USAF adds cyber training for recruits and officers

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The Air Force will train all new recruits in the basics of cyberwarfare and add more advanced schooling for others to help combat the growing threat of attacks on U.S. computer networks, a top commander said Monday.

Four-star Gen. Robert Kehler said details are still being worked out on a cyberwarfare component for basic training, but it would be brief, perhaps an hour or two total, and would cover only the fundamentals.

A more advanced, undergraduate-level training program will begin in June to train officers and enlisted personnel for a new Air Force career field in cyber operations, Kehler said.

He likened it to existing undergraduate training for pilots, navigators, missile operators and space operators.

Kehler, who heads the Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, spoke to the annual National Space Symposium and in a separate interview. The Space Command oversees the Air Force’s cyberwarfare operations.

Kehler said the basic training component would cover such basic precautions as using firewalls and passwords.

“We teach them at basic training fundamentals of an M-16 (rifle), for example, and an M-9 (pistol), and so we want them to know the fundamentals of the computer network that they’re going to be operating in,” he said.

The more advanced training will last six months and include skills currently taught to communications operators plus additional skills in computer networks and vulnerabilities. That will be followed by more specific training.

The first class will include about 16 officers. Kehler said several sessions are planned each year because the Air Force will need to produce about 400 officers annually with skills in cyberwarfare.

They will be assigned jobs across the Air Force, including the 24th Air Force, a component of the Space Command responsible for cyberwarfare and Air Force computer networks.

The 24th Air Force, based at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, will be the Air Force component in the new U.S. Cyber Command in the Department of Defense.

- Associated Press