The Insider

By Jason Sherman
May 10, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Senate on Friday announced it had approved the nomination of Vice Adm. David Venlet to be program executive officer of the Joint Strike Fighter program, “a position of importance and responsibility” in accordance with section 601 of Title 10.

In March, Defense Secretary Robert Gates named Venlet to head the F-35 program, elevating the PEO position from a two-star to a three-star billet in a bid to improve results of the acquisition effort, which has seen significant cost growth and schedule slips.

Before Venlet can take the helm, though, he must be sworn in. Sources said the admiral, the former head of Naval Air Systems Command which last fall produced a stinging JSF critique, is on leave today.

By Jason Sherman
May 7, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Defense Secretary Robert Gates plans to deliver a major address on the defense budget Saturday afternoon from the steps of the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, KS.

Reuters has a preview.

According to the library, the event is to mark the 65th anniversary of the allied victory in Europe:

In his remarks, the Secretary will reflect on General Eisenhower's national security policies and approach to defense spending as President - lessons applicable to the difficult budget choices the Pentagon faces today at a time of economic and fiscal duress.

In an address on Monday to the Navy League, where Gates warned that the sea service's shipbuilding plans were non sustainable, he argued that the nation can no longer afford to pay for weapons programs that are not necessary -- and promised more on the subject at his speech in Kansas:

In this year’s budget submission, the Department has asked to end funding for an extra engine for the Joint Strike Fighter as well as to cease production of the C-17 cargo aircraft – two decisions supported by the services and by reams of analysis. As we speak, a fight is on to keep the Congress from putting the extra engine and more C-17s back into the budget -- at an unnecessary potential cost to the taxpayers of billions of dollars over the next few years. The issues surrounding political will and the Defense budget are ones I will discuss in more detail at the Eisenhower Library this coming Saturday.

Eisenhower might call Gates' campaign to shut off funding for the JSF alternative engine and the C-17 cargo plane textbook examples of battling against the military-industrial complex -- a system of interests that span across the military services, defense industry and Congress.

Eisenhower, during his presidential farewell address on Jan. 17, 1961, warned that the growth of a large arms industry could have a deleterious effect on the nation:

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence-economic, political, even spiritual--is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

By Thomas Duffy
May 6, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Senate Democratic Policy Committee today issued new reports on the war in Afghanistan and U.S. cooperation with Pakistan in fighting terrorism.

On Afghanistan, the committee's view on the Obama administration's handling of the war since taking over is laid out early in the report:

Sixteen months later, the situation is markedly different. Not only do we have a fully-resourced, comprehensive civil-military strategy in place, we are beginning to witness signs of real progress toward securing key parts of the country and turning the tide against a resurgent Taliban. While realistic about the critical challenges ahead, military leaders and top Administration officials consider the recent success of U.S.-led operations in Helmand Province a strong indication that we are moving in the right direction. As Defense Undersecretary for Policy Michele Flournoy recently underscored, “we are seeing conditions beginning to develop that we believe will ultimately be necessary for success. And for the first time we believe we have the right mission, the right strategy, the right leadership, and the right level of resources in support of the mission.”((2))

Next Wednesday Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, will give a classified briefing on the war to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The policy committee also sees good signs in the Obama administration's handling of relations with Pakistan:

The Obama Administration has made building a partnership with Pakistan a central U.S. national security priority. The previous Administration pursued a dangerously short-sighted and simplistic approach toward Pakistan. For years, it relied on a military strategy built primarily on a personal relationship with President Musharraf and, in effect, outsourced U.S. counterterrorism efforts to the Pakistani military – funneling $11 billion in military assistance to Pakistan with little oversight or accountability, and very few results. At the same time, the Bush Administration neglected critical development needs in Pakistan, failing to address root causes contributing to the growth of violent extremism in the region. While investing heavily in counterterrorism initiatives and military aid, nonmilitary assistance was virtually nonexistent: throughout Fiscal Years 2002-2007, just one percent of U.S. spending in Pakistan’s tribal region was devoted to development efforts. This fundamental imbalance not only prevented the development of a viable partnership with the Pakistani government, it also stymied our ability to effectively address the Taliban and al Qaeda threat and advance other central national security goals in the region.

