Cyber Command Sweepstakes

Air Force asks 18 states for details on how they would support the new Cyber Command headquarters.

Eighteen states are vying to become the home of the headquarters for the coveted Air Force Cyber Command. So, on May 15, William Anderson, assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics, sent a letter to the governors, asking them to provide details that will help the service make its decision.

Comment on this article in The Forum.The letter, which a source was kind enough to send me, notes that the unique nature of the cyber domain dictates that the candidates have a complete understanding of the supporting capabilities of headquarters bases and their surrounding communities. Anderson included in the letter a checklist of requirements.

These included the ability of the new HQ to work easily with other Air Force commands near the Cyber Command that are engaged in activities such as intelligence and space operations. The new Cyber Command HQ also will require an extensive high-speed network, including state-of-art secure fiber networks and connections to unclassified and classified Defense networks.

The Air Force wants to locate the HQ in a low-threat environment that's close to new technology corridors and IT centers of excellence.

Anderson asked the governors to reply by July 1. The Air Force intends to tour cyber HQ sites this summer and to draw up a short-list of locations by November. The process then will slow down (probably to hear from aggrieved members of Congress whose states did not make the short list), with a final selection made in September 2009.

States competing for the Cyber Command HQ are: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

It's About Cyber Attack, Not Cyber Defend

The attachments to Anderson's letter make it clear that the key mission of the Cyber Command will be to cyber attack, not cyber defend -- a position the Air Force has emphasized during the past year. A paper, titled "Proposed Purpose and Need for Air Force Cyber Command," which Anderson sent to the governors, said the command will work to "influence, disrupt, corrupt or usurp adversarial human and automated decision-making while protecting our own."

You can't set up a new command without doing the vision thing, and the vision for the Cyber Command is to "help secure our nation by employing world-class cyber capabilities to dominate the cyberspace domain, [and] create effects worldwide," the paper noted.

And, if you're doing the vision thing, make sure it's "through a holistic, agile and evolutionary approach to science and technology, research and development, systems acquisition, operations, force structure" etc. etc. I could really score high on buzzword bingo with these two paragraphs.

Does a Flight to Cuidad Chihuahua Help?

One of the requirements for the Cyber Command HQ is proximity to an international airport. New Mexico, where I live, will have a tough time satisfying that requirement, although our newly bearded Gov. Bill Richardson, announced last week that Aeromexico will lay on a flight to Cuidad Chihuahua, Mexico, later this year from the Albuquerque International Sunport.

This is an improvement for the Albuquerque airport, which always has touted itself as an international airport during the five years I have lived here, although you cannot fly anywhere internationally right now. A couple of years back, the airport PR guy explained to me that the word "international" in the airport's name was not a misnomer, "because you can fly from here to another airport and catch an international flight."

Navy Network Strategy Reappears

Since writing about the quick disappearance of the Navy Naval Networking Environment Strategy-2016 paper from the Web site of the department's chief information officer a day after it appeared on May 8, it resurfaced on May 15. A quick comparison between the new and old versions shows few substantive changes. The biggest difference was the deletion of a clickable section in the PDF file that allowed mere mortals to track comments on changes in various versions of the strategy draft.

This confirms my suspicions that the Navy abruptly took down the strategy document to edit it, not re-scan it, as I was told.

Don't Hang VA for Single E-Mail

The Veterans Affairs Department managed to get more bad news coverage last week. A leaked internal e-mail from a doctor at the VA hospital in Temple, Texas, said to her staff: "Given that we are having more and more compensation-seeking veterans, I'd like to suggest you refrain from giving diagnosis of PTSD straight out."

VA, which often tries to duck bad news, responded to this quickly and put out a statement which in part said, "A single staff member, out of VA's 230,000 employees, in a single medical facility sent a single e-mail with suggestions that are inappropriate and have been repudiated at the highest level of our health care organization. The employee has been counseled and is extremely apologetic."

The doctor who sent the e-mail, I'm told, was transferred from Temple to a VA facility in Austin, a move that outraged a VA insider at the department's Vermont Avenue headquarters in Washington. "She should not have been transferred," the insider told me. "She should have been fired."