By Debbie Gregory.
Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James announced the new, jokingly referring to the new service as “a nerd cyber SWAT team.”
The Air Force’s Defense Digital Service (DDS) will be a small team that will “help us build software excellence into new programs and troubleshoot existing programs that run into difficulties with software,” according to James.
The GPS Next Operational Control System (OCX) program “ran into some problems, in part, because we collectively underestimated the level of software complexity and the cybersecurity that the project would require,” James said. “So we brought in these experts — many of whom came from Silicon Valley — and they helped us to understand some very advanced, new software tools and techniques and practices. They gave us some advice that helped us collectively bring the program back on track.”
“The Air Force digital service is going to be a component of the [Defense Department] digital service,” James said, “which is a group of extremely talented engineers with skills honed in the private sector who today have come into government for a brief period of time …”
DDS is itself an offshoot of the U.S. Digital Service, which was created in 2014 with a mission of recruiting top private-sector technical talent to serve short stints in government to solve technical challenges such as overhauling the healthcare.gov website.
In addition to launching the AFDS, James said that the Air Force intends to grow its cyber workforce by 3,000 airmen in the Air National Guard by 2019. She said the new personnel would bring private sector experience to Guard units in 34 states.
James said that the next Air Force secretary must focus on a number of priorities including growing the workforce, improving readiness, upgrading conventional and nuclear systems and developing space capabilities.