US Air Force Adding 1,200 Jobs to Cyber Defense Program

An instructor leads a class at the Defense Cyber Investigations Training Academy in Linthicum, Md., in September 2010.
An instructor leads a class at the Defense Cyber Investigations Training Academy in Linthicum, Md., in September 2010. (Image credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Lance Cheung)

The United States Air Force is shoring up its cyber defense efforts by adding more than 1,200 new airmen to posts within the cyber community.

The service people, who will be added over the next few years, are part of a broad attempt to improve the nation's overall cyber defense, or protection against attacks against computers and computer networks, Air Force officials said. The extra personnel will also help tackle one of the department's biggest challenges: poring through the massive amounts of collected data.

"This is a big data problem on steroids," said Lt. Gen. Robert Otto, deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, according to "If you look at the amount of data that is transmitted every day, it is going to take a tremendous amount of investment."

By strengthening the Air Force's cyber strategy, the military will be able to better support the wider intelligence-gathering community, Otto added.

"This is an exciting time for cyber military planning," he said. "We will see a lot of progress over the next few years."

Yet, the current fiscal environment has created uncertainty throughout the military, even as efforts within the cyber realm continue to grow.

"It is a delicate balance between efficiency and effectiveness," Lt. Gen. Michael Basla, the Air Force's chief information officer, told "We will strive to bring greater capability to our warfighters with cost in mind. The demand for full-spectrum cyber capability across the department has increased significantly."

To help meet the country's cyber defense needs, the Air Force is currently trying to identify weaknesses in their current systems.

"We're doing reviews of vulnerabilities of every network," said Gen. William Shelton, commander of the Air Force Space Command.

This includes safeguarding government information while also building new systems to use in the future.

"We want to ensure that Air Force IT capabilities are designed to support Air Force missions and effectively integrate with the joint community," Basla said.

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Denise Chow
Live Science Contributor

Denise Chow was the assistant managing editor at Live Science before moving to NBC News as a science reporter, where she focuses on general science and climate change. Before joining the Live Science team in 2013, she spent two years as a staff writer for, writing about rocket launches and covering NASA's final three space shuttle missions. A Canadian transplant, Denise has a bachelor's degree from the University of Toronto, and a master's degree in journalism from New York University.