16th Air Force hosts Finland’s inaugural visit enhancing cyber defense

  • Published
  • By Matthew McGovern
Eight Defense Command Finland Cyber Defense delegates visited the Numbered Air Force June 12, here, for their first key-leader engagement, building a foundation for mutual, bilateral cyber defense.

The delegation arrived on the heels of a newly signed letter of intent between Defense Command Finland and U.S. European Command. The letter marks the beginning of an advanced cyber partnership based on the united vision to advance cyber defenses between allies and partners.

Lt. Gen. Kevin Kennedy, 16th Air Force (Air Forces Cyber) commander, referenced the letter during opening remarks alongside Lt. Gen. Kari Nisula, Defense Command Finland operations deputy chief of staff, who signed the letter on behalf of Finland.

“This is a great start, knowing that you signed the letter of intent with EUCOM J3 and together we can execute the operational development plan,” said Kennedy.  “This is a proven mechanism we use with many NATO partners to get to business and make sure we achieve unity of effort.”

The ODP outlines milestones and shared lines of effort to allow for speedy cyberspace relationship growth and clarity of effort throughout the 16th Air Force and EUCOM structure.

“The EUCOM commander, [U.S. Army Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli] looks to our headquarters to integrate with cyber command and the forces we have aligned in the EUCOM theater to support him and the NATO nations,” said Kennedy.  “Today, we’ll discuss how we’ll work together as NATO nations and how we’ll operate, as well as discuss the framework we will use going forward.”

This framework supports the growth of readiness and cooperation along five lines of effort: policy, training, capability development, cyber operations, and interoperability. 

“Interoperability is built upon a foundation of information sharing and how we share at all levels across our respective commands,” said Kennedy. “I find interoperability tremendously important--interoperability of our training, our systems and successful information sharing within those systems.”

Finnish leadership established interoperability with 16th Air Force personnel by gathering personal contacts, synchronizing information, and discussing guidance for the ODP.

Sixteenth Air Force leadership provided an overview of U.S. cyber operations, roles and responsibilities, authorities, and best practices for integrating full spectrum cyber into multi-domain operations.

“This is precisely what we are looking for,” said Lt. Gen. Kari Nisula, Defense Command Finland operations deputy chief of staff. “This is part of the ODP to ensure we find the right actors, stakeholders, and responsibilities as a part of this ODP and recognize all the relevant parts that we have to communicate and build on additional things for future years.”

Defense Command Finland plans on a strong future partnership with 16th Air Force and intends to further develop their cyber program.

“In the current networked world, building trusted partnerships with great partners, over military-boundaries, is the way to be able to counter efficiently against the adversary activities,” said Nisula. “Common shared situational awareness in cyber domain is vital and we need the ability to plan and execute full spectrum cyberspace operations together.”     

Sixteenth Air Force (Air Forces Cyber), 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. Sixteenth 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.