24 AF, AFISRA host Industry Day conference

Maj. Gen. Suzanne Vautrinot, 24th Air Force and Air Forces Cyber commander, speaks to business owners and consultants during the 24th Air Force and Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Industry Day at the Hyatt-Regency in downtown San Antonio Aug. 7. More than 160 people represented their companies at the two-day event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott McNabb)

Maj. Gen. Suzanne Vautrinot, 24th Air Force and Air Forces Cyber commander, speaks to business owners and consultants during the 24th Air Force and Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Industry Day at the Hyatt-Regency in downtown San Antonio Aug. 7. More than 160 people represented their companies at the two-day event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott McNabb)

Attendees of the 24th Air Force and Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Industry Day talk during an icebreaker event at the Hyatt-Regency in downtown San Antonio Aug. 7. More than 160 people represented their companies at the two-day event. On the first day, Maj. Gen. Suzanne Vautrinot, 24th Air Force and U.S. Air Forces Cyber commander, spoke on the state of cyber. She also parlayed her vision for its future and how industry partners fit in that future. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott McNabb)

Attendees of the 24th Air Force and Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Industry Day talk during an icebreaker event at the Hyatt-Regency in downtown San Antonio Aug. 7. More than 160 people represented their companies at the two-day event. On the first day, Maj. Gen. Suzanne Vautrinot, 24th Air Force and U.S. Air Forces Cyber commander, spoke on the state of cyber. She also parlayed her vision for its future and how industry partners fit in that future. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott McNabb)

Col. Eric Bee, 24th Air Force Staff Judge Advocate, speaks to the men and women attending the 24th Air Force and Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Industry Day at the Hyatt-Regency in downtown San Antonio Aug. 7. With more and more companies reaching out for a better understanding of how to form partnerships, Industry Day was a way to gather everyone together and brief them all at the same time. Industry leaders also got the chance to network face to face between briefings. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott McNabb)

Col. Eric Bee, 24th Air Force Staff Judge Advocate, speaks to the men and women attending the 24th Air Force and Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Industry Day at the Hyatt-Regency in downtown San Antonio Aug. 7. With more and more companies reaching out for a better understanding of how to form partnerships, Industry Day was a way to gather everyone together and brief them all at the same time. Industry leaders also got the chance to network face to face between briefings. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott McNabb)

24th Air Force and Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Industry Day attendees take notes as Maj. Gen. Suzanne Vautrinot, 24th Air Force and U.S. Air Forces Cyber commander, (not pictured) addressed the crowd at the Hyatt-Regency in downtown San Antonio Aug. 7. More than 160 people represented their companies at the two-day event. Much of the event feedback was positive with some industry leaders calling the event the best of its kind they had ever attended. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott McNabb)

24th Air Force and Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Industry Day attendees take notes as Maj. Gen. Suzanne Vautrinot, 24th Air Force and U.S. Air Forces Cyber commander, (not pictured) addressed the crowd at the Hyatt-Regency in downtown San Antonio Aug. 7. More than 160 people represented their companies at the two-day event. Much of the event feedback was positive with some industry leaders calling the event the best of its kind they had ever attended. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott McNabb)

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- 24th Air Force and the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency partnered to host Industry Day for nearly 170 people from the civilian sector interested in making business ties with the agencies here Aug. 7-8.

The first day was designed to cover unclassified topics at the downtown Hyatt-Regency and the second day AFISRA hosted briefings for those with security clearances on Lackland Air Force Base.

Maj. Gen. Suzanne Vautrinot, 24th Air Force and U.S. Air Forces Cyber commander, spoke on the state of cyber. She also parlayed her vision for its future and how industry partners fit in that future.

Vautrinot made it clear that companies interested in helping 24th Air Force further its mission should come to the table with more than just a replacement for an existing capability.

"When I say [we need] tech refresh, I don't mean replace this piece of equipment with that piece of equipment," she said. "I mean understand what this was providing in terms of capability and how do I refresh that with a new technology or a new methodology to provide not only that capability, but hopefully a different capability as well without having to buy two things."

The numbered air force commander said the money she's been allotted will be spent "extraordinarily wisely" because the timeline for ensuring future Air Force success in cyberspace is sooner rather than later.

"What we do today and what we do tomorrow either sets this nation up for success or failure in the next decade," she said. "Today or tomorrow. Not next year. Not three years hence. Certainly not over the [Future Years Defense Program].

"I don't live in the out years. I hear it's a really great place, but I don't live there," she said. "I live in right now today, so when you talk to the 24th Air Force and you talk to Air Forces Cyber, you are talking about what we are going to do today, tomorrow, the next day to make sure that we can move things forward."

Vautrinot told industry leaders to think about ways to become similar in nature because the way the architecture is set up and the way capability is leveraged from exploitation changes how cyber Airmen can leverage defense.

She said her people are working toward that direction with the Air Force Network migration, but needed automation and sensoring has not yet been accomplished so the network can't yet be looked at as an automated defense-in-depth system.

"Right now what we're doing is sensoring everything and then doing everything in a very manual, very manpower intensive fashion," she explained. "I don't like that. My people don't like that. It is a waste of their brilliant intellect to do everything by paper and then transfer it to a computer and then have a conversation about it with five other people. Not the way you do business in cyber. Not the way we're going to do business in cyber. That, ladies and gentlemen, is my number one priority."

She was candid in that cyber demands sometimes call for a very tactical and, "What can you do for me right now, and how can we grow that and scale that to additional capabilities?" - type of environment.

"Welcome to my world. Welcome to the world of operations where that is, in fact, what we're all about," she said. "So you're going to find a lot of things about cyber that are not great big contractual [requests for proposal]. It's about making steady progress, but making steady progress in the right way. So what that means is, you've got to have an operational mindset. But someday I'm going to be sitting in that rocking chair and, just like you, I want to be proud of what we've done. And there is an adversary out there and it is tough going. And just because you can't see them doesn't mean that they're not very, very real."

The event was purposely designed to include the gambit if potential industry partners from giants such as Boeing to small business and consulting firms.

"Industry likes to be able to talk to the decision makers and the senior leaders," said Arthur "Wally" Wachdorf, 24th AF and AFCYBER senior advisor for intelligence and cyber operations. "So one of the objectives was to provide the opportunity for everybody, from these small firms that attended - some of them very small tens of people working for them to the largest defense contractors out there: Boeing, Northrop; all those, and to give them all the opportunity to sit in an informal environment and talk to the boss about where we're going."

Sharon O'Malley Burg, O'Malley Burg Consulting chief executive officer, said Industry Day was a big success for the Air Force and the cyber and intelligence communities.

"The presence of the 24th commander and her senior leaders from across the command along with attendance by representatives of 162-plus companies demonstrated the openness and collaboration that is a key part of the success of the full-spectrum cyber mission," she said. "The presentations from General Vautrinot and her staff demonstrated transparency of mission and allowed discussion on how industry can best rise to support some of the communication and technical challenges that the cyber fight present in defending our nation and its assets. The tone was set for mutually respectful and open dialogue, plus the lengthy breaks invited selective conversations for an exchange of best practices for innovative cyber solutions."

Deborah Bosick, Boeing Information Solutions communications director, said periodically engaging industry leaders on the current and future state of cybersecurity is vital to the nation's defense posture.

"The organizational leadership from the 24th AF/AFCYBER provided industry with a unique perspective only achieved through the lens of the operator," she said. "The various leaders from the 24th AF and AFISRA provided candid viewpoints and persistent access to Boeing sharing their pain-points in the establishment of new organization. Addressing the advanced persistent threat (APT) holistically and in all operational-environments remains a mission imperative for the 24th AF. And like Boeing, the 24th AF is striving to systematically improve upon its current and future fiscal investments to thwart the APT while seamlessly executing its operational mission assurance activities."

O'Malley Burg said attending Industry Day was important for her company because small businesses often struggle to be aware of all the potential opportunities in a big enterprise like 24th Air Force.

She pointed out that small businesses within the industrial complex play an important role in bringing forward fresh ideas, new technologies and experiences to the cybersecurity fight.

"Small companies with limited travel budgets embrace a forum like this because it enables a cost effective venue to meet peers and Air Force program, technical and budget leaders to understand the priorities and opportunities for cyber and ISR," she said.

Wachdorf said the biggest industry players are those in network operations, network defense and data centers, but there are many others in different capacities. He said Air Force cyber components were seeing more and more companies reach out for a better understanding of how to form partnerships. It was simply easier to gather everyone together and brief them all at the same time. A side benefit of the event was that it gave industry leaders a chance to network face to face between briefings.

"There are people who do all kinds of things," he said. "The idea was to provide everybody with a common understanding of what our challenges are so all the wings spoke about their challenges."

The 24th Air Force commander led a panel made up of her wing commanders to answer questions about challenges and the way ahead. Acquisition was one of the major topics. Vautrinot informed industry leaders that the Air Force is using a technology push to find smarter, faster ways to acquire cyber assets. She said "big Air Force" recognizes the need to divert from normal lanes to keep up with rapid advances in cybersecurity.

"We're going to talk later this afternoon about the different methodologies that we're now allowed to use for rapid cyber acquisition," she said during her initial briefing. "We're already doing it for real-time tools. My 688th [Information Operations Wing] folks have the authority and the ability to do that at a certain dollar level and apply tools right now."

O'Malley Burg said she hadn't seen an Industry Day done better.

"Principally because the entire leadership team from 24th [Air Force] were open and participated, as well as 162 companies," she explained. "The best way to create great approaches to technical challenges is to engage across the solution, services and client environments which makes this open dialog essential."