The Department of Defense announced Maj. Gen. Mary O’Brien as the next leader for the Air Force’s newly reorganized cyber warfare and intelligence directorate, the Pentagon said in a May 28 release.
The Air Force has a series of new initiatives and has reorganized staff around the topics of information warfare, cyber, electronic warfare and intelligence. As part of these changes, the service’s leadership created the deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and cyber effects operations, which oversees the service’s ISR, offensive cyber, defensive cyber and tactical communications.
The Air Force is organizing cyber effects within its existing ISR shop.
O’Brien currently commands 25th Air Force, which is responsible for global ISR.
Lt. Gen. VeraLinn “Dash” Jamieson is currently leading the enterprise. Most recently, she has led the Air Force’s ambitious new intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance strategy calls for a sensing grid that fuses together data from legacy platforms (such as the RQ-4 Global Hawk), emerging technologies (like swarming drones), other services’ platforms and publicly available information. The service believes such a system could be up by 2028.
In this role, Jamieson also serves the Air Force’s senior intelligence officer, leads six directorates and supports a 73,000-person intelligence and cyber operations enterprise with a portfolio valued at $72 billion across the service.
The announcement about O’Brien appears to take her out of the running to head the Air Force’s new information warfare numbered Air Force, which officials announced in April.
24th and 25th Air Force will integrate, creating the service's first information warfare numbered Air Force.
This new numbered Air Force will combine 24th Air Force/Air Forces Cyber and 25th Air Force combining the service’s cyber, electronic warfare, information operations and ISR capabilities under a single entity.
Gen. James Holmes, the head of Air Combat Command, which will oversee the new numbered Air Force, said in April that the new organization will be established this summer. While the Air Force has selected a leader for the organization, Holmes declined to name the officer or to say if it is a two-star or three-star general. Currently, 24th and 25th Air Force are led by a two-star general.
Air Force leaders are touting the creation of a new information warfare organization earlier this month as a way to show the increasing importance of cyber and electronic warfare capabilities.