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2019 Cyber Summit focuses on domain as warfighting platform

  • Published
  • By Mary McHale
  • CONR-1st AF Public Affairs
With a focus on approaching the cyber domain as a warfighting platform, members from across the Continental U.S. NORAD Region – 1st Air Force (Air Forces Northern) enterprise recently gathered for the annual 2019 Cyber Summit here.

Hosted by the CONR-1 AF (AFNORTH) Communications & Information Directorate, the purpose of the three-day event was to “provide an enterprise-wide networking, socializing, and information sharing of cyber and command, control, communications and computers,” – also known as C4 – according to Capt. Sheri Stanfill, Directorate Chief, Programs and Plans and primary event planner.

The first day consisted of a theater-level focus review while the second day concentrated on Defensive Cyber Operations. Then participants broke into specific groups the third day to address issues in further detail.

Master Sgt. David Vega, Superintendent, Theater Security Cooperation in the CONR-1st AF (AFNORTH) Strategic Plans and Requirements Directorate, explained how he differentiates between communications and cyber activities.

“My way to remember the difference between communication operations and cyber operations is communications has to do with hardware, software and physical maintenance of the network,” he said. “Cyber has more to do with offensive, defensive and monitoring activities in response to either intelligence, a threat or an incident.”

One particular area of interest for participants was the CONR Mission Defense Teams initiative. Capt. Courtney Swaney, Chief, Defensive Cyber Operations, said the purpose of the initiative was to “provide commanders with mission-tailored cyberspace operations capabilities to enable Air Force core missions. These MDTs standardize persistent cyber defense to benefit mission and program owners.”

“I thought the 2019 Cyber Summit was a resounding success! Over 75 participants from 17 units within the NORAD-Northern Command Theater and beyond attended,” said Maj. Jon Hult, Chief, Communications and Cyber Operations. “Cyber is a warfighting domain and very new compared to our military's overall historical lines of effort. Because of this, collaboration within our theater is paramount to ensure a greater understanding of how the Air Force is conducting cyber operations and help bring everyone on the same page. As an annual event, we strive to get better each time. We poll the field to ensure their topics are heard and provide the opportunity to discuss important issues within our theater.”

Summit participant Paul Karch, DoD Long Range Radar Program Manager from Air Combat Command, agreed.

“In my opinion the CONR – 1st AF (AFNORTH) 2019 Cyber Summit was a brilliant tactical meeting/workgroup orchestrated by CONR-1st AF (AFNORTH) to problem solve; organize, equip and train cyber defenders,” Karch said. “This type of forward thinking action will keep CONR-1 AF (AFNORTH) ahead of our cyber enemies and will develop processes and methods for cyber defense efforts across the U.S. Air Force and DOD.”