Enable breadcrumbs token at /includes/pageheader.html.twig

U.S. Air Force Will Finally Have a Cyber Command

The service is elevating its information warfare organization to the command level.

The 16th Air Force, the 2019 re-established Numbered Air Force (NAF) that is responsible for information warfare, including electronic warfare, defensive and offensive cyber operations, weather and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), will become a command, Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall announced last week at the Air and Space Forces Association (AFA) warfare symposium in Aurora, Colorado.

And while the department and the NAF are not yet ready to discuss the details about the new organization, officials have several considerations to review to make this shift, explained Lt. Gen. Kevin Kennedy, commander, 16th Air Force.

The proposed move to a command is part of the secretary’s vision to reoptimize the Air Force to compete and succeed against near-peer adversaries, such as the People’s Republic of China and Russia.









U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Kevin B. Kennedy, 16th Air Force Commander
It is a tremendous opportunity for our airmen to have the support of the highest levels, to ensure they are trained, resourced and postured to compete and win, in, through and from the cyber domain.
Lt. Gen. Kevin Kennedy, USAF
Commander, Air Forces Cyber, and Commander, Joint Force Headquarters


The Air Force has nine major commands—such as Air Combat Command, Air Force Special Operations Command, Air Force Material Command—and two Air Reserve Components, including Air Force Reserve Command.

“The decision was made to elevate Air Forces Cyber as a command, reporting directly to the chief and the secretary,” Gen. Kennedy stated. “This decision was made after a significant amount of discussion, [and] in my assessment, was made for a few key reasons. One that stands out is the recognition of the importance of operating in, through and from the cyber domain that cuts across the entire department, both services and all commands. It is also the recognition of the value that cyber, ISR, weather and information operations and electronic warfare enterprises within the 16th Air Force bring to our security.”

The decision also reflects a synergy with the Air Combat Command, the commander said.

Final discussions are underway across the department on how to construct the service’s cyber command. These talks are guided by two questions, Gen. Kennedy shared: What makes the Air Force and the Joint Force most competitive, and what makes the Air Force most effective? In addition, the department will conduct follow-on analysis to further shape the new command. 

“It is a tremendous opportunity for our airmen to have the support of the highest levels, to ensure they are trained, resourced and postured to compete and win, in, through and from the cyber domain,” the commander stated.






The Air Force considered standing up a cyber command about 16 years ago, but when also faced with a pressing need to create the Air Force Global Strike Command, department leaders chose to stand up that entity to provide intercontinental ballistic missile and long-range bomber capabilities, shared Brig. Gen. Devin Pepper, USSF, deputy commanding general, Operations, Space Operations Command, also speaking at the AFCEA Rocky Mountain Cyberspace Symposium.

“The Air Force realized that we couldn’t do both,” Gen. Pepper shared. “We couldn’t stand up two major commands—so it was one or the other. And then what did we do? We made cyber a Numbered Air Force, 24th Air Force.”

Gen. Kennedy also shared that the 16th Air Force is working with Air Combat Command to help evolve the role of cyber Mission Defense Teams into Mission Assurance forces.


Enjoying The Cyber Edge?