This article first appeared at AviationWeek.com.
The list of possible headquarter bases for the U.S. Air Force Cyber Command will be winnowed down and evaluated more closely over the next three to four months, according to Maj. Gen. William Lord, chief of the provisional command.
There is fierce competition to provide a home for the planned Cyber Command. A list of 56 bases is being reviewed by the Pentagon, Lord told Aerospace DAILY. In March, then-USAF Secretary Michael Wynne responded to 18 states' governors interested in hosting the new command to join in the basing process. Requests for information were sent out in May and responses were due back by July 1.
Cyber Command has been in suspended animation ever since the turnover of top Air Force leadership this past summer. "My tasking is to come back with a roadmap that defines [Cyber]," Lord said. Although priority is still being given to issues dealing with better management of the service's so-called nuclear enterprise, Lord said a decision was made to stand up the command.
Lord is confident that Cyber Command's designation as a so-called Numbered Air Force (NAF), the 24th under the USAF Space Command, is the best decision. "That's the way we fight today," he said. "It's not important which major command it falls under because the [capability is available] to all of the Combatant Commanders (COCOMS)." For example, he said, Air Combat Command organizes, trains and equips air-breathing assets, which are used by U.S. units in Europe and the Pacific for the commanders in those regions. "In the case of Cyber, you don't have hard assets," Lord said. "Network warfare is more distributed."
Lord also referred to what he called "cross-domain synergies," or the ability to use both kinetic and non-kinetic weapons "in concert, more efficiently. The bottom line is about changing enemy behavior," which doesn't necessarily have to result in total destruction. "Now you can have a more gradual and perhaps different kind of warfare where both a potential belligerent and another nation are not killing and maiming people" to effect change, Lord said.