The U.S. Air Force is to discuss threats to its supply chain and possible mitigation measures when Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) hosts a supply chain risk management forum for small businesses at the Wright Brothers Institute in Dayton, Ohio on Sept. 1.
“We have heard it in the news and experienced the impact first hand in the retail markets, the global supply chain is experiencing disruptions with greater frequency than ever before,” AFMC said in an Aug. 15 business notice. “Those disruptions, when compounded, are having a far greater impact than ever before. The Department of the Air Force (DAF) is experiencing the same turbulence with a significant multiplier: Potential threats are purposely targeting vulnerabilities within the DAF supply chain to either disrupt surety of supply, make mission support financially not feasible, or gain critical intellectual property to compromise premier warfighting capability. Given the sheer scope and complexity of the DAF supply chain, the early identification of risks and potential risk mitigation is a significant challenge, yet critical to maintaining operational capability.”
AFMC’s A4 supply chain risk management (SCRM) team is entrusted with the Air Force strategy to respond to such threats. At the Sept. 1 forum, participants will hear from Lyndon McKown, the deputy director of logistics, civil engineering, force protection and nuclear integration at AFMC headquarters at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.
“SCRM is foundational to a robust and secure DAF supply chain,” AFMC said in the Aug. 15 business notice.
A little more than a month after taking office, President Biden issued Executive Order 14017 on Feb. 24 last year–an order that required DoD to update its defense industrial base supply chain report submitted in response to Executive Order 13806 of July 21, 2017. The updated report would help identify areas in which civilian supply chains are dependent upon competitor nations.
“Secure supply chains and information and communicationtions technologies (ICT) enable American prosperity and national security,” per a DoD report issued in February in response to Executive Order 14017. “Suppliers and ICT/networking supply chains are increasingly targeted by adversaries.”
Such attacks have included the Solar Winds espionage campaign in 2020 and the Colonial Pipeline ransomware incident last year.
Russian intelligence hackers are believed to be behind the SolarWinds attack, which involved compromising software updates developed by the Texas-based software company SolarWinds [SWI] that were routinely downloaded by customers to patch their networks.
In May last year, a Russia-based criminal group called DarkSide conducted a ransomware attack against U.S. pipeline operator Colonial Pipeline. The cyber intrusion only locked up Colonial’s administrative computer networks, but the company as a precautionary measure shut down its pipelines, leading to fuel shortages along the East Coast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the U.S.
“A focus on Cybersecurity-Supply Chain Risk Management should be an overarching priority for supply chain cyber resilience,” the DoD report from February said.
Microelectronics and missile technology are other elements of concern for DoD supply chains.
“Current and future kinetic capabilities required to prosecute combat operations are intrinsic to U.S. national security,” DoD said in the February supply chain report. “Resilience of prime integrators and their sub-tier suppliers is key to this defense-unique sector of the economy. Current efforts focus on addressing critical vulnerabilities in supply chains for existing operational platforms and those required for future fights, such as hypersonics, a key element of the DoD’s modernization activity.”