COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.–Over the next few years the Air Force component that provides cybersecurity support to U.S. Combatant Commands will dramatically boost the number of personnel and services it provides to the U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM), a senior officer with Sixteenth Air Force said this week.
As the cybersecurity provider, Sixteenth Air Force currently helps USSPACECOM defend data, weapons systems, and critical infrastructure from malicious cyber activities, Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Hill, mobilization assistant to the Commander, Sixteenth Air Force and Commander, Air Forces Cyber, said on Wednesday at the Space Symposium here.
Currently, the Air Force supplies one Cyber Protection Team (CPT) for USSPACECOM and the secretary of defense has approved up to seven more teams of cybersecurity professionals to aid the command, Hill said.
In addition to one CPT, Hill pointed out that Sixteenth Air Force also leverages its partnerships with the other military services, Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, to bring cyber talent to bear on behalf of USSPACECOM.
For example, Sixteenth Air Force recently had two Marine Corps CPTs help in support of USSPACECOM, Hill said.
“So, it’s really about the partnerships and building those outcomes needed to deter adversaries each and every day,” he said.
One of the new teams, which is already being stood up by Sixteenth Air Force at USSPACECOM, is a cyber operations integrated planning element. Hill said the new unit has 11 of its approximately 39 people hired so far.
The CPT’s typically have about several dozen personnel assigned to them.
In fiscal year 2023 and again in FY ’24, the plan is to stand up another CPT, a Combat Support Team and a Combat Mission Team in support of USSPACECOM, Hill said.
“When all said and done, all those teams stood up, teams fully restored, you’re looking at about 3,300-plus cyber professionals and experts that are able to bring cyber resiliency to the space infrastructure and in great capacity from both a defensive and an offensive cyber standpoint,” he said.
USSPACECOM is the combatant command that conducts operations in, from and to space for the Defense Department.