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16th Air Force (Air Forces Cyber) partnerships create an ecosystem for collaboration and innovation

  • Published
  • By Raquel McNees
  • 16th Air Force (Air Forces Cyber)
Lt. Gen. Timothy D. Haugh, 16th Air Force (Air Forces Cyber) commander, met with government, academia, and industry partners to witness innovation aimed to protect our nation’s cybersecurity during a visit to the University of Texas San Antonio’s National Security Collaboration Center, May 20.

The 16th Air Force is one of more than 60 partners within the NSCC’s ecosystem collaborating on research, education, and workforce development. The NSCC currently operates on UTSA’s main campus with embedded partners from government, academia, and industry.

 “The NSCC deliberately and seamlessly link, technical innovation through foundational and applied research and development to support the 16th Air Force, the Department of Defense and national security,” said Guy Walsh, NSCC executive director.

The NSCC provides a unique environment where industry, government, and academic partners collaborate in world-class facilities, addressing solutions on current and future national security issues while providing cutting edge academic experiences for UTSA students and researchers to  develop talent for today’s workforce.

During the visit, Haugh shared his perspective of the changing digital landscape and how conflict is often thought about through a certain lens of deploying to fight our nation’s wars.

“Now we are in a different period of our history where in many respects our industry and our population are the target for many of the activities that are happening today to give adversaries an advantage,” he said. “What does that mean for us as a nation and how do we work together to be able to secure really what is the engine of our nation, which is the innovation.”

With a central theme of innovation, the NSCC team showcased various initiatives spanning from virtual and augmented reality demonstrations, to encryption detection devices, Internet of Things vulnerabilities and telehealth/telemedicine advanced technologies. Partners discussed their research and how their data and or techniques may serve as a resource to enhance the Department of Defense’s capabilities and national security.

“Partnerships with education and industry are instrumental to hone our skills, collaborate, and promote innovation to remain competitive against adversaries,” said Frank von Heiland, Air Force Cryptologic Office, Intelligence Force Management and Training, Senior Language Authority, Human Language Technology Authority chief. “We’ve collaborated with the NSCC on several initiatives aimed toward modernizing the Air Force cryptologic training experience including virtual and augmented reality.”

These partnerships help support the warfighter by advancing training, research, innovation and collaboration in areas of zero trust atmosphere, integration of 5G technology, artificial intelligence, data science, and digital forensics.

“Partnerships like this also serve as a gateway for us to recruit talent that’s important to sustain our growing mission and the demands of a changing environment,” said von Heiland.

Haugh concluded his visit by emphasizing the importance of partnerships with education and industry in advancing research and innovation and by sharing what future opportunities to collaborate may look like in areas such as the Department of the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System capabilities and its role in Joint All Domain Command and Control, and how the services will interconnect across the Department of Defense.

“The partnerships that exist here from an education perspective and with the city are phenomenal,” said Haugh.

San Antonio is the second largest global cyber hub in the United States with a growing cyber ecosystem. The NSCC will be co-located with UTSA’s School of Data Science on their downtown campus in San Antonio and is expected to open in 2022.