The Pakistan report is here.

By Jason Sherman
May 6, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Pentagon today announced a potential $218 million sale to Australia of two RQ-7B Shadow 200 unmanned aircraft systems, a deal designed to bolster the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability of a key U.S. ally operating in Afghanistan.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, DOD's foreign military sales arm, has notified Congress of the possible sale of the system -- built by AAI Corporation, Hunt Valley, MD -- which would include four ground control stations, support equipment, sales and repair parts, tools and test equipment.

“The proposed sale of the RQ-7B SHADOW 200 systems will improve Australia’s capability to support ongoing ground operations in Afghanistan,” DSCA said in a statement. “Australia will also use the enhanced capability in future contingency operations encompassing humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and stability operations in the Asia-Pacific region. Australia will have no difficulty absorbing these systems into its armed forces.”

The statement notes Australia's “efforts in peacekeeping and humanitarian operations in Iraq and in Afghanistan have served U.S. national security interests. This proposed sale is consistent with those objectives and facilitates burden sharing with our allies,” DSCA states.

By John Liang
May 5, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Lawmakers at a House Armed Services Committee hearing this morning on Afghanistan weighed in on the effectiveness of the 30,000-troop surge to that country ordered by the Obama administration six months ago.

Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) had this to say, particularly about the contribution of allied forces to Afghanistan:

While we have increased forces in Afghanistan, our allies have also begun to send additional troops. To date, they have added about 50 percent of the 9000 new troops they pledged after President Obama's December speech. But serious concerns remain about our ability to train the Afghan security forces who will have to assume the burden of providing security and combating terrorism in Afghanistan without more international trainers. I am pleased that Secretary Gates has decided to send additional U.S. military personnel to fill this gap, but this is a short term solution and not a long-term fix.

This concern relates to another. In a recent meeting, NATO endorsed a process to transition the lead for security in some districts from U.S. and allied troops to Afghan National Security Forces. I think all of us would like to know more about this process and its implications -- what progress do we have to see in a district before it can transition to Afghan lead, and what does this mean for the international troops in that district? Are we talking about progress among the Afghan security forces or must the district also need a competent and honest government?

Ranking Member Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-CA), however, was more worried about the number of U.S. troops:

The '30,000 troop cap' put in place by this Administration was a decision based on political considerations -- not mission calculus. The unfortunate result is that it is sending the wrong signal to our commanders and forcing military planners to make difficult tradeoff decisions between combat troops and key enablers. I am particularly concerned that we are under resourcing force protection capabilities. These life-saving combat enablers -- and others -- were already under resourced prior to the president’s troop surge.

By Dan Dupont
May 5, 2010 at 5:00 AM

A few key personnel should soon be at their desks in the Pentagon, according to the Senate Armed Services Committee. The press secretary for panel Chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D- MI) just sent out the names of a handful of nominees for Defense Department posts voted out by the committee today:

Elizabeth McGrath to be Deputy Chief Management Officer of the Department of Defense;

Michael McCord to be Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller);

Sharon Burke to be Director of Operational Energy Plans and Programs;

Solomon Watson to be General Counsel of the Department of the Army;

Katherine Hammack to be Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations and Environment; and

Donald Cook to be Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs, National Nuclear Security Administration.; as well as

2,799 pending military nominations in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. All nominations were immediately reported to the floor following the Committee’s action.

Full Senate confirmation is up next.

