Exclusive interview with Lt. Gen. Chris Weggeman Published July 1, 2021 By Courtesy Story Air Force Life Cycle Management Center BOSTON, Mass. -- Kessel Run: Kessel Run is pleased to be joined by the Deputy Commander of Air Combat Command (ACC), Lt. Gen. Christopher Weggeman. Sir, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today. Lt. Gen. Weggeman: Hey, thanks. Glad to be here and excited to have a conversation with you. Kessel Run: So, let's just jump right into it. The Department of Defense (DoD) and the Air Force are going through a digital revolution. There's a steep learning curve to really understand what all of this means. Now, we looked at your bio and saw you have a degree in biology, and you're an F-16 Pilot. Can you talk to us about how you transitioned into being a leader in the data and cyber space over the course of your career? Brig. Gen. Chris Weggeman, 52nd Fighter Wing commander, boards an F-16 Fighting Falcon before his final flight here June 21. Weggeman commanded the 52nd FW for two years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dillon Davis/Released) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res Lt. Gen. Weggeman: That's a great question. And I appreciate that you believe I've become a leader in that space. You know, if I'm quite honest, it was a little bit of a brute force entry, decided at the time, by the future Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark Welsh, who's been a career long mentor of mine. When I came out of my line command and the F-16 mission in Spangdahlem, Germany, he was looking to broaden me and find something where I would be broadened outside of the combat Air Force’s role. And he had a similar broadening experience in his career with the CIA. and obviously they dabble in cyber effects and cyber maneuver. So, he found me a cyber job and he said, “Hey, Wedge, I'm going to make you the Deputy Director of the J6 on the Joint Staff, because we need someone that has your experience and your initiative to operationalize cyberspace for both the Air Force and the DoD.” And the journey began. Lt. Gen. Weggeman: So the Air Force was looking to bring a war-fighter, like me, and cross train me, if you will, into the digital enlightenment as I call it, that the Air Force and the Department of Defense going through. So, I'm an activator. I believe in action and the power of doing things rather than analysis paralysis. So, I dove in with both feet, and never looked back. And what I did was surround myself with really smart people. I took the time to Google everything and read a bunch of papers from DARPA and MIT, and Lincoln Labs, from Stanford, and a lot of books. I did a lot of self-study, because I like to learn. So I dove in with both feet because ultimately, my greatest passion is our people. And In our mission, losing is not an option. So, when I was told to operationalize cyber, so we can Fly, Fight and Win anywhere, anytime, I dove in. Kessel Run: Was it tough for you or because you are interested in it naturally, that it actually just wasn't that bad. Lt. Gen. Weggeman: It was tough, but it was also fun. It was exciting, because I was learning something new. One of the things that kept me going, ironically, was how all of the technologists around me kept hitting me with a thousand digital acronyms a second, and talking and trying to explain to me, network architectures, core IT principles etc. So what I quickly became for them was a translator. And so, there became a very quick symbiotic relationship between the operator, me, and the engineers, my staff , which really is the digital cyber dream team. So I was in the early formative years of bringing an operator's perspectives and mindsets to cyber operations to literally translate these digital concepts and convey the operational power of these digital outcomes to classic warfighters and senior decision makers in the Pentagon. Kessel Run: Right. So I'm glad you mentioned translating. There's a lot of people out there that kind of need help with that translation. How do we get everybody to understand that really unique language in this space? Lt. Gen. Weggeman: I'd offer a couple of things. The first is that everyone doesn't need to understand it down to the double E ‘electrical engineering’ level. Everyone does not need to become a computer scientist, a data engineer, or a data scientist to positively contribute in this warfighting domain. There are those KR practitioners or technologists that certainly need to understand to that level. The key to common understanding is bringing together a community of practice that focuses on the operational and mission-oriented constructs, and the operational outcomes, Fly, Fight, and Win; that's it…That's our cyber Rosetta stone. It's our mission and the common confrontations of warriors, and our doctrine that unites us in action.. Because, everything that you do in cyber spaces; whether it's creating software; whether it's maneuvering networks; whether it's deploying forces and capabilities in cyberspace, is to generate desired effects – In that vein, I can give you the exact same warfighting Axioms as classic warfighting doctrine. Whether it's land maneuver, or air maneuver, or maritime maneuver, that's the Rosetta stone, the common ground that links us all and which everyone can readily understand.and . You know, delivering mission outcomes, generating