NEWS | March 30, 2010

U.S. Air Force begins opening network to Social Media Sites

By Air Force Space Command

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - The Air Force began its plan to open access to Internet-based social-networking sites on the Air Force Network today.

During this initial phase, five Pacific Air Forces bases (Anderson AFB, Guam; Eielson AFB, Alaska; Elmendorf AFB, Alaska; Hickam AFB, Hawaii; and Yokota Air Base, Japan) will have access.

This change in policy is a result of the Department of Defense Directive-Type Memorandum 09-026 -- Responsible and Effective Use of Internet-based Capabilities, issued Feb. 25.

Headquarters AFSPC is the Air Force Designated Approval Authority for the AFNET. In this capacity, AFSPC is responsible for the policies, procedures and the implementation plan for Internet-based capabilities on the AFNET. The Air Force's implementation plan will focus on ensuring the Air Force maintains a tight and secure network to defend against malicious activity to safeguard the mission.

The initial phase at PACAF will involve tracking metrics from both pre- and post-access allowed periods and involve a multi-disciplinary risk assessment prior to 24th Air Force opening the sites Air Force-wide later in April.

The Air Force implements upgrades to network security in phases, in order to have a systematic, disciplined approach to changes required on the Air Force Network, allowing for problem solving along the way. The five Pacific Air Forces bases were chosen as the test bed for opening up social networking access due to the increased network visibility available as a result of the major command's inherent infrastructure.

"We recognize the importance of allowing Airmen to have access to more Internet-based capabilities to conduct business and communicate. However, the protection of our network is our number one priority and we will work to strike a balance between maintaining a safe and controlled network while allowing Airmen to have appropriate access," said Gen. C. Robert Kehler, commander of Air Force Space Command. "Adversaries continually try to gain access to our mission critical systems. All AFNET users must do their part to help secure operations conducted in and through cyberspace. The results of the operation assessment may drive the final timing of AF-wide implementation. "

According to the DoD, Internet-based capabilities, including social-networking services, have become integral tools for all manner of operations across the military services and in collaboration with other federal agencies and the public.

"Social media and other emerging technologies provide an increasingly important means of communication and collaboration," General Kehler said. "These tools present new, innovative communication opportunities for the Air Force, both internally as well as with the general public. "

For more information contact Air Force Space Command Public Affairs at (719) 554-3731.