Air Force

Air Force cyber commander departing

The commander of the Air Force’s cyber component is leaving in the fall for a new assignment.

Maj. Gen. Robert Skinner, commander of 24th Air Force/Air Forces Cyber, took over in summer 2018. He will be going to Hawaii to be the J6, command, control, communications and cyber director for Indo-Pacific Command, an Air Force spokesperson confirmed to Fifth Domain. No replacement has been named yet.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Robert Skinner, Deputy Commander of Air Force Space Command, speaks at the 2018 Rocky Mountain Cyberspace Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, March 6, 2018. Skinner discussed the command’s efforts to improve processes, develop personnel and push technology forward in the cybersecurity field. The symposium is a national forum for industry and government to collaborate to help meet challenges of cybersecurity, cyber readiness, and national defense. (Dave Grim/Air Force)
‘Defending forward’ in the cyber arena

Maj. Gen. Robert Skinner, commander, 24th Air Force/Air Forces Cyber/Joint Force Headquarters-Cyber, on the evolution, integration and convergence of digital operations.

24th Air Force is the service cyber component to U.S. Cyber Command. Skinner, in his current role, is also responsible for planning, coordinating and executing cyber operations within European Command, as well as Transpiration Command and Strategic Command.

In fact, cyber forces under Skinner’s command played a role in thwarting Russian efforts aimed at disrupting the 2018 midterm elections.

The Air Force’s cyber forces are also in the midst of a major internal reorganization. The Air Force will be merging 24th Air Force and 25th Air Force — responsible for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, which also currently provides roughly 40 percent of AFCYBER’s forces — into an integrated information warfare numbered Air Force.

“We’ve come to discover cyber is an element of the larger information warfare and [electromagnetic spectrum] fight that we’re in,” Ted Uchida, deputy director of operations at Air Combat Command, 24th and 25th Air Force’s parent organization, said during an April event. “To view cyber in its lane and in the functional stovepipe is really an incomplete analysis. We’ve come to discover it’s really information warfare.”

Skinner’s departure from Air Forces Cyber eliminates another person that could lead the new integrated information warfare numbered Air Force.

25th Air Force’s commander, Maj. Gen. Mary O’Brien, was confirmed by the Senate July 31 to get her third star and be the deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and cyber effects Operations, replacing Lt. Gen. VeraLinn “Dash” Jamieson, who will be retiring in January 2020, according to her Air Force bio page.

This organization, created earlier this year, will oversee ISR offensive cyber, defensive cyber and tactical communications, after taking away the latter functions from the purview of the chief information officer.

Currently, it’s unclear if a two or three star will lead the new numbered Air Force or when the official merger will take place. Officials had previously pinned it on this summer.

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