Space Foundation News

Hyten Discusses Projects, Definitions, Commitments

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Lt. Gen. John E. Hyten, USAF, vice commander, Air Force Space Command, headlined the Cyber 1.3 luncheon, co-sponsored by General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems.

Hyten began by noting that he spends more time on cyber than on space because the challenges are so enormous, saying, “If we don’t defend it all the time, we’re going to have significant problems.”


Among the projects he outlined were:

  • Consolidating Air Force Space Command and 24th Air Force services into the Air Force Network (AFNet), which brings more than 120 different network entry points into 16 gateways, improving the ability to “secure the network, monitor traffic and defend ourselves.” Integration is more than 60 percent complete with projected completion by mid-2014
  • Normalizing Air Force cyber operations, including integrating cyber capabilities with other joint capabilities to meet the combatant commanders’ requirements
  • Deploying indication and warning capabilities to catalog the latest cyber threats, and developing signatures to load into defensive systems to protect all DoD networks from attack
  • Normalizing and modernizing the 624th Operation Center, which gives the 24th Air Force commander effective cyber C2 at the operational level of war, consistent with the other component Numbered Air Forces
  • Standardizing training, stand/eval programs and tactics, techniques and procedures to improve Air Force internal cyber capabilities and ensure full integration with the emerging joint standards for cyber training

Joint Information Environment

Hyten also discussed the joint information environment (JIE), saying that he is “the biggest believer in that kind of consolidation and information environment,” but that he has questions about security and the ability to defend the network. “The goal is timely access to critical resources, a single security architecture, and centralized and standardized enterprise services,” he said. “How can anybody argue against that? My concern is that we don’t have a lot of detail below that top level description.”

He said his top three concerns with JIE are:

  • The single security architecture is still undefined
  • What the environment really looks like is unclear because little has been placed into testing and there are no operational processes in place
  • Resources haven’t been addressed


Next, Hyten discussed the difference between cyberspace operations and information technology, citing a jointly published doctrine, Joint Pub 3-12, which defines cyberspace operations in three lines of operation: offensive cyber ops; defensive cyber ops; and DoD information network ops. “Each of these lines of operations is pivotal in maintaining the freedom to operate in and through cyberspace and enable the exchange of information for space and cyberspace operations,” he said.

He explained that IT is “any equipment, interconnected system or subsystem of equipment used in, among other things, the storage, movement, transmission or reception of data or information.”

He also explained that weapon systems are not IT just because they require information technology and software. He gave GPS as an example, saying, “GPS is a weapon system. It operates using information technology, but it is a weapon system critical to the defense of the United States and it needs to be managed as a weapon system.”

Presenting Forces

Hyten said, “The domains I’m given wearing this uniform are air, space and cyberspace. In the Air Force we organize, train and equip forces to allow combatant commanders to fight and win wars. So that’s what we have to do in cyberspace as well. CYBERCOM is the place where we’re going to present forces.”

He said the services, the Air Force among them, are going to have to build mission teams to present mission ready forces to CYBERCOM as well as the other combatant commanders. “For our part, we’re already working with the Air Staff to get the requisite manning…. CYBERCOM has already begun to lay out what kind of team composition they have to have, and our future in cyberspace basically depends on us getting this right.”

He closed by saying that the cyberspace domain is a priority for this nation, for the DoD and the Air Force. “Our success on the battlefield depends on the timely movement of information,” he said. “In the last 30 years, that’s what’s made us the greatest military the world has ever seen. Our adversaries are going to attack our ability to move information and they’re going to identify this as a key center of gravity, an asymmetric advantage if they can take it out.

“There’s no doubt that our number one asset as a nation, as a military, is our soldiers, sailors, Airmen and Marines. But if they don’t have the information they need to do their jobs, they will not be able to fight effectively,” he said.

“So we must be ready to meet any adversary in cyberspace that presents themselves – from the smallest individual to the largest nation state.”

See More

See video of the luncheon here.

See photos here.