BALTIMORE—The Air Force command responsible for conducting cyber warfare and security has created a group focused on rapidly acquiring cyber security capabilities when it’s possible to go outside of traditional acquisition guidelines, a senior official with the 24th Air Force says at a recent conference.

In June 2012 the 24th Air Force created its Cyber Solutions Cell to tackle the problem of introducing new capabilities in a rapidly changing technology and threat landscape, Maj. Gen. (Select) Burke “Ed” Wilson, said at cyber symposium hosted by AFCEA International.

“The cell currently provides a forum for the operations and acquisitions communities to work together in providing responsive capabilities to 24th Air Force cyber needs,” a spokesperson for the 24th Air Force tells HSR.

Wilson says that “if you’re going to build big iron and put a low of computing power into the field” then you have to follow the traditional DoD 5000 series guidelines, pointing out those major acquisitions will take months and years to complete. However, to bring new applications and capabilities on that larger system that can be done more quickly with the new rapid acquisition cell he says.

“So we brought operators and our flyers together and we’ve given the 24th Air Force commander special authorities inside the Air Force to be able to direct activities so if something is in prototype you would be able to operationalize those and bring them into the fold,” Wilson says. “We’re seeing great results out of that, especially on the defensive side so that we can bring new capability onto the Air Force network.”

Wilson adds that one of the “key lessons” in acquiring cyber capabilities quickly “you can’t do big fast, you need to do small.” He says that the acquisition cycle needs to be “very, very collapsed” to minimize cost and to minimize the size of upgrades, which enables “you to move with very aggressive speed.”