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AFSOC Cyber Squadron Initiative: Arming for the 21st century battle

U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Jim Slife, commander of Air Force Special Operations command, speaks with Airmen during the command's Mission Defense Conference at Hurlburt Field, Fla., Feb. 2, 2021. The conference focused on identifying the organic cyber capabilities needed to protect missions against threats in, through, and from cyberspace. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brandon Esau)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Jim Slife, commander of Air Force Special Operations command, speaks with Airmen during the command's Mission Defense Conference at Hurlburt Field, Fla., Feb. 2, 2021. The conference focused on identifying the organic cyber capabilities needed to protect missions against threats in, through, and from cyberspace. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brandon Esau)

An Air Force Special Operations Command Airman poses a question to U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Jim Slife, commander of AFSOC, during the command's Mission Defense Conference at Hurlburt Field, Fla., Feb. 2, 2021. The conference focused on identifying the organic cyber capabilities needed to protect missions against threats in, through, and from cyberspace. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brandon Esau)

An Air Force Special Operations Command Airman poses a question to U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Jim Slife, commander of AFSOC, during the command's Mission Defense Conference at Hurlburt Field, Fla., Feb. 2, 2021. The conference focused on identifying the organic cyber capabilities needed to protect missions against threats in, through, and from cyberspace. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brandon Esau)

Organizers of Air Force Special Operations Command's Mission Defense Conference pose for a photo at Hurlburt Field, Fla., Feb. 5, 2021. The conference focused on identifying the organic cyber capabilities needed to protect missions against threats in, through, and from cyberspace. (Courtesy Photo)

Organizers of Air Force Special Operations Command's Mission Defense Conference pose for a photo at Hurlburt Field, Fla., Feb. 5, 2021. The conference focused on identifying the organic cyber capabilities needed to protect missions against threats in, through, and from cyberspace. (Courtesy Photo)

Air Force Special Operations Command Airmen pose for a photo after completing the command's Mission Defense Conference at Hurlburt Field, Fla., Feb. 5, 2021. The conference focused on identifying the organic cyber capabilities needed to protect missions against threats in, through, and from cyberspace. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brandon Esau)

Air Force Special Operations Command Airmen pose for a photo after completing the command's Mission Defense Conference at Hurlburt Field, Fla., Feb. 5, 2021. The conference focused on identifying the organic cyber capabilities needed to protect missions against threats in, through, and from cyberspace. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brandon Esau)

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. --

Air Force Special Operations Command hosted a Mission Defense Team Conference, Feb. 2-5, 2021, focusing on identifying the organic cyber capabilities needed to protect missions against threats in, through, and from cyberspace.

Gen. David Goldfein, former Chief of Staff of the Air Force, signed the Cyber Squadron Initiative Program Action Directive, May 12, 2020. This historic event, five years in the making, ushered in the single largest change in Air Force, charging the Air and Space Force with transforming current communication squadrons into cyber squadrons.

 AFSOC is focused on transforming communication squadrons from information technology customer support towards cyber defense operations to provide mission assurance. Cyber squadrons will contain Mission Defense teams who provide organic cyber defense capabilities aligned to individual wing priorities. The conference was planned to provide resources the MDTs need to be successful with their mission.

“We’re going to have to be able to seamlessly operate between crisis responses, counter VEO, large scale contingency, and global competition,” said Lt. Gen. Jim Slife, commander of AFSOC.

“We’re going to have to move back and forth between these four mission sets,” Slife continued. “Without freedom of action within cyberspace, our ability to accomplish these core missions is threatened.”

During the conference, MDTs had the opportunity to apply practical application and develop capabilities that will safeguard AFSOC’s core missions and its ability to maneuver in an increasingly contested and volatile environment through the Capstone exercise providing real world vulnerability assessments on the AC-130J. 

 “Our Airmen are our competitive advantage,” said. Col. Michael Cote, Director of Cyberspace & Technology, AFSOC. “We will need to transform around our Airmen in order to meet the challenges of the future operating environment any time, any place.”