By John Liang
May 5, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Pentagon just released its latest report on security and stability in Iraq. The report notes that due to the U.S. drawdown of forces in Iraq and the gradual handover of security responsibilities to Iraqi forces, information regarding the situation in that country may not be as reliable as in the past:

As a consequence of the movement of U.S. combat forces out of Iraqi cities on June 30, 2009, the United States has reduced visibility and ability to verify Iraqi reports. Without a robust U.S. presence, United States Forces-Iraq (USF-I) metrics include host nation reports that are not independently verifiable. The overall trends between U.S. force data and host nation data are very close, but some values may differ. Current charts show a combination of U.S. and host-nation reported data. The combination of these reports causes baseline numbers to increase, making it difficult to compare these charts with those from previous publications of this report. Each slide is annotated to indicate the types of reports included.

With that caveat, though, the report states:

Although stability is improving, it is not yet enduring. Looking ahead, the United States will continue to use a "whole of government" approach to help build Iraq’s governing organizations as legitimate, representative, and effective institutions serving all Iraqi citizens.

By Zachary M. Peterson
May 4, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Pentagon acquisition chief Ashton Carter told luncheon attendees today at the Navy League's annual Sea-Air-Space conference that the Defense Department should focus on what the Joint Strike Fighter "should" cost not what the jet "will" cost.

Carter did not expand much on the comment; however, he did say that the key to the troubled program's success is affordability. The acquisition czar added that the department must get the JSF program back on track and is "determined to do so" after the Joint Estimating Team (JET) found last fall that the cost of the Pentagon's largest current procurement effort had grew considerably from the original estimates.

When asked by a lieutenant commander in the audience how fellow acquisition professionals could avoid the mistakes that plague JSF in the future, Carter said people working within program offices should focus on the "content, not the process." He argued in many cases program personnel are "so choked with process" that they are satisfied if they start out with a "lion and end up with a mouse." Further, Carter said programs must be able to allow issues to surface "in an honest way," so they can be solved before more serious problems arise.

Carter declined to take any questions from reporters.

By John Liang
May 3, 2010 at 5:00 AM

National Public Radio this morning did a curtain-raiser on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference being held this week at the United Nations in New York. NPR spoke with several nonproliferation experts to get their views on Iran and North Korea. Leonard Spector of the James Martin Center for Non-Proliferation Studies had this to say about Iran's challenge to the United States regarding the U.S. commitment to nonproliferation:

Iran will pound away at that, but I think most states are going to say, whoa, the United States has really made some progress. It's committed quite openly to the vision of disarmament, which we had not seen in the previous administration. Maybe now it's time for us, the other countries, to stand behind the United States in an effort to reinforce the non-proliferation parts of the treaty.

Mitchell Reiss, a nuclear issues expert at the College of William and Mary, said that non-nuclear countries could receive security benefits from the NPT, regardless of whether the United States were to make reductions to its atomic arsenal:

It's the non-nuclear weapon states that have the most to gain from making sure that the NPT is robust and that its safeguards are effective and the cheaters, like North Korea and Iran are punished. Our reductions aren't a prize or a reward to the non-nuclear weapon states; it's something that we do out of our self-interest. But the NPT is in their self-interest.

By Jason Sherman
May 3, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Defense Secretary Robert Gates today raised fundamental questions about the affordability of the Navy's modernization plans and called for the sea service “to be designed for new challenges, new technologies, and new missions.”

In an address to the Navy League Sea-Air-Space Expo at the Gaylord Convention Center in National Harbor, MD, Gates issued a raft of challenges to Navy and Marine Corps leaders. We'll have a full story up on the speech, which is sure to get lots of attention. For now, here are some key quotes -- not necessarily in order of delivery -- from the prepared text:

