Culture in Cyber Command

I love the fact that Gen Lord is talking about cultural differences between the nascent cyber command and the rest of the service. Culture will certainly matter in this space where it isn’t just about operationalizing what we already know, but is about out innovating the enemy. The rest of the article goes on to talk about the politics of location. I hope that the impact of location on culture and the ability of the new command to make connections outside of the traditional band of merry metal benders is being considered as well.


  1. Jim Howard - February 12, 2008 @ 6:11 am

    I was a USAF electronic warfare officer (F-4G/EF-111), retired in 1994. Since then I’ve worked as a software developer in various internet related software startups in Austin. I’ve done no military work since leaving the service.

    My suggestion to the general is that he can’t expect the best software developers to live in some southern backwater like Shreveport.

    The ‘up or out’, ‘looking good is a full time job’, move every three years Air Force personal system, where every officer works to become Chief of Staff and every NCO works to become Command Sargent Major will not work for software developers.

    He needs to plan on placing software development detachments where the good software developers are, i.e. Silicon Valley, Austin, Washington State, etc. He needs to figure on paying $100-150K for the best civilian software developers, and he needs to have a management structure that gives them the respect and freedom that software stars are used to having.

    Based on my experience in both the Air Force and the startup worlds, I am extremely skeptical that the Air Force is the right agency to perform this mission. The cultures are as different as chalk and cheese.

    A better model for the ‘Cyber command’ (could they have picked a more hokey name?) would be the Manhattan Project rather than the 8th Air Force.

  2. Jim S - February 12, 2008 @ 8:06 am

    Jim, you’re spot on. I had the exact same thought about location when I was driving three hours from Dallas to get there because my other option was a three-hop prone-to-delay epic journey. I’ve been asking everyone I talk to, why put it on a base at all (especially one run by bomber guys)? Why not put it in a bunch of low slung non-descript buildings on Routes 101 and 128, something out on MOPAC, and etc.

    The reason I had a positive reaction to his comments was that this is the first time I’ve heard anyone in the command acknowledge the importance of the cultural difference. Up until I’ve mostly been hearing “we aren’t a bunch of pencil necked geeks, we’re cyber killers!”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published / Required fields are marked *