Air Force to finalize new cyber mission forces


Cyber Defense

Air Force to finalize new cyber mission forces

The Air Force is accelerating preparations to operationalize 39 emerging Cyber Mission Forces tasked with developing and implementing new cyber combat tactics, offensive techniques and security procedures, service officials said.

“Mission Defense Teams employ a spectrum of cyber security and defense tactics, techniques, and procedures in addition to their own suite of tailored cyber defense sensors and tools to provide active defense at the base level,” Maj. Gen. Christopher Weggeman, Commander, 24th Air Force and Commander, Air Forces Cyber, told lawmakers at a recent hearing.

The establishment of these teams is based upon the growing recognition that cyberattacks are becoming more advanced and more frequent. The Air Force’s 39 teams, all of which reached Initial Operating Capability by May 1 of this year, are part of a total of 133 teams being stood up by the Office of the Secretary of Defense. All teams are expected to reach final operating capability by late 2018, a Pentagon statement said.

The teams are divided up into separate categories such as National Mission Force Teams, Cyber Protection Force Teams, Cyber Combat Mission Force Teams and Cyber Support Teams – all of which are geared toward both offensive and defensive cyber operations.

“Although the Mission Defense Team concept is a nascent cyberspace defense
capability, these teams are already proving their worth; providing mission assurance for
operational commanders' priority missions and mission systems,” Weggeman testified.

The rationale for these units was recently articulated to the Senate Armed Services Committee by Adm. Michael Rogers, director of the National Security Agency.

“Hardly a day has gone by during my tenure at Cyber Command that we have not seen at least one significant cybersecurity event occurring somewhere in the world,” Rogers told the senators, noting that the command and the Defense Department face a growing variety of advanced threats from actors who operate with ever more sophistication, speed and precision.

About the Author

Kris Osborn is editor-in-chief of Defense Systems. He can be reached at

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