  • I do not foresee any significant topline increases in the shipbuilding budget beyond current assumptions. At the end of the day, we have to ask whether the nation can really afford a Navy that relies on $3 ((billion)) to 6 billion destroyers, $7 billion submarines, and $11 billion carriers.
  • Our Navy has to be designed for new challenges, new technologies, and new missions -- because another one of history’s hard lessons is that, when it comes to military capabilities, those who fail to adapt often fail to survive.
  • … ((T))he virtual monopoly the U.S. has enjoyed with precision guided weapons is eroding -- especially with long-range, accurate anti-ship cruise and ballistic missiles that can potentially strike from over the horizon. This is a particular concern with aircraft carriers and other large, multi-billion-dollar blue-water surface combatants, where, for example, a Ford-class carrier plus its full complement of the latest aircraft would represent potentially $15 to $20 billion worth of hardware at risk. The U.S. will also face increasingly sophisticated underwater combat systems -- including numbers of stealthy subs -- all of which could end the operational sanctuary our Navy has enjoyed in the Western Pacific for the better part of six decades.
  • But we must also rethink what and how we buy -- to shift investments towards systems that provide the ability to see and strike deep along the full spectrum of conflict. This means, among other things: extending the range at which U.S. naval forces can fight, refuel, and strike, with more resources devoted to long-range unmanned aircraft and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. New sea-based missile defenses; a submarine force with expanded roles that is prepared to conduct more missions deep inside an enemy’s battle network. We will also have to increase submarine strike capability and look at smaller and unmanned underwater platforms.
  • ((T))he Department must continually adjust its future plans as the strategic environment evolves. Two major examples come to mind.
    • First, what kind of new platform is needed to get large numbers of troops from ship to shore under fire -- in other words, the capability provided by the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. No doubt, it was a real strategic asset during the first Gulf War to have a flotilla of Marines waiting off Kuwait City -- forcing Saddam’s army to keep one eye on the Saudi border, and one eye on the coast. But we have to take a hard look at where it would be necessary or sensible to launch another major amphibious landing again -- especially as advances in anti-ship systems keep pushing the potential launch point further from shore. On a more basic level, in the 21st century, what kind of amphibious capability do we really need to deal with the most likely scenarios, and then how much?

Second -- aircraft carriers. Our current plan is to have eleven carrier strike groups through 2040. To be sure, the need to project power across the oceans will never go away. But, consider the massive over-match the U.S. already enjoys. Consider, too, the growing anti-ship capabilities of adversaries. Do we really need eleven carrier strike groups for another 30 years when no other country has more than one? Any future plans must address these realities.

By Christopher J. Castelli
April 30, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Pentagon's Feb. 1 Quadrennial Defense Review report addressed many but not all of the items required by law, according to a study released today by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress. Of the 17 required reporting items, the Defense Department addressed six, partially addressed seven, and did not directly address four, GAO concludes.

"The items not directly addressed included items addressing the anticipated roles and missions of the reserve component, the advisability of revisions to the Unified Command Plan, the extent to which resources must be shifted among two or more theaters, and the appropriate ratio of combat to support forces," GAO writes. "According to DOD officials, these items were not directly addressed for a variety of reasons such as changes in the operational environment, the difficulty of briefly summarizing a large volume of data generated through the QDR analyses, or departmental plans to report on some items separately."

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Development David Ochmanek discussed the tooth-to-tail ratio in an interview with Inside the Pentagon.

By Dan Dupont
April 30, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The issue of counterfeit parts in the military supply chain is back in the news, as you may have noted. From our story yesterday:

The Defense Department is unable to vet counterfeit parts from U.S. weapon systems' supply chain, a shortcoming that has exposed Air Force aircraft to bogus parts such as sensitive electronics and metals used in critical components, according to a new report by congressional auditors.

That report, from the Government Accountability Office, is here.

It contains this little nugget of interesting info:

In April 2009 DOD formed a departmentwide team -- partially in response to media reports that highlighted the existence of counterfeit parts in the DOD supply chain10 -- to collect information and recommend actions to mitigate the risk of counterfeit parts in its supply chain.

And what media reports are those? Here's one, from the GAO report's footnote:

"Fake Parts are Seeping Into Military Aircraft Maintenance Depots,” Inside the Air Force (Mar. 28, 2008) . . . .

