Applying Gen. Brown’s action orders to cyberspace education and training

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Following the SolarWinds intrusion, a growing symphony of cyberspace and intelligence agencies continue to earnestly scour their networks, carefully examining cascading effects associated with the world’s largest cyberattack. Unbeknownst to many, a similar and equally devastating SolarWinds-like problem quietly persists throughout the Air Force. For this analysis, the problem is not directly related to sanitizing critical software ecosystems, cloud computing environments or vast network technologies, but has everything to do with a large number of cyberspace personnel who lack adequate levels of training and certification to prosecute information warfare operations in a manner commensurate with national security imperatives.

Through a strategic guidance memorandum, the Air Force chief of staff, Gen. Charles Q. Brown, challenged all airmen to “accelerate change or lose.” After the initial dictum, he subsequently released action orders, specifically oriented toward four areas: airmen, bureaucracy, competition and design implementation. Upon reading Gen. Brown’s guidance, one may inquisitively ask, “How do I apply these four lines of effort to my area of expertise?” Since the preponderance of victories, whether in the air, at sea or on land, heavily rely on promptly and securely transmitted data — oftentimes shared amongst joint and coalition partners — it is advantageous to use the action orders as a frame of reference and offer perspectives relative to the future of cyberspace training.

Airmen

There is no question that America’s dedicated and courageous airmen serve as the lifeblood for the greatest Air Force in the world. Despite having legions of highly capable and technically inclined professionals, the locations and concentrations of cyberspace talent are not readily known. Once airmen (officer and enlisted) depart basic technical training programs, the Air Force — professional military education and on-the-job training notwithstanding — does not have a sanctioned process to record achievement of additional skills, training and personal education pursuits. To aid in accelerating change, the Air Force would benefit by innovating how it trains,…

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