Cyber is still alive and well as a component in the local economy, though it has a lower profile than in years past when the area stood poised to gain what the Air Force envisioned as its own cyber command.
So says retired 8th Air Force commander Lt. Gen. Robert J. Elder Jr., the architect of the service’s cyber-think, who will keynote the Eighth Air Force Museum Association’s Distinguished Speaker Series dinner Friday at the Eldorado Resort Casino in Shreveport.
“There’s quite a bit (of cyber) going on,” he said in a call from the road in Washington, D.C., noting not only work under way at the Cyber Innovation center but also in incubators in Shreveport. “There’s a lot of work that Stratcom and Global Strike are doing. In some ways its actually expanding. You don’t have the network security parts of it, but all the other parts of cyber that are related to command and control, and you have Global Strike there. There’s more stuff there now than when it ‘left.’ It’s taken a lower profile with the public, true, but it shouldn’t. There’s a lot going on.”
Elder served as the first commander of Air Force Network Operations and led the development of the cyberspace mission for the Air Force. He held senior command positions in operations Southern Watch, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, and served on the Joint Staff, Air Staff, Air Combat Command and in NATO. He has also served as program manager for the F-15 Avionics Integration Support Facility, as well as commandant of the Air War College and vice commander of Air University.
“General Elder is a well known Air Force strategist,” said Phil Stewart, association vice president. “His operational experience and knowledge of Air Force history is highly respected.”
Elder’s more than 4,300 flying hours include 83 combat hours. He now is member of the research faculty at George Mason University in Virginia and divides his time between there and Shreveport.
Elder will draw on all those facets of his career for his topic “Perspectives from History on the Value of Tomorrow’s Air Force.” It will examine past highly effective Air Force operational and strategic roles and argue for the innovation that will become increasingly important in coming years.
“I’ll be taking basically a look at how airpower has been used historically in the Air Force, and drop some conclusions about how its likely to be used in the future,” he said. This will trace from World War II and Air Force evolving into a service separate from the Army, the Berlin Airlift, Vietnam and modern air campaigns in Kosovo, western Asia and recently in Libya.
He aims to share the air power story and help a museum he believes has made great strides.
“Look at all the airplanes there,” he said. “They’ve done some great work in the last two or three years, getting the exhibits back up to speed, working real hard to make it into not just a regional but a world-class museum. I’m pretty impressed.”