effects, maneuvering, defending and securing terrain. If we stay in the common battle space, force readiness is another big one. Then I think we all can have a common and shared mental model of what we're talking about. SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany – Brig. Gen. Chris Weggeman, right, 52nd Fighter Wing commander, goes through a briefing to gather weather and flight information at the 480th Fighter Squadron operations desk here June 21 before his final F-16 Fighting Falcon launch. Weggeman commanded the 52nd FW for two years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dillon Davis/Released) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res Kessel Run: Okay. So now, kind of going back a little bit in your career, you mentioned that you worked for the Joint Staff as the Deputy Director for Command and Control Communications. You also spent some time at a U.S. Cyber Command as the Director of Future Operations. Can you talk to me about the landscape back then? Because, that was around 2012 through 2016 timeframe. Can you talk to me about the landscape of back then, to what it looks like now in 2021, specifically around command and control? Lt. Gen. Weggeman: Sure. I mean, using a very old commercial tagline, like Virginia Slim cigarettes, right? We've come a long way, baby. And we have, I know you and I may get that, but a lot of people listening are probably like what is a Virginia Slim? It's not a skinny person from Virginia by the way. So we have come a long way. So what we had back when I was the deputy director for future operations, then I became the J5, the director for plans, policy and partnerships Was a massive demand signal for mission capabilities and a very very contested and congested warfighting domain with all sorts of threats and adversaries challenging us, right. We were engaged in combat with multiple adversaries 24/7. When I started, what we lacked was both capability and capacity to fight in that space, or to maneuver and generate the effects we needed to. Whether it's defense, which is 90% of what we do, or offense which was an emerging construct for the new sub-unified Combatant Command at the time. Lt. Gen. Weggeman: We needed to project power in cyberspace, which is offensive from a command and control perspective. We were at the same beginning as space; and we really didn't have the ability to C2 effectively. First of all, we didn't have actual forces and authorities to command and control. And what we adopted was basically the capabilities we had for other domains; so we tried to hand-jam command control programs and frameworks from the existing, warfighting domains, into the digital and cyberspace operations. So the way we command and control air, land, maritime and space forces in maneuver is what we tried to do, to emulate. That's a round peg we tried to put in a square hole, imperfect but it was helpful and a solid place to start. Col. Michele Edmondson, 81st Training Wing commander, speaks to Maj. Gen. Christopher Weggeman, 24th Air Force commander, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, during a 333rd Training Squadron site visit at Stennis Hall March 1, 2017, on Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Weggeman visited with Airmen linked to the cyber curriculum and received an 85th Engineering Installation Squadron mission brief. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res Lt. Gen. Weggeman: And so we went into it as an Air Force leveraging our prime tenant of centralized control, decentralized execution. So we kind of started there, and I think what we're learning now is that it's going to need to me modified for great power competition; which we are in today, and that we need more of a decentralized model that can quickly both aggregate and dis-aggregate command and control capabilities in real time and quickly; because of the contested environments we're in and going to be in. So we kind of started without force capabilities. We tried to command and control what we had using an old look, using legacy constructs. We were looking backwards. Using relics of bygone eras of command and control.. And now, where we're at now, we actually have forces, capabilities and authorities. We have capabilities and platforms, and now we're migrating to all-domain operations capabilities as the new framework for what command and control will look like moving forward. Kessel Run: No, that's great. You touched upon so many things that I want to talk about. So, I'm super excited. So kind of a follow-up; you talked about centralized command and control. Can you talk to us about the importance of distributed command and control, and why centralized command and control doesn't necessarily work? Potentially what a future conflict might look like? Lt. Gen. Weggeman: Yeah. It's pretty simple. The adversary gets a vote and there's multiple adversaries coming at us through multiple domains, specifically, the most highly congested and contested, which is cyber right now. I mean, they just went after the colonial pipeline. They're going after meat processing. They've been in SCADA and power systems and there are lots of other places. So, the adversary is going to have a vote. The adversary is going to deny, degrade, or disrupt our ability to access data, and to command and control from centralized legacy facilities. With all that