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Despite expected cuts to the Department of Defense’s overall budget and the threat of sequestration, Air Force Chief Information Officer Lt. Gen. Michael Basla said his intent is for spending on cybersecurity to remain the same if not increase going forward.

Basla, speaking at a cybersecurity roundtable of technology reporters at the Pentagon on Friday, said that he would aim to protect the branch’s investment in cyberspace, namely the Air Force Space Command that serves at the core function integrator for cybersecurity.

Air Force Chief Information Officer Lt. Gen. Michael Basla

The Air Force cybersecurity budget will stand between $3.5 billion and $4 billion per year until fiscal year 2019, but that amount only focuses on core cybersecurity capabilities. Basla added, as the Air Force and DOD create new programs, cybersecurity is becoming a built-in part of that.

“We cannot afford to take reductions in the cybersecurity space and it may be one of the growth areas in a very tight budget environment,” Basla said.

Earlier this month, Basla said more than 30 senior leaders from throughout the Air Force, including Secretary Michael Donley and Chief of Staff Mike Welsh, met for a cybersecurity summit to get the force’s brain trust on the same page when it comes to the issue.

Basla, who began organizing the summit when he became the CIO this summer on the orders of Donnelly, said the summit also looked at what the force’s combatant commanders need to defense cyberspace, what security gaps exist and what steps are needed going forward.

He provided the following takeaways and questions that he will present to the Air Force’s leadership in the coming weeks as well as a meeting with the Deputy Secretary of Defense:

  • Do completely understand what the U.S. Cyber Command requirements are and are we working in conjunction with the Joint Chiefs of Staff on cyber security requirements?
  • Are we organized properly?
  • What we do have in our plan for fiscal year 2014 and what should we adjust for the 2015 plan?

When it comes to industry, Basla said the Air Force’s industry partners have great ideas, but partnering has brought specific challenges. Namely, he said, industry has become very protective of its proprietary technology, so most of the agreements and discussions are one-on-one.

“What we’re seeing is Company X will see a threat and present us with a capability they think has value for an immediate need,” Basla said, “but we’re not having enough conversations that go beyond one fix for one problem.”

Outside of cybersecurity, Basla said he will be focused on the coming month on the Joint Information Exchange that will help with information sharing and collaboration amongst the different parts of the DOD.

He said the Air Force is in lock step with the requirements and the first increment of the program will launch in the European theater in the fall of 2013.

Basla also noted he’ll be working on issues like identity management, asset visibility, mobility and unified communications.