WASHINGTON – The cyber domain can give the Air Force unprecedented control over the way it carries out its missions, United States Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III said at an event Wednesday.
Speaking to a group of active-duty military personnel, civilian defense insiders and journalists, Welsh likened the Air Force’s expansion into the cyber realm to its prior addition of space to its command repertoire, saying its cyber involvement is meant to complement – rather than replace – its primary-domain activities.
But despite the shift, Welsh said the cyber playing field gives the Air Force a two-fold precision advantage in mission execution by improving the reach of the missions and the control over the scope of attacks.
“We have access through the cyber domain to targets that we couldn’t get to before,” he said.
Cyber gives the Air Force the option to deactivate sections of networks or communication chains compared with wiping them out completely, he said.
He also noted that cyber attacks are easier and more precise than dropping “a very precise weapon that has 500 pounds of TNT in it.”
“There’s nothing precise about that,” Welsh said.
Welsh acknowledged that government cyber professionals are wary of Defense Department involvement in the cyber sector “because DoD brings blunt-force trauma to everything” by virtue of its size and “heavy footprint.”
The forum was sponsored by Defense One and Northrop Grumman.
Listen to Gen. Welsh in conversation with DefenseOne reporter Marcus Weisgerber on cyber and the Air Force here: