Air Force Training Next Generation to Fight Cyberwarfare


An increase in hacking attacks has pushed military officials -- and especially those training the officers of tomorrow -- to adjust their strategies to fight an enemy that’s often hard to find.

The U.S. Air Force Academy is evolving its curriculum to focus on this new online threat.  

Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, who oversees the academy, spoke to Fox News National Security Analyst KT McFarland on how they have to “up their game.”

“What the Air Force is looking at is a task force to look across missions -- not just have a few experts in the room because, frankly, sometimes the threat is somebody using the wrong security card or letting the wrong person in a room … it’s not just hacking, not just the firewalls, so that’s the holistic view approach in the DoD [Department of Defense],” said Johnson.

She says the military’s collaboration with the private sector has helped develop countermeasures. “A lot of the great ideas come from the private sector and we are collaborating through research on our faculty … to help our cadets be exposed to how things really work and maybe help develop technology  ... for cyberdefense and cybersecurity.”

In February, Gen. Martin Dempsey outlined his strategy to defend against cyberattacks. “We've got a lot of work to do. We've made some strides, some pretty significant strides, militarily, in particular, in terms of defending ourselves."

Dempsey said despite the security in military networks, 90 percent of his administration and logistics functions ride on commercial Internet providers.

"So if they're vulnerable, I'm vulnerable and I don't like being vulnerable," he said.

Understanding this new reality, the Air Force Academy is developing academic programs in cyberwarfare.

“We’ve changed and [now] have a major in cyber and computer security,” said Johnson. “We have research centers where we are collaborating with the Department of Homeland Security and some private sector companies so that cadets learn” real world experiences.

To make sure the cadets are up to speed, the Air Force Academy holds exercises with the U.S. Military and Naval Academies to “compare best practices.”

“We’ve just had an exercise where the cadets compete against each other and we do that annually. We also do that with colleges across the country and institutes to think what the techniques are.”

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