US Air Force General Floats Idea of Combat Cloud

The US Air Force is looking into the future and it believes that private cloud could be the key in reorganizing its combat systems. The Air Force relies on real time data in order for its operations to be successful. When using a cloud backend for much of the Air Force’s data management tasks, it becomes easier to retrieve archived information or see real time information in a secure manner.

Gen. Hawk Carlisle is the commander of Pacific Air Forces. He’s the Air Component Commander of U.S. Pacific Command and he’s also the executive director of the Pacific Air Combat Operations Staff.

General Carlisle candidly discussed the implications of cloud for the Air Force’s combat operations saying, “Our ability to do centralized command, distributed control and decentralized execution — how you execute that and what you’re able to do — that is dependent not only on cloud technology but on network technology, network collaboration [and] teaming between manned and unmanned systems.”

Carlisle’s comments came from when he was sitting on a panel at the Air Force Association’s Air and Space Conference being held in National Harbor, MD. Carlisle also noted his concerns with the cloud migration saying, “Today we’re working on it, but we’ve got a long ways to go. We can’t even build the right plumbing that we’ve all agreed to. The Navy and the Air Force aren’t necessarily on the same sheet of music when it comes to network collaboration and advanced technical data links.”

Carlisle continued explaining the concept of a combat cloud. He mentioned, “There is no such thing yet as the combat cloud. It’s an idea we’re trying to conceptualize. It’s like the civilian cloud, except two things are fundamental to a combat cloud.” Carlisle goes on to explain, “One is it’s got to be gracefully degradable — the adversary is going to try to shut it down, so it can’t live on one platform [and] it can’t just have one little UAV that hovers out there and puts out your cloud, because someone snuffs it out and it’s gone. It’s got to live in enough places so that even if someone leaves and someone shows back up it’s still got that pervasive information out there.”