The United States Air Force is taking cyber security seriously and its Task Force Cyber Secure has developed partnerships with industry and academia after its sponsor visited Silicon Valley to meet with top technology company executives:

Lt. Gen. William Bender, the Air Force chief of information and sponsor of TFCS, traveled to Silicon Valley, California, to meet with leaders from the technology mega-hub’s most innovative companies in an effort to increase collaboration. Bender met with 53 technology companies, including Microsoft Corps. and Oracle Corp., as well as nontraditional potential partners like Twitter, Facebook and Uber. Through small-group discussions, key findings came to light that could improve collaboration between the Air Force and industry.

Silicon Valley leaders agreed partnering with the Air Force would offer opportunities to solve unique problems not present in the commercial sector, and provide industry a chance to help protect the U.S. in cyberspace.

In order to field technology at a more rapid pace, the Air Force is looking to develop a method of technology acquisition and implementation that closely aligns with industry best practices.

“We should mimic the companies in Silicon Valley by increasing agility in our acquisition and procurement processes, accepting risk, failing fast and quickly learning from our failures,” Bender said. “The Air Force information technology community needs to adapt to this agile mindset, and quickly. The alternative costs precious time and money — two resources which we are really short on.”

In regards to academia, the Air Force has been working to establish the Air Force Cyber Innovation Center in an effort produce more cyber-oriented Airmen. The U.S. Air Force Academy-based center will comprise of a highly virtualized environment where cadets will work closely with other service academies, industry and government partners to research and develop state-of-the-art technology.

The AFCIC plans to use innovative approaches to aid in the advancement of new cyberspace capabilities to deploy across the Air Force enterprise. By offering cadets more opportunities for professional development within the cyber realm, the center will provide new generations of cyber warriors for the Air Force who are better prepared to stay ahead of the constantly evolving technology curve.

It is nice to see DoD invest effort with those who really understand technology and are skating to where the puck is going rather than where it currently resides. This is exactly the type of endeavors DoD needs to leverage in order to better position itself for the future.