By John Liang
April 29, 2010 at 5:00 AM

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) has tapped House Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Peter King (R-NY) to chair a "National Security Solutions Group" made up of select House Republicans "that will take the lead in advocating and developing better solutions to the national security challenges we face and hold the Obama administration accountable when it pursues misguided policies that make the American people less safe," according to a statement released today. Specifically:

The National Security Solutions Group, like the other House GOP Solutions Groups that have been established over the past year on issues ranging from economic recovery to energy reform, will complement and support the work of Chief Deputy Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who is leading the effort by House Republicans to engage the American people and put forth a positive governing agenda.

"The world is growing more dangerous, not less so. That’s why Republicans have consistently supported our troops in harm’s way and advocated policies that confront the threat America faces and reaffirm our commitment to our allies. When the President has made responsible decisions on Iraq and Afghanistan, Republicans have stood by him and supported his efforts. However, when he has advocated policies that make America less safe – such as importing terrorists into the U.S., alienating our closest allies, and undermining our missile defense capabilities – we have listened to the American people, taken principled stands, and offered better solutions," said Boehner. "Peter King is uniquely qualified to chair this Solutions Group, and I’m pleased he will be working with Kevin McCarthy in the weeks and months ahead to engage the American people and put forth common-sense solutions to keep them safe."

"Keeping the American people safe and secure must be the number one mission of our federal government. Republicans in Congress have long recognized this critical fact. We must ensure that Congressional Democrats and the Obama Administration do what is necessary to keep the nation secure, including properly funding our troops and keeping terrorists out of America," added King. "I am honored to accept Leader Boehner’s invitation to serve as Chair of the National Security Solutions Group, which will work to develop solutions to the current and future threats we face from around the globe and even here at home, and I look forward to working with Kevin McCarthy on the agenda project as we move forward this year."

The group will comprise these members:

Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Peter King (R-NY)
House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA),
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Ranking Member Peter Hoekstra (R-MI)
Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Jerry Lewis (R-CA)
House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lamar Smith (R-TX)
Rep. Michael Conaway (R-TX)
Rep. Charles Dent (R-PA)
Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ)
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA)
Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI)
Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL)
Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC)
Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY)
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI)
Rep. Edward Royce (R-CA)
Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX)
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA)

In his own statement, McKeon said: "The American people deserve and are demanding a stronger national defense.

"While our citizens are skeptical of some of the decisions made by this administration, they fundamentally want to trust the federal government to provide for the common defense," McKeon continued. "Our efforts, combined with those of Kevin McCarthy, will be focused on listening to the American people, including our brave troops and their families, and developing national security policies that are responsive to their needs and concerns."

By John Liang
April 29, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher this morning laid out the Obama administration's goals for next week's Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference at the United Nations in New York.

"We are going to New York with our eyes wide open," Tauscher said in a speech to the Center for American Progress, adding that the nuclear nonproliferation regime "is under great stress and is fraying at the seams" due to efforts by North Korea and Iran to develop atomic weapons.

Next week's conference "is not a silver bullet or an end in and of itself," Tauscher warned in her prepared remarks. "It is one of several tools at our disposal to halt the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Other tools include multilateral and unilateral sanctions, extended deterrence, and other mechanisms like United Nations Resolution 1540" that the U.N. passed in 2004 which established for the first time binding obligations on all U.N. member states to enforce measures against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery and related materials.

Tauscher was somewhat less sanguine about the prospects of the conference's turning out a "final document" encompassing the views of all 189 countries that are signatories to the NPT Treaty:

A final document, which can only be reached by consensus of all 189 nations -- and yes, that includes Iran -- can be valuable. It can energize our efforts, but it cannot change the substance of the Treaty. In our view, whether there is a consensus Final Document should not be the measuring stick to judge the success of the Review Conference. As I said, a Final Document can easily be blocked by the extreme agendas of a few.

