various government entities in the National Capital Region responsible for America's cyber power at the strategic level, including DOS, DHS [Department of Homeland Security], and FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigations], as well as DoD organizations responsible for orchestrating policy and developing military cyber operations,” Stone said.

The AU’s professional military education (PME) programs educate Airmen on the capabilities of air and space power and their role in national security. The FACTS course at AU examines the role of cyberspace in military operations and national level decision making, and focuses on strategic cyberspace policy, doctrine and law before moving into analysis of DoD cyberspace operations and ISR, Stone said.

“FACTS builds on the understanding that the Joint Force Commander directs cyberspace operations at the operational level of war by linking the tactical employment of forces to national and military strategic objectives,” Stone said. “It is the integration of land, maritime, air, space and cyberspace operations that achieves campaign objectives.”