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Air Force explains AFCYBER basing criteria for governors

Lt. Col. Tim Sands (from left), Capt. Jon Smith and Lt. Col. John Arnold monitor a simulated test April 16 in the Central Control Facility at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. They use the Central Control Facility to oversee electronic warfare mission data flight testing. Portions of their missions may expand under the new Air Force Cyber Command. Colonel Sands is the 53th Electronic Warfare Group AFCYBER Transition Team Chief, Captain Smith is the 36th Electronic Warfare Squadron Suppression of Enemy Air Defensestest director, and Colonel Arnold is the 36th Electronic Warfare Squadron commander. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Carrie Kessler)

Lt. Col. Tim Sands (from left), Capt. Jon Smith and Lt. Col. John Arnold monitor a simulated test April 16 in the Central Control Facility at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. They use the Central Control Facility to oversee electronic warfare mission data flight testing. Portions of their missions may expand under the new Air Force Cyber Command. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Carrie Kessler)

WASHINGTON -- Air Force officials here recently sent a second in a series of letters to governors of states that have expressed interest in hosting the permanent location for the Air Force Cyber Command.

This letter further explains the basing methodology and requests more detailed information about the locations to be evaluated.

Bill Anderson, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics, sent the first letter to the governors in March outlining the basing process and notifying them of an upcoming data call that will allow each community to highlight attributes they feel will be good for the command.

"We feel that by sharing our criteria, identifying these areas and asking for input from the governors will help the Air Force make an appropriate decision," Mr. Anderson said. "At the same time, it will also help the communities more fully understand what AFCYBER is all about, the importance of its missions and how we plan to carry those missions."

These letters, signed by Mr. Anderson, are part of a four-step process the Air Force is taking as it works to determine the command's final location. After the governors review the initial basing criteria and provide inputs, the third step will be for officials to meet with installation and community officials to discuss and verify data collected. Dates for these visits are yet to be determined.

After the data is analyzed, the list of candidate locations will be narrowed to a short list that consists of a preferred location and several alternative locations. The secretary of the Air Force expects to publicly announce the preferred alternative and the short-list of alternatives by mid-November 2008.

The fourth and final step will be to conduct an environmental analysis of these short-list locations with a goal of finalizing the permanent home for AFCYBER and its supporting organizations by September 2009.

Governors are being asked to provide data about their facilities and communities that would be able to house an organizational structure that calls for approximately 550 people assigned to the AFCYBER headquarters, with about 275 additional folks who would be co-located but work as part of the command's designated numbered Air Force.

Officials explained the organizational concept for AFCYBER headquarters is not yet decided and may result in the command staff being consolidated at a single installation, distributed at multiple locations, or an appropriate combination of the two. The basing strategy is a best value approach (operationally and fiscally) to facilitate the requirements of the new command.

The governors are being asked about the following items: 

-- If similar cyber activities such as intelligence and space/satellite operations already operate at the installation.
-- The detail of the high-speed network capabilities and capacity for growth (i.e. fiber or cable, secure communications, joint or other Department of Defense networks available, support/maintenance level).
-- Proximity to existing high-technology processes or centers.
-- If local universities or businesses support an existing cyber-related workforce.
-- The level of security available for the mission (i.e., local threat assessment favorable or low? Is encroachment an issue? Would it adversely affect beddown of a headquarters operation?).
-- Is there adequate, existing facilities with both secure and un-secure contiguous office space to accommodate both the AFCYBER headquarters and numbered Air Force staff.
-- Is there practical and economical accessibility to multiple routes of travel, including air transport (i.e. close to an airport, train, does it have its own runway, major interstates).
-- Is the area subject to recurring natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, extensive flooding, fires, blizzards, ice storms, or earthquakes (as indicated by governmentally declared emergencies in the past 10 years) and does the local area have a reasonable disaster preparedness plan in place.

The 18 governors who received letters are from Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

The AFCYBER Provisional team continues to work toward activating the command by Oct. 1. Plans call for additional work to select the final, permanent, location and then bring the command to full operational.