First-ever Project Phoenix Summit 2023 aims to enhance Information Warfare

  • Published
  • By Matthew McGovern
Sixteenth Air Force Airmen met with industry, academia, and government officials, Aug. 1-2, for the Project Phoenix Summit 2023—a first of its kind meeting to drive IW modernization.

The group of 17 Airmen, with Information Warfare backgrounds, and 10 civilians convened to identify key issues and dependencies while brainstorming to mitigate vulnerabilities.    

“This is a high priority effort to get after some outcomes rather quickly,” said Maj. Gen. Thomas K. Hensley, 16th Air Force deputy commander, during his opening remarks to the group.  “I look forward to the outstanding contributions that you will develop today and in future sessions as you identify problems and then develop solutions to those problems.”

The same group will meet virtually on a monthly basis and then convene quarterly in person to continue to mature IW, while increasing potential combat effectiveness against peers and competitors.

“We are having to look at [our adversaries] from the standpoint of competition, crisis and conflict,” said Hensley.  “[Lt. Gen. Kevin B. Kennedy, the 16th AF commander’s,] priority right now is information warfare and how we as a [Numbered Air Force] can do it; what do we conceal, what do we reveal, and what do we expose, and how can we bring 16th Air Force resources to support our air components and be able to deter and win in competition.”

Other goals of the summit included forging partnerships across industry partners and science and technology experts. The desired outcome is to link evolving innovation to 16th Air Force Airmen, who are delivering outcomes for the nation.

“As a new person within 16th Air Force, I look at the capabilities we have throughout the wings,” said Hensley. “From an IW standpoint, we have the enablers: we have intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, and weather units that can enable information warfare.”

“From a non-kinetic affect standpoint, we can produce cyber affects and we can produce electronic warfare effects and we can shape the cognitive domain with facts, public affairs and information operations,” said Hensley. “But how do we integrate all of that at 16th Air force and then support all the air components? That’s a challenge we continue to work on so thoughts or ideas out of this meeting will certainly be helpful.”

An additional objective of the summit aims to foster ideas and create research across academia and publish research papers to spark dialogue and follow-on action.    

Brian Cook, the 16th Air Force technical director from the Air Force Cryptologic Office, and lead for the summit, explained how this works.

“There may be military application research we come up with here that we need more research on and we want to use our internal Air University to help drive that,” said Cook. “We are going to take some things we need to focus on, we will feed them into Air University, and then they’re going to do the research, look to do publications, and peer reviews.”

Cook closed out the session by emphasizing that as industry continues to develop and move forward, 16th Air Force will, “look for applications internal for our numbered Air force to then propel and move forward as well. We are going to learn, quickly adapt and employ those innovations.”

The 16th Air Force, headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, focuses on information warfare in the modern age.  Information Warfare requires integrating: Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance; Cyber Warfare; Electromagnetic Warfare; Weather; Public Affairs; and Information Operations capabilities. 16th Air Force ensures that our Air Force and Nation are fast, resilient, and fully integrated in competition, crisis, and conflict by incorporating Information Warfare at operational and tactical levels, capitalizing on the value of information by leading the charge for uniquely-21st century challenges in the highly dynamic, seamless, and global information domain.