Old US Air Force base quickly becoming hub for cybersecurity operations

Scott Air Force Base was established nearly 100 years ago in Mascoutah, Illinois. In the past, this base was simply one among many. Now, however, the base is poised to receive a major makeover as the Air Force plans to invest heavily, turning the base into one of the Pentagon's central hubs for cybersecurity operations, Government Technology reported.

A growing hub
The source noted that while the Air Force is downsizing in many areas, it is significantly increasing its investment in cybersecurity efforts. As part of this trend, Scott will receive two new cybersecurity squadrons in the near future. The Air Force will spend approximately $16 million to renovate and remodel the base in order to prepare it for these personnel.

"The investment the government is making there will be central to the Department of Defense for a long time to come," explained A.N. Ananth, CEO of a Maryland firm that assists military agencies in their efforts to monitor online network attacks, the news source reported.

This move further cements Scott Air Force Base's place as a key part of the nation's cybersecurity defense network. The source pointed out that the base is home to the Defense Information Systems Agency, which provides Internet service for the U.S. military, as well as the cybersecurity operations team that protects the U.S. Transportation Command.

This last component was particularly important for the recent decision to expand operations at Scott. Tony Cole, chief technology officer for a cybersecurity firm that works closely with the Air Force, emphasized that U.S. Transcom entails significant data-gathering infrastructure, which makes it ideal for expanded cybersecurity operations.

An increasing concern
The development of Scott Air Force Base into a center dedicated to cybersecurity is part of a growing focus on the need to protect U.S. networks from cyberattackers. According to Government Technology, many of the Air Force's leaders are now gravely concerned with the issue, and the transformation at Scott is just one part of a larger effort to increase U.S. capabilities in this capacity.

Recently, Air Force Maj. Gen. James McLaughlin announced that the Air Force is working with the Pentagon on a plan to recruit 6,000 personnel from all U.S. military branches to join 133 cybersecurity-focused teams by 2016. Of these teams, 39 will be within the Air Force.

Yet this particular effort may be more difficult than it sounds. As numerous government representatives have acknowledged, U.S. military and civilian agencies have, for some time, been struggling to recruit a sufficient number of cybersecurity experts. These professionals are in high- demand in both the public and private sectors, and the latter generally can provide candidates with superior financial and other compensation. Yet without these personnel in place, the U.S. military and other government organizations will inevitably struggle to protect their sensitive assets from hostile cyberattackers.