on-prem hardware that doesn't have the operational elasticity and resiliency that we have now, in multi-cloud environments. So, that's the main reason why, right? He gets a vote and they're going to deny, and degrade those operations. So the distributed part is what we need and the easiest metaphor that I can use, and it's imperfect, is Apple, right? Lt. Gen. Weggeman: You need the Apple store, and then you need the end point devices - the phones and tablets, and the apps. If you think about the mobility you have as a consumer, or customer of Apple, that's kind of like what we need for distributed command and control. We need an ecosystem that can both be centralized, but rapidly distributed and decentralized, and can work decentralized. Whether when we're connected to the backbone at a high, high, rate of speed; and be highly insightful using AI and ML, and be able to do the same when it's disconnected. It can have almost the same level of functionality when mobile—in today’s world everything is mobile. Where you're at with AI and ML at the edge, with an edge computer and store. And then the ability to quickly transition between connected and disconnected states; that's kind of the federated and distributed command and control architecture we need. We have to be competitive against these peer competitors like Russia and China, in my opinion. Maj. Gen. Chris Weggeman, Air Forces Cyber commander, provides closing remarks during a cybersecurity conference Feb. 8, 2018, at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. Several cybersecurity industry experts, policy makers and stakeholders also spoke during the event, which was hosted by Atlantic Council, Victor Pinchuk Foundation and Texas A&M University-San Antonio. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. R.J. Biermann) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res Kessel Run: So let me ask you this question. With us working on distributed command and control; preparing for conflict with the near peer adversary; what do we stand to lose in the potential future conflicts? Lt. Gen. Weggeman: Well, you said it, you know the risk is we will lose, right? This is something that the United States of America is not used to, right? We haven't lost on a military battlefield in decades. And so this is very foreign to us. So we have everything to lose, frankly, from our mission perspective. If we can't effectively command and control our forces and our capabilities to do what they need to do, and be supportive of our combatant commanders and component commanders around the globe. So, as I like to say, you know: losing is not an option in our business and using my words, losing sucks. Kessel Run: So kind of let's shift gears more toward Air Combat Command. So Air Combat Command just established a campaign plan working group, to tackle the challenge of preparing for combat with a near peer adversary. Can you tell us more about that? And does Kessel Run fit into this new force generation model? Lt. Gen. Weggeman: Obviously I can't go into a lot of the details of an operational campaign plan, if you will. But zooming out at the unclassified level, as most people hopefully know, is what we're trying to do is develop a campaign plan that pivots where we've been as an organization. For decades we’ve been highly focused on violent extremist organizations, the counter-terrorism fight globally, etc., and now we need to pivot to one that's focused on great power competition against adversaries like China and Russia. Also, you know, reinvigorating Homeland Defense … We are the department of defense, right? We've kind of been the “Department of Offense” for a very long time as my boss likes to say. So, we do have to get serious about defense again. We’ve got to defend the Homeland because we now have adversaries, operating in multiple domains, that have and will continue to threaten North America and the Americas. And that's what we're working on in ACC. So what are the required insights? What are the organizational designs required, and how do we change how we organize, train and equip, and then present forces to Airmen and Guardians around the globe to fight in this new realm of great power competition? That's what we're working on right now. Kessel Run: So, with a pilot background; I'm sure you're super familiar with working with Air Operation Centers and things like that. As you know, Kessel Run, you know, our priority one is modernizing the Air Operation Center. So in your opinion, and as a stakeholder for customer Kessel Sun; can you talk to me about what that Air Operations Center of the future needs to look like? Lt. Gen. Weggeman: Yeah, well, I think so. And again, I'm going to give a lot of credit to Col. Beachofski and your team. I've been coached and mentored by them all. We've had great conversations back and forth with the powerful Jedi of Kessel Run on this concept. And, I'm doing my best to inspire and to coach my leadership and those around me on the same. I think the future of an Air Operation Center is in the phrase that I've stolen from your team, which is an all domain operations capability. Notice, I didn't end on the phrase “center” because the idea of building another Sears or Walmart Supercenter looking building; where you have everything there, in one place, with maybe, you know, the way we used to build it. Maybe one 10 gigabytes