Installations play an important strategic role within a multi-domain battlespace. In previous times, threats to mission were air, ground, or sea-based and largely occurring within a defined area of operations, or “downrange” as we like to say. Historically, we would send troops into harm’s way and focus heavily on protecting those installations and missions; however, there was typically little concern state side as there were minimal threats to installations and the strategic support they provide to the fight.
This focus has changed…installations, as initial warfighting platforms for maneuvering weapons systems and supplying downrange missions, are now under increased risk due to technological advances and creative adversaries. The proliferation of cyber threat capabilities puts installation defense squarely at the forefront.
As the strategic center for Acquisitions and Research & Development for the Air Force, Wright Patterson AFB is one of the most cyber attacked installations in the Air Force. Previous efforts in cybersecurity took a compliance based approach, but a 99% compliance rate still allows for a single successful phishing attempt and a single unpatched vulnerability to create a cyberattack. Theft of intellectual property would diminish our competitive advantage in warfighting and impede our ability to support downrange missions which could be the difference in a war with a near-peer adversary. The new focus is now on mission assurance of critical missions that are essential to warfighters. This focus is a wholesale transformation of our communications units as they transition from Information Technology service delivery to defense of key cyber components supporting the mission.
Mission assurance is not solely cyber though. Energy in support of critical missions should also never be taken for granted. Our acquisition and R&D missions depend on assured energy sources to enable the critical strategic missions at Wright Patterson AFB. A disruption of any kind, whether man-made or natural disaster, can impede the mission. Physical or cyberattacks against critical infrastructure supporting the installation could alter the early course of a conflict, tilting the advantage to our adversaries.
We never want the Air Force to take a knife to a gunfight, and that is why every year during the month of October we focus our attention on both cyber and energy assurance. For the fifteenth year, October has been National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and for 28 years, it has also been Energy Action Month. While not purposely paired together, we at Wright Patterson AFB recognize the significance of both efforts to focus our attention on practices and measures that bolster cybersecurity and energy resiliency to provide mission assurance of our critical strategic missions.
Throughout the month, the 88th Communications Group and 88th Civil Engineering Group will be holding events and trainings to raise awareness. The registration site for Cybersecurity classes is
https://cs2.eis.af.mil/sites/er/0204/SitePages/Home.aspx. You can find the WPAFB Energy Action Month information at
https://cs2.eis.af.mil/sites/21020/wpafb/cen/cenp/cenpe/energyaware/default.aspx or contact the Energy team at WPAFBEnergyOffice@us.af.mil.
Every individual on the installation is an important component to assuring critical Air Force strategic missions. Through awareness and education of cybersecurity and energy assurance efforts, we can together assure the future of aerospace!