NEWS | Jan. 22, 2009

Finalists announced for cyber command HQ

By Erik Holmes

Six bases are finalists for the headquarters of 24th Air Force, a new numbered Air Force that will become the service's cyber component, Air Force officials at the Pentagon announced today.

The Air Force bases making the cut are Barksdale Air Force Base, La. ; Lackland Air Force Base, Texas; Langley Air Force Base, Va. ; Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. ; Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. ; and Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

The Air Force will announce a final decision by the end of June, according to a press release.

That decision will be based on cyber mission synergy, including proximity to other cyber operational missions and access to scientific and technical expertise; communication and bandwidth capabilities; facilities and infrastructure; support capacity; security; and transportation.

The initial cut was based on cyber mission synergy and communication and bandwidth capabilities, the two most important criteria, the press release said.

""In basing 24th Air Force, we recognize the tremendous preparatory work several states have already done and we intend to use much of that information, but the mission will ultimately define the final location,"" Brig. Gen. Mark Schissler, Air Force Cyber Operations Director, said in a statement.

Air Force Cyber Command (Provisional) is located at Barksdale and is commanded by Maj. Gen. William Lord.

The organization was originally intended to be a stand-alone command, but Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz downgraded it to a numbered Air Force that will fall under Air Force Space Command.

Cyber is expected to move to AFSPC next spring or summer and become 24th Air Force.

The organization will have between 5,500 and 6,000 people and an annual budget of between $5 billion and $6 billion, Lord said in an October interview.

A Program Action Directive outlining the plan for merging 24th Air Force in AFSPC is currently being considered by the Air Staff.