16th AF, San Antonio industry partners join to combat cyber threats

  • Published
  • By Matthew McGovern

The Department of Defense doesn’t limit Cyber Awareness to one month; they focus on securing the nation daily, with the help of intelligence community partners.
During October’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month, 16th Air Force members joined with local San Antonio industry partners to discuss securing information networks and protecting the nation against cyber threats at a cyber conference held at Tech Port, San Antonio, Oct. 4.
Sixteenth Air Force—which is uniquely positioned to support interagency partners and allies around the world with securing information networks—sent Brian J. Cook, 16th Air Force technical director, to speak to more than 100 attendees about cyber threats on the horizon.
“As the quantity and quality of attacks continue to accelerate, the complexities layered on top of this threat also increase – but so do the opportunities,” said Cook. “We must lean into these opportunities, open ourselves up to new and different ways of thinking and discover new ways to solve new problem sets.”
The key to solving these challenges involves collaboration across industry, academia, and the whole of government in a deliberate, multi-layered approach against persistent threats and malicious actors.
According to Cook, today’s conflict is no longer black and white and 16th Air Force’s role of increasing combat effectiveness, and maturing information warfare is more important than ever before.
Sixteenth Air Force personnel drive IW modernization by identifying problems and developing solutions with industry partners, ultimately protecting the nation’s critical infrastructure from adversaries.
“At 16th Air Force, the Information Warfare Numbered Air Force, we are about connecting the Joint force to the threat – hunting, exposing, contesting and defeating our adversaries,” said Cook. “We deliver results through cyber domain operations through the integration of Information Warfare capabilities with a goal of exposing adversary and malicious activities while concealing our operations.”
Cook also stressed the importance of partnerships at all levels to help increase IW capabilities. He recognized key elements of the cyber security ecosystem within San Antonio, by highlighting activities and relationships with industry partners. 
“It is a community like San Antonio aka Cyber City USA, and the efforts put forth by the Chamber of Commerce and a people who are genuinely passionate about preserving our Nation’s freedoms, that will propel us forward as a Nation to achieve and maintain a competitive advantage.”

Maj. Rocco Librandi, 16th Air Force Cyber Operations senior cyber planner, interacted with industry partners at the conference and reinforced the importance of that collaboration.    
“The partnership San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and private sector cyber partners have with 16th Air Force is very valuable, and I’m happy to see them focusing on the same cyberspace operational problems,” said Librandi.  “They’ve always been very open and receptive to our involvement and influence.”
Air Force and industry continued partnership brings advantages contributing to the global effort.
“Blue suiters especially, civilians to a lesser extent, are not always in a position long enough to have that laser-focused goal of providing a tactical solution or the level of research it takes to have a long-term look at something,” said Librandi. “Having private entities who can have that focus and develop a solution and to bring a plethora of solutions to leaders to make the final decision for tools needed for the problem right now, or the problem that’s coming – that’s where the true value is.”
Sixteenth Air Force doesn’t limit cybersecurity education to one month; it’s the unit’s and the Air Force’s daily mission to empower Airmen, personnel, and families to be cyber smart to build a safer digital world. 
The 16th Air Force, headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, focuses on information warfare in the modern age.  Information Warfare requires integrating: Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance; Cyber Warfare; Electromagnetic Warfare; Weather; Public Affairs; and Information Operations capabilities. 16th Air Force ensures that our Air Force and Nation are fast, resilient, and fully integrated in competition, crisis, and conflict by incorporating Information Warfare at operational and tactical levels, capitalizing on the value of information by leading the charge for uniquely-21st century challenges in the highly dynamic, seamless, and global information domain.