Every year, thousands of cyber and intelligence professionals, as well as technology vendors and acquisitions personnel, gather in San Antonio for Alamo ACE, an event sponsored by the Alamo Chapter of the Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association to support the military community. The conference moved to a virtual platform Nov. 17-19 due to COVID-19.
Opening the conference were San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Brig. Gen. Caroline M. Miller, 502nd Air Base Wing and Joint Base San Antonio commander. They were followed by a multitude of presentations and panel discussions by subject matter experts, including several from Sixteenth Air Force (Air Forces Cyber) which is headquartered at JBSA-Lackland.
During her remarks, Miller said San Antonio is becoming known in media channels as not only Military City USA, but also Cyber City USA.
“They would be amazed by the amount of cyber and intelligence-related entities operating throughout San Antonio today. These entities operate in a multi-domain arena in order to provide opportunities to address problems and combat adversaries in new and innovative ways,” she said. “Today, San Antonio is the 7th largest city in the United States and home to our nation’s second-largest concentration of cybersecurity experts.”
Miller said JBSA’s diverse capabilities are exactly what the nation needs to achieve information superiority.
“At JBSA-Fort Sam Houston and Camp Bullis, we ensure synergy and fusion of relevant data to help keep our country safe. At JBSA-Randolph, Air Education and Training Command has pioneered new and innovative programs and concepts, such as Pilot Training Next and Maintenance Next,” she said. “These initiatives continue to change the way we train pilots… and shape our future as an Air Force.
“At JBSA-Lackland and -Kelly Annex, our mission partners work together to ensure unity of effort and seamless collaboration ensuring our national security,” she said.
Miller said the civic partners JBSA has are also key to bolstering innovation and tackling the nation’s cyber threats.
“There is no place like San Antonio, where the opportunities to innovate, collaborate and grow are endless,” she said. “It is even more evident with the joint environment and military-affiliated supporting agencies that work tirelessly together to weave our cyber, ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) and communications into strong multi-domain capabilities. With these skill sets, we assure mission fulfillment of our service men and women in the global arena, on the ground, on the sea, and in the air.”
On Nov. 18, JBSA’s mission partner commander, Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh, Sixteenth Air Force (Air Forces Cyber), spoke to virtual attendees about the progress the new Numbered Air Force has made in its first year and what lies ahead.
“We built a new organization from a number of predecessor organizations to be able to create a new, information warfare Numbered Air Force,” he said. “We really started to do outreach; we engaged with the city, we engaged with our partners, we had a number of civic leaders come in from the bases we are part of, and we started to normalize into an organization that was growing our partnerships. Then, COVID-19 hit.
“What I have really been proud of is, our Airmen have continued to operate, whether that be in the cyber domain, within ISR, electromagnetic spectrum, weather, targeting, they have been able to continue meeting the expectations of the Department of Defense, during a pandemic, in a way that has been able to keep them safe but also effective. We are really proud of that first year.”
Going into their second year, Haugh wants to unleash the NAF’s Airmen on the hard problems the nation needs to be solved, becoming the competitive force of the Air Force.
“We certainly aren’t the only ones out there in competition, but we can be a catalyst based off all the roles and missions that Sixteenth Air Force and our Airmen execute,” he said, noting the National Defense Strategy’s conflict continuum – the environment from competition through armed conflict, with crisis in the middle.
“As a service, we’ve been really comfortable to prepare for… armed conflict,” he said, referring to the Red Flag exercises that take place annually. “Any of us that have gone to Red Flag has been very experienced at – the fight begins when fighters merge over the Nevada desert.
“In reality, our adversaries have begun the fight way in advance of that, in the information environment, in terms of intellectual property theft, and Sixteenth Air Force is uniquely postured to be a driver in how our Air Force fights in competition,” he said. “We have taken that mission on with passion, to be a driver of how the Air Force will fight in the information environment, in cyberspace, and ensure that we’ve got the decisive advantage for the leaders across our service and the joint force.”
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