Tauscher then went on to list the administration's goals for the conference:

First, we want to make it clear that the United States is living up to its obligations under the Treaty. President Obama has jump started arms control as a goal and as a process – everyone in this room has read his speech in Prague last year. Not only is this good for our own security interests, it gives us leverage to ask more of other states to strengthen the Treaty’s nonproliferation obligations at the Review Conference. So we’re not going to shy away from claiming credit from taking these steps to point out that we follow through on our NPT obligations.

Second, we seek to demonstrate broad consensus in support of strengthening the Treaty’s nonproliferation pillar. So we will offer more support for the IAEA to obtain the tools and authorities it needs to carry out its mission.

We will push for universal adherence to the Additional Protocol. The current Director General, Yukiya Amano, and his predecessor, Mohammed El Baradei, have said that this is critical. The IAEA must be able to provide credible assurances that not only declared nuclear material under safeguards is not being diverted for military purposes, but that there are no undeclared fissile material and nuclear weapons activities.

We will push to make sure that there are real consequences for those states that choose not to comply with their nonproliferation obligations.

We will work to prevent states from cynically violating the Treaty and then exercising their withdrawal rights to evade accountability.

Finally, we intend to engage in a vigorous and high-level discussion of these issues at the Review Conference. Some believe that it is critical that we “name names” when discussing noncompliance. That’s a tactical decision, but nobody should be mistaken who we are discussing when we raise compliance concerns.

By John Liang
April 28, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Wannabe Air Force pilots covet a "wings" badge. Now, Air Force hackers have their own badge to proudly sport on their uniforms.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz has approved a new badge that officers working in the cyberspace domain can wear, according to the service. In an April 21 memorandum, Schwartz "set forth guidelines and addressed standard eligibility requirements for officers working in the cyberspace domain," the statement reads. "Eligibility criteria for enlisted personnel are slated for release in a future message." Further:

Maj. Gen. Michael Basla, Air Force Space Command vice commander, who will wear the new badge, highlighted its significance. “The Air Force mission -- to fly, fight and win/ /in air, space and cyberspace -- acknowledges the significance and interrelationship of our three operational domains in effective warfighting. The establishment of the Air Force Cyberspace Badge underscores the crucial operational nature of the cyberspace mission,” said General Basla.

The Air Force’s Chief of Warfighting Integration and Chief Information Officer said the new badge reflects the importance of cyber operations. "The Air Force's cyberspace operators must focus on operational rigor and mission assurance in order to effectively establish, control, and leverage cyberspace capabilities. The new cyberspace operator badge identifies our cyberspace professionals with the requisite education, training, and experience to operate in this new critical domain. The badge symbolizes this new operational mindset and the Air Force's commitment to operationalize the cyberspace domain," said Lt Gen William T. Lord.

The new badge is authorized in three levels: basic, senior and master. Badge level eligibility criteria are consistent with those listed in Air Force Instruction 36-2903. The guidance for the Cyberspace Badge will be included in the next revision of the AFI. Certain officers are “grandfathered” and eligible to wear the new badge. Officers converting from the 33S to the 17D Air Force Specialty Code on April 30 are authorized the basic Cyberspace Badge. Officers may continue to wear the Communications and Information Badge at the authorized level until Oct. 1, 2011. Upon completing the Distance Learning Cyberspace Operations Transition Course (the “X- course”), Undergraduate Network Warfare Training, or meeting criteria for upgrade, officers who earned the senior or master level Communications and Information Badge are authorized to wear that same level of the Cyberspace Badge.

. . . The design element of the badge holds significant meaning. The lightning bolt wings signify the cyberspace domain while the globe signifies the projection of cyber power world-wide. The globe, combined with lightning bolt wings, signifies the Air Force’s common communications heritage. The bolted wings, centered on the globe, are a design element from the Air Force Seal signifying the striking power through air, space and cyberspace. The orbits signify the space dimension of the cyberspace domain.

The new badge is equal in precedence to the Aeronautical and Space Badges. Those awarded multiples of the Cyberspace, Aeronautical and Space Badges must wear the Cyberspace Badge above the others while serving in a cyberspace billet.