circuit and only one source of power going into it, and all that. Lt. Gen. Weggeman: That's just not going to survive first contact with the enemy. So we need to have something that is mobile; that can be at the edge, that can access data in a multi-cloud or hybrid multi-cloud architecture; that has a multi-phenomenology of transport paths. All these things that you all work on; and it's all running on a DevSecOps engine. That is coding, deploying and winning, in real time. As I like to say; I think it's an ecosystem because you still need a place to do developmental coding, production coding, deployment coding, and a place to, to develop tactics, techniques, and procedures for what the future of command control is. So, again, I do think we need to have places where we get together and can have development and production environments, where we in peacetime have an environment we can aggregate to learn; to train and optimize our tactics. But, we also need to have the part that's missing. It’s the federated or distributed architecture, which literally can be, command and control on demand. No matter where you are with mobility, with the internet of things that we have and the devices that we have, let's be able to command a control anywhere, anytime with the required level of security. Maj. Gen. Chris Weggeman, Air Forces Cyber commander, explains the 624th Operations Center mission to Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson during her visit to Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, June 28, 2018. During her visit, Wilson met Air Forces Cyber Airmen and learned about their contributions to the cyber mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. R.J. Biermann) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res Lt. Gen. Weggeman: I can get a dirty internet connection using a phone with an app based architecture; that's where we're going. I think that's exciting as hell. I think what Kessel Run is doing with AOC Block 20 is the leading edge, right? You are. You may not be the only one anymore, but you certainly were for a long time. The only place that's doing what I call software operations, right? Your day two operations, and the fact that you're iterating code in real time with a DevOps engineer sitting next to an operator; in about eight to 12 hours. You know - push time and your development cycle, to improve the code for the apps you're running at the AOC right now. That is it; that's the tip of the spear. That's what we have to do more of. That's the future. Kessel Run: You've really been a big champion for Kessel Run over the past few years. So let me ask: Was there a kind of light bulb moment for you to be like: ‘Hey, what they're doing is the future.’ Or, why have you been a champion of ours for so long? Lt. Gen. Weggeman: Well, it's pretty obvious, right? My call sign is ‘wedge.’ And as you can see behind me, Wedge is an infamous X-Wing fighter pilot. So, you know, when you say Kessel Run, a Star Wars fan like me, I'm like, ‘Oh, I got it.’ You’ve got your millennium Falcon behind you. I'm like, okay, I have to, I have to get into this. But, I had a couple of ‘aha’ moments. I had the pleasure of getting to know now retired Col. Enrique Oti, one of your KR founding fathers, if you will. Besides, maybe Jeff McCoy & Matt Houston. So I think my seminal moment was after I got coached and mentored and upskilled by Enrique. What I finally saw; I was like; ‘I've been so frustrated as the guy that commanded the Air Force networks.’ And secured them for two years and just kind of saw how we sustain and maintain, and do software operations. I finally saw what Kessel Run was doing. You basically gave me a portrait of a 20 year time warp, where we finally have people, an upskilled workforce, you know, coders, developers, leveraging state-of-the-art technology on war fighting problems. Married with operators to help us be decisive and help us win … Aha! Lt. Gen. Weggeman: When I saw that alchemy come together, that magic; I'm like, we finally put the magic ingredients together. Right. We figured out kind of our Dr. Pepper formula; and then I'm like, let's go, let's run! Run the scissors! Kessel Run: So, you kind of alluded to this before. About how Kessel Run was kind of there from the beginning. But kind of DIU and Kessel Run kind of got up and running, there's been like a reverberation throughout the Air Force. In terms of the tech ecosystem. What effect do you think that the DevSecOps practices have had on the force as a whole? Lt. Gen. Weggeman: Well, I think it's huge. I mean, I think, what we're seeing. If you start at the very beginning; we woke up as an Air Force. Not too long ago, I'd say seven, eight years ago, I seriously woke up, and realized ‘we're more of a software company than a hardware company.’ That's a seminal moment for a service to go; ‘Whoa, we've been getting this all wrong.’ We're all blinged out about our hardware and I'm an F-16 guy, right. Or, you know, an X-wing guy. But it's all about the software now. That's the big enlightenment that we've had. And it's really, really, powerful because all the Air Force is having a digital awakening. In my opinion, we're up-skilling. We have a dream team in partnership between Beach, and the team there; Steven Wertz team at PEO Digital, Lauren Knausenberger, our CIO and many others. Maj. Gen. Christopher Weggeman, 24th Air Force commander, meets with Steven Wert, program executive officer for Battle Management, during a visit to Hanscom Air Force Base July 29. Weggeman met with personnel from both the Battle Management and Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and Networks Directorates to discuss cyber-related and other topics. (U.S. Air Force photo by Walter M. Santos) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res Lt. Gen. Weggeman: You know, I'm a huge champion here. I have my pom-poms all the time at Air Combat Command. We have Lt. Gen. Tim Haugh at the 16th Air Force. We, really, really, have a powerful team together to get it. So when we're all rowing in the same direction, and I didn't even mention Eileen Vedring and Nic Challain, I mean, I can go on and on. But, we don't always get to get together and get along. Right. We actually have cognitive dissonance. That's important so that we can move forward. Lt. Gen. Weggeman: So Kessel run is showing us the power of agile software development, simplistically, the power of DevSecOps and, what it means is people trying to understand what that is. The Minimum Viable Product, the whole new lexicon, is now buzzword - bingo across the Air Force. That's good. A lot of people may only have a very small glimmer of what that stands for in their mind. But, they're talking about it and then moving forward. What we're seeing now with day-two operations, and what you're doing with AOC Block 20; it was just seeing the power of software operations capability. Those are: that's my phrase, because it's not software development. It's not software coding. It's not the old Air Force Materiel Command, procurement of software - It's different. That's where we started, not where we’re going Lt. Gen. Weggeman: And now we have to pivot into next year. What we're doing now is, we're using software as a weapon system. We're using software like we're burning JP-8 in airplanes every day, and putting tires on them, and putting different weapons on them. Everyday we're iterating our capability to deliver the war-fighting outcomes we need. So that is the really, really, cool part of what Kessel run has led us through. Now we have other key stakeholders in the ecosystem, whether it's Kobiashi or Space Camp, Level Up in San Antonio; there's a lot of them now. We are going to have to, in my opinion, get serious about how many we should have. How will we prioritize our effort, because frankly we don't have enough talent and enough cash to keep them all alive and thriving, probably moving forward. Kessel Run: Gotcha. So let me ask you about this. You talked about how you have a passion for the Airmen that serve under you, and that you work for. Can you tell me about, in your opinion, what's the biggest shortfall that our Airmen are facing today? Lt. Gen. Weggeman: That's a hard question. I mean, it's easy to focus on what they don't have. I can tell you a thousand things they do have, it's better, but I would say, I just did kind of a digital disruptor keynote at Rocky Mountain AFCEA. And I talked about this. I actually pulsed them; all the digital disruptors that I interviewed. I would say there's a couple of common themes. So, I won't give you one, I'll kind of give you two. I think one of them remains the bureaucracy and the pain of the frozen middle, or as I call them the white walkers. Right. So I say, let's get everyone some dragon glass and just start shattering the white walkers. We are, I think, having a good effect there. The second thing is our ability to see and maneuver our human capital. Lt. Gen. Chris P. Weggeman, deputy commander of Air Combat Command, renders the first salute to Gen. Mark Kelly, the new commander of ACC, during ACC's change of command ceremony at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Aug. 28, 2020. Kelly entered the Air Force in 1986, receiving his commission from the Air Force ROTC program at Southwest Texas State University and is also a command pilot with more than 6,000 flying hours, including over 800 combat hours in fighter aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ericha Fitzgerald) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res Lt. Gen. Weggeman: That's probably, really the most powerful opportunity we have. That is a challenge that limits them. A lot of the Airmen that I interviewed. It's hard for the Air Force right now with our human capital enterprise, which we need better business intelligence and better AI helping us like the private sector, fortune 100 companies to see who those people that actually are our digital savants that are savvy and innovative, that have the software skill sets. I know it started with Michael Kanaan, and kind of having language identifiers for people, but not if you speak Spanish or Portuguese, but if you can code in Python or R. That's pretty cool. So we need more of that. We also need to look at our functional career field management and how we manage people by AFSC. The old AFSC model means you come into that tribe to do a specific job, and that tribe has requirements, it has work for you to do. Lt. Gen. Weggeman: When we pull someone out of their AFSC to do DevSecOps work, It's hard for them to stay out of that tribe. Because right now Kessel Run is one of the things we crowdsource; some of these people we find by word of mouth. Then we bring them to Kessel Run, to do Kessel Run stuff. When they get fired up and then they feel like they're a valued member of a high-performing team doing meaningful work. When we put them back to their organization, to do what they used to do, they're like, Ooh, ‘the winds out of their sails.’ We've also been robbing that AFSC from someone that they needed to do that AFSC’s function. So we need to look at a clean white sheet, Greenfield activity, for how we want to maneuver our talent, to optimize those things. We need to build the Air Force we need; not the kind of the Air Force we've had. Kessel Run: That's absolutely right. So let me ask you this: You've clearly been very successful in the Air Force. You've risen to where you are as a senior leader. Can you give me an example in your career where at the time you might've done something that was considered a failure, but ultimately proved as a success down the road? Because right now it is our opinion, that we need to get out of this mindset of being afraid to fail. So do you have any examples in your career where you might have failed, but it actually turned out to be a positive thing? Lt. Gen. Weggeman: That's a common question, but it's a hard one. So, I'll give you an example from my time flying. I think one of the things I did was; I had the privilege of going back to the weapons school to be a weapons school instructor in the F16. We had divisions at the time and I did that for three years. Then, I went to a school in the Army. Then I got my ‘Hooah’ on, at the Command General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. I did my master's program and wrote a thesis on the F16 weapons school syllabus. How the order of the syllabus was sub-optimizing the learning for the students. We did the syllabus in these random chunks of training. Basically skill sets in the air; whether it's how we fight another air adversary, or whether it's dropping bombs, or close air support - it was all kind of randomly put together. Lt. Gen. Weggeman: Your ability to continually learn and then synthesize learning for the next complex problem was really bifurcated, all over the place. So I wrote a syllabus that had a smooth flow. The syllabus was optimized for learning, for comprehension, and building the best fighter pilot you can over time. But, I put a lot of pressure on the flight line side, on the maintenance side, and getting the aircraft ready for what they needed; on them to facilitate that learning continuum where the F16s had to be generated in many varied configurations on the ramp. Whether they needed live ordinance or not. And the configurations of the airplane, I created a real problem for them. And so, the next division commander adopted my syllabus and implemented it for two classes. But ultimately I would say it was a failure because it kind of broke the organization and its ability to generate the sorties. Lt. Gen. Weggeman: People were working too hard. So ultimately they put the syllabus back to the way it was. That was kind of my failure; because I would say what I learned is I didn't spend enough time in my research, looking at the totality of the team that was participating in the operation; to get their equities and stakes, and come up with a more integrated approach. But what has happened is; I put in everyone's mind the fact that we do need to figure out how we optimize learning, and focus on optimizing learning. Not just generating sorties and checking boxes on grade sheets. So what's happened is they've actually migrated to a hybrid syllabus, which is somewhere in the middle. Like I talked about - so I think my legacy is the focus on the student's ability to learn, comprehend, and problem solve moving throughout the syllabus, it survived. Kessel Run: Thank you, sir. So, you've been in the Air Force for a long time. Retirement is on the horizon. So I have to ask: What's next? What's next for you? Lt. Gen. Weggeman: That's a great question. I 'm getting out there. I've got some resumes out. I am actively being courted by companies in the digital transformation space. Can't really say where I'll end up. But what I can say, assuredly, is that I will remain a bold and audacious champion in this space for Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Guardians. As well, because I think this is our future. I think this is the enlightenment, as I say, or the transformation digitally that we need to have as a Department of Defense. I also think everything we're doing has a digital twin in the private sector. There's not a single digital problem in the Department of Defense that isn't out there in the private sector. Just look at what's happened with Colonial and Ransomware. Look at supply chain perturbations we have from the software supply chain. So that's what I'm passionate about. That's what I'm going to do. I am not going to go fly for Southwest or Delta airlines. I haven't flown since 2012, so that won't be fair to the passengers anyway. Kessel Run: I know like everybody; once they take the uniform off, they reminisce over their career. What are going to be some of the things that you're going to miss the most when you take the boots off for the last time? Lt. Gen. Weggeman: The people, right? The family. Just the caliber of people you get to work with. The implied trust, you know, the service and trust, integrity and excellence in terms of core values - as much as they are just three words, and sometimes people, you know, scoff at them. That is real to us, and it's in our DNA. So, the quality of character of the human beings I've had the privilege to serve with for 34 years is what I'll certainly miss the most. And the excitement of competition, because I'm a competitor. I'm an activator. Those are all things that are good. If you want it, you want to do that. You should join the military services because you can do a lot of that, and I'll continue to do that. So I'll miss some of that. U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Weggeman, deputy commander of Air Combat Command, presents a coin to 2nd Lt. Ria Grace Gozon, 355th Medical Support Squadron Medical Information Services flight commander, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, Aug. 20, 2020. Gozon was recognized for her leadership and dedication as a co-chair for the Mental Health Working Group in Air Combat Command’s first ever Sword Athena 2020 women’s symposium. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kayla Palmer) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res Lt. Gen. Weggeman: I'll miss, probably just being so close to the leading edge of some of the greatest minds, as it comes to the application of technology. I hope to stay close to that, but you know, with the clearances I have and other things, and those, all those conversations; I've never been able to have with my wife that I can't tell you about. I'm inspired and I know I'm gonna miss being so connected to the leading edge of innovation. You know what we can do? Right. You know, the people don't realize there's so many more SR-71 Black Bird’s that we got going on right now. It's just unfathomable what we're working on. I just bring up the Black Bird because, if you think about now, that's 1930s and 1940s technology. It's just mind blowing, so we're still in the business of blowing minds every day in the Air Force and the Department of Defense. So I'm going to miss some of that too. Kessel Run: All right. So, you know, just judging by your background and things that you've mentioned in the past, you seem like a ‘Star Wars’ fan. So let me ask you this most important question of the day: “Who shot first? Lt. Gen. Weggeman: Well, we know we can't ask ‘Greedo,’ can we? Kessel Run: That's true! Lt. Gen. Weggeman: I'll put it into the frame of the conversation. If you've studied, you know, deterrence theory, or offense and defense theory. Cyber operations are offense dominant. And so strategic preemption is ultimately going to win, or severely put an adversary into a defensive crouch where they can't recover. So I believe Han shot first employing strategic preemption, which was a tactical choice that ultimately, you know, created a strategic victory for the Alliance. Kessel Run: I think out of all the times that we've asked that question, the first time somebody drew that line to the Air Force. Kessel Run: Amazing. I guess the last question I'll ask is, is there anything you'd like to add? Is there anything that you think that I missed that you think is important? Lt. Gen. Weggeman: Yeah. You know what, one more thing; thanks for giving me that opportunity. You know, we have to focus on two things that are imperatives. One, is what I call collaborative dependency. This is a team sport. We have a finite amount of people and a finite amount of money to go after it. So Kessel Run and all the other key stakeholders in this ecosystem have to play together. We need collaborative dependency. We don't need it, we have it already; but we've got to keep working on it, right? Our common commodity services, whether they're cloud or DevSecOps platforms, you know, where we're going with zero trust and identity based everything. All those things we have to pull together resources, we have to collaborate and we all have tomorrow in the same direction, but we should also have cognitive dissonance along the way. We should have good hard conversations and dialogues. Lt. Gen. Weggeman: The second one is organizational design. I think to date, everything we're doing in this space is kind of in our materiel acquisition channels; through acquisition leaders. At some point, we've got to look at an organizational design that develops and delivers software operations capabilities, software operations squadrons, DevSecOps squadrons; where we have the dream team of ‘DevOps’ coders and operators together in one organization. So we have to really look at the ‘D,’ in organizational design. The last thing, I say a lot, is wherever we can, we have to challenge ourselves to finally align authorities, responsibilities and resources under a single person. It’s one of the reasons we can't go fast; and one of the reasons we have all these challenges is because authorities are with one person, and responsibilities lie with the commanders in the field, but they never get the resources, which were somewhere else. So when we do our organizational design work, we need to align authorities, responsibilities and resources, and then watch how fast we can go and how fast we can accelerate. That would be cool. Kessel Run: Absolutely, Sir. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us and good luck in the future. Lt. Gen. Weggeman: Thanks for the opportunity and you know, my hats off to y'all and, and keep doing what you're doing. Code. Deploy. Win. Kessel Run: Roger that, Sir.