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September 16, 2009—The Air Force's new cyber operations arm, 24th Air Force, is coming together nicely, but there is still unchartered territory ahead and "a lot of room for discovery" in optimizing the service's activities in the cyber realm, Gen. Robert Kehler, Air Force Space Command boss, said Tuesday.

"We do not have all the answers as we stand here today, and I don't feel bad saying that because no one has all of the answers," he told attendees at AFA's Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition in Washington, D.C.

He added, "What we know is that we are now finally, firmly on the road as a US Air Force."

Kehler, whose organization oversees the new numbered air force, said approval is pending for the stand-up of the third of 24th AF's three wings, the 689th Combat Communications Wing.

Already the 67th Network Warfare Wing and 688th Information Operations Wing, both collocated with 24th AF headquarters at Lackland AFB, Tex., are up and running.

Kehler said the first step for 24th AF is to stabilize the Air Force's networks and focus on mission assurance. There is the need for standardization of USAF's computer networks, he said.

Kehler equated cyberspace to "a densely packed urban environment" with many shoppers and people just looking around, but also with those determined actors with malicious intent. As in the air and space realms the Air Force has to have the mindset that it will go into harm's way in cyberspace to operate, he said.

The synergy between air, space, and cyber "will be key" to the future, he said. "We think that there is some great potential here at the intersection of those three domains," said Kehler.

He continued, "And we think that that intersection will provide us an enduring advantage both in irregular warfare as well as high-intensity conflict."