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Because cyberspace can affect core missions and capabilities, it seems obvious that the Air Force should take steps to establish an organization to address this medium. The details have been difficult to establish, however, because this medium is very different from air and space. The Air Force initially instituted a provisional major command and but has since instead replaced it with a numbered air force, the 24th Air Force, under Space Command. The authors have been involved in efforts to make the missions, tasks, and capabilities of such a command more concrete. Here, they offer observations originally intended for the major command but that apply equally well to the efforts of 24th Air Force: the needs to articulate objectives clearly; establish strategies, missions, and tasks; and develop people capable of ensuring that USAF-specific needs are met. The Air Force must also consider that cyber-related responsibilities spread across the military and other government agencies. But to expand its mission to “fly and fight in cyberspace,” the Air Force should also advance the state of the art in creating effects using cyberspace.

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The research reported here was sponsored by the United States Air Force